Using An Outline To Make Writing Easier

| November 28, 2009

If you are used to writing you can usually formulate an idea in your head and then write about the topic. Usually all that is needed is a quick Google search and some main points either in your head or jotted down on a notebook.  I usually organize the structure for my articles as I write them. Occasionally, utilizing an additional search here and there for fact checking.

But, if you are writing about an unfamiliar topic, or having trouble getting started, or just want to streamline the process, an outline can be the answer to your problems. Outlines are also great for collaborative efforts, such as group projects for work or modern day classes, which encourage group participation.

Some people shy away from outlines because they seem complicated. After all,  how often do we usually use Roman Numerals?  But, the truth of the matter is, using an outline can streamline your writing process, and jump start your writing, with an easy to replicate methodical process.

Outlines usually have four main components.  The first component is parallelism. For instance you will create headings using Roman Numerals, each heading will contain at least two sub headings, which you can mark with capitol letters. It is your goal to preserve each heading and subheading with parallel structure, which means if your first heading is a verb, your second heading should be a verb.

You also want to coordinate between your headings, which means that all of the headings should have the same amount of significance. All of the subheadings should have the same amount of significance as well, but it should be less significant than the headings.

Subordination is where the information in the headings is more general and the information in the sub headings is more specific. Proper division should be used as well, which just means that each heading should be divided into two or more parts.

Creating an outline will help you organize your thoughts and present them in a logical fashion. This can be useful for creating logical papers and speeches. The outline will also help you to define boundaries, and groups, and construct an ordered overview of your work.

When creating an outline it is helpful to determine the purpose of your paper, your audience, and develop your thesis. If you have trouble getting started just break everything down into easy logical steps.

First start your brainstorming. You can do this in your head, on a digital file, on a notebook, or you can use mind mapping software such as freemind. Then group related ideas together to get organized.

Then it is easy to arrange your material in subsections, from general to specific, or abstract to concrete. Once you have all of your information down, you can label it by creating your main headings and sub headings.

When creating an Alphanumeric Outline the following formatting is used in this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase  Letters

To the uninitiated the thought of creating an outline may seem like more work than actually writing the article. But, once you begin to use it as a tool to make your writing easier, you will discover that your research is faster and your writing is easier. You will get more done and procrastinate less when you have an easy to implement process for each writing task.

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1 Comment on "Using An Outline To Make Writing Easier"

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  1. Michelle says:

    I use concept webbing, and it usually ends up accomplishing the same thing. I like it better because I like to scribble–I feel more creative that way. You’re definitely right–having an outline can really be critical.