In this lesson, our instructor Rebekah Hendershot gives an introduction to outlining. She starts by explaining what an outline is and the different outline styles: formal outlines and mnemonic outlines. She goes over how to choose the right one, advantages and disadvantages to each, and testing your outline.
An outline is a written plan for your writing. It may be very elaborate or very simple. Think of an outline as a road mapit shows you where your journey starts, where youll go along the way, and where youll end up if all goes well.
A formal outline is the sort youve learned about in school. It has lots of numbers and letters and points and sub-points. Its a very detailed map.
A formal outline has its advantages:
Its very detailed, so it forces you to think about your writing in detail.
Its easy to write from a very detailed plan.
A formal outline has its disadvantages, too:
It takes a long time to create one
Sometimes a too-formal outline will get you so bogged down in details that you lose the big picture.
Some writers find it takes the fun out of writing.
A mnemonic outline is far less detailedjust jot down whatever you need to remember your main points. Its like turn-by-turn directions rather than a detailed map.
A mnemonic outline has its advantages:
Its very quick to makejust jot down whatever will help you remember.
It gives you room to improvise.
Its hard for anyone else to copy.
A mnemonic outline has its disadvantages, too:
It requires less discipline
It has fewer details (and some writers need lots of details)
If you forget what your mnemonics mean, youre in trouble.
Use a formal outline if:
You need lots of details in order to stay on topic.
Youre not quite sure your idea will hold up.
You have difficulty remembering mnemonics.
You just feel more comfortable with the formal style.
Use a mnemonic outline if:
You like to improvise a little as you write.
Youre certain your concept is a strong one.
Youre in a hurry.
Youre more comfortable with the mnemonic style.
Test your outline on yourself. Imagine writing it. Can you see how it will go?
Then test your outline on a friend. Can you explain your essay without boring or confusing your listener?
When in doubt, choose the outline that works best for you. Thats all that matters!
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
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