Creating an Outline For an Academic Paper

High school students do not appreciate how easy they have it. When they are assigned essays, teachers take them step-by-step through the writing process. They get outlines, editing assignments, peer editing time, and time to work in class. In college, students get an assignment and that is it. College students learn very quickly that they are truly on their own, especially when it comes to writing.

Usefulness of Outlining

One of the most important skills that college students need to use in academic writing is outlining. Basic outlining is a skill that most students need, not only for writing papers, but for giving speeches, planning event, and organizing projects. While there are formulaic ways to craft an outline, many students today use their own style.

High School Students in the Dream World

There are two sides to the fact that high school students are often presented with graphic organizers and scaffolded outlining forms to use when they are given an assignment. Many college students leave high school without ever crafting their own unique outline with using something that the teacher designed as the bones of the outline. While filling in content is challenging on its own, the idea of crafting an outline and working to organize a topic makes the task even more rigorous.

Beginning, Middle and End

When designing an outline for a paper, it is important to decide what goes in the beginning, middle, and end. Many writers will include the thesis statement and a few other important explanatory parts of the essay in the beginning. The middle should include most of the “meat” of the essay and the end will have one of a few different purposes.

Don’t Write Too Much

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when outlining for an academic paper is that they write too much in the outline. Traditionally, outlines only contain a few words per line. This frees the writer to be able to play with the words and not be bound 100% by exact phrases. The outlining stage should not take long, but when students include too many words, they waste time that could be spent on the actual paper.

Many of today’ s students do not understand the formatting for an outline. They may not understand the use of Roman numerals to offset subjects, so many people will use bullets or boxes in place of the Roman numerals. It does not matter what style is used,  when students plan with some type of outline, they tend to write better essays that stay on topic and argue points better than unplanned essays.