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Outlines. Organizing Ideas - How to Write/Speak/Think - How to Learn

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How to do an outline

Before writing you need to think. When you think, you need to put your "skeleton of ideas" down on paper. If you can't articulate your paper in point form, you won't be able to do it effectively in prose. An outline is a way of organizing your thoughts, the substance of your thoughts, or information — it is your guiding star. star

It uses key words or word groups to show main topics, subtopics, details, etc.

Post your comments and questions on the TP Forums: on this thread external link (Related: Outlines in Oral Practice external link)

Sample Outline Format


The Outline's Outline
(from Lakewood Public Library external link)

I. Reasons to write an outline
          A. Organizes your ideas
          B. Provides a “map” for the paper
          C. Your teacher made you do it
          D. You decided to give it a try

II. Parts of the outline
          A. Title
               1. Should include the subject of the paper
               2. Descriptive title will grab reader’s attention
          B. Introduction
               1. States the subject of the paper
               2. States what areas will be focused on
               3. Keep introduction concise and brief
                    a)   Helps to keep reader’s attention
                    b)   Save something for the “Main Body”
          C. Main Body
               1. Where all your information is presented
               2.  It’s time to use your notes
                    a) Find all your notes
                    b) Review your notes
                    c) Put the information in order
                    d) Write brief  phrases for ideas to be discussed
                         (1) No need to write in complete sentences
                         (2) Write just the main ideas down
                         (3) Elaborate on the main ideas in the actual paper
                    e) The ideas should follow in logical order
                    f)  If you have an "A" or an "a" you must have a "B" or "b"
                    g) If you have a "1" you must have a "2"
         D. Conclusion
               1. Think of how you want the paper to end
               2. Be sharp, concise and to the point
               3. Breathe a sigh of relief!  The outline is done.

More: Read about outlines external link at OWL - Online Writing Lab