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Organization - Writing Lab Tips and Strategies: Home

Organization is Important

Organization Comic

By Jasmine Hopkins and Anna Belcher

Common Transitional Words and Phrases

To show sequence

first, second, third, then, after, afterward, since, before, when, whenever, until, as soon as, as long as, while, again, also, besides, finally, furthermore, last, moreover, next, still, too

To show cause and effect

therefore, thus, consequently, as a result, for this reason, so, so that, accordingly, because, for this purpose, hence, thereupon, to this end, since

To compare

similarly, likewise, in like manner, also, in fact, actually, indeed, certainly, again, in the same way, once more

To contrast

however, on the one hand /on the other hand, in contrast, conversely, but, yet, on the contrary, nevertheless, nonetheless, still, notwithstanding, despite, still, although, even though, in spite of, instead, regardless

To show addition

and, in addition, also, furthermore, moreover, besides, next, again, too, second, third, another, finally

 To indicate time

before, now, after, afterwards, subsequently, later, earlier, meanwhile, in the meantime, while, as long as, so far, after a bit, after a few days, after a while, as soon as, at last, at length, a that time, before, earlier, immediately, in the meantime, in the past, lately, presently, shortly, simultaneously, since, then, thereafter, until, when

To give examples

for example, for instance, specifically, namely, to illustrate, that is, in particular, after all, even, indeed, in fact, of course, such as, the following example

To generalize

in general, for the most part, as a general rule, on the whole, usually, typically

To emphasize a point

indeed, in fact, as matter of fact, even

To show place

above, adjacent to, below, beyond, closer to, elsewhere, far, farther on, here, near, nearby, opposite to, there, to the left, to the right

To show qualification

frequently, often, usually, in general, occasionally, provided, in case, unless, when, since, because, for, if 

To signal concession

of course, naturally, although it is true that, granted that, I admit that, it may appear that, although, though, no doubt, to be sure, whereas, of course, doubtless, certainly

To conclude or summarize

in conclusion, to conclude, in summary, to summarize, in short, in other words, therefore, thus, in reality, as a result, as has been noted, as I have said, as we have seen, as mentioned earlier, in any event, on the whole, therefore  


In writing, organization refers to the structures used to present ideas. Ideas should be presented logically, organically advancing a single argument. Well-organized writing clearly communicates the writer’s ideas to the reader.

The "Uns" of Disorganized Papers

Unfocused Arguments

If you don't know what your point is or why you're arguing it, your audience won't either.

Unstable Introductions

Each paragraph you write needs an introduction, and your whole paper needs an introduction paragraph.  Introductions prepare your audience for what's ahead.  Make sure you state your theme clearly so they will be able to follow what you are saying in the rest of your paper or the rest of the paragraph.

Uncertain Thesis Statements

State your thesis strongly!  Don't hedge around it.  Let your audience know where you stand.

Unstructured Bodies

Know where you are going in your paper, and follow logical steps to get there.  Each body paragraph needs to fit into your paper in a logical order.  Don't jump around from subject to subject.  Each body paragraph also needs its own internal order.  Use clear transitions to guide your audience.

Unclear Topic Sentences

Topic sentences prepare the audience to understand the rest of the paragraph.  If you aren't sure if yours is clear enough, try rewriting it several times.  Then choose the best one.

Unresolved Conclusions

At the beginning of your paper, you told us what you were going to accomplish.  Have you done it?  If not, go back and make the appropriate changes.  Now you are ready to wrap up all your hard work with a memorable summary.

Get Organized!


Think through your thesis.  Take time to fully develop it.  Outline your argument.  This brings clarity to your ideas and helps ensure that the organization of your paper will be consistent.


Introduce your paper with a clear, specific statement of your main idea.  Your thesis sets up the argument that your paper makes from the beginning to the end.

From Start to Finish

Build your paper around three structures:

the introduction, which presents your thesis and begins the argument of your paper.

the body of your paper, where you present evidence and reasoning in support of your thesis.

the conclusion, which ties your ideas together and directs attention to the main idea.

Topic Sentences

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of that paragraph.  Effective topic sentences connect the idea of the preceding paragraph to the idea of the new paragraph.

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Writing Lab Email:

Email us your paper ( along with the specific description of the assignment.  We will comment on the paper in regards to purpose, organizational structure, internal organization, format, and patterns of grammatical error.

Writing Lab Purpose

The goal of the Writing Lab is to equip students with the communication tools necessary to develop stronger academic writing.  Tutors do not correct, revise or edit student writing.  They aim to guide and empower students toward becoming better independent writers.  The Writing Lab is a student-to-student help available to all students desiring help with writing, including ESL tutoring.  All services are offered at no cost to students.

The Writing Lab is available to students from any discipline for help with any stage of the writing process.

Tutors focus on assignment fulfillment, content, organization, and areas for which suggestions on improvement can be made.

The Writing Lab does not proofread papers; tutors help students learn how to recognize problems or errors and self-edit.  Help is available with MLA, APA and other formatting as well as with grammar skills.

Writing resources (style/formatting manuals) and skills software are available for student use as well.

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Make an outline for your paper.  It sounds like more work, but in the end it will improve your organization and save you a lot of time.

What Every Paper MUST Have


Your thesis is a summary sentence of what your paper is about.  It should guide your whole paper.  Every paragraph and every sentence should be connected to your thesis.  If an idea doesn't relate to your thesis, it should not be in your paper.


Every paper needs an introduction paragraph.  This is your chance to get the reader's attention.This paragraph is a preview for what is to come in the essay.  Introduce each of your main points in this paragraph.  Think of your introduction paragraph as a miniature outline for your paper.  The last sentence of your introduction paragraph should be your thesis.


Each of your body paragraphs should support your thesis statement.  Begin with a strong introduction sentence that states the topic of the paragraph.  Each following sentence should be related to this main topic.  End with a conclusion sentence that summarizes all the points of the paragraph.


A plot twist at the end of a novel may be exciting, but in an essay there shouldn't be any surprises!  Don't introduce new information in your conclusion paragraph!  Summarize what your paper has been about.  Restate the main points.  End strong, leaving the reader with a clear idea of what they have just read.


Let the reader know how two ideas, two sentences or two paragraphs are connected.  Use transition words and sentences to get from one idea to the next.  The connection may seem obvious to you, but if your reader isn't prepared, you might lose him when you shift ideas.

Introduction Sentences

Every paragraph needs a strong introduction sentence.  Let the reader know what the paragraph is going to be about.  Every body sentence should be related to the introduction.

Conclusion Sentences

Every paragraph needs a good conclusion sentence.  Summarize the main idea of the paragraph.