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A division is the division of a whole into several structural parts or areas that are largely self-contained, but cannot be removed from the whole as a unit without making it incomplete.

Structure of texts

An outline can make the text clearer and make it easier to find information on sub-aspects quickly. The text is divided into individual sections, with a clear presentation of information in paragraphs in the foreground, e.g. B. in a lecture, presentation or in scientific articles.

A structure is very common for scientific texts. The often deeply structured theses , dissertations and habilitation theses have to adhere to strict formal requirements. Good structures are characterized by the logic of the equal or subordination of all parts, the precision of the headings and a uniform heading style.

The structure of scientific papers should clarify the logic of the argument. Historical forerunners of the current procedural model were the scholastic method in the Middle Ages and before that the ancient dialectic. The current process model follows the scheme

  • Discovery context,
  • Reasoning context,
  • Utilization context.

In a contemporary version, this scheme corresponds to the following process model:

  • Introduction (occasion)
  • Situation analysis
  • aims
  • Methodology and work program
  • Synthesis / analysis
  • rating
  • Summary, outlook

Typography deals with the text structure, among other things .


In business and administration in Germany, the division of a text is part of word processing according to DIN 5008 . The writing and design rules for word processing form the basis for writing professionally designed documents. The text structure and section numbering is often done in Germany according to DIN 1421 ("Structure and numbering in texts"), internationally according to ISO 2145 (Documentation; Numbering of divisions and subdivisions in written documents) .

Decimal structure

The decimal structure is common in almost all subjects. The following guidelines apply:

  • There are Arabic numerals used.
  • Each main section is numbered consecutively from 1 on.
  • Each section can have any number of subsections, but at least two.
  • Each subsection can in turn be subdivided into further subsections, but at least two, etc.
  • The digits of the individual levels are separated by a point.
  • There is no point after the last structural number, even if there is only one structural number ( DIN 5008 ).


1 Introduction
2 main part
2.1 thesis
2.1.1 Argument No. 1
2.1.2 Argument No. 2
2.1.3 Argument No. 3
2.2 antithesis
2.2.1 Argument No. 1
2.2.2 Argument No. 2
2.2.3 Argument No. 3
3 conclusion

Alphanumeric structure

The alphanumeric structure, which used to be widespread, is now used almost exclusively in legal texts, including exams, term papers and examination papers, but is generally not mandatory.


A Outline level 1
I. Outline level 2
1st level 3
2nd level 3
a) Outline level 4
aa) Outline level 5
(1) Outline level 6
α) Outline level 7
β) Outline level 7
(2) Outline level 6
bb) Outline level 5
b) Outline level 4
aa) Outline level 5
bb) Outline level 5
(1) Outline level 6
(2) Outline level 6
II. Outline level 2
B Outline level 1

Advantages and disadvantages of both classification systems

Proponents of the alphanumeric structure consider it clearer than the numerical one. Proponents of the numerical structure see it the other way round. For example, when specifying "" in the heading, it is easier and faster to determine which section of the structure you are currently in than when specifying just "(1)". The advantage of the alphanumeric structure is that the amount of space for the structure information in the heading remains the same for very deeply structured texts. With a numerical structure, the scope increases slightly with each level. For a heading of the 7th level, the structure information in the numerical structure is, for example, " (heading text)", while in the alphanumeric structure it is simply "α) (heading text)". The latter disadvantage of the numerical structure is the reason why the alphanumerical structure is still very common in legal works. These often have a very deep structure.

The use of the numerical classification system in the case of international data exchange, for example with spreadsheet programs or databases, involves the risk of confusing sections with whole numbers at the first level and the risk of confusing sections with floating point numbers in the second section , as the point is used as a decimal separator , especially in English-speaking countries is used.

Frequently occurring structural errors

The structure, ie the subdivision of a text into superordinate and subordinate thoughts, is not an end in itself. It serves the orientation of the reader and must be coherent in itself . Of the many and not infrequently encountered structural errors, the following are mentioned:

  • Period at the end of the structure numbers when using the decimal structure (for example "2.1." Instead of correctly "2.1")
  • Mixture of decimal and alphanumeric principles
  • Illogical numbering: For example, the sequence 1, 2, 2.1, 3 is illogical. At least 2.1 and 2.2 must appear as a subdivision to point 2.
  • Headings without a content statement: Chapter headings with empty formulas such as introduction, main part, conclusion, digression etc. contradict the sense of headings to announce the content of the respective chapter.
  • Headings Implicit in Completeness: This is often the case when using the definite article (der, die, das). Who z. If, for example, a chapter with "The possibilities and the limits of self-scanning" is overwritten, you would actually have to deal with all the possibilities and all the limits.
  • Inapplicable headings: For example, a “summary” must actually contain a short version of what has already been covered; no new aspects may appear in it. In contrast, an “outlook” must actually point out new, expected developments, but not repeat what has already been discussed.

It is advisable not to mix verbal style and nominal style in the headings . As a negative example: "3.2.1 What advantages are associated with self-scanning" (verbal style) and "3.2.2 Disadvantages of self-scanning" (nominal style).

Outline of information

The structuring of complex information contexts can be supported by techniques such as visualization in tree structures or so-called mind maps .

In addition to the classic collection of notes in card boxes , the use of outline editors , note or document management software now offers extended options.

See also


  • DIN, German Institute for Standardization eV (Ed.): Writing and design rules for word processing. Special print of DIN 5008: 2005. 4th edition. Beuth, Berlin / Vienna / Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-410-15993-2 .
  • Gabriele Huber: Practice-oriented word processing with office practice. Exercise and preparation for the examination for the vocational school for economics (Huber / Trinkner). Merkur-Verlag, Rinteln 2006, ISBN 3-8120-0707-X .
  • Gerhard Nickolaus: Typewriting word processing. Text input, text editing, text design according to the new DIN 5008 . 22., revised. Edition. Verlag Europa-Lehrmittel Nourney, Vollmer, Haan-Gruiten 2005, ISBN 3-8085-8168-9 (Edition Mende).

Web links

Wiktionary: Outline  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The term “ text structure ” is more comprehensive and generally describes the external form of a text. The associated elements are: text volume, heading, structure (chapters, sections, paragraphs, acts, scenes, stanzas), type of connection (intended structure).
  2. ^ Hans-Otto Schenk: The thesis. A guide for economists and social scientists. UTB 2657, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2657-3 , p. 119.
  3. M. Grabmann: The history of the scholastic method . Berlin 1988.
  4. ^ HH Holz: Dialektik - Problem History from Antiquity to the Present . Darmstadt 2011.
  5. ^ H. Reichenbach: Experience and Prediction - An Analysis of the Foundations and the Structure of Knowledge . Chicago 1938.
  6. ^ V. Ahrens: Structuring theses correctly . UTB, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-8252-4096-7 .
  7. Bodo Pieroth (ed.), Housework in constitutional law, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8114-8081-0 , p. 10 f.
  8. ^ Hans-Otto Schenk: The thesis. A guide for economists and social scientists. UTB 2657, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2657-3 , pp. 64-69.