How Do You Create an Outline?

How Do You Create an Outline?

To make an outline, organize your thoughts and ideas in a shortened format. You can use a word processor to create the outline, or you can write it down.

  1. List main topics

    List the main topics of your outline using numbers, Roman numerals, letters or bullet points. Main topics are broader and usually include subtopics. A listing technique that indicates hierarchy is often best for main topics because it helps you discover which concepts are most important.

  2. List sub-topics

    Many main topics include more specific ideas that are helpful to flesh out. If you have subtopics, list them under the appropriate main topic, using a different listing technique than you did for broader topics. Repeat this process as often as necessary using different listing techniques for each, as many subtopics encompass an additional set of even narrower subtopics.

  3. List supporting information for each topic

    Many ideas rely on supporting information that does not necessarily hold up as a subtopic. For example, for a presentation about the benefits of frequent exercise, it may make sense to include two main topics (mind and body) with two subtopics each (memory and concentration under "mind" and strength and endurance under "body"). Include details or examples about memory, concentration, strength and endurance, but they are not necessarily subtopics. They can be considered supporting information and should be listed underneath each subtopic.