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Plan your writing

Create a plan

Planning is an important part of the writing process. We recommend that you create a plan before you start writing. Don’t rush this stage of the process; it can take time to put a detailed plan together, but it will save you time later when you are writing.

A good plan helps you to:

  • define and organise your argument before tackling your first draft
  • produce a clear, coherent and well-structured essay
  • stay focused on answering the question.

After analysing the assignment task, you should think about what your answer to the question, or your approach to addressing the task, will be. This will help you create a focused plan. For example, if your task is to evaluate something, how will you do this? If you are asked “to what extent”, what do you think your answer will be?

Three tips for planning

Tip 1: Use a planning technique that suits you.

You can use a mixture of techniques. For example, a visual method when you are gathering initial ideas followed by a more structured plan before you start writing:

  • Use mind-maps: a visual planning method that helps you to quickly come up with ideas and make connections between those ideas.
  • Use linear (list) plans: use headings, subheadings and bullet points to plan your main ideas. This can be useful to plan out your writing paragraph by paragraph.

Whichever method you choose, make sure you clearly identify the ideas and information that came from other sources, to differentiate them from your own ideas. This is important for ensuring your academic integrity.

Tip 2: Write it down

When you start to plan, write down:

  • what you already know
  • what sources of information you already have (lectures, seminars, labs, reading etc.) and what you still might need to gather
  • what aspects of the topic you might want to cover
  • what different perspectives there might be on this topic
  • what questions you have about the topic

This will help you plan your further reading and research, to fill in gaps in your knowledge. You can keep adding information to your plan as you go along.

Learn how to find high-quality information for your assignments.

Tip 3: Use your plan to create a structure

Pick out the most relevant points from your plan. Make sure that there is enough evidence to support each point. Consider in what order you need to present the information, arguments or points you want to make.

Plan in paragraphs, under headings or in sections to help you build a logical structure.

Continue to the Structure your writing section