“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Outlining Techniques for Students
Writing needs planning, and without a plan, writing becomes a chaotic activity in which you can’t keep up with the flood of ideas. There are a lot of topics you want to address in your essay, and you want to express every thought that comes to mind. Furthermore, the reverse problem may arise: a lack of knowledge and useless attempts to begin the paper obstruct the writing process, causing you to spend three times as much time instead of performing the task swiftly and effectively.
But don’t be worried. Many beginner writers tend to draft the essay first and then neglecting the plan. We’ll teach you how to use outlining strategies to turn your project into something straightforward and enjoyable.
An Outline’s Definition
An outline is a summary of written material that is usually structured hierarchically in headings and subheadings.
Outlining is a technique for organizing one’s thoughts and material connected to a project. It aids users in clarifying their ideas. The first stage in the writing process is structuring and organizing vast amounts of material and research in a typical outline. Furthermore, outlines aid in demonstrating the thought process behind an essay or report, which may indicate a teacher where a student may want assistance or further training.
“Outlining is as important as drafting for content”, said Rajeev Malhotra, professor of commerce in Punjab, also an expert in essay writing help and Essay Writing Service.
How to Create an Outline
Outlining is the most remarkable technique to arrange notes and vast quantities of material when used as the first stage in the writing process. Users may utilize outlines to create organized notes, essays, and reports.
Outline before you start writing your paper:
ü Start with a central concept or thesis, which is a brief statement of the critical point.
ü Use prefix labels to split and subdivide subjects, giving you a basic understanding of big ideas and concepts.
ü An outline may be fine-tuned by revising, reorganizing, and altering the priority of themes and subtopics to support those concepts with more specific examples or supporting data.
ü Users may begin the writing process, envision how to outline, and realize how useful outlining can be by using essay outline templates or graphic organizer templates, such as those available in Inspiration 10.
Brainstorm and outline
Students might begin gathering notes to create and arrange essays by classifying pieces of information. They can discover and modify content that doesn’t match their subject’s general topic by categorizing notes into categories. To help students produce more coherent and comprehensive essays, we urge instructors to highlight the significance of pre-writing activities such as brainstorming and outlining.
Choose a topic that excites you.
The writing process will be more enjoyable and efficient if you already have some perspective on it. Did you notice that when you write an essay on a familiar topic, you spend less time describing unknown things you should comprehend along the way than you do on the description of unknown things you should understand along the way? Clarify and prioritize the writing’s objectives.
Make a note of the points you want to come back to.
Make a list of all the thoughts that come to mind right now. You can jot down not just your thoughts but also important sources of information, brief work pieces, arguments, and the techniques you’ll employ. Simply place those on paper if they appear to be useful in creating a deserving paper investigation.
Create the essay’s framework.
Switch on your critical thinking at this point and choose the most compelling sketch from a long list. After that, you should put them all together and come up with a literary framework. Arrange the assertions in a logical order and plot a feasible manner for them to be expressed.
Distribute the Major Concepts
It’s time to prioritize what matters most and what doesn’t. The secondary points, on the other hand, serve an essential supporting function. You should use examples, data, and other ideas to support your point to back up your claims.
If necessary, double-check and make changes.
The final and most crucial stage of any text production is revision. At this stage, you should review the outline to see any errors, misunderstandings, or other items that need to be removed or adjusted.
The following is a list of everything you’ll learn in this article:
ü What is the outline note-taking method?
ü What do scientists have to say about outlining?
ü What is it about the outlining system that makes it so effective?
ü What is the outline approach, and how does it work?
ü How to outline your notes
What is the outline note-taking method?
One of the most common note-taking strategies for college students is the outline approach. Students create a thorough profile of the lecture subject by outlining their lecture material systematically and logically.
For decades, people have used the outline note-taking approach, which is comparable to the Cornell method. While the outlining approach may not completely change note-taking, it is more efficient than traditional ways.
- The technique is said to be well-rounded and applicable to a wide range of disciplines. However, some STEM topics, such as physics and arithmetic, are not well-suited to it. Outlining also necessitates determining a clear, informative structure for the data. As a result, the approach does not always function well in lectures that are fast-paced and unstructured. When you’re outlining, keep this in mind.
What do scientists have to say about outlining?
When it comes to studying the outline technique of note-taking, educational psychologist Kenneth A. Kiewra of the University of Nebraska is perhaps the most exemplary researcher to listen to. He wrote approximately 20 research articles on note-taking between 1984 and 1995, several of which employed the outline technique as a focal focus.
In his 1995 study, he listed the following as the two most significant advantages of taking outline notes: “I’ll be paraphrasing here, but perhaps the substance of his remarks will be conveyed.”
The first advantage of outlining is that it highlights super ordinate-subordinate relationships within subjects. As a result, local coherence improves.
The process of outlining your subjects and subtopics makes knowledge retrieval faster and helps you establish internal links, which is the second benefit of the outline approach. Because all of your notes are organized into themes, this aids global coherence and information retention.
Kiewra was also one of the first to realize that merely handing out comprehensive notes to students after a lecture may produce impressive outcomes. But that’s a discussion for another day.
What is it about the outlining system that makes it so effective?
The outline approach is distinct in that it is hierarchical in structure. This implies that, in addition to capturing lecture material, students may use the outlining method to record relationships between bits of knowledge.
Having a clear outline style for your notes allows you to do things like:
- identify all clustering points;
- turn the critical points of the content into study questions;
- reduce your notes without having to redo them;
According to a study, outline note-takers have been proven to record substantially more information from online lectures than traditional note-takers. While traditional note-takers can only record around 30% of the lecture materials, outline and matrix note-takers can record about 40%.
- This demonstrates that, unlike the Cornell note-taking technique (which has had conflicting study findings), the outline style of note-taking is a reliable and scientifically supported approach to taking notes.
- It’s a system frequently overshadowed by the matrix note-taking approach, but both are worthy contenders for the greatest note-taking method.
What is the outline approach, and how does it work?
Outlining provides pupils with a clear order of knowledge by using indentation and space connections.
Simply put, the outline approach is based on the following essential features:
- The major themes are written on the left side of the page;
- The subtopics are written with an indent to the right of the main topics;
- Any supporting thoughts or facts are written with another indent to the right of the subtopics;
- Any further details are written with more indentation.
Creating content outlines gives the notes a logical structure, with the significance of material shown by its horizontal placement on the page. It’s a minor subtopic or fact if it’s on the far right side. If it’s on the far-left side, on the other hand, it’s a significant issue with numerous smaller components.
Bullet points, dashes, numerals, and arrows are commonly used to make indents. Using these symbols strategically helps to condense the text even further, resulting in brief yet informative notes that are easy to study before an exam.
How to Take Notes on Outlines
Follow these six steps to take notes using the outline method:
- Gather your note-taking supplies.
- Make a list of the significant points.
- Make a list of the subtopics.
- Include evidence and facts to back up your claims.
- Include more information and examples.
- Go over your notes again and recite them.
Assemble your note-taking materials
The outline technique does not need a costly set of tools, and you probably already have all you need. But, just in case, here’s a summary.
You’ll need the following items to use the outline note-taking method:
- Notebook: Any notebook or paper will suffice. Spiral notebooks are the most pleasant to use, in my opinion. If you’re taking notes on separate notebook sheets, purchase a ring binder to keep everything together.
- Using a pen or a pencil: Once again, any pen or pencil will do the job just fine.
- Area for work: You don’t have much of a choice if you’re taking notes during a lecture. If you’re taking outline notes for online schooling, though, you’ll have additional alternatives. Make an effort to locate a pleasant and distraction-free working environment. Deep attention needs the proper study environment, which you should strive to develop and maintain.
It’s now time to put these resources to work.
Outline the significant points.
- To begin, make a list of the major points covered in the content. These significant points will be written on the document’s left side, with no indentation.
- You should aim for a modest number of key subjects — even a single core topic is fine. This is the first of several decisions you’ll have to make about information organization. And, because of the outline format’s space indentation structure, the initial few stages might be crucial.
- The primary subjects should be wide in scope yet detailed enough to create distinct subtopics. It all depends on the type of material you’re using. Try not to define too many critical points at first, as the structure will lose its impact if it is too thinly spread out. You should allow adequate space to get into a specific key issue in depth.
- The central theme of the lesson in the case we’ll use, obtained from Robinson and Katayama’s study, is “Parasomnias.” It’s a good primary topic since it allows for the natural progression of subtopics and supporting material.
Make a list of the subtopics.
- It’s now time to break down the subtopics. These subtopics are written below the significant topics, with an indentation to the right and enough space between them to support arguments. Subtopics are frequently represented by numbers, letters, bullet points, and dashes to help indicate their location within the outline organization.
- You’ll almost certainly wind up with a lot of subtopics in your outlines, and if you’re taking notes during a lecture, you’ll be adding new ones all the time.
- The outlined subtopics for “Parasomnias” were recognized as sleep terrors, sleepwalking, and nightmares, continuing with the example we picked in the previous stage. They were indented to the right with writing, giving the notes a clear, logical framework.
