Writing an Outline

A good outline is essential as part of preliminary preparation for a paper (especially long papers). The main purpose of an outline is to plan for your paper once you have the topic. With an outline you are also able to organize your thoughts and points. Below are a few important tips of writing a comprehensive and effective outline:


  • Formulate a thesis statement


If you do not have a thesis statement, you will need to get one. Thesis statement outlines the main objective of your paper.  From the thesis statement you will get all the main points that you may need to anchor to the thesis statement. You can derive the flow and the main points of your research based on the thesis statement. Therefore, determining the purpose of the paper and formulating a thesis statement is a good way to construct your outline.


  • Get relevant information


Secondly, you will need to get an overview of the relevant sources of information when creating an outline. Although it is not a must to pre-empt the details it would essential to have sources in mind when construction your outline. Skim through the relevant selected sources to determine some of the things that you may consider important in the paper and note them down. You may also be keen to include the page number for later when you are writing the paper.


  • Determine the type of the outline


There are two main types of outlines: the sentence outline and the topic outline.  Whereas a topic outline uses short phrases that carry the main discussions, the sentence outline provides more details without taking too much space and confusing the reader. Therefore, you need to determine which type of outline you are going to use.


  • Arrange the subtopics


Writing the outline will involve listing the relevant topic and subtopics that will be discussed in the paper. You will need to determine the order of arranging the topic in coherent and sensible manner. Every topic consists of an idea that needs to be developed. These ideas should be ordered in a chronological order. This arrangement ensures that the outline flows logically. The arrangement is important in avoiding half-exhausted points that end abruptly.


  • Filling the subtopics


Subtopics should consist of at two or more sub points. You need to strategically construct the ideas into these subtopics to paragraphs that flow and make sense. The coherence of the paragraph depends on how the sub-points are connected together to deliver the main argument. The longer the papers the more the sub-points that will be needed to fit into the paragraph.


  • Elucidating the sub points


Depending on the kind of paper you are working on, sub-point need to be expanded. Long papers usually require expanding. You can use indentation and Arabic numbers to mark the third level of the outline. However, this is not a must and can be done at your own discretion.


When you have completed writing the outline it is important to proofread to ensure that all the points included are relevant to the study. Completing the outline ensure that you have a clear map on what you are going to write about. It simplifies the process of writing.



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