It really pays off to think about the structure of your piece before you actually start writing. The structure is the skeleton of your text: it will help the reader grasp the main idea of your text. In this post, I will give practical tips to help you set up a nice and clear text structure.
How to set up your text structure
Think before you start writing. Take a piece of paper and write down what you want to write about. Set up a text structure, before you start writing and hold on to that structure while writing your blog post. Setting up a structure of your text can (for instance) be done following these three steps:
Step 1: Create a list
If you have gathered all the information you want to use in your post or article, you can start with structuring. You can write down a list with all the topics. You should just make some kind of list of everything your text should cover.
Step 2: Bundling topics together
If you have a clear overview of all the topics you want to discuss in your article, you start bundling topics. Topics which are similar should, of course, be discussed together.
Step 3: Ordering topics
If you are done bundling, you should decide upon the order you want to present the topics in your article. In most cases you will decide to order thematically. For instance, if you want to discuss various aspects or angles of the main topic of your blog. You should then discuss every aspect in a new paragraph.
Next to ordering according to theme, you could also order chronological or discuss your topics in a didactic order. Especially when you try to explain complicated material, a didactic order, in which you explain easy stuff first and difficult aspects later could be a very good idea.
|Type of ordening|
|Thematic||ordened on theme, aspect, topic|
|Didactic||easy – hard|
|Problem- solution(s)||introduce problem first and then possible solutions|
After you have ordered the topics you want to address in your article, you should make a new list. This list is actually kind of a summary of the article you are about to write. You could write a short sentence or a few words for every paragraph you plan to write. This list serves as the skeleton of your article and you should keep it well in mind during the remainder of the writing process.
Creation of paragraphs
In the text structure you have set up, you have bundled topics together. You can then start to write paragraphs. But what makes a good paragraph? A paragraph can be defined by three things. Remember these things while writing!
- A paragraph should form a thematic unit.
- A paragraph contains one core sentence and an elaboration of this core sentence.
- A paragraph should be made visible (by using whitespace).
Lots of people make mistakes while creating paragraphs. Writers just put some white spaces in their text on random places for aesthetic purposes, but do not really think about the coherence and structure of the text. I also see a lot of paragraphs containing only one sentence. In many cases, the coherence within paragraphs and between paragraphs remains unclear. These kinds of mistakes can really mess up the structure of your articles.
Paragraphs can be short or long. The length of a paragraph is decided by the theme you are discussing. It could be two sentences, but a paragraph could also contain 15 sentences. For writing on websites, we would advise to create short paragraphs (stick to less than 6 or 7 sentences).
For texts on websites, we would advise you to start your paragraph with the most important sentence. Then explain or elaborate on that sentence. A reader will be able to grasp the most important content from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. You can conclude (longer) paragraph with a summarizing sentence to make your point extra clear.
Use of transition words
In order to guide your reader, you should use plenty transition words. Transition words (also known as signal words) give direction to your readers. These words show the reader that you are summarizing (and, too), comparing (less than, rather) or concluding something (thus, consequently, hence).
|Type of relation||Examples of transition words|
|enumerate||and, first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally, in addition|
|cause||because, so, due to, while, since, therefore|
|comparison/ contrast||same, less, rather, while, yet, opposite, much as, either|
|conclusion||as a result, hence, consequently, therefore, in conclusion|
|fuzzy signals||seems like, maybe, probably, almost|
|emphasis||most of all, most noteworthy, especially relevant|
Using transition words will be like putting cement between your sentences. Transition words show your readers the connection between sentences and paragraphs.
If you are not used to using transition words yourself, it can be hard to correct texts you have already written. Make sure to use transition words whenever you are summarizing or enumerating. Also, use signal words in your conclusion. Help people to grasp the main message of your text.
Headings are important for SEO purposes. Google uses your headings to determine the topic of the content on your website. Your headings thus should be used to optimize your post. However, headings are of great importance for your readers as well. Headers allow your readers to quickly scan through your text and to decide whether or not (or which parts) they would like to read your article. Headings thus should be attractive and should cover the content of the paragraph.
You can put a header above each paragraph, or above a number of paragraphs which contain similar topics. The headers should reflect the structure of your text. We would advise you to put a header above every long paragraph ( or above a few short paragraphs which are thematically similar).
Setting up a coherent structure for your blog post will result in better understanding of the message of your post. If people understand your message, they will be much more likely to share your post on social media or buy the stuff you have to offer.
Taking the time to think about a clear text structure before you start writing is a very important first step. While writing, think about the structure of your paragraphs, your use of signal words and the headings in your post. If you follow these ‘rules’ your blog post will be understandable and readable to your audience (also if your writing style is rather crappy).