At its most basic, writing is procedural.  The outline we are about to create together below will be a very simple but effective blueprint you can use again and again to structure any kind of paper so that it is clear, concise, and precise.

Assignment: write a paper answering the question “What is the best kind of sandwich?”

  1. Make sure you know exactly what the question is you will answer (it’s pretty clear here).
  2. What are your choices? Any sandwich you can think of, probably.   Tuna fish, peanut butter and jelly, corned beef on rye with Russian dressing?
  3. Decide on one sandwich. Let’s choose a ham and cheese on white bread.
  4. Brainstorm about why a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread is so fantastic. Draw diagrams, pictures, make lists.
  5. Collect information that could help you make good arguments to convince your reader your sandwich choice is the best ever. Read, ask, talk, think.

Pick the top 3 reasons that would be most convincing to a reader.  For the sake of this exercise, here are 3 we can use:

  1. It is a traditional, classic combination.
  2. It is a nutritional sandwich because it has healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
  3. It allows for a lot of variety because you can dress it up or down with condiments and toppings in many combinations.

In its most simple form, our paper would look like this:

Introductory paragraph with thesis statement The best sandwich is a ham and cheese on white bread because it is a classic, it is nutritional, and it is never boring because it can be made in so many different ways.
Supporting paragraph beginning with a topic sentence The ham and cheese on white bread is one of the most traditional, time-honored sandwiches.  [Insert your research on how people have been eating it since xxxx, how it was invented, by whom, that it appears on television, in the movies, in books, et cetera.]
Supporting paragraph beginning with a topic sentence It has remained a classic because it’s nutritional.  [Insert your research on meat, dairy, and bread, recommended daily values, et cetera.]
Supporting paragraph beginning with a topic sentence Not only is it classic and nutritional, it is made in so many delicious ways.  [Insert your research about sandwich toppings and combinations.]
Conclusion For these reasons, a ham and cheese on white will always be a hands-down favorite.

Of course, there is much more work to do so your reader does not fall asleep.  The introductory paragraph could use a sentence or two to draw the reader in; the paragraphs must flow smoothly from one into the other so the paper does not read like a list; and the conclusion might be beefed up a bit.  There is also opportunity to mention what critics of your sandwich choice might respond to your arguments and how and why those critics are mistaken.   The Edit Assist can help with all these skills, and more.