General WritingResearch and CitationTeaching and TutoringSubject-Specific WritingJob Search WritingESL
OWL at Purdue Logo

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) and Lower Order Concerns (LOCs)

Summary:

This handout discusses the common Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) and Lower Order Concerns (LOCs) in writing.

Contributors:Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2013-03-01 08:38:34

When you are revising your papers, not every element of your work should have equal priority. The most important parts of your paper, often called "Higher Order Concerns (HOCs)," are the "big picture" elements such as thesis or focus, audience and purpose, organization, and development. After you have addressed these important elements, you can then turn your attention to the "Lower Order Concerns (LOCs)," such as sentence structure and grammar.

Keep in mind, however, that moving between HOCs and LOCs might be a natural process for you. Experienced writers may begin with HOCs and dip into the LOCs as they revise. Inexperienced writers may revise systematically through the HOCs and then the LOCs. In addition, LOCs, such as punctuation and spelling, may affect HOCs. For example, if the first sentence of your introductory paragraph is riddled with punctuation and spelling errors, readers may not move far enough into your work to get to your thesis statement. In these cases, you should address LOCs first.

Some HOCs

Thesis or focus:

Audience and purpose:

Organization:

Development:

Some LOCs

Sentence structure, punctuation, word choice, spelling

Copyright ©1995-2014 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.