our everyday life

How to Use a Graphic Organizer for Writing a Paper

by Melissa Nicholas, studioD

Graphic organizers are prewriting tools designed to give you a visual representation of the content you need, and they help you arrange the content to write your paper. They are particularly useful to students who need a boost in organizing information, says Patty Kohler of the University of Central Arkansas. Graphic organizers usually feature geometric shapes that represent paragraphs. Use graphic organizers to help you structure your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Doing so can help you connect your ideas and write a paper that is cohesive, enabling readers to understand the point you are making.

Organize Ideas

Complete all sections of your graphic organizer from top to bottom. Do not write complete sentences here. Using individual words or phrases for each section is acceptable because the purpose of the graphic organizer is to arrange your ideas.

Transfer Ideas

Write the words or phrases from the introduction section of your graphic organizer on a sheet of paper or type them into a blank document on your computer's word processor to begin your rough draft. Add words to form complete sentences and continue writing your rough draft by using the information from the body paragraph and conclusion sections of your graphic organizer to form those paragraphs. Refer to your graphic organizer as you write to ensure you include the ideas you wrote down into your rough draft.

Enhance Your Ideas

Return to the beginning of your rough draft and add descriptive words to show instead of tell. If you wrote the phrase "good food," as the topic of a body paragraph on your graphic organizer, complete and enhance it by writing "The mouth-watering topping-filled slice of cheesy pizza left me craving more" on your paper. Chances are readers have enjoyed tasty pizza. Helping them to visualize their experience can keep them interested in yours. If you are writing a paper based on a book, refer to it for examples. Remember to paraphrase when not using direct quotes.


Reread your paper to check for grammatical and spelling errors. Read your paper aloud to check whether you have avoided using choppy sentences and that your paper flows. Allow classmates to read your paper, because they might catch errors you overlooked. Check your paper against a rubric or other guidelines your instructor provides to make sure you have met all requirements.


Make corrections and changes that you found while editing to finalize your paper. Reread your paper to ensure that it doesn’t need additional corrections. Submit your graphic organizer with your paper so your instructor can compare your final draft with your prewriting. This will allow him to ensure you haven't left important ideas or details out of your paper. It can also enable to him to follow your thought process and may help answer questions he might have about your paper.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melissa Nicholas has been writing features articles since 1995. She was a features writer and columnist for “The Gainesville Times” newspaper and “The Island Packet” newspaper. During that time, she received Associated Press awards for features writing and for newspaper page design.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Digital Vision/Getty Images