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Do You Know the Elements of an Outline?

Though outlining is one of numerous techniques a writer can use to organize his/her thoughts, it is a commonly used one. However, not everyone knows the elements needed to produce an effective outline that will make the writing of a draft much easier.


While a blog post is too short to identify all of the outline elements, below are two of the most important ones when preparing academic writing.


1. The Main Idea

a. Depending on the discipline, the main idea is called a thesis, premise, central

position, key claim, argument or hypothesis

b. The main idea represents several "whats," including:

i. What you want to say about the topic that is specific, relevant and meaningful

ii. What you seek to prove, explore or test


2. Support for the Main Idea

a. Research based writing requires evidence

i. All research does not need to be conducted/completed to begin the outline, but

you need enough research to support the main idea

b. Use at least three points to develop and prove the validity of the main idea


Using these elements will give you the proper foundation to build an effective, useful outline. For information on webinars about outlining, other techniques for organizing your ideas and other vital scholarly writing topics, visit the CTW Center for Academic Writing Development.


Cultivating Writers...one tip at at time!





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