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Getting Smarter through Language

Modes of Organization
Other and Important Notes

Other Modes of Organization

Although presented in this course are the most commonly used modes of organization, there are others. For example, similar to the problem and solution mode of organization is the problem-cause-solution mode. It is easy to tell that, in this mode of organization, the writer simply explains the cause of a problem before proposing a solution for it.


The spatial order mode of organization is used to describe a space. The narrative inquiry mode involves using personal stories to explore a particular idea or concept.

The categorical or topical mode of organization is similar to the listing mode creates and describes categories of information or topics and subtopics.

Mixed Modes

Sometimes it is difficult to tell exactly what mode of organization is being used. For example, a writer may use the emphatic mode (ordering information from the least to the most important), including details and explanations, to persuade the reader. In this case, the writer’s primary goal is to persuade, so you could say the writer used a persuasive mode of organization.

Pinpointing the exact name of the mode being used is not really that important. Perhaps you are taking a reading or writing course where you have to identify modes of organization on a test. Then it is very likely the paragraphs presented on the test will have a very clear mode of organization.

The bottom line is that knowing what to call a particular mode of organization is not as important as recognizing that the information is organized in a particular way and that the organization serves a purpose.

Why Is it Important?

As a writer, you should organize your work intentionally. The goal is to make the information as easy to follow and understand as possible for your readers. When you follow a clear outline, it is easier for you to write and, most importantly, you will guide your readers through your thinking in a very well structured way.

As a reader, when you recognize the mode of organization, you can improve your comprehension and retention of the material. Effective writers organized the information for you to make it easier for you to understand it. When you notice how they did it, you know what to look for.

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