Understanding the specifics

Items to consider when writing your outline:

Why create an outline?
--It organizes your ideas
--Helps you to see if you’ve got enough information
--Makes the writing process much easier
--Presents your material in a logical form
--Shows the relationship among your ideas

1. Parallelism: Each heading and subheading should have parallel structure. That means, if you begin one point with a noun, all points should begin with a noun. If one is a complete sentence,
all must be (topic vs. sentence outline).

I. Alcohol addiction causes strained relationships.
     A. The alcohol forces the family apart.
     B. The effects of being drunk can cause a strained marriage.
Notice how all points are complete sentences; this must be consistent throughout.

2. Coordination and Weight: The information contained in each of your Roman numerals should contain the same significance. Similarly, the weight of your sub-headings should be consistent as well, and more detailed than the Roman numerals.

I. It is important to visit and evaluate college campuses.
II. One should also visit and evaluate college websites.
     A. Here, the applicant should note organization of website.
     B. The applicant could also observe what the university has to offer.

3. Specificity of each outline component: Present information from general to specific. The information presented in the Roman numeral headings should be more general, while the information in the subheadings should be more specific.

I. General information
     A. One specific component related to the general information
     B. Another specific component related to the general
          1. One specific component of point “B.”
          2. Another specific component of point “B.”
               a. One specific component of point “2.”
               b. Another specific of point “2.”
                    i. This is as detailed as you can get
                    ii. Another specific component of point “b.”

4. Division of parts: Each component of your outline cannot stand alone. Therefore, every I must have a II; every A must have a B, etc. You may have more than two, but no less.

See example above; it is the bare minimum for each component (being 2 main points). Remember, you do not need to go any further than a point on A and B if you don’t need to. Only go as specific as you are able to.