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CRLS Research Guide

Making An Outline

Tip Sheet 14

Ask these questions:

What is it?

An outline is an abbreviated picture of the parts of your paper or project and the order in which they will come. You can think of it as a "road map" of your journey toward making a final product.


Why do it?

It helps you to...
  • stay on course and not get off-track when you put your final product together.
  • see if you have enough (or too much) material to support your Thesis Statement.
  • figure out the order in which your subtopics will appear in your final product.

An outline might be just for your own use, or your teacher may require that you hand it in while you are working on your project, so they can get an idea of where you are headed. It gives them a chance to help you head towards a good final destination.


How to do it:

  • Figure out the most logical flow of information, the best order for the information to be in, using the subtopics you created earlier. You can put your note cards in this order now. There is always more than one way to do this, so figure out what you like best.
  • Put your subtopics with the key points that support them, in words or short phrases, into a list or diagram that shows how they will flow from beginning to end. There are many different types of outline diagrams. You can use the Inspiration program on a CRLS Library computer to create webbing diagrams or flow charts. If you are not a student at CRLS there are two ways you can get started working on your outline.

    1. Use this model for a formal outline which is the type that most teachers expect to see if they ask for one.

    2. Use one of the CRLS Interactive Outline Makers.

  • Start with an introduction and end with a conclusion.



    Copyright © 2004 Holly Samuels All Rights Reserved