Structuring

  • The way an assignment is structured or organised depends on the type of work you are being asked to do. Usually a written assignment will have some form of an introduction to signal the work is starting, a main body organised into different points, and a conclusion to signal the work is ending. A clear structure with nothing that is unexpected or irrelevant gives your readers confidence in your ideas. It helps lead your reader through your assignment and ensures they can follow your points by grouping similar ideas together and putting them in an order that does not jump about.

    Our top tips

    Plan and redraft

    Good structuring often happens before and after you write, as you can take a step back and see the assignment as a whole, plus you have a better idea of what your overall message is. See our pages on planning and editing for more structuring strategies: 

    Paragraphs

     Structuring also happens at a paragraph by paragraph level. The PEEL model of Point / Evidence / Explanation / Link to question is a good overall framework. Have a clear topic sentence introducing your point and an ending sentence summing up what the paragraph shows. See our resources for writing well-structured paragraphs:  

    Signposting and transitions

    A key part of effective structuring is making your reader aware of what the structure is and preparing them for any changes in topic. This is where ‘signposting’ in the introduction and throughout is very useful. See this guide on what signposting involves and example phrases to use: 

    Essay like a river

    The structure of an essay needs to be suitable for what the question is asking. You can’t come to an essay with a pre-set structure (like ‘for’ and ‘against’) as this might not suit your answer. Instead think of your main message running throughout like a river to hold it all together. See this video for more on the river structure:

    Headings for reports

    A report structure is often set by the sections you need to include, such as introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. However, sometimes you need to find your own report headings to suit the needs of the audience (often in business reports for a client). See this video for how to create your own report structure: