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A Detailed Guide to Using Spatial Order in Composition

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Your write-up’s organisation is as vital as its content. The way you present ideas, the way you thread them together in a narrative, and how your place all information, evidence, explanation, & arguments in context – all of these dictate the success of your write-up.

There are certain patterns and paradigms of organisation that are nearly universal. One of the most prominent among them is the spatial order of organisation, which is the subject of our blog today.

What is the Spatial Order of Organisation?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines spatial as relating to or perceived relative to space.

Simply put, if you decide to organise your ideas & information in a spatial order, you will have to place the entities you intend to mention or describe in light of the space they occupy relative to each other. Spatial order is primarily used to describe a scene, a setting where different people or things are working together or relative to each other, or for describing some layout.

  • The spatial order of arranging and presenting information works best with descriptive writing, especially when you want the reader to visualise something or evoke their emotions using sensory details.  
  • A reference or vantage point is usually chosen, though you can pick another as suitable. Other entities are described with spatial relation to the vantage point.
vantage point
  • The ultimate aim is to deliver a clear & intuitive description and elaborate on a setting to set the mood & context of your write-up. That’s why spatial ordering requires certain transitive terms, verbs & clauses to indicate positions that contribute to the overall description.

Here are a few examples àA few steps ahead, a few kilometres away, just to the left, on the bridge of his nose, directly beneath the bridge, surrounding the neighbourhood, etc.

The above transitive elements act as directional signals for the reader to follow the description closely and visualise it successfully.

  • It is all about maintaining order and organisation. You will have to describe everything logically, starting from one point and then moving on in an orderly fashion to an endpoint.  

Here’s another example of a spatially ordered paragraph à 

The room was tidy and just the right size for a single person. In a few steps to the right of the room’s entrance was a cupboard. It was sturdily built, made of teakwood, and had an imposing look. The cabinet was the biggest thing in the room, and right next to it was the study table with a reading lamp fixed to the wall immediately above. A window with snowy curtains billowed beside the table and had a cosy single bed beside it.”

The above paragraph uses spatial order to describe the position of all the different things in the room with respect to each other, thereby helping readers develop a near-accurate visualisation of the entire room and its occupants.

Spatial Order Variations – An Overview

Spatial order is itself a way to organise information & ideas in writing. There are no specific variations of this pattern of organisation. However, different types of transitive verbs, terms, adverbs, and clauses indicate positions in the setting space. They are directional cues or signal words, and you will find some commonly used ones in the illustration below.

vantage point

As you may have guessed, the above transitive elements make descriptions much clearer. The audience can imagine the subject or entity described quickly and accurately when these directional cues are used to relay information in an orderly manner.

And therein is the primary purpose and benefits of spatial organisation.

The Purpose & Benefits of Spatial Order in Writing

  • The spatial order of organisation makes it easy for the audience to understand and visualise the described setting.
  • Readers look at things as the writer wants them to.
  • The writer can evoke the required emotions and senses, create a picture, and make everyone perceive things from their perspective.
  • As things are described as they appear in a setting, spatial ordering makes for vivid descriptions of places, products, people, and even any phenomenon.
  • A writer can guide the reader’s perception or visualisation with spatial/directional cues.

Organising in a spatial pattern is particularly effective for certain types of write-ups. The next section elaborates.

What Type of Writing Does Spatial Order Work Best With?

Spatial ordering is ideal when describing a scene, place, entity, or setting in detail. At the same time, spatial order can be utilised to give directions and instructions. Everything notable entity or aspect in a scene is described, making it easy for readers to visualise the entire setting or circumstances.

Below are some examples of spatial ordering in different kinds of writing.

Examples of Spatial Ordering in Some Types of Writing

Descriptive Writing

The machine was as large as a refrigerator with its entire front occupied by the work holder. The work holder had rails, a bond head, lights, and an ingress & egressing mechanism on the left & right. Right above the work holder were a giant screen, the vacuum tensioner, the wire spool, and certain dials for airflow measurement. And below the work holder, you had a keyboard and mouse, beneath which lay a giant panel housing viral electronics.

Narrative Writing

A river with clear, sparkling water flowed through the middle of the valley. On both sides, you had quaint hamlets, each having terrace cultivations extending the slopes of mountains. Mountainous vegetation filled the slope above the cultivated portions, while nearly every house on both sides of the river banks had quaint gardens. Roads snaked out from both ends of the hamlets & rose by the mountainsides, extending kilometres above and beyond.

Technical Writing

The map lays out a detailed description of the vast facility. From the entrance, the buildings immediately to the left are the inventory and spare room. Right above the inventory space is the control room. Directly ahead of the entrance is a sprawling space where forklifts and other factory-specific vehicles would transport materials across the floor. And 500 yards away from the control room and adjoining entrance are the blast furnace & the arc furnace power transformer assembly.

