What is Text Structure?
There are several ways to organize a text. Here are some examples of popular organization structures: Spatial, in which you set things up in space, one section of the setting at a time; Cause and Effect, in which you discuss a set of causes, then what effect they had; Compare and Contrast, in which you talk about similarities between two or more topics, then the differences; Chronological, in which you describe things in the order in which they happen or should happen. Classification and Division, in which you explain something in a general manner and then get more and more specific; as well as Problem/Solution, in which you present a problem and then explain the solution, or solutions, to the problem. These are just some ways you can organize a paper.
Text structure is basically the way that descriptions are organized. We’re going to take a look at a few different text structures. The first is cause and effect. Basically, what happens here is one event leads to another. Here it says, “Abigail did not wipe her feet, so she got mud on the carpet.” We have the cause, which is Abigail to not wipe her feet, and the effect of that is she got mud on the carpet.
One event, the event of her not wiping her feet, leads to another event, in this case, her getting mud on the carpet. Cause and effect is a very common way to order information, because it tells you what happened first, and then it tells you what happened as a result of that. Now, a second type of text structure is chronological order. This goes from the past, many times, to the present. We could say it this way: It gives you an order of events.
It says, “I got in the car, drove to the store, and bought oranges.” Now, the writer of this wouldn’t say that they drove to the store, bought oranges, got them in the car because what would have had to happen here is, first, the person got in the car. Then, they drove to the store, then they bought oranges. If you mix it up, it confuses the reader. The idea of text structure is to make your writing very clear.
Chronological order helps the author make themselves very clear, because it tells each event as it happened. Then, we have spatial order. This isn’t quite as common, but it’s the way things are placed in an area. The example I have here is: “The room has tall ceilings, walls covered with beautiful paintings, elaborate furniture, and wood floors.” Spatial order never jumps around. It goes in a very clear way.
There’s a very clear progression to it. First, it talks about the ceiling. If you walk into a room, you look up and you see it as tall ceilings. Then, you look at all the walls and you notice the elaborate paintings. Then, your eyes go down a little bit further and you notice the elaborate furniture. Then, finally, you look all the way down to the ground and you see the wood floors. Now, there’s not really one right way to do spatial order. We could have started the other way.
We could have looked at the wood floors, the furniture, the paintings, and then the ceilings. The point here is to have some clear progression to your ideas. Maybe you have a table of people sitting down and you are talking about each person at the table. You wouldn’t jump around all over the table. You’d go in a circle talking about each person at the table. You’re doing the same thing here.
You shouldn’t talk about the ceilings, then talk about the floor, then talk about the walls, and then talk about what sitting on the floor. You should have a very clear progression to everything that you’re talking about. Once again, cause and effect, chronological order, and spatial order are all text structures. There are other text structures, but these are some of the most common.
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Last updated: 07/17/2018