How To Outline

How to Write an Outline for a Paper

Working from an outline helps you structure the logic of your paper. It identifies main ideas, defines subordinate ideas, disciplines your writing, maintains the continuity and pacing, discourages tangential excursions, and points out omissions.

A structured outline uses indention and numbers to indicate various levels of subordination. Thus, it is a kind of graphic scheme of the logic of your paper. The main points form the major headings, and the supporting ideas for each point form the subheadings.

I. Major idea

A. Supporting idea

1. Example or illustration for supporting idea

2. Example or illustration for supporting idea

a. Detail for example or illustration

b. Detail for example or illustration

B. Supporting idea

II. Major idea

A. Supporting idea

1. Example or illustration for supporting idea

2. Example or illustration for supporting idea

a. Detail for example or illustration

b. Detail for example or illustration

B. Supporting idea

etc.