I love the cut and paste feature of Word, but every now and then, I resort to scissors and tape to arrange a text. Whenever I struggle with structure, I find that it helps to physically organize the text. I’m currently working on a list essay where the order of the items is especially important, and even after reworking the list a few times, I could tell it didn’t quite flow yet.

So I printed out my document and first color-coded according to topic. This is a list essay about Chicago, and my color codes were, for example, grey for the Loop, green for my neighborhood, yellow for when I used the “I” pronoun, and so on. Then I cut the list into strips, sat down on my living room rug, and reassembled it to group strips of text with the same color code together. As I moved the paper around, I cut a few more strips and moved them around until I felt I had arrived at a better order. Somehow, looking at pieces of text on paper, the order became so much more obvious. Then I taped those pieces together, and voila, a reassembled text! Having that flapping piece of glued-together paper strips makes it so much easier to then cut and paste the text in the Word document.