Effective organization requires you to see your subject as a whole and as a system of interrelated parts. As you move from a broad overview to a  look at an individual detail, you need to see, and let your reader see, how the two levels are related. Consider, for instance, a deck of playing cards. Fresh out of the box and wrapped in cellophane, it seems to be one single thing. Strewn randomly about the floor, each card is individual, complete, yet part of a larger system. And of course each card has parts—a front and a back, markings for suit and number.

As you move from a broad overview to a close-up look at an individual detail, you need to see, and let your reader see, how the two levels are related.

To get a feel for the process of organization, imagine organizing a deck of cards. If you begin with a holistic view, seeing the deck as one thing, your task is to divide that whole into meaningful groups. You might divide it first by color, into red and black, then divide the red suits into diamonds and hearts, and so forth. If you begin with an atomistic view, seeing the deck as fifty two separate components, you need to gather those components into meaningful categories. You might put all the aces in one pile, all the queens in another, and so forth.

The point is that there's no single best way to organize the deck, but any good way of organizing the deck will connect the individual components (every single card) with a unified vision (the deck as a whole) according to some system that has meaning and value for the people involved. Bridge players might organize the cards one way, poker players another.


2.1 Select one of the lists below and organize its individual items into categories. In the table that follows, or a similar one that you make, label your categories and copy the individual items into their appropriate spots. The table provides for four categories, but you don't need to have that many.

List 1: onion, pork chop, apple, hamburger, banana, carrot, green bean, peach, chicken breast, potato, plum, hot dog

List 2: Hoe, rake, spoon, rototiller, socket wrench, screwdriver, blender, fork, hammer, spatula, power drill

List 3: Chicago, IL; New York, NY, Olympia, WA; Detroit, MI; Miami, FL; Portland, OR; Springfield, IL; Sacramento, CA; Lansing, MI; Seattle, WA; Albany, NY, Los Angeles, CA;

Category I Category 2 Category 3 Category 4
Items: Items: Items: Items: