When trying to make something there is a need to have a guide that will tell you what to do next. In this context, an outline serves as a guide as to what steps should be taken next to complete a procedure or what points or topics should be discussed next to support a certain subject. An outline is a useful tool that can help you successfully and efficiently complete a specific task or activity.
An outline can only be effective when done and made right. Therefore, it is important for you to know and understand what are needed to include in your outline before making it. Here are the essential elements that needs to be present in your outline:
1. Parallelism: There should be parallelism in how the heading and subheading are worded and structured. If the first heading starts with or is a verb, the second and other headings should also start or should be a verb. For example:
I. CHOOSE DESIRED COLLEGES
II. PREPARE APPLICATION
2. Coordination: There should be coordinated significance with what information is included in Heading I and Heading II. The same goes for subheadings, only with less significance than the headings. For example:
I. VISIT AND EVALUATE COLLEGE CAMPUSES
II.VISIT AND EVALUATE COLLEGE WEBSITES
i. Note important statistics
ii. Look for interesting classes
3. Subordination: The information or subject in the headings should be more general, but the information or topic in the subheadings should be more specific. This will allow you to dig deeper or to discuss the subject in a more precise or specific manner. For example:
I. DESCRIBE AN INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR LIFE
i. Favorite high school teacher
4. Division: The heading should be divided to two or more parts. This means a heading can have two or more subheading. For example:
I. COMPILE RÉSUMÉ
i. List relevant coursework
ii. List work experience
iii. List volunteer experience
Now that you know the elements of an effective outline, you can proceed to making one. An outline can be used for anything—writing, planning, organizing, etc. Having the skill to make a coherent and comprehensive outline will surely be an advantage for you. To help you make an outline that suits your purpose, here are steps you can use as a guide as make an outline:
1. Choose topic and establish the purpose
When the topic is not given, it is important to choose the topic you wish to write about. This will help you establish the purpose or objective of your paper. Doing this will help you have the focus on what should be included on your outline and what your paper should be about.You may also see outline examples.
2. List main ideas
This step can only be done when you allot time to brainstorm. Allow yourself to think of the essential ideas you wish to include in your paper. Listing the main ideas you want to include on your outline will give you a guide on what you should research about and give you a guide how to expand your topic.
3. Organize main ideas
Once you have a list of your main ideas, it is important to organize them based on what is more important and relevant to your topic. Doing this will make your outline more cohesive, thus making your article more cohesive and organized as well. You can organize your ideas based on cause and effect, classification, chronological, and process.You may also see free outline examples
4. Expand main ideas
In this step it is important to expand each main idea that you have included. This means that each main idea must have relevant supporting ideas that will help make your ideas more understandable to your intended reader/s. Aside from that, supporting details are important to make true to your claims about each main idea.
5. Review and adjust
As you plot your outline, it is important to review what you have so far to know if you have already made your topic clear and understandable. As you review and see if there are topics that need to be adjusted, if you think your arrangement is not cohesive enough or if one supporting detail is more relevant to another idea.You may also see essay outline examples.
What you have written in your outline can greatly affect how your final paper can go. Therefore, making the outline needs time. To help you make better outlines, here are some tips you can refer to and use as guide:
Outlines are quite easy to make so long as you know what topic you are writing about and what the purpose of your paper or article is. In addition to that, there are also various types of an outline that you can choose and use depending on what you intend to write. Hence, listed below are the types of outlines you can use:
1. Alphanumeric outline
An alphanumeric outline is the most commonly used outline. It has a specific formatting method.
The formatting follows these characters, in this order:
THE COLLEGE APPLICATION PROCESS
I. CHOOSE DESIRED COLLEGES
A. Visit and evaluate college campuses
B. Visit and evaluate college websites
1. Look for interesting classes
2. Note important statistics
II. PREPARE APPLICATION
A. Write personal statement
1. Choose interesting topic
a. Describe an influential person in your life
(1) Favorite high school teacher
b. Describe a challenging life event
2. Include important personal details
a. Volunteer work
b. Participation in varsity sports
B. Revise personal statement
III. COMPILE RÉSUMÉ
A. List relevant coursework
B. List work experience
C. List volunteer experience
1. Tutor at foreign language summer camp
2. Counselor for suicide prevention hotline
2. Full sentence outline
Since the aim in most outlines is to make the writing process more efficient and easier, some keywords only use keywords as a representative of the ideas. In this type of outline, full sentences are written out in every category. It is similar with an alphanumeric outline, the only difference is how ideas are inputted in every category or level. For example:
I. Having too many activities to for school is the reason why students are always tired and sleepy in class.
A. There being one or two homework to work on for every subject exhausts students.
1. Giving students time to rest and recoup from all the school works will make them more productive.
3. Decimal outline
Same as an alphanumeric outline, a decimal outline shows the progression or hierarchy of each information included in the outline. The benefit of a decimal outline is that is clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Here is an example:
1.0 Choose Desired College
1.1 Visit and evaluate college campuses
1.2 Visit and evaluate college websites
1.2.1 Look for interesting classes
1.2.2 Note important statistics
An outline is basically a draft of what information needs to be included on the final paper. It can be written anywhere you are comfortable. In this case, there is no standard size on how big or small an outline should be. Therefore, an outline has no definite size. It basically depends on the paper your are writing it in.
On another note, the number of ideas you can include on your outline depends on the complexity of the topic at hand. It is acceptable to have quite a few headings and subheadings so long as you can clearly discuss your topic.
To help you understand all about an outline, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about outline:
An outline is basically a general description or a plan containing the essential features of something but not the all its detail. It is basically a guide that helps you write an article by listing relevant ideas that will support and further explain your topic.You may also see informal outline examples.
Just like any written output, an outline should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The three main parts will help you have a complete layout of your article so you can complete it more easily and efficiently.
The major difference between a sentence and topic outline is how each idea is written out. In a sentence outline, full sentences should be written out in every heading and subheading to help the writer remember all the details to write. On the other hand, a topic outline only needs keywords. It depends on the writer how he/she can expand the topic following the listed relevant idea/s.
An outline is a useful tool that anyone can use in order to make a writing activity easier. It helps in making sure there is coherence in ideas that needs to be included in the final output. It also ensures there is proper arrangement and organization of ideas to help you convey your thoughts clearly. We hope you were able to learn new knowledge and gain a clearer insight as to what an outline is and how effective outlines are made through what has been discussed in this article.