Different types of written outline formats include standard alphanumeric formats, graphic organizers, full-sentence outlines and decimal outlines. Though these outlines differ in organizational style, each type shows the relationship between main ideas and supporting details in a piece of writing.
The standard alphanumeric outline includes four parts: Roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals and lowercase letters. Writers use a Roman numeral for each major section of the essay, typically the introduction, main points and conclusion. They use the capital letters for the main sub-points in each major section. They use the Arabic numerals for supporting points for each sub-point and the lowercase letters for details related to the supporting points.
Graphic organizers offer a visual representation of the same type of outline. Instead of using the alphanumeric system, graphic organizers use a system of rectangles or squares to organize the writer's main points and supporting details. Additionally, writers can use other graphic organizers, such as inspiration diagrams, for different stages of their writing.
A full-sentence outline is similar to an alphanumeric outline. However, while alphanumeric outlines typically use only one full sentence for the thesis statement, full-sentence outlines include a full sentence for each Roman numeral. The full sentence serves as the writer's topic sentence.
In a decimal outline, writers use a system of decimal notations to show the relationship between the details and the larger whole.