When trying to make something, be it a thesis paper or a business proposal, having a guide that you could follow as you go through each step of the writing process is an absolute need. A good outline tells you what points should be tackled to support a topic or what steps should be taken to accomplish a goal. This is a useful tool that can help you complete a task or activity successfully.
In this article, let’s take a closer look into the characteristics of a good outline as well as a few tips on how you can create a simple outline for any given purpose.
An effective outline is generally comprised of the following elements:
1. Parallelism: Parallelism is observed when the heading and the subsequent subheadings follow a parallel structure. So if you start with a verb as your heading, the heading following it should also be a verb to maintain parallelism. Oftentimes, using the present tense of the word is a preferred choice when making an outline.
2. Coordination: Here, the information found in the proceeding heading should carry the same weight as that of the first. The same rule applies for any subheadings present in the outline. It’s important to make sure that the headings or subheadings at similar levels hold the same value as one another. You may also see free outline examples.
3. Subordination: The information in the headings tend to be more general, while the topics in the subheadings are made specific. This allows you to dig deeper into a subject for a more detailed discussion.
4. Division: In a division, headings are divided into several parts. Subdividing each heading into a minimum of two subheadings is usually done when a list of instructions is provided by the writer.
An outline can be used for just about anything these days. This includes writing, planning, organizing, and even designing an artwork. Being able to create a coherent and comprehensive outline is sure to come as an advantage to you at certain points in life. So to help you make an outline, follow the steps below:
1. Choose a topic and establish your purpose: Like when writing an essay, for instance, you won’t always be given a specific topic to work on. This comes as a challenge for a lot of writers due to the many options available for them to discuss. Thus, it’s important to have a personal goal or objective in mind to help you identify the scope and limitations of your content. Consider the main takeaway of your output and focus your ideas around this message. By doing so, you can formulate strong and relevant points for your audience to learn from.
2. List down primary ideas: This is the part of the process where brainstorming on your topic and end goal takes place. Since you won’t be able to put all your thoughts to paper, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of significant ideas to present in your final output instead. This allows you to explore different areas of your topic that might be of interest to you and your readers. The items on your list must be specific, direct, and relevant to the topic you have in mind to avoid confusion and misdirection.
3. Organize items on your list: Once you’re satisfied with your list, it’s time to arrange these ideas in such a way that will make sense to you and your audience. Make sure to prioritize these according to what’s essential and relevant to your topic. Doing this will make it easier for you to expound your thoughts in a clear and smooth flow. This can be achieved through a variety of structures such as cause and effect, classification, chronological, and process.You may also see speech outline examples
4. Expand your ideas: For the next step of the process, you’d want to add more content to support each idea listed in your outline. These details should provide your audience with a better understanding of each point. You can include quotes, facts, theories, anecdotes, or examples. Though this may seem like a tedious task, it’ll definitely speed up the drafting stage to keep your output more logical and focused.
5. Review and revise: Even if you aren’t much of a perfectionist, reviewing and revising your work will help you generate the best possible results. Keep in mind that the outline will serve as a road map for the actual writing or designing process. That being said, ensure that you have included all the necessary ideas and established a connection between each main point.
Listed below are a few tips on how you can write an effective outline:
There are two major types of outlines: the topic outline and the sentence outline. To learn more about how they function, let’s take a closer look at each type:
1. Topic Outline: A topic outline offers you an overview of the topics to be included in the write-up. In this type, words or phrases are used to identify the subject that will be tackled under the specified heading. This also helps demonstrate how the topics listed are related to one another. You’re likely to have encountered something of a similar format from the topics listed for each unit in your college syllabus.
Additionally, ensure that all headings and subheadings are not in complete sentences. They must also have a parallel structure to maintain consistency.
2. Sentence Outline: As the name suggests, everything in a sentence outline is fully written out in complete detail. The thesis statement and topic sentence of each supporting paragraph is spelled out as a reflection of what is written in some parts of your essay. Students and industry professionals often use this type of outline as a reference when presenting a topic in front of a group due to their specific and detailed nature. This can be divided into sections using Roman or Arabic numerals, as well as capital letters.
Also known as a hierarchical outline, an outline is used to present the major points or topics under a particular subject. Each item is then divided into multiple sub-items to further explain each concept. This can be a useful tool to use when drafting a document or summarizing its content. This can also help you organize the points covered in an essay, paper, or book for an efficient reading and better understanding. You may also see training outline examples
To writers, an outline helps them think through the different stages of the writing process more intently. Formal papers can be too big for one to organize mentally, which is why a systematic plan in the form of an outline is highly preferred to help you think over the notes from several different perspectives. Using an outline may also help answer different questions that may not have been identified in the past.
And there you have it! Use outlines to compose professional documents today with the help of the templates and examples provided in this article.