An outline is defined as a short plan where the main idea related to the essay, topic, research, or paper is written. The arguments that will be presented later are prearranged in paragraphs so that the writer does not forget to include these in the essay. In simple words, it creates boundaries and constructs an overview of the writing.
Understanding how to write an outline
How to write an outline is one of the most important topics nowadays because it is impossible to write a reference paper or an essay without the help of an outline. Understanding the concept with examples and templates is necessary for creating the best outlines for your topic.
To create a perfect outline, the writer will need first to understand the purpose of the paper and the audience for who he is writing. After developing the thesis of the paper, it is time to list all the ideas that should be incorporated in the paper, group all the related ideas into a definite structure, arrange the information in a form for instance general to specific and label them by creating headings and subheadings.
It is essential to jot down your thoughts and create an outline that will prove beneficial while writing about the topic.
Reasons for writing an outline
An outline is considered an integral part of writing because of the following reasons-
- An outline is a step-by-step process that helps the writer to focus on the things that need to be spoken about in the main content.
- An outline is the start of a method where the writer can sort all the information he has collected until now into useful and not needed. It helps him to organize and rearrange his thought process so that he can identify the information that is important for his essay and write it down systematically for use later on
- An outline comes in handy as it helps the writer to arrange his thoughts and give it a viable structure.
- An outline gives a framework to the existing chaos so that everything starts looking ordered and systematic
- One of the top reasons for using an outline is to make the readers understand the flow of the information in the essay.
- The reason for using an outline is to show the logical order of the information and keep track of it
- The outline proves helpful in showcasing the relationship between the various ideas
- The writer considers the outline a blessing because referring to it from time-to-time helps him to remember the points that he must touch upon in his paper.
- It is the outline that helps the writer to work much better. The writer can deliver at a fast pace because he has his referral manuscript, the outline, at hand that serves as a guide throughout the writing process.
- The outline is the reason why the writer develops critical thinking skills and can create better papers
- The outline defines the boundaries of the essay and keeps the topic in check
How to write an outline
It is imperative for every writer that he learns how to write an outline by going through the following steps-
1. Choose your topic
An outline is a medium to organize random thoughts regarding the topic and give the ideas a definite shape and structure. It is the outline that gives the topic a direction and structures your work. If you are looking for how to write an outline, then the first step is to choose your topic.
The next thing is to sort all the information that you will use for the paper. Now focus on the material and come up with a topic that will serve the purpose of the essay. It is not possible to create an outline until and unless you have a topic in hand.
2. Identify the purpose
One of the most important steps is to know what is the reason for the outline and what does it hope to accomplish. Is the topic a speech, an essay, research, or a novel.
If you are looking for how to write an outline, then identify its purpose. Does it want to entertain its readers or inform them about some facts or share some information? Understanding the larger purpose of the topic will help to have a clear goal in mind.
It will also prove a help in setting appropriate guidelines for the content so that the outline can focus on the specific points that the writer wants the reader to understand.
3. Know your target audience
After choosing a topic and identifying the purpose of your paper, it becomes essential to know about the people who are going to read it.
If it is an assignment in which someone is going to read it in class, then you should use formatting instructions and present the outline in a way that is easily understood. If it is for yourself, it is understandable to choose the format that looks suitable and will work for you.
If you are looking for how to write an outline, then it becomes imperative to know about the target audience as the outline will entirely depend on what the reader wants.
4. Gather your materials
Before starting on the outline, it becomes necessary to gather all the relevant subject matter which you have collected through notes, research as well as personal experiences.
Read and review the information because you will have to come up with the points and sub-points if you are looking for how to write an outline. Keep aside historical facts, statistics, quotes, and phrases as it can be used in the outline to make it meaningful.
5. Organize your ideas
Brainstorm and think about the information that you want to present in your paper. What are the ideas that you are planning to incorporate in your paper? If you are looking for how to write an outline, then it is time to organize your ideas up front.
This is the time to go through the ideas and organize them in relevance to the topic and the order of importance. Some of the organizational structures that are very popular are process, chronological, classification, and effect.
6. Focus on the significant points
You have decided on the order of importance and how each point in the outline is to be placed. This is the step where the writer will add content relevant to the point to offer support.
Giving emphasis will help the reader in gaining a better understanding of every point that he comes across. Facts, quotes, and examples are some of the best ways to add details that will make the concept clear and boost understanding.
This process is very time consuming and is often considered tedious, but it proves a great help during the drafting of the article. The paper on which the writer is working will look organized and logical, just with the help of a few alterations.
If you are looking for how to write an outline, then focus on the main points. In the long run, this step will help the writer develop his ideas productively if he is looking for ways about how to write an outline.
7. Choose an outline structure
Most of the writers use alphanumeric format if they are looking for ways of how to write an outline. Some also prefer the decimal outline structure along with brief phrases or complete sentences for all the sections.
The alphanumeric format is organized as
- Roman Numerals – I, II, III, IV
- Arabic Numerals – 1,2,3,4
- Capitalized letters – A, B, C, D
- Lowercase Letters – a, b, c, d
The decimal outline structure looks like
- – This is a good topic
- – the topic is about
- – you can write about it
- – the topic is about
This shows that the sublevels are part of the larger picture
The short phrases are known as topic outlines and are the most popular ways of writing outlines. The full sentences are used to give a better understanding of the idea.
8. Organize your outline
Fill in the essay outline if you are looking for ways of how to write an outline. Write a section to introduce the thesis and topic. The next step is to outline the essay body by writing a sentence for every paragraph.
Provide supporting material and mention their relevance. Some writers also provide a transition sentence for all the paragraphs.
The last step is to restate the thesis and write a sentence describing the importance and necessity of the paper and probable solutions if you have addressed any problems in it.
9. Review and adjust
If you think that after writing the first draft of your outline, your work is complete, then think again. A writer who is looking for ways of how to write an outline will try to review his words and make adjustments accordingly.
It is a roadmap that will provide direction to the resulting essay and needs to be updated in case of any adjustments later on. It is applicable in both the cases where the writer makes any additions or when he deletes a specific portion that is no longer suitable.
If you are looking for how to write an outline, then reassess to establish viable connections
An outline helps the writer to keep all the components in his sight so that he does not miss anything. Although it seems like a drawn-out process at the initial stage, it proves its worth later on. An outline helps the writer to elaborate his ideas into a fully-developed and logical paper.