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Purdue: Developing an Outline Summary: This resource describes why outlines are useful, what types of outlines exist, suggestions for developing effective outlines, and how outlines can be used as an invention strategy for writing. Contributors:Elyssa Tardiff, Allen BrizeeLast Edited: 2013-03-01 09:20:56
Getting Started: Outlining Outlining It might prove useful to organize the ideas that suggest themselves during the freewriting and clustering exercises into a preliminary outline form. It is possible to write a paper without an outline, but it might suggest that your paper lacks organization if it proves impossible to write an outline that describes the thinking process behind your paper. Outlining never hurt; how helpful it is depends on what kind of thinker you are. At the least, a tentative outline can suggest areas in which your paper needs additional work or supporting details to bolster main ideas or, on the other hand, areas which have too much emphasis and need to be pruned down to avoid an imbalance. It might also help you to see how ideas are related and where connections or transitions are necessary between sections of your paper.
The Writing Center, part of the Harvard College Writing Program, is a place for Harvard undergraduates to get help with any aspect of their writing, from specific assignments to general writing skills. The Writing Center is staffed by trained undergraduate tutors who provide individual conferences to students working on any writing assignment. You don't have to have a finished paper to come for a conference. You can come with ideas, notes, or a draft. To learn more about what we do, please read our answers to frequently asked questions.
What is it? An outline is a general plan of the material that is to be presented in a speech or a paper. The outline shows the order of the various topics, the relative importance of each, and the relationship between the various parts.
Basic Outlining An outline presents a picture of the main ideas and the subsidiary ideas of any subject. Some typical uses of outlining are: a class reading assignment, an essay, a term paper, a book review or a speech. For any of these, an outline will show a basic overview and important details. Basic Outlining