An outline is a list of the main and supporting ideas in your paper with similar ideas grouped together and sequenced in a meaningful order. Here are three different methodsfor helping you decide on a final outline.
1. The following "formula" outline is a good, basic organizational structure which is suitable for many different kinds of essays, research papers andspeeches. Just fit your ideas into it!
o Introduction: interesting relevant story or example background information to put reader in context meanings of terms (don’t quote the dictionary!)
oThesis: the central idea you want to communicate about your subject (including your attitude or approach and why you have come to believe what you do)
o Body: key ideas supporting data, details,arguments, examples
o Summary: reference back to the introduction restatement of thesis brief summary of one or two key points
o Conclusions: new perceptions and insights
o Recommendations: solutions,modifications further analysis or research
1. Take your notes (on cards, sheets of paper – cut them up if you must!) and shuffle them into piles of similar ideas. You may need to reread a note todecide which pile it goes in. Don’t worry if you find yourself changing your mind: there will be several ways to do it.
Once you have your ideas in similar groups, decide in what order you want topresent these ideas to your reader in your paper. What should you talk about first? Which last? Which ideas are sub-points that develop, and therefore follow, major points? Then arrange the little stacksof cards or pages in order.
2. Write your paper. Then, on a separate sheet of paper, write out the topic sentence of every paragraph. (If you can’t find a topic sentence in a paragraph, considerwriting one!) If your paper is well organized, these should form a coherent outline. If not, reorganize the topic sentences, their paragraphs and the paper.
Taken from the University of Texas...