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Getting Smarter through Language

Modes of Organization
Definition Mode

Definition Mode of Organization

Writers use the definition mode of organization when it makes sense to present information focusing on defining a term, concept, or idea. It involves breaking down complex ideas or concepts into their essential components and presenting them in a logical and structured way.


Topics or ideas that call for the definition mode of organization include, for example, “what is [a concept]" where the concept could be success, love, trust, a psychological phenomenon, and so on.

Types of Text Using the Definition Mode

The definition mode is frequently used in academic writing, technical writing, and other contexts where it is important to clearly define and explain concepts so that the reader understands complex or unfamiliar terms and ideas.

Transition Words Used in the Definition Mode

Transitions commonly used in the definition mode include:

  • Refers to, is (defined as), means, consists of: These expressions introduce a definition and clarify a specific term or concept.
  • In other words, to clarify, that is: These expressions restate a definition or provide additional context.
  • Particularly, specifically, especially: These words highlight important aspects of or provide specific support to a definition.

Example definition mode of organization

The following paragraph is written using the definition mode of organization:

Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by the people, either directly or through elected representatives. In a democratic system, individuals have the right to participate in the decision-making process, particularly through the election of government officials. The government, in turn, is accountable to the people it serves. Democracy is characterized by free and fair elections, the rule of law, protection of individual rights, and a commitment to the common good.

Note. The above paragraph is used for instructional purposes only. Search the topic for accurate information on it.

Note for Readers

When you read, it is important to identify the mode of organization as definition because it focuses your reading and improves comprehension.

You should pay close attention to exactly how the writer defines a concept in the text. Everything the writer has to say about the topic is based on that particular definition.

Even if you have your own definition of a concept, you must understand how the writer defines it in the text.

Up Next: Example/Illustration Mode

Continue the lesson to learn about the example or illustration mode of organization.