Text Structure

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Do you still remember, what you wanted to say earlier? Did you already mention the goals of your project? Did your readers keep in mind, what is really important? A good text structure may help you in communicating precisely and mentioning everything what seems important. Every single text can be seen as a unit that is developed from a logical structure - from a facebook post to a project proposal or a handbook. When you only focus on the headlines, ignoring the subordinate content, the structure becomes visible. This is how it looks for the page: Specifying and describing the goals:

Structuring a text with headlines shown by using the example of the page Specifying and describing the goals


[edit] Headline 1

On the top you find the fundamentals – the title of an article. In our Wiki, this title is set in the formatting as headline 1. Begin with a collection of the few main aspects of your text. These will represent the main chapters and are marked with this type of high level headline.

[edit] Sub Headline

The headlines 2 structure the sub-aspects within the chapters. Relatively quickly you get an overview over the most headlines in your text. But changes in your text structure will as well affect the second level and your table of contents.

[edit] Paragraph

Paragraphs are containers for logical units, consisting of sentences. A paragraph follows a paragraph, each enclosing one content aspect. In our experience, within the process of writing they change often their place in your text. Over your paragraphs and the text quantity, you will get a clear overview relatively late. Because it is not easy to understand a text without paragraph breaks, headlines, highlights, readers need assistance and our contents should help them to gain comprehensibility.

[edit] Teaser

In larger publications it is sometimes useful to have teaser texts. They introduce a chapter after the headline by pointedly illustrating the main questions or simply explaining what a reader can expect when reading the next pages.

[edit] Lists

Complementary to paragraphs, lists are very popular tools for writing today. Ordered lists explain aspects of an issue in logical steps. In example:

  1. Explore the idea of civil involvement,
  2. Reflect, in which way you'd like to change your environment,
  3. Develop a concrete project.

In contrast, unordered lists do not need such an order. Unordered lists include all aspects in an equal and random fashion:

  • One aspect
  • Another

Often we start using lists under time pressure. Sometimes it helps us to think about what we want to express and how to express this thought in a clear sentence. In typography, bullets should be used as exceptions. They catch our eyes best when the majority of the text is set in ordinary paragraphs.

[edit] Highlight

To highlight words helps us, to accentuate aspects in a sentence or to make keywords more visible. We use only one format for highlights – it is italic. No bold, no underline. Highlight is like lists an element that is to use in exceptions. Otherwise it loses its function.

[edit] Quotations

Quotations mark alien parts of your text. We have to be aware, that we mark these parts carefully. Nobody should think, that we are “taking someone else’s work or ideas”, how the Oxford Dictionary defines the incorrect use of citations (plagiarism). In texts for an expert audience we must ensure that we explain as well our sources. We follow Wikipedia who explains the relevance of good citation for our image:

“Plagiarism is not a crime per se but in academia and industry it is a serious ethical offense.”

For the quotes we use the format template “Quote”. For an inline quote we use the same formatting like for highlights, but we mark the quote with quotation marks, like in the first paragraph of this part. In this publication quotations, which stand for whole sentences, get a little bit space before and after.

Quotations are introduced...“ …and closed by different marks: ”
EN “Good morning... …my dear!”
DE „Guten Morgen... …meine Lieben!”
DE »Guten Morgen... …meine Lieben!«
FR «Bonjour... …monsieur!»

[edit] Notations

For making the source available we offer two alternatives. The first is to use footnotes. The second are endnotes that are attached to a text. Again coming from the aspect of comprehensibility we want to motivate you, to use annotations most economically. There are some authors that use footnotes for a lot of remarks and additional thoughts. We ask critically: When something is so important, that it has to appear in the publication – better to set it into a normal paragraph. What is better – footnotes or endnotes can be decided by you. When you are just linking citations with sources, especially when there is no intensive use of such citations, then endnotes could look smarter. If it is important, that your reader should find the source at once – we think it is better to use footnotes.

A notation should follow a standard formatting scheme. There are footnotes, endnotes or inline set notes. If you have no bibliography, then we recommend an extended footnote format. When there are several works of the author, then use in the short footnote the following format.

For a bibliography we recommend the following formats. If you used digital sources, please add the URL and if your text follows scientific standards, then as well, when you accessed the source.

  • Walter Examplović: Empowering Writers for Change; Bratislava 1999
  • Walter Examplović: Still Empowering Writers for Societal Change; 1999; www.empowermania.com/walter/; accessed 2013-08-12

[edit] Dash and Hyphenation

There are two kind of strokes in use. The first is named a dash. It is a finished used for dates, like April – May, or to separate a part of a sentence ¬¬– like here. The hyphen has one clear function. It hyphenates a word at the end¬ of a row. It is shorter than a dash ne-ver use a hyphenation mark for other purposes.

[edit] Boxes and Additional Elements

How to use boxes?
Consequence: When using a specific box for testimonials, all testimonials should appear in the same way
Limitations: Using just a few of different elements.
Difference: Clarify, in what boxes appear graphics,

and where long texts or just short snippets. Separate them visually.

For some contents it might make sense to put it into additional elements. This could be hyper-links or paraphrases or testimonials. We like the idea of using such elements, but want to make you aware of carefully deciding, what function what elements exactly have. In example, this can be

  • Links and further resources (right)
  • Testimonials (right)
  • Paraphrases or definitions
  • Charts, explanations (below)

[edit] Charts and Tables

For charts we define consistent formats and the content elements should pick up the typography of the whole publication: When a different font, then one that fits to the Open Sans. Font mixing rules do not permit us to combine Open Sans with Arial or Sans-serif.

[edit] A journalists' tool: inverted pyramid

Visualization of the structural and quantitative hierarchy of contents

The model of the inverted pyramid might help to reduce the content of an article and to gain precision. The article should start with the lead – the essential facts a reader must know. Then it may identify sources and circum­stances. It ends with the information that is of specific interest. The shares of each aspect may be around:

35%: who, what, when, where
30%: how, why, from where
20%: specifics
10%: backgrounds
5%: contexts

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