Skip to Content - Skip to Navigation

Creating an Outline

What is an outline?

Creating an outline is a good step to take while writing your paper. It allows you to brainstorm new ideas and make sure your paper will be organized, focused, and supported. Many writers find it easier to write from an outline instead of starting from a blank page.

When should I write an outline?

Writing an outline can take place at any time during the writing process. Although it is most commonly used before beginning to write or doing research, this process can also take place during or after writing your paper to make sure your points are organized and make sense.

How do I write an outline?

  • Identify your topic or thesis statement.
  • Decide what points you would like to discuss during your paper.
  • Put your points in logical, numerical order so that each point connects back to your main point.
  • Write possible transitions between paragraphs.

[Remember that your outline should serve as a rough idea of how your paper will develop; it does not have to be very formal or exact]

This is a rough idea of the format an outline can have:

I. Main idea

    A. Secondary idea or supporting idea to main idea I

    B. Secondary idea or supporting idea to main idea I

        1. Secondary idea to B

        2. Secondary idea to B

            a) Secondary idea to 2

            b) Secondary idea to 2

II. Main idea

    A. Secondary or supporting idea to main idea II

    B. Secondary or supporting idea to main idea II

    C. Secondary or supporting idea to main idea II

III. Main idea

You can use any form of this example to write your outline. Everyone organizes differently, so it is important to do what works best for you. If you have any questions, feel free to come to the Writing Center and work with a tutor on creating your outline.

  • Writing Center
  • Eicher Hall, Room 218
    860 Grant Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-3029
  • Regular Hours
  • Monday through Thursday
  • 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Friday
  • 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.