Dr. Judith M. Newman

Writing Patterns in Expository Text


Pattern Clues to Pattern Strategies Suggested Diagram


  • introductory statement contains a number word or words like "many" or "several"
  • subtopics signalled by "first", "second", "third", "more", "also", etc.
  1. look for topic
  2. look for sub-topics
  3. organize details related to topics
  Question /
  • introductory question
  • answer signalled by words like "first", "second", "one", "another"
  1. look for question
  2. note words that signal answers
  3. isolate answer
  General   Statement /
  • most common pattern
  • offers generalization followed by supporting examples
  1. look for generalization
  2. look for supporting specifics

  Cause /
  • causes leading to effects
  • words like "cause", "reasons for", "first", "second", "finally", etc.
  1. look for effect
  2. look for cause (must answer "why" about the effect)

  • steps in a process
  • chronology
  • events leading to a specific outcome
  1. look for introduction which sets purpose and lists steps to follow
  2. look for steps
  3. look for order of steps
  4. look for steps in sequence
  5. separate background information from steps
  6. look for meaning of sequence

  / Contrast
  • always more than one topic
  • uses cues: "in the same way", "on the other hand", "although", "yet", "however", "even though"


  • lays out details of a problem
  1. look for the problem
  2. look for significant details