Patterns of organization
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Patterns of Organization. Why know pattern of organization?. They help you: understand the information anticipate the information follow ideas better… so you answer test questions better. 6 organization patterns. Listing Sequence Comparison/contrast Cause/effect Problem/solution

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Patterns of Organization

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Patterns of Organization

Why know pattern of organization?

  • They help you:

  • understand the information

  • anticipate the information

  • follow ideas better…

  • so you answer test questions better

6 organization patterns






Extended definition

1. Listing

The main idea is in the form of a generalization and then supporting details give a list of details or examples.

Key Words/phrases:many, several, a number of, a variety of, a few, kinds of

Signal words/phrases: for example, for instance, , first, second, another, also, besides, in addition, final, last, most important

Listing - sample

One theory

A second theory

Yet another theory

The final theory

2. Sequence

In sequence pattern, the author explains the main idea in a series of events or steps in a process that follow one after the other in time order.

Key Words/phrases: began, account, story, process, history, sequence

Signal words/phrases: first, second, then, next, after, while, since, soon, finally, at last…

Sequence of events- Sample

In 1965

Four years later

Then in 1971

In the following 11 months

Next major step, in 1976

Steps in a process - Sample


over time



After that

At that point


3. Comparison/Contrast

In comparison/contrast pattern, the writer’s main idea is a general statement about two things and how they are similar and/or different. Comparisons can include BOTH similarities and differences or only similarities. A contrast states only differences.

More Comparison/Contrast

Key Words/phrases:similarities, differences, both, in common, same, different, compare, comparison

Signal words/phrases for similarities: similarly, also, in the same way, as, like, both, in common

Signal words/phrases for differences: however, but, on the other hand, although, while, in contrast, than, conversely, yet, unlike

Similarities and Differences - Sample



on the other hand

Differences Only - Sample


other major component

In contrast,

4. Cause/Effect

The writer’s main idea is that one event or action caused another event or action

Key Words/phrases and Signal words are the same:causes, leads to, is the cause of, results in, creates, brings about, makes…

Cause/Effect - Sample

result of/ because of

led to

as a result

due to

5. Problem/Solution

In this pattern, the main idea names a problem and states there are one or more solutions possible. The paragraph contains two parts: 1) a statement and 2) a description and explanation of how it was solved.

There are no signal words for the details.

Key Words/phrases:situation, trouble, crisis, dilemma, or issue.

Signal words/phrases: solve, solution, resolved

Problem/Solution - Sample

6. Extended Definition

The writer names a concept or complicated process that the paragraph will define and explain. Usually main idea is in the first sentences and states a dictionary definition and/or explanation

Key Words/phrases:consists of, is, seems to be, are

Extended Definition - Sample

Moon Landings (1) p. 142

The landing of men on the Moon

The first moon landing was very different from the last one.

Very different from


1. But while  The first landing was an enormous achievement.

2. Far more  the last landing contributed far more scientific knowledge.

3. Only  the first mission lasted only a few hours.

4. However  on the last mission, the three men spent more time on the Moon.

5. Much further  they could travel much further from the landing site.

6. Wider  they could collect a wider ranger of samples.

Moon Landings (2) p. 142

The impact of the Apollo moon landings

The Apollo moon landings had a significant impact on scientific and technological development in the 20th century

A significant impact


1. affected by  Computer research was affected by the moon landings

2. pushing  The space program pushed engineers to develop personal computers

3. attribute to  The invention of the internet could be attributed to the Apollo program

4. motivation for  Scientists and engineers were motivated to look for ways to communicate from computer to computer.

Moon Landings (3) p. 143

The lack of water on the moon

The lack of water on the Moon limits exploration of the Moon.

lack of water, limits


PROBLEM: The lack of water is a serious problem for future Moon exploration; for this reason, scientists are looking for evidence of water on the Moon.

SOLUTION: Rockets are sent to crash into the Moon so that scientists can analyze the vapor and dust created by the crash to see if there is water.

Modern Astronomy p. 148

  • Paragraph 1 =

  • S

  • Sentence B

  • Paragraph 2 =

  • P/S

  • Sentence A

  • Paragraph 3 =

  • S

  • Sentence E

  • Paragraph 4 =

  • C/C

  • Sentence C

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