Creating a Detailed Outline


To construct a detailed outline:

  1. Working from your ideas from Step 1, put EVERY idea and point you plan to include in your paper into your outline. (All you’ll have to do then when you draft is just make complete sentences and paragraphs from your outline.)
  2. Use a hierarchical structure of main ideas, supporting ideas; supporting details. (Use the outline numbering system of your word processor or Google/One Drive to start at the top level with Roman number I, then A, then i, then (a), then 1...)
  3. Except for your (working) thesis statment, don’t feel you need use complete sentences unless you particularly like one from your freewrite). You may often omit articles, pronouns, prepositions, and often the verb “to be” (see sample outline);
  4. Do NOT omit other verbs, though; for example, “Economic development” is not an idea, but rather a topic. “Economic development stagnated mid-1990s” is an idea…
  5. Once you have transferred all the ideas from Step 1, look over the outline and see if you have enough evidence to adequately prove your thesis. If not, or if some places need evidence, either DO MORE OF STEP 1 or do some research to fill in vacant parts of your outline. Remember, your outline should contain EVERY POINT that you're going to write in your paper (although of course new ideas or questions may arise in your mind as you write, but that's good! It means your paper will be even more sophisticated.)

Click here to practice constructing your own detailed outline.