The chronological or timeline pattern is commonly used to describe events. If you want to explain events that occured or might occur or tasks that the reader is to carry out, a chronological organization is your best bet. In some situations, as in the previous occupation section of a résumé , a reserve chronology works best. You might describe your more recent jobs before your earlier ones.
general to specific
The general-to-specific pattern is useful when your readers need a general understanding of a subject to help them understand and remember the details. Understanding the bigger picture is often a prerequisite to understand the details. If you want to explain a complex situation, such as the factors that led to a problem or the theory that underlies a process, a general-to-specific organization is your best bet. In a set of instructions, you might provide readers with the necessary tools and materials they will need to accomplish a task before presenting them the step-by-step instructions. In a research paper, you might provide readers with your thesis statement before presenting the evidence to support your position.
The spatial pattern is commonly used to describe objects and physical sites. If you want to describe a physical object or scene, such as a device or a location, a spatial organization is your best bet. You can choose an organizing principle such as top-down, east-to-west, or inside-to-outside. In describing the three main buildings that will make up a new production facility, for example, you can use a spatial organization.
MORE TO LESS IMPORTANT
The more-important-to-less-important organizational pattern recognizes that readers often want the bottom line , the most important information, first. For most documents, this pattern works well because readers want to get to the bottom line as soon as possible. Documents intended for readers inside an organization might adopt this pattern. However, documents addressed to readers outside an organization might adopt the less-important-to-more-important pattern because they want to make sure their audience reads the details. This reverse patten also works when delivering bad news. For example, when writing a letter of rejection, we might start with the details before getting to the bottom line.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
The compare-and-contrast pattern is used to describe and evaluate two or more items or options. In a recommendation report, you compare and contrast two or more options using a set a criteria to determine the best option. In a proposal about changing existing system with a new one, you might compare and contrast the existing and new systems based on some established criteria.
CLASSIFICATION OR PARTITION
Classification is the process of assigning items to categories according to some criterion. It involves breaking a single item into its major components. If you want to assign items to logical categories that make up a single item, the classification/partition organization is your best bet. For example, you can describe each of the major component of an engine.
The problem-methods-solution pattern reflects the logic used in carrying out a project. This pattern can be used in discussing the past, the present, and the future. Readers understand this organizational pattern because they use it in their everyday lives. Proposals generally adopt this pattern as their overarching pattern.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Cause-effect pattern are ubiquitous in various kinds of documents. There is an underlying cause-effect relationship in proposals, as an action is generally argued to have future effects (benefits). If you want to discuss the factors that led or will lead to a given situation or the effects that a situation led to or will lead to, cause-effect patterns are your best bet.