Structuring your document

The structure of your document is like a skeleton or framework – it holds it together and guides readers through to find the information they need.

A document with no structure is just a heap of text, with no organisation of thought. People have to read the whole text to understand the message; there are no shortcuts to help them find key information or interpret it.

After creating a plan of your content, the next step is to provide a structure. Group information into related chunks and choose an order; this will be determined by the purpose of your document and your readers’ needs.


When we created this course, we started with a huge mind map of all the topics we wished to cover. By thinking about our purpose, audience, and content, we began finding a structure to serve all those needs.

We decided the course could be organised into a five-part structure, and we arranged the topics under those five modules.

Then we created the navigational map of the book to provide a visual way of finding the parts of the book that are of interest to individual readers or for anyone wanting to find a particular topic again.

By repeating the navigational map at the start of each module, we help participants quickly identify where they are in the whole process and see the detailed contents of that particular module.