Persuasive Writing

Thousands of homeless, poor, and perpetually emaciated people occupied the insides and surrounded the rail station. The station is public property after all, and nobody would out them. The picture never changed over the years; only the people did. You will find beggars and families in every nook & cranny at every railway station across the subcontinent. And, this ever-present crowd is a constant reminder of the ever-present & unending inequality and poverty in the fastest-rising economy of the world.

The above examples highlight the most common implementations of the spatial pattern of organisation. Spatial ordering works best when describing some scene, setting, or entity; think of the best way to describe something & find out if spatial ordering is the way to go.

If so, follow the tips below to implement spatial ordering in your descriptions.

How to Use Spatial Order Effectively in Writing?

  • Have a clear mental picture of the subject that you wish to describe.
  • Write down a tentative description to find out how it looks on paper.
  • Transitions are crucial for unity, coherence, order, and proper understanding. Use transitive verbs, prepositions, clauses, etc. as directional cues and signals for the reader.
  • Progress logically and methodically to make sure readers follow everything easily.
  • Whether describing superficially or digging into the details, remember to mention/describe everything apropos a reference point.
  • Choose an appropriate reference point and then progress gradually.
  • Decide how you describe something and then think from the READER’S PERSPECTIVE.

Do NOTE that spatial ordering does not work well when you wish to focus specifically on something.

These tips and all the information above will make it quite easy to structure an essay using the spatial order of organisation.

How Do You Structure an Essay Using Spatial Order?

When structuring an essay using spatial ordering, it is all about delivering clear & accurate descriptions with proper spatial references. Here are the steps for developing an essay that employs spatial arrangement.

  • Choose the Right Topic & Setting

As you may have learned, spatial ordering works best for write-ups describing something. If the write-up’s topic, subject, setting, or nature makes spatial ordering possible, go ahead.

  • Use a Proper Outline

When imposing spatial ordering, the essay outline plays a crucial role. Place all information in the outline with respect to a specific vantage point and use transitions as spatial cues.

  • Use Transitions & Signals

Transitive elements and directional signals are the scaffolding that enables spatial organisation. Use them to link all information and craft cohesive, easily interpretable descriptions. Transitional elements and directional signal cues work together to denote location, position, placement, etc. accurately.

  • Personalise the Essay

Spatial descriptions can become quite bland, generic and predictable. Adding a bit of personality, some carefully construed descriptions, and some emotions can help readers comprehend details better. However, such as approach is not advisable for technical essays.

What Statements are Examples of Spatial Organisation?

We wrap up this guide with a look at some more prime examples of spatial organisation.

  • Far beyond the fields rose the vague, fog & smog-covered outline of the distant mountains.
  • The most distinctive feature of the stranger was a large cut on his left cheek, just beside his nose.
  • In the middle of the tomb stood at 20 feet statue of an eldritch deity. Ancient offerings were strewn all around it. An eerie light emanated from the fluorescent mushrooms that grew all over, lending an eerie glow to the entire chamber.

And that concludes this guide to spatial ordering and organisation in composition. Hope it comes in handy anytime you need some guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is spatial ordering?

Spatial ordering is a pattern of organising and presenting information in any writing. Descriptions and details are mentioned in light of a spatial reference.

When should we use spatial organisation?

Crafting apt descriptions of a scene, setting, place, person, or phenomenon, helping readers visualise clearly – spatial organisation is handy in all such use cases.

How can a description be crafted using the spatial order?

A reference point is generally chosen, and then things are described with respect to it. Directional cues and signal words indicate the tentative positions of other entities in the setting.

What is an example of a spatial order?

Here’s one:

There was a giant billiards table smack in the middle of the room. Strewn all around were cue sticks, balls, benches, and chairs. On the wall opposite the head of the table was a blackboard with scores & tables. And above the billiards table was an immensely powerful light that was working properly after all these years.

What are transition words used in spatial descriptions

However, moreover, in contrast, at the same time –these are some commonly used terms.

What are some signal words on the spatial organisation?

On the left, to the right, right above, a few yards away, right beneath there, nearby – these are some common signal words.

How does spatial ordering help?

Spatial ordering helps readers understand and visualise a description better.

What are some other types of ordering in composition?

Other common types of ordering used extensively in composition are chronological, climactic, and step-by-step.

Can spatial ordering be used in every kind of writing?

Not really. They work best in descriptive & narrative writing and certain technical write-ups.

What kind of technical write-ups employ spatial ordering?

Product descriptions, instruction manuals, and directional guides are common technical write-ups that use spatial organisation.

Tussling to Master the Art of Composing Paragraphs in Spatial Order? Has Got You Covered

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Henry Lee

Hi, my name is Henry Lee. I am 26 and an active tech blogger based in Adelaide. Well, that’s something I do out of passion. To earn a livelihood, I work as a full-time English writing expert at I write academic blogs, mainly focused on English and Literature writing. I have 4+ years of experience of guiding students on essays writing on different categories of topics. Apart from this, I love to keep myself updated on the latest happenings in technology. I love new gadgets as much as I love writing. So, when I am not writing, you’ll probably find me indulged in a gaming session or researching about the latest trend in technology. 

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