The Writing Process

3 Make a Plan

Clarity is essential in academic writing, and a sound organizational structure enhances clarity. After you have composed your thesis, consider how you will arrange the knowledge you have collected in support of your thesis into a well-organized series of paragraphs.

Your plan or outline might consist of a sophisticated system of headings and subheadings. Your teacher might expect you to turn in a formal outline of this nature. If not, the least you should do is jot down the points you know you will need to cover as you support and develop your thesis. If, for example, your thesis is “It is hardly surprising that McDonald’s is such a successful fast food franchise,” the points you jot down in support might include:

  • Taste
    • food appeals to the taste buds of many consumers
    • burgers and fries are a staple of the North American diet
    • special sauce
    • toppings and condiments
  • Cost
    • inexpensive
    • a family of four can eat out for under $30
    • examples of cost of select menu items compared to cost of same or similar items at other restaurants
  • Efficiency
    • assembly-line food preparation
    • wait is rarely more than ten minutes
    • drive-through

Note that different genres or rhetorical modes presuppose certain organizational structures or templates. These are included in the next chapter.

Exercise Four

Using one of the thesis statements you have composed while completing the exercises in this chapter, construct an essay outline using a simple point-form structure or a numbered system of headings and subheadings.

In small groups, share your outline and offer constructive suggestions for improving the outlines of other group members.

Your teacher might ask you to hand in your outline.


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Composition and Literature Copyright © 2019 by James Sexton and Derek Soles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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