Structure of personal blogs 3. Sequence of ideas

When you’re fiddling with a blog post, you often want to make several major points. In what order will you introduce them?

Did you know that there are more than thirteen classic ways of sequencing ideas in formal writing? If you match your article to one of those models, even loosely, it’s a win for you (control) and a win for your readers (confidence). They can see that your information is under control. By contrast, if readers feel that information is coming at them in a chaotic mess, they’re more likely to switch off.

Photo of a wooden framed house under construction.

A wooden framed house under construction. The structure is visible. Each item must be in the appropriate place. Same with the ideas in a blog post!

Classic ways to sequence information in formal writing

This knowledge can help you when you are struggling with a piece of writing. By shuffling information into a logical sequence you can often make it clearer to readers—and to yourself. These basic models are useful in blog posts.

  1.  Chronological or Historical. Used when telling a story. For example you might write about a day in Isfahan step by step, just as it happened.
  2. Procedural. First, next, then, finally. Recipe ingredients are listed in the exact order they will be used, and instructions in the order that they must be performed.
  3. Spatial. Information is structured according to location. The attractions of a city might be listed from north-west to south-east, or along a train route.
  4. In order of importance. News items start with the most important points and continue through to the least important last. (Thus, if the article is too long, the final paragraphs can safely be deleted.)
  5. Comparative. You discuss aspects of A & B, noting differences. This is a useful structure when you want to prove a point.
  6. Logical. You may be writing about a topic where the reasons and background are crucial to the situation. You would present a logical argument. (Easier said than done!)

Knowledge is power. Frameworks give security.

In real life, very few long documents use just one type of sequencing from beginning to end. More likely, different sections will use different structures. Moreover, there are many other ways to structure a series of ideas or events or facts.

However, the mere  knowledge of these different possibilities gives you power and security. The power of perception—

  • “Oh, I see. I was telling a story and I stopped half way through to give the background…”
  • “I left the most important fact until last as a surprise, but I should have put it first.”
  • “My story jumped from Ghana to Liberia, and I need to actually say that.”
  • “In my vegan pavlova recipe I should have told them to turn on the oven first.”

And you have the security of options: you’re not stuck with a bad first draft. We are so lucky in our technology! We can cut and paste with a flick of the fingers and play with our stuff, our raw material, our writing. You do this anyway, I know. But if you’re aware of these simple frameworks, you’ll have far more choices than you did when flying blind on trial and error.

Happy blogging!

There are far more than six ways to organise the ideas in your blog post! Wacky structures can be wonderful too. MIT Strata Center, Massachussetts.

There are far more than six ways to organise the ideas in your blog post. Wacky structures can be wonderful too. MIT Strata Center, Massachussetts.

Article by Rachel McAlpine — feel free to share. Photo of wooden framing by Jaksmata on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo of MIT Strata Center, Wikimedia, no attribution.

8 thoughts on “Structure of personal blogs 3. Sequence of ideas

  1. LA says:

    I don’t know what this says about me. I just write and hope it makes sense!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And yet your blog posts have their own pretty consistent structure. Works for you 🙂

  2. autismduniya says:

    Very helpful. We can all stand to improve our writing. Thank you!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I think that the awareness alone can help.. Thanks!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I appreciate that you are sharing these writing tips for bloggers. I find many that would definitely benefit from them. When I taught composition, I had to stress that first you needed to have something worth saying. That amazed some of my college freshmen who had learned the form but not how to generate content.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  4. ashokbhatia says:

    Just like in life, where one learns to go with the flow, a blog post where ideas pop up in a natural flow makes eminent sense. Just my humble take on the subject.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Indeed the flow should seem natural, regardless of how much artifice is under the surface.

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