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Outlining Your Project

  • I have my resources! Now what? – Now that you’ve gathered your initial sources and citations, it’s time to begin the outlining process. Essentially, creating an outline allows you to organize your research into cohesive themes and ideas before you begin writing.
  • Identifying the main ideas - Before you begin the outline, take a minute to review your research. What are the main points that you will need to cover? List all the main ideas that run throughout your research.
  • Mind mapping - If you prefer a more visual representation of ideas, a mind map might be a good place to start. To begin, take a blank sheet of paper and write the main topic or subject in the middle of the page. Branching out from the main idea, draw and label a line to represent a supporting idea. You can continue until you’ve illustrated every aspect of your research.
  •  Organizing ideas and supporting research- Now that you’ve identified the major themes and ideas of your research, you can begin to organize your work into a more coherent structure. You might ask yourself, how are these ideas related? How are they not? Which topics are most important to my thesis or argument?
  • The outline- Though there a few different approaches you can take to creating an outline, most will follow this basic pattern.

    1. Introduction and Thesis
    2. Idea
      1. Supporting research
      2. Supporting research
    3. Idea
      1. Supporting research
      2. Supporting research
    4. Conclusion

Are you a visual thinker? Try Concept Modeling!

Concept modelling is a methodology used to breakdown information to make connections to broader themes, issues, and ideas. Concept maps usually take shape in the form of graphic representations or maps and allow you to externalize your thinking processes and connect abstract ideas into a visual structure like mind-mapping.

The Rough Draft

Having developed your outline, you should now be able to begin your rough draft.

Flexibility in the outline- Though your outline will assist you in writing your essay, don't be afraid to be flexible in your thinking--your ideas about the structure of the paper may change as you write. If you need to elaborate on a point, or can condense two supporting ideas into a single paragraph, do so.

Perfectionism- Your first draft will not, by any means, be perfect. If a paragraph or section of your essay doesn’t come off quite the way you want it, try not to get bogged down in fixing it. Just make a note of the weak segment, and move on. You can always revise any weak passages once the draft is complete.

Writer’s block – Don’t panic if you find yourself hung up on a certain section or paragraph. Instead of staring blankly at the page and waiting for inspiration to strike, you might try one of the following suggestions:

      1. Take a short break. Set aside fifteen minutes or so to stretch, have a snack, or take a walk.

      2. Write a sentence or two about the problem you’re encountering in completing the project.

      3. Write out the last couple of sentences with a pen and paper.

Outlining and Drafting Video Tutorial

This online tutorial will help you with creating an outline and then a first draft of a research paper.

Resources for Outlining and Drafting