Macrostructure in Expository Prose

A second category of connected discourse is exposition, or language that seeks to explain. An example of expository prose is the textbook chapter. Like a story, it has large-scale structure that can be shown in an outline. If presented in the pyramid shape used for most hierarchical diagrams, an outline fragment would look like the following diagram:

An outline can be rendered as an "expository structure hierarchy."

What does an outline have in common with a story structure hierarchy?

This is not a convenient way to construct an outline, but it does show that an outline is a notational device for describing hierarchical structure.

Hierarchical structure in prose usually helps both comprehension and memory. Each part relates to other parts in a meaningful way, guiding retrieval of information later. Outlines are powerful tools for putting clear structure into writing.

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Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey