A well-structured academic text communicates the writer's intentions and results to the reader. 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 therefore 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. Some 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.
Structure of the text on different levels
An academic text, such as an essay or an article, usually consists of different sections (and sometimes sub-sections). Each section is, in turn, 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.
Apart from the running text, an essay or article also contains two framing elements: title and reference list. Read about them here:
Starting with an overall picture and progressing down to the paragraph level, this section of AWELU gives advice on how to work with text structure on different levels of a text. Note that although the focus here will be on the traditional essay format, most of the advice can easily be applied to other texts formats too:
Writers can help their readers by highlighting the structure of their texts. Read more about that here:
Structure is, of course, important on 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 in the AWELU section on Grammar and Words: