Subsection 4.1.3 Outlining
While outlining might take up precious writing time in your schedule, the payoff is worth it! By clearly organizing your ideas in a way that makes sense to you, you give yourself a guide to follow while you’re writing. The act of making an outline also requires you to write down all of your brilliant ideas so that, by the time you start writing, you don’t forget what you’ve come up with. Use what you’ve developed during your brainstorming and planning sessions to create a more cohesive, organized, and complete outline that contains the major parts of your argument: your introduction, thesis, supporting claims, evidence, and conclusion. Remember that while ordering your claims you should try to think of your essay as a progression rather than a series of points; each claim should both respond to and build off of the previous one. Just as with brainstorming, your outline can be in any form that works best with the structure of the assignment and the way you want to think about your paper. While you’re creating your outline, ask yourself these types of questions:
Read on to learn about a few (but not all!) outline formats you can try.
Subsubsection The Classic Outline
The classic outline is potentially the one you’re most familiar with. Many people prefer to outline in this structure because it is very linear, organized, and clear. After constructing a thorough outline in this format, virtually all a writer needs to do is fill in the gaps with prose. If you think linearly, need more structure when organizing your ideas, or prefer to have the skeleton of your paper completed before you begin writing, the classic outline might be the outline for you.
Subsubsection The Bubble Map
The bubble map is a great option for writers who prefer a less-structured organization or a more organic relationship between ideas. Bubble maps also enable you to conceptualize your claims in a dynamic way, which can be beneficial for papers or topics that have several claims that can be connected to each other differently.
Subsubsection The Flowchart
Flowcharts work well for people who like (or papers that require) the organization and structure of a classic outline but need the organic, concept-based connections of a bubble map. Flowcharts show both linear and more circular connections between points. You can begin with your thesis at the top of the chart, or you may opt to do a mini-flowchart for each paragraph with topic sentences at the top. Your argument progresses with each descending bubble on the chart, but you still have the flexibility to show connections between claims and pieces of evidence in concert with the linear flow of your argument.