Content Outline Writing Tips

Last Updated: April 26, 2024

Content Outline Writing Tips

Writing content can sometimes become overwhelming. Too much information about your topic can cause confusion on what to include in your content. To say that it is quite draining is true. But if you have good techniques it can be done easily and efficiently.

Like any other writing tasks, writing content should have an outline. You may ask why and dread the fact that it would be another task to accomplish, but having an outline for your content will make everything easier for you. Your outline will help you organize your ideas and make sure they follow the pace you choose. It will also help you achieve a coherently written content. You may also see program outlines.

The outline will show the relationship of your ideas and if they create a single thought. In this way, you can also determine which points should be given importance and figure out the least important ones. This can be useful in writing essays, research paper, stories, etc.

How to Make Content Outline

Step 1. Topic and Title

Determine the topic of your content and assign a suitable title for it. Answer the question “what is this about?” Begin the outline with a topic sentence which summarizes the main idea of your content. Below your title, write your topic sentence. It has to be brief but expresses a complete thought. For example, a topic sentence can be like, “The process of applying  for tourist visa can differ depending on what country you apply for but requirements are similar no matter where you go.”

Step 2. Gather data

This is where you research about the information you would like to include your content. These can be checklists. PowerPoint slides, references, or anything that contains the data that you need. Consider writing them down on sticky notes so you can easily rearrange them according to their importance and relevancy. You may also see outline examples.

Step 3. Who are you writing for?

Determine your audience before you start creating. As much as information is important, your content will depend on who you’re writing for. The content on a children’s book is different with that of a young-adult book. The amount of information, choice of words and flow of your content will depend on your target audience. You may also see chapter outlines.

Step 4. Organize the flow

Organize your content in a logical order. Arrange the data chronologically according to the their importance and relevancy. The introduction of your main topic should be followed by major supporting details that are each supported by supporting data such as examples, statistics, quoted references, etc. You may also see speech outlines.

Step 5. Follow proper outline format

Like any outline, label each main points with Roman numeral, capital letters for sub-points and numbers for sub sub-points. To help the eye see the hierarchy of data more efficiently, indent each category one more than the level above it. You may also see course outlines.

Step 6. Proofread and edit

This is when you add, subtract or rearrange your data according to the flow of your content. Do not fret if you think that you’re content has become shorter, you can always add more relevant data after you proofread your outline. You may also see How to Write a Rough Outline

Content Outline Example

Example 1

A content outline from Walden University

The following outline is for a 5-7 page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and health.

I. Introduction

A. Current Problem: Educational attainment rates are decreasing in the United States while healthcare costs are increasing.
B. Population/Area of Focus: Unskilled or low-skilled adult workers
C. Key Terms:  healthy, well-educated

Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (cite sources) and general susceptibility to depression (cite sources), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.

II. Background

A. Historical Employment Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were frequently unionized and adequately compensated for their work (cite sources).
B. Historical Healthcare Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were often provided adequate healthcare and benefits (cite sources).
C. Current Link between Education and Employment Type: Increasingly, uneducated workers work in unskilled or low-skilled jobs (cite sources).
D. Gaps in the Research: Little information exists exploring the health implications of the current conditions in low-skilled jobs.

III. Major Point 1:  Conditions of employment affect workers’ physical health. 

A. Minor Point 1: Unskilled work environments are correlated highly with worker injury (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Unskilled work environments rarely provide healthcare or adequate injury recovery time (cite sources).

IV. Major Point 2: Conditions of employment affect workers’ mental health

A. Minor Point 1: Employment in a low-skilled position is highly correlated with dangerous levels of stress (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress is highly correlated with mental health issues (cite sources).

V. Major Point 3: Physical  health and mental health correlate directly with one another.

A. Minor Point 1: Mental health problems and physical health problems are highly correlated (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources)

VI. Major Point 4: People with more financial worries have more stress and worse physical health.

A. Minor Point 1: Many high-school dropouts face financial problems (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Financial problems are often correlated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such unhealthy food choices, overconsumption/abuse of alcohol, chain smoking, abusive relationships, etc. (cite sources).

VII. Conclusion

A. Restatement of Thesis:  Students who drop out of high school are at a higher risk for both mental and physical health problems throughout their lives.
B. Next Steps:  Society needs educational advocates; educators need to be aware of this situation and strive for student retention in order to promote healthy lifestyles and warn students of the risks associated with dropping out of school.

Example 2

Content outline from the John B. Cade Library of Southern University and A&M College

Title of Outline (Place title of the outline here)

(Example) The Life and career of Barack Obama)

The topic of your paper is important. Try to sum up the point of your paper in one sentence or phrase. Identifying the topic will focus the main point of your paper.

I. Introduction? Brief comment leading into the subject matter

Thesis statement on the subject (Remember: a thesis statement tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper)

II. Body? The body covers what you will cover in your paper

Example: Barack Obama’s Early Life, Marriage, Works, Run for President.

A. Early life in Honolulu, and Indonesia

1. Barack Obama’s family

a) Barack’s father

b) Barack’s mother

2. Barack Obama’s marriage

a) Michelle Obama

b) Barack Obama’s children

B. Barack Obama’s Career

1. Political Career

a) Civil Rights Lawyer

b) Community organizer

c) U.S. Senator

C. Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign Issues

1. The Economy

a) The American Opportunity Tax Credit

b) Simplifying the Financial Aid Process

III. Conclusion

A. Analytical summary

1. Barack Obama’s early life

2. Barack Obama’s career

3. Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign Issues

B. Thesis reworded

C. Concluding statement

Academic or business wise, your content outline can be of the same format. If you are a marketer, you are definitely required to write your own pitch. Following an outline will help you stay focused on a specific topic. Your content outline will also serve as your guide as you continue to write your content. You can check through your outline whether or not you’re still on the right track. You may also see book outlines.

Writing a content outline may seem intimidating at first because of its many levels and sub-levels. But when you are able to organize your data, writing your content will be a breeze. Your outline will serve as a road map to follow the flow you have decided on. You can achieve consistency and relevancy to the topic easily when you outline your content before finalizing your output. You may also see resume outlines.

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