Logical Organizational Strategies for Essay Writing Help (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 6, 2011

Comparison and Contrast

Essays that show the similarities and differences between two or more ideas use the comparison and contrast organizational strategy. This strategy depends upon first having comparable ideas or items. For example, you'd have difficulty writing a successful essay if you wanted to compare Frankenstein's creature with Cinderella. Frankenstein's creature and Pinocchio, on the other hand, are comparable items—they're both beings that someone else brought to life. Often, comparable items have a number of aspects that may be compared and contrasted. You might compare and contrast the creation of the figures, their creator's reactions after they come to life, and/or their relationships with their creators.

After you've selected the aspects you'll compare and contrast, there are two ways to organize your discussion: the block technique and the point-by-point technique.

The Block Technique

This method organizes ideas by item (A and B). First, discuss all the aspects of item A (ideas 1, 2, and 3). Then, discuss all of the corresponding aspects of item B. The result is two "blocks" of text—a section about item A, and one about item B. For example:

    (A = Pinocchio; B = Frankenstein's creature)
      A1—Pinocchio's creation
      A2—Geppetto's reaction
      A3—Relationship between Pinocchio and Geppetto
      B1—The creature's creation
      B2—Frankenstein's reaction
      B3—Relationship between the creature and Frankenstein

The Point-by-Point Technique

In this method, you organize ideas by aspect (1, 2, 3) rather than by item, so the result is a direct comparison and contrast of each aspect. Because you put each aspect side by side, readers get to see exactly how the two items measure up, element by element. This is a more sophisticated way of organizing a comparison and contrast essay, and it's easier for your reader to follow. Here's a sample outline.

      A1—Pinocchio's creation
      B1—The creature's creation
      A2—Geppetto's reaction
      B2—Frankenstein's reaction
      A3—Relationship between Pinocchio and Geppetto
      B3—Relationship between the creature and Frankenstein

Problem → Solution

In this organizing principle, you first identify a problem, and then offer a solution. There is no room for flexibility, because it won't make sense to your reader to offer the solution to a problem without first revealing or discussing that problem. Here's the "solution" section of an outline for an essay about the problem of misinformation on the Internet.

  1. Solution
    1. Create "reliability index"
      1. ranks sites for level of credibility
      2. run by not-for-profit; perhaps university or consortium of universities
      3. organization would rate websites on scale of trustworthiness (fact-check, etc.)
        1. Priorities
          1. sites offering information about health and healthcare
          2. sites offering information about raising children (education, emotional, social development)
          3. sites offering information about finances and investments
    2. Run awareness campaign
      1. public service announcements
      2. lessons in schools
      3. announcements by all Internet providers

In Short

Analysis, order of importance, comparison and contrast, and problem solution are four more strategies to help organize your ideas. One strategy can serve as an overall organizing principle, while others may help you organize individual paragraphs and sections of your essay.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Logical Organizational Strategies for Essay Writing Practice.

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