Using an Inverted Pyramid to Organize

Often it is good to use an inverted pyramid to organize.

Give answers before explanations.

If you are providing an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section, after you provide the question, give the answer. Then give the explanation.

What is a URL?
A URL is a web address. URL stands for Universal Resource Locator.

The reader probably doesn’t care what the acronym (letters) stand for. They care about knowing what it is. So give the answer and then provide the explanation. If they want the explanation, they can keep reading.

Give summaries before details.

This works on the same principle above. If the reader only wants to hit the highlights, you give that first. If they want more information, they can keep reading.

Notice that this post is organized that way. If you only want to know what is an inverted pyramid, you can read the bolded sections only. Then you’re done. Or, if you don’t understand the bolded info and want more, you can keep reading.

Give conclusions before discussions.

In some kinds of writing, you don’t want this. Putting the conclusion first is usually not a good way to write a persuasive paper. However, in business this is known as the bottom line. Give the bottom line first. Then discuss how you got there.

I was recently on a hiring committee. We had many people who applied for the job. At the end of the whole process, we were supposed to bring recommendations to those with the power to hire. Whether in written or in verbal form, the best way to present our recommendations would have been conclusion first (Hire Y.) and then the discussion (He has 8 years experience….).

Give general statements before specifics.

Think of this as the topic sentence in a paragraph. You give the general statement, then you back it up with specifics. You can use that format to organize an entire technical paper.

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