Outstanding Suggestions

Outlining is a very important tool. In order to create the structure of your paper, you need to make sure that you use a detailed outline so that you cover all of the necessary components and so that you and sure all of your ideas come across in a logical fashion. A great outline will save you a tremendous amount of time when it comes to revisions and it might make sure that your ideas are already arranged in the best order before you even write them.

Before you start creating an outline you need to know what you're going to argue in your paper. You need to closely read and analyze primary and secondary academic sources. You should take notes and write down quotes that you might use as evidence. If you can find primary evidence obviously that is better suited to a coherent argument and secondary sources, unless you're writing about a historical event. When you are researching you want to make sure that you take detailed notes which include bibliographic information for every piece of evidence and every fact that you write down. It is often beneficial for students to use different colored notecards. This can help you with your organization and can help prepare you for creating the outline. Many students find that writing down bibliographic information on the card of every quotes or fact saves a great deal of time when it comes to writing the reference page into deciding their sources. You can use one color card for key ideas and one color card for supporting evidence. You might instead want to use one color for a key idea and all of its supporting evidence, and another color for a subsequent key idea and its supporting evidence. The choice is up to you.


Using Note Cards

Using color coordinated note cards is incredibly beneficial because it enables you to tangibly test the presentation of your arguments and the thoroughness of your evidence. You can review each of your key ideas very quickly and see if they each have the same pieces of information, and if they each have the same number of supporting evidence. If you have three statistics for two of your main points but only one statistic for your third main point, you can quickly see this by reviewing the note cards and go back to find more evidence.

You can also group together each of your key points and their supporting evidence and play around with the order. Once you have the order the way you like it, you can start copying the notecards in the form of an outline.

Your goal in doing all of this is to ensure that your ideas and your notes have the best order necessary to support your argument. You do not want the end result to be the same order and arguments that someone else is already written. You also want to make sure that your organization is logical.