Wikipedia:How to structure the content
|This page is currently inactive and is retained for historical reference.
Either the page is no longer relevant or consensus on its purpose has become unclear. To revive discussion, seek broader input via a forum such as the village pump.
This article explains how to structure the content of articles, with the purpose of ensuring completeness and improving readability. It is based on the principle that similar articles (e.g. on chemical elements) should be structured in a similar fashion.
In general, the structure of an article should follow the following principles:
- "Spiral out", i.e. start with the core of the topic, then develop ALL its main aspects briefly, then optionally develop some aspects FULLY. In other words, give 2 or 3 successive pictures of the topic, each of them focused on the topic, but with more and more content. This way, the reader can stop reading when s/he has enough information.
- In each of the pictures, follow the chronological order of events when possible. People remember pieces of information better when they are connected. Chronological order is universally understood. For each individual event, explain "who did what when why", with possible explanations of special challenges, techniques, resources or consequences.
- If the chronological order is not adequate, use the logical order. Make sure that ALL the steps in the logic are stated, in the correct order. To test this, pretend to be ignorant, and challenge each step.
- Each paragraph should convey only one main idea. Connect them together by paragraph leaders (e.g. "Because of this unexpected result, ...") as much as possible.
- In articles whose topic is especially complex or varied, it may be useful to add a paragraph or section after the introduction which explains the various ways that topic may be described, compared, or considered. such as, "TOPIC may be described many ways including THIS WAY and THAT WAY." For example, Chord (music) does this through a section titled "Definition and Construction of Chords" and Musical form through a paragraph: "Forms and formal detail may be described as sectional or developmental, developmental or variational, extensional or intensional, associational or hierarchical. Form may also be described according to symmetries or lack thereof and repetition. A common idea is formal "depth", necessary for complexity, in which foregrounded "detail" events occur against a more structural background."
You can find more information on how to structure specific topics in the Wikipedia:WikiProject article.