An outline is an organized and formatted list of writing that helps to structure and compose a dissertation. An outline is a refinement of ideas that helps to clarify focus and provides a schematic representation of the composition. This helps to visualize the all the pieces as a whole and ensure the overall structure is solid and that all of the micro details are filled in from beginning to end.
Purpose of an outline:
What is the purpose of making an outline?
An outline will help you organize your thoughts and will give you a guide to ensure that your writing flows from beginning to end.
An outline will also help when summarizing your writing to produce the introduction, conclusion, overview, and table of contents.
An outline will give you an overview of what information you have gathered and will allow you to see what ideas are missing that you need to further develop in your paper. You may also discover that there is information that should be omitted from the draft; perhaps information that doesn’t fit into the scope you have defined.
Formatting an outline:
Visualize how you will want to format your outline. You will want to make your outline easy to read. You can do this by indenting paragraphs, using spacing in between sections, altering the colors, boldness, or size of fonts, and utilizing interactive features such as hyperlinks.
-Indenting- start the titles of each section directly in line with the margin. Begin indenting one inch for each subsection thereafter
-Listing/ labeling- List each section and subsection
-with numbers or letters: 1, 2, 3; a, b, c; i, ii, iii
-or with symbols: dash (-), bullet (.), asterisk (*)
-Line spacing- Use a line space between paragraphs within a section and use two line spaces to separate sections
-Color, bