Structure within sections of the text

Just like books can be divided into chapters, essays and articles are often divided into sections. Within each section, the text can be further divided into subsections, and each such section or subsection will be divided into paragraphs.

Whereas the introductory section of a text presents what will be discussed later on, the body sections develop the ideas that were initially set out. Writers following the IMRaD structure will divide their texts into sections; after the introduction follow sections on method, results and a discussion section. The writer of a three-part essay has more freedom in choosing headings and structuring the body part of the text. Although three-part essays do not always have section headings, adding such headings will help readers orientate themselves in longer essays. 

Structuring the section

Although most texts go through some kind of restructuring during the writing process, it is wise to aim at a logical and coherent structure from the start. To work with clearly recognisable parts of the text makes it easier to restructure the text if necessary.

Working with subheadings

One way of signposting the structure while writing is to insert tentative subheadings as soon as a new topic or turn of reasoning begins. Such subheadings will help you see the structure of your developing text and they will also help you identify the pros and cons of the structure you have chosen.

Depending on instructions from supervisors or publishers, section headings and subheadings you have inserted may have to be removed in the finished text. If this is the case, they can be transformed into suitable topic sentences or transitional phrases that will help your reader navigate in your text and transition from one section to another. Read more here:

Division into paragraphs

Generally speaking, there should be one idea per paragraph. This means that when you move on to talk about something new, you should start a new paragraph. However, how often you start a new paragraph also depends on the type of text you are writing. Some genres accept very long paragraphs, while others expect them to be fairly short. The writer's personal preferences and writing style may be of relevance here, although it is of course essential to follow disciplinary conventions and stipulated guidelines.

There are two ways of indicating the start of a new paragraph. Either you leave a blank line between paragraphs, or you indent the first line of a new paragraph. If you are student writing a paper, check instructions or ask your teacher for a recommended format. Remember that you divide your text into paragraphs using one of the methods explained above - you should not combine them.

Check your word processor settings for the kind of paragraph division you want. If you want extra spacing between paragraphs, set the paragraph spacing accordingly; if not, set it to zero. If you wish to indent the first line of each paragraph, use your word processor's settings to do so. Do not use the space bar for indentation.

Page Manager: aweluluse | 2021-11-18