Using An Outline To Write A Paper

The source is what separates outlining from outlining your own essay. You outline what someone else has written to try and represent their thoughts and structure. Outlining your paper will require you to concentrate on your ideas and the best way to organize them. It depends on the kind of writing task you have, but it is important to understand how the ideas are interpreted. Create an outline using the principles above to help you organize your thoughts and put them in a logical sequence. This will make your argument stronger.

Step 1: Outline your main points

You will then need to organize your ideas. First, decide on your main ideas. Your outline should be based on your main points. Start with the introduction, then add headings to each of your main ideas, and end with a conclusion.

You might use the following headings to outline a five paragraph essay about why you love your dog.

  2. BODY PARAGRAPH 1. My dog is an excellent companion
  3. BODY PART 2: My dog behaves well
  4. BODY PART 3: My dog Is Cute

Each paragraph will explain why I love the dog. Make sure all your ideas are directly related to your topic.

Your order of ideas can depend on whether your argument is strong (i.e. You can either order your main ideas based on the strength of your argument (i.e. For example, a narrative about how you came to be a SPS student would likely use a chronological order. You can change the order later if you're not satisfied. If you're using a word processing program (which I highly recommend), you can easily test different orders by dragging the items around.

Step 2: Add ideas to your list

It is time to flesh out your supporting points for each main idea. You can use any explanations, examples, descriptions or evidence to convince your reader that your point is valid. Add quotes here if you're using them. Include the correct citation according to the format that your teacher has specified. This will help you to write faster and avoid plagiarism.

Continue the above example by filling in the second part of the outline:

II. Body Paragraph No. 1: My dog makes a great companion

A. I love my dog

1. Playing with my dog is fun

2. My dog enjoys going for walks

B. My canine companion is amiable

1. My dog enjoys cuddling

2. My dog is friendly to people

This section is about the idea that my dog is a great companion. The first level of subheadings is general reasons he makes a great companion. He is fun, (A) or he has a friendly disposition (B). The examples are used to explain each of these ideas. My dog likes to go for walks and play. My dog is friendly because he likes to cuddle and enjoys people. You can add more detail if you include the games and behaviors my dog enjoys. You will find it easier to write your paper if you include more details.

To organize your subheadings logically, present the supporting ideas. Group ideas that are similar, go from broad concepts to specific examples and explanations. Each supporting idea should be directly related to its heading or subheading.

You can read your outline after you finish adding the supporting ideas. This will help you to determine if any parts of your argument are weak or need more detail. Order your ideas in a logical way. Test out different orders to find the one that makes sense.

Step 3: Turn your subheadings (and headings) into sentences

Once you've added all the detail that you can, it's time to create your

Save the outline as a separate file in your computer. If the ideas you want to include in your outline do not yet have sentences attached, make each one into a complete sentence. You will be able to better see where you want to divide your paragraphs. Each heading (or major idea) corresponds to a paragraph when writing a short or medium-length paper. Each heading in a longer paper may correspond to a section. The first level (or even if you have fewer than two levels) of subheadings are what will eventually be your paragraphs. For a rough estimate of which correspondence will work best, look at how many words fall under each subheading.

Step 4: Create your paragraphs

Continue to work your way through the outline. Start by removing the outline formatting. (Indentations, numbers and letters) Then begin to organize your sentences in paragraphs. It may be necessary to add extra sentences or transition phrases to ensure that your prose flows smoothly. If you find that your ideas seem to be logical in your outline but need more detail or a different order, then it is possible to alter the order. It's possible that your ideas are too numerous or irrelevant. This is normal. You can always change the outline to suit your needs.

You should always start a fresh paragraph when you introduce new ideas (or if the paragraph has become too long for your reader). You will want to use transitional phrases or sentences again to help your reader understand what you are saying.

You should now have a good first draft. Once you have finished converting your outline into paragraphs, you should have a decent first draft of your paper.


  • tenleylancaster

    Tenley Lancaster is a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. She enjoys writing about topics related to education, including but not limited to student motivation, learning styles, and effective study techniques. Tenley has also written for various websites and magazines, and is currently working on her first book. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.