Structuring the text
Text structure has to do with perspective: you need to structure your thoughts and your writing in order for the text to make sense to the reader. A well-structured text communicates the writer's intentions and results to the reader, and in such a text, the structure acts like a framework, in that it enables the material to be presented in a coherent and logical manner.
A text without structure, on the other hand, is difficult to read as it leaves the reader unprepared for what will come next, and the ideas that the writer wishes to convey to his or her reader risk being lost or misunderstood.
Text structure depends on text type
Depending on discipline, there are different traditions, conventions and demands on text structure and text types. What follows below is general information regarding the structure of texts. Students usually receive departmental guidelines regarding preferred format and structure for essays and other text types. For an overview of different text formats for student writing, see
Some scholarly journals provide information on required text structure; if not, prospective authors can find out by studying a recent issue or two of the specific journal.
Text structure on different levels
An academic text, such as an essay or an article, usually consists of different sections (and sometimes sub-sections). Each section, in turn, is divided into a number of paragraphs. For the text to be coherent and easy to follow, all levels of the text must be well-structured.
Starting with an overall picture and progressing down to the paragraph level, the following pages provide advice on how to work with text structure on different levels. Note that although the focus here is on the traditional essay format, most of the advice can be applied to other texts formats too:
Apart from the running text, essays and articles also contain two framing elements: title and reference list. Read about their internal structure here:
In order to increase the readability of their texts, writers can highlight text structure through signposting:
Structure is, of course, important at the sentence level too, as the way in which a sentence is structured will have an impact on how its focus is perceived by the reader. Read more about sentence structure: