How To Write An Outline

Friday, November 20, 2015


With the amount of agendas I own and use and to-do lists that I write, it can't be surprising that outlines are my key to success when it comes to final assignment, can it? I love being able to see a written version of my thoughts organized into one list. It might take a bit more work up front, but I find that it saves me in the long run. It keeps me focused and from straying from my topic of choice. Plus, it just gives you a general template to follow and should ultimately take you less time because you have one singular focus. Making an outline is just as simple as it sounds, but here are some steps that I follow to make my final outlines for my big assignments.

1. Start with your idea

WELL DUH. You can't make an outline for a project without having your main idea or your thesis statement! You should have this before you even think about starting your project. But again, this should be an obvious point but just incase, I figured I'd make it anyways.

2. Make a list of your points

I do this on a separate sheet of paper if I'm handwriting an outline. From my topic, I generally pick three to four points to use as subheadings. It usually depends on the length of the assignments. Obviously, the longer the assignment, the more points I will make about my topic and the more in-depth I will make them as well. Make them follow up questions or answers to your hypothesis question. Have them stem off from your main point without being a complete restatement of it.

3. Research and brainstorm

At this point, you have an incomplete outline. You could, conceivably stop there, but you're going to have to do the research for it anyways so you  might as well put some of it towards your outline. While you're finding articles and essays to use to cite in your project, pick out the most important parts and add them in bullets underneath your subheadings so you know the general idea you want to take with that paragraph or section. Figure out what information you need to make your paper more interesting and informative through researching and trying to find the answers to your questions.

4. Fill in under main points

With your research, you don't have to put everything in great detail in bullets, but you should definitely have your main talking points written out so you have a direction–some might say One Direction–for your assignment. Obviously, you don't need to write out every last detail of your assignment onto your outline. It's merely a guideline for you to follow as a sort of road map to the end of your assignment.

5. Voila!

And now you have your outline! Use it wisely on your journey through final projects, or any assignment you're assigned. As I said, it might seem like it takes a while (though honestly, once you get into the swing of it outlines become incredibly simple and still remain useful) up front, in the long run it gives you that skeleton of your project and all you have to do it fill in the blanks!

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