No matter where you are in life, be it in the academe or corporate world, you will surely need to use an outline one way or another. An outline makes you organize your content coherently and logically. Unlike what others may think, an outline is not only limited to academic uses; a project outline can be used when planning for projects to be executed by an organization or company.
However, outlines have been most commonly used throughout the academe. An essay outline helps students arrange their thoughts in order to have a logical presentation of their argument regarding an essay topic. Not only that, an outline also helps students have a comprehensive summary of their lesson to help them efficiently study lessons for exams.
By definition, an outline is “a line or set of lines enclosing or indicating the shape of an object in a sketch or diagram” and/or a “a general description or plan giving the essential features of something but not the detail.” It basically means that an outline resents the primary layout of an object or written content. It embodies what a content should and will look like when its done; however, it does not dive deep into the details. For any written tasks, an outline is basically a summary of what needs to be included in the write-up. The only difference in the structure is that a summary comes in paragraph format while an outline usually follows a bulleted format.
An outline is the skeletal representation of the sequence of ideas that will be included on a written output. It is basically your general plan for what you intend to write in an essay, project plan, lecture, speech, and basically anything that needs prior preparation before submitting or presenting. An outline will present the information you need to include based on the its relevancy to the topic or basically the sequences that you intend to follow through with your output. It is the hierarchical presentation presentation of all the necessary and relevant information, it helps build your output and establish a strong foundation.
As mentioned earlier, it builds the framework of your output. This means that an outline is a guide that can help you compose and make better quality outputs. The outline will serve as your guide for each topic or subtopic you need to elaborate on. It can help you explain your thoughts better and present your arguments more logically. It helps you plan out the direction and flow of your output. It helps you see the flow of your ideas, therefore, it will make you arrange your ideas and thoughts comprehensively. It gives you the opportunity to examine your arguments if they are relevant with each other thus maintaining its coherence and relevancy to the topic at hand.
In conclusion, an outline, be it of any type, kind, or structure, will help you arrange and organize your thoughts and arguments in a way that is more convincing and coherent. It can also be used as a guide that you can follow to make the entire writing process more efficient since it already lays out the specific ideas that you need to include and how will you present them. Through an outline, you can establish the main idea of your entire output as well as its corresponding supporting details. An outline is a very useful tool to any task that that needs data and information to be presented in a chronologically or hierarchically organized manner such as essays, presentations, research, analysis, etc.
In order to organize the thoughts and ideas you wish to include on a written output, you need to know how to organize your outline. An outline basically has a few various formats that will help you as the writer to arrange and organize your content. An alphanumeric outline format uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters and/or Arabic numerals and lowercase letters. A sentence outline format is more compatible to use for essay outline examples since it uses full sentences for each part of the outline. A decimal outline format clearly shows how every part of the outline relates to the main idea forming a coherent whole.
In order to write an effective outline, you need to prioritize arranging the main subtopics of your paper in an order you wish to follow. These subtopics must help you prove or explain your main topic. After that, you need to include at least two points or supporting details for each subtopic that can help explain your argument or how the subtopic is relevant to the main topic. If necessary, expand your points with sub-points that will basically explain or continue on the topic at hand. The main goal of your outline should be to comprehensively and clearly explain your main topic. The conclusion of your outline will also be the conclusion of your output, therefore, it should sum up the main and sub-points of your paper. You may also see 9+ Training Outline Examples – PDF.
Since the main purpose of an outline is to help you organize your content so that you will able to present them logically and comprehensively, you need to know and understand various patterns used in organization. The effectivity of your outline will depend on your organizational skills, and the overall quality of your output will depend on the information you include on your outline. There is no rule when it comes to choosing the pattern you wish to use; however, you have to carefully think about which pattern will make the most sense to the readers. Here is a list of the various patterns of organization you can use on your outline:
This pattern arranges the information according to their relevancy in time or progression of time. It can either be in a forward or backward order. This works best when dealing with a topic that is best understood in terms of different segments of time. Each main section of the outline represents the information about a particular period of time and the sub-points are concerned with the significant events that occurred during within that time frame.
This is similar to a chronological pattern in essence; the only difference is that in sequential pattern, the information are arranged in a step-by-step sequence describing a particular process. The subtopic for this pattern must represent the main step that is the actual process. The points included in each subtopic must also represent the sub-steps taken under each main step. For example, your first subtopic is about “Harvesting the grapes”; the points under this subtopic should be about the harvesting procedures included on the process.
This pattern of organization arranges the information according to how things fit together in physical space or where a thing exists in relation to another. This is best when you want to create a mental picture that can be distinguished by physical location. Basically, this pattern uses other things to help determine the physical location of another. For example, if you want to write something about your state and the things to do while on state, the information can be arranged according to their physical location. This can help your readers have a visual of the different parts of a certain location.
In this pattern arranges information according to how things are similar or different from each other or both. It is an effective way of exploring the similarities and difference between things. Aside from that, it can help the reader easily understand a certain subject when it is compared or described in relation to another. This helps you as the writer inform the reader especially when you want to convince them to make informed decisions. It will bring in non-bias light to the topic you wish to explain to your reader. The most common articles using this type of pattern are those that help readers decide which gadgets are worth their money in terms of quality, specs, and so on.
The good and bad parts or the pros and cons of a certain topic is logically arranged in this pattern. It is most useful when you want to discuss both sides of a single topic objectively without being persuasive to the point of making one more significant than the other. It can help your readers weigh in on the pros and cons, thus, helping them making better and wiser decisions and judgment. This pattern will objectively state the pros and cons of the main topic with the sole intention of informing the reader about their existence and not to make the other better than the other.
The different cause and effects of various conditions are shown with the use of this pattern. This is most effective when used for persuasive documents where the writer actively advocates action to help solve a problem since it exposes significant relationships between variables. There are two major ways to make this pattern: (a) dividing the outline into two major sections containing all the causes and effects or (b) dividing the outline according to the different causes, with the effects of each cause contained within the larger “causes” section. This will make you easily emphasize what side of the topic you wish to be given more thought in order to encourage readers to take a specific course of action.
This pattern divides information into two main sections, one describing the problem and the other describing the solution. The general purpose of using this pattern in writing is to convince the readers to support a certain course of action. This pattern aims to compel the reader to make a change in opinion or behavior by demonstrating that providing exists, then providing a solution. You can identify the different aspects of the problem in your problem section of the outline at the same time providing evidence that this problem actually exists. In the solution section, you have to determine a potential solution for the problem and support the effectiveness of this certain solution over the others.
Information are arranged according to the different subtopics within a larger topic. Basically, the ‘types’ of things are arranged under the larger category where they belong. This pattern is the most commonly used format and when the other patterns do not work, this will typically work and achieve the main purpose. Each type in this pattern represents a main section of information that directly relates to the larger category or basically the main topic.
Since an outline is the framework or the blueprint that will serve as your guide in writing your paper, it needs to be carefully thought out and the information included should be examined thoroughly basing on their relevance and significance to the topic. You need to make sure that the contents of your outline represents all the information you wish to include in your final paper. If your outline lacks the necessary information to explain your point and/or achieve your objective, so will your final output. Therefore, your outline must be taken seriously and must be well planned. Here are some tips for organizing your ideas and writing an an effective outline:
The examples given below are the necessary components that can help your outline become more effective and useful. Although there are no strict rules regarding this, the use of these components will ensure that your outline is arranged according to what an outline should look like. Aside from that, it will make you write your final paper more efficiently since you have organized the visual of your outline. Here are the components for an effective outline and how to accomplish them:
There should be parallel structure in each heading and subheading. If the first word on the first heading is a verb, the first word on the second heading should also be a verb. For example:
Both harvest and gather are verbs. In an outline, the present tense of the verb is usually the preferred.
In the first heading, all the information that has been included should have the same significance as the information contained in the second heading. Although they should be less significant than the headings, the subheadings should still follow the same principle. For example:
The headings should contain the general information wile the subheadings contain the more specific details. As you may now know, the subheadings basically expand the headings in which they are under, therefore, they should be able to explain in detail how they are in relation or relevant to the heading. For example:
Each heading should be divided into two or more parts, meaning there must be at least two points under each heading. This is necessary especially if the topic still has a lot of necessary information to discuss. This will help you explain your thought or argument better. In addition, there is technically no limit to the number of subdivisions or points for your headings; however, it may be useful to examine if some of the parts, especially if they basically have the same thought, can be combined into one or two subheadings. For example:
The key to producing good quality written outputs are planning and strategizing the content you should and should not include. This is why an outline example is an important tool in any written task. It helps you have a strong foundation in writing your output since it helps test the scope of the content as well as test the logical relation of each part or information you wish to include. It also helps you determine if the supporting ideas are relevant to the main idea you plan to discuss and balance out the argument you are trying to prove. It basically serves as your guide as you write your paper or making a speech outline, and more importantly, it helps preserve your train of thought as well as organize the flow of your thought.
An outline is the blueprint or framework you use as a guide into writing about a certain topic. It basically helps you make a longer topic into a shorter one. It is designed to help writers summarize the main topic into shorter subtopics that will make the whole writing process efficient and easier especially for complex documents, for example a project outline. Meanwhile, a border is basically a plain or decorative margin around printed document. It is what you normally see in wedding invitations that have a delicate gold leaf borders. There are also pre-printed stationery papers that have decorative borders that add art and beauty to the paper. They are very different from each other since an outline is basically a guide or basis, meanwhile a border is only meant for aesthetic purposes.
As discussed earlier, the main purpose of an outline is to formally arrange and develop ideas. It helps you organize your paper by having a visual representation of how compatible they are with each other. No matter the length of the outline, it can help the writer see the bigger picture of his//her work. Since the main ideas are written, the supporting ideas can then be easily generated and compared and examined if they are relevant to the main idea. It can provide the writer clarity to the direction and flow of what he/she is writing.
In addition to that, regardless of the structure needed to be followed, there is still flexibility in making an outline. It can quickly cover the main ideas or topics like that of a topic outline or become a detailed undertaking like a sentence outline. A formal outline or an informal outline has been used for decades and has been proven effective in aiding the efficiency of the writer thus helping them save time. It has also been proven to be effective in providing clarity even with complex topics like in a whole semester course outline. Aside from that, it can also help you determine the length of your document and can help you hit that required word target easily.
We hope that this guide has helped you understand all there is to know about outlines, and we hope this made you appreciate the usefulness and effectivity of using an outline for your writing tasks.