How to Make an Outline for Beginners

How to Make an Outline for Beginners thumbnail
Creating a paper on the computer will make it easier to organize.

Writing a good essay or research paper requires going through a series of steps. First you brainstorm, then outline your thoughts, write a rough draft, proofread and, lastly, write your final draft. Outlining is important because it's like the skeleton of your final paper. Creating one will help you organize your ideas and allow you to see them on paper. Draw up a basic outline after you have brainstormed a few ideas. Flesh it out to see which ideas will work and which ideas won't.


    • 1

      Write out what your topic will be about. This should be an overview of your entire idea. Come up with broad categories that can be discussed under the idea. Divide those categories into even smaller categories that will have more details.

    • 2

      Type out your outline on your computer. This will allow you to change ideas and reorganize the outline easier than if you were to write out the outline.

    • 3

      Type your topic at the top of the page. This may also double as a basis for your thesis statement. For example, if you were writing about the parts of speech, your topic could say, "There are eight parts of speech within the English language."

    • 4

      Start on the left-hand side of the page with a Roman numeral I followed by a period. Then follow it with your first broad category. For example: I. Nouns.

    • 5

      Skip a line and indent toward the right like you would when beginning a new paragraph. Come up with subcategories for your first broad category. These subcategories are labeled with a capital letter followed by a period. For example: A. Proper Nouns.

    • 6

      Decide if you want to divide the subcategories further. If you do, skip another line and indent double what you did before. Write out a number beginning with 1 and a period. For example: 1. Days of the Week. If you want to add more subcategories, keep them in list form, directly on top of each other. Don't skip lines within subcategories, but do skip lines between different sets of categories.

Tips & Warnings

  • All your Roman numerals should line up vertically with one another, as well as your different subcategories. All your capital-lettered categories need to line up and your numbered subcategories need to line up.

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