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Section 3.5 Organization of an Argument

At this point in the development of your argument, you should have a working thesis and multiple supporting claims. Now you must think about your argument from the point of view of your audience. Arguments must be organized in a way that audiences can logically follow. Your main goal as a writer is to organize your argument logically and convincingly enough that a reader will be persuaded by what you've written. Because argument organization varies between papers and subjects, you need to figure out what your audience will need and want while reading through your argument.

Consider asking yourself these questions:

  • “What pieces of your argument does an audience need in order to make sense of the following parts?”

  • “Do the pieces of your argument need to build on each other in a certain way?”

  • “Should you organize your supporting claims chronologically? By order of importance?”

Now, to answer these questions, you have a few options.

  • Make a few different outlines (see Section 4.2).

  • Write your supporting claims on notecards and organize them a few different ways.

  • Map out your ideas by drawing connections between your claim, supporting claims, and evidence.

  • Talk through your argument with someone, perhaps a writing advisor at the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching! (It might also be helpful to take notes during/record the conversation so you have content from the conversation to use as you return to writing and organizing.)

  • Ask yourself, “Which one seems the most logical?”

  • Ask a friend or peer to look at your organizational schemes to see what he or she thinks is most logical.