A plan for--or a summary of--a writing project or speech. An outline is usually in the form of a list divided into headings and subheadings that distinguish main points from supporting points. Most word processors contain an outlining feature that allows writers to format outlines automatically. As shown below, an outline may be either informal or formal. See also:
Types of Outlines and Samples
This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order: Roman Numerals
If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline. The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay. What is the assignment?
Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college. What is the purpose of this essay?
To explain the process for applying to college
Who is the intended audience for this essay?
High school students intending to apply to college and their parents What is the essay's thesis statement?
When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials. Full Sentence Outlines
The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline. Decimal Outlines
The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline. Examples
I. (main topic)
A. (subtopics of I)
1. (subtopics of B)
a. (subtopics of 2)
i. (subtopics of b)
II. (main topic)
Note that subtopics are indented so that all letters or numbers of the same kind appear directly under one another. Whether phrases (in a topic outline) or complete sentences (in a sentence outline) are used, topics and subtopics should be parallel in form. Make sure that all items have at least two subtopics or none at all. "To outline your material vertically, write your thesis at the head of the page and then use headings and indented subheadings: THESIS: Though many things make me want to score goals, I love scoring most of all because it momentarily gives me a sense of power. I. Common reasons for wanting to score goals
A. Help team
B. Gain glory
C. Hear cheers of crowd
II. My reasons for wanting to score goals
A. Feel relaxed
1. Know I'm going to score a goal
2. Move smoothly, not awkwardly
3. Get relief from pressure to do well
B. See world in freeze-frame
1. See puck going into goal
2. See other players and crowd
C. Feel momentary sense of power
1. Do better than goalie
2. Take ultimate mind trip
3. Conquer anxiety
4. Return to earth after a moment
Examples and Observations:
"The working outline (or scratch outline or informal outline) is a private affair--fluid, subject to constant revision, made without attention to form, and destined for the wastebasket. But enough working outlines have been retrived from...
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