How to Establish Chronological Order in a Paragraph

Posted on: April 19, 2010

A good writer uses many strategies to make material clear and understandable to readers. When you plan your document, for example, you must select a structural style to use in ordering the material within each chapter or section—that is, how should you organize the paragraphs to best suit the document objectives? Should you use spatial order? Chronological order? Cause/effect order? Ascending or descending order? Comparison/contrast order? Another type of order?

Don’t answer that question on the fly. Before you begin writing, plan the document. As part of your planning, establish the structural style for each chapter or section. Then, when you write the first draft, implement your plan as you construct each paragraph. When it gets right down to the nitty gritty of writing, here are some suggestions for building a paragraph using chronological order:

One, start a paragraph with a subject sentence. In the subject sentence, establish the content and the organization of the paragraph. In the case of chronological order (our example), use words and phrases related to time. Such words indicate the order of occurrence over time, for example, words that give instructions, describe a process, or show the development of a product or a process.

Examples of a chronological subject sentence:

  • Four steps are required to complete the inspection of this product.
  • Your tour of the garden will begin at the main fountain, proceed to the herb garden and the woodland areas, and finish with a pleasant stroll through the azalea walk.
  • Periods of glacial maximum develop under three conditions.

Two, maintain paragraph unity. Once you have established the subject and the organization of the paragraph, remember that all the other sentences in the paragraph must support and explain the subject sentence. You can spot a paragraph that is not unified by looking for information that is not relevant to the subject sentence.

The sentences within the paragraph must maintain the overall order. In our example, this means you would use “time” words to discuss the subject and transition from one sentence to the next. Words like first, last, subsequently, next, after, immediately, then, in turn, initially, and so on will help maintain chronological order.

What are your thoughts on this?  Elizabeth Lexleigh  The Write Ideas  lexpower


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