Add facts and evidence to back up your claims.
- The only thing left to do now start filling in the blanks once you’ve established your primary themes and subtopics. This entails inserting more thoughts, facts, characteristics, and categorizes within the subtopics, always with a right-hand indentation.
- Normally, in an academic context, thoughts and facts should not be equated, but both are completely acceptable supporting notes in this situation. Evaluating and documenting your views is frequently preferable to just duplicating dry data given by someone else.
- Supporting information on the subtopics (particular parasomnias) may be divided into seven pieces using the same example as previously. With a numbered indentation to the right, these seven parts were then added below the subtopics.
- It’s worth noting at this point that this example would also work well with the charting style of note-taking. This is because all subtopics have the same seven supporting categories, and information in this structure works well in a tabular format.
Add more information and examples.
- Now is the moment to fill in any remaining supporting information in the notes. Attempt to provide all of the information you want without writing lengthy paragraphs. This phase can be combined with the preceding step in some situations if the information does not need various degrees of detail (in terms of spatial connections). After all, if the supporting concepts and facts are sufficient to cover everything, no more details or instances are required.
- If you need more information, consider writing brief telegraphic phrases, drawing pictures, or covering real-life instances instead of duplicating long paragraphs word for word.
- Pay close attention to the short sentences used in this section. You may cut down on your notes by utilizing brief phrases, abbreviations, and symbols. This will come in handy during the note-reviewing process.
Review your notes and speak them aloud.
- You’ve completed the note-taking procedure. The wicked, on the other hand, will not be spared.
- The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve dictates that the reciting and reviewing stage be started as soon as feasible. According to studies, reading your notes within the first 24 hours yields the greatest outcomes. You’ll lose a lot of retention and memory if you don’t look at your notes for a week after taking them.
- Begin this stage by going over your notes and repeating any information you found. Any time spent structuring and making the outlines easy to follow will pay off tenfold in this stage. This stage also gives you the opportunity to hone your outlining abilities. If you discover that your notes were not well-organized, keep this in mind and make changes for the next time.
Let’s now move to the types of outlines and the peculiarities of each:
The Traditional Methodology
Create a succinct summary of the paper by breaking it down into chapters. Each part’s description should not belong: 3-4 words should do to convey what the chapter is about.
- It’s easy to convey all of your ideas at once;
- It’s good for extended compositions;
- The outline is well-structured and clear for everyone.
The Plot Summary
Because the writer cites several details and summarises the essay at length, it appears to be a form of brainstorming. If your synopsis has one or two primary ideas and several supporting components, it will be appropriate for your essay.
- Good for short stories;
- Serves as a memory aid due to the thorough synopsis;
The Snowflake Approach
There are no predetermined guidelines for how your outline should be structured. It can even be defined by the lack of any sort of plan. You should offer a general concept of your essay’s primary point and then expand on it. The writer who favours this technique generally begins with a single statement and extends it by simultaneously adding extra information on the subjects he chooses.
- It’s a quick method to come up with new ways to establish the essay’s point;
- It’s customizable.
The three-act format
The first act serves as an introduction to the work, the second as the major section, and the third as the conclusion. Because it is suggested to stick to the fundamental three-part structure when writing academic papers, the technique helps to emphasize all of the topics the qualitative essay requires.
- Excellent for authors who are unsure where to begin;
- Easy to comprehend;
- A distinct framework.
Draft No. 1
An “anti-outline” is another term for this sort of outline with a snappy name. In reality, because of this approach, you should immediately begin writing. It is the practice of creating a rough draught without paying attention to errors and mismatches. It also doesn’t have to be as thorough as the final edition of the academic paper. The most important criterion is speed; the faster you are, the more effective this approach is. We all know that eating satisfies our appetite.
- Saves time;
- Allows for more creative writing;
Don’t dismiss the outline as a time-waster. Those hours, or even minutes, you spend on it will come back to you when you begin to write in the future. The words begin to form phrases and eventually become a legible and cohesive text. People who skip the outline, on the other hand, frequently run into several roadblocks because their vision of the essay is incomplete. A well-thought-out plan can save you 25% of the time you would otherwise spend. So, don’t be lazy, and train yourself to make an outline every time you’re given an essay, a research paper, or a review to write.
Jake Thomson is a contributing writer to LiveWebTutors. He is a podcaster, style coach and has been a blogger and a professional blogger writing about educational skills, personal development, and motivation since 2010. He has her blogging website and well-established blog. LiveWebTutors operate a team of experts and qualified professionals who will provide high-quality Proofreading Editing services.