• Alphabetical – As most people learn how to use alphabetical order in childhood, it’s nearly intuitive.
  • Categorical – There is no hierarchy, no sequence and all topics are typically the same level of difficulty with no prerequisites.
  • Cause and Effect – Used when content presents problems and solutions.
  • Inherent Structure – For content presents events in a time line, or revolves around various geographical areas.
  • Order of Importance – Learners pay the most attention to the beginning and end of a topic, therefore you can:
    1) place the most important content at the start AND the end,
    2) proceed from the least important to the most important content, or
    3) go from most important to least.
  • Simple to Complex – Organized from simple to complex providing a slow initiation into a subject, building the learner’s confidence and knowledge base.
  • Sequential – When presenting a process or procedure, it’s most effective to use a series of steps providing hooks for learners to remember.
  • Spiral – Revisits each topic in a systematic way at a more detailed and complex level each time.
  • Subordinate to Higher Level (Hierarchical) – Used when content requires learner master subordinate skills or knowledge to advance to a higher level skill.
  • Whole to Parts – Introduces the big picture or system first, then delves into the parts of the system. Providing the big picture helps adult learners make sense of information. It also provides a framework for fitting information together in memory (Malamad, 2009).


Malamad, C. (2009, November 30). How to organize content. The eLearning Coach. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/how-to-organize-content/