Friday, 18 September 2015

How to Write an Outline: I've Got Writer's Block and No Time Until My Deadline!

You've developed the perfect thesis or essay topic-one you're passionate about-and you've even enjoyed your research. In fact, you might've researched your topic for years-decades, even-but you can't get started writing.

Don't worry: Here are some easy tips regarding how to write an outline that'll have you typing in no time. First, let's dispense with the basics: An outline just a clear, concise plan of your paper. An outline will help you present your material in a logical fashion and flow. Actually, spending time to create an outline will save you time in the long run and make essay writing easier.

An outline of the outline

When we explore how to write an outline, it's helpful to examine outlines themselves in greater detail. Although there are several different types, the most frequently encountered format is alphanumeric, which presents categories like this:

I. Roman numerals
A. Capitalized letters
1. Arabic numerals
a) Lowercase letters
(1) Arabic numerals inside parentheses
(a) Lowercase letters inside parentheses

In this format, sometimes called a topic outline, each category is a single word or a brief phrase (usually not a full sentence) describing an idea. The decimal outline only uses numbers, an advantage in showing the relationship between each category and subcategory. It looks like this:

1. Main topic
1.1. Subtopic
1.1.1. Detail
1.2. Subtopic
1.2.1. Detail Sub-detail
2. Main topic
2.1. Subtopic

As the name suggests, a sentence outline presents categories in full sentences. Unless you're writing an outline as an assignment, choose whichever type works best for you, but be consistent. Your word processing program may also automatically enable you to display your outline perfectly.

Crafting the academic outline

When studying how to write an outline, it's crucial to know the steps of the entire process. The first is to determine the purpose of your paper and your audience. Next, write a strong thesis, and start researching. Without exception, an outline starts with a thesis statement, or a summarizing sentence that presents your paper's core idea in a complete sentence. After you've collected your research, brainstorm what you want to write. Include everything, but accept that you'll revise your paper, sometimes many times.

Organize your paper

Many people don't realize that organization is important to the skill of how to write an outline, but now that you have a list of ideas, you'll want to gather them into groups. Order the information within the groups themselves, and then order the groups. Voila! You now have categories and subcategories. When contemplating how to write an outline, it's important to build time into the process for editing and revision.

Labels: a good thing?

Your dad may have cautioned you not to label people, but that doesn't include labeling categories and subcategories. While we're exploring how to write an outline, it's useful for you to know that, if you're using a sentence-style outline, you'll need a sentence for each category and subcategory. If you're using a topic outline, you'll need a word or phrase to for each topic. Your professor may also mandate that you include a bibliography.

Our example can help you learn how to write an outline

This example outline will show you what an outline looks like. An outline is not a rough draft; it's a plan for your paper. A good outline will make the writing process faster and easier and probably will result in a stronger paper.

If you're worried about your outline, especially if your professor will see it, have the essay editors at look at it. If you want to learn more about essay writing, check out's e-book How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps. was founded in 1997 as one of the world's first online editing and proofreading companies. Based in Ontario, Canada, the company's primary goal is to provide clients with fast, reliable, and affordable revision services. We have edited over 604 million words and processed over 210,000 orders from 223 countries and territories.

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