Writing an Outline

Outlines are helpful tools when composing anything from speeches to written communications. They are a way to organize your thoughts and present information in a sequential format. If an outline is good, it will make preparing your project easier. It is an organizational plan. It is flexible and can be changed as needed. So, how do you write an outline?

Outlines will help you stay focused, decrease the unnecessary wordage, and stay clear about what you want to say. All-in-all, outlines provide you with an overview of your work. They also will help you fill in the gaps with needed information. You will be able to see how your information ties together in a properly developed outline. Outlines can also help speed up the writing process.

Subject matters are broken down in the following format for outlines:

Ã?Â? Introduction – a summarization of what your topic area is about.

Ã?Â? Headings (the main topic) are usually emphasized by using a Roman numeral. This helps the subject matter stand out. The main topic is also known as the central point. All parts of the outline need to be organized and constructed to support your central point. Some like to also put the heading in all capital letters. That would depend on your personal preference. Whatever it is you want to discuss is known as the subject topic area.
Ã?Â? Heading sections are subcategories of the main topic. They discuss the details of the the main topic. Subcategories are broken down via smaller case letters or numbers. Items are listed in the order of importance to you. List them in the order of your discussing them. These are paragraphs that support the category list of your main topic in your outline.
Ã?Â? Subdivisions of heading sections provide more detailed information. Some papers contain them, others do not. These are usually written in sentence form.
Ã?Â? The sections should all relate to one another. There needs to be a logical sequence and easy flow from each section to the next of your outline.
Ã?Â? Conclusion. The conclusion should restate your main topic. At the same time, it provides closure to your outline and topic area.
Here is a sample outline:
I. How to Find a Job (main topic)
1) Offline Options (heading section)
a. Employment Agencies (subcategory of heading section)
b. Networking Groups
1. Locally (subdivision of heading section)
2. Nationally
a. Local chapters
2) Online Options
a. Monster.com
b. Forums
c. Job Banks
d. Online resume sites
3) Conclusion/closing statement

As can be seen, writing a properly prepared outline can organize your thoughts, coordinate your information, and save you much time.

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