Using the Minto Pyramid, should I order the paragraphs of my paper by going through the rows of the pyramid like this?

Thesis > Why > How > Where > A > B > C > D > E

Or should I start at the top of the pyramid and follow one branch down to the end leaf, then go up one step and repeat?

Thesis > Why > A > B > How > C > D > Where > E

  • I would think the latter, at least in the general case, to avoid the gap between, say, Why and A & B. But I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer; it could depend on a number of factors, such as the topic or the length of the work.
    – J.R.
    Jul 2, 2013 at 22:23
  • 1
    I think the more complete answer would be to discuss all necessary dependencies (maybe B is imperative for understanding Why while A isn't as much) and save the other low-level points for an 'Origins' or 'Development' section that's to come after the higher-level ones are finished.
    – Mussri
    Jul 3, 2013 at 11:28
  • 1
    How large a paper? How many "nodes" at each level? How many cross-dependencies? These are all factors that seem relevant. Jul 4, 2013 at 1:42
  • The paper will be between 2-5 pages. With about 6 nodes at the 2nd level and around 2 child nodes for each of those. Only 3 levels, including Thesis. Jul 5, 2013 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


I'd use the latter option, Thesis > Why > A > B > How > C > D > Where > E. As commenters have mentioned, it's probably best to keep the gap between A,B, and Why as short as possible.

This structure also lends itself more easily to formatting, and it should also cut down on the number of cross-references you need to make from one section to the next (as you're likely able to discuss the Why, How, and Where mostly independently from each other).

  • Welcome to Writers.SE! In general this is good advice, but it applies to pretty much any structure/outline. For a question like this, we'd look for specific advice on the choice the Original Poster is asking about - sure, either way can work and no outline will work perfectly, but what might work better or worse? Are there any considerations to choose one or the other? Can you give examples that demonstrate good or bad choices?
    – Standback
    Mar 25, 2016 at 11:41
  • In general, if you think the question is poor, vague, unanswerable, or just a generic "any of those can work just fine," - IMHO that works better as comments (and votes!) on the question, than as an answer.
    – Standback
    Mar 25, 2016 at 11:42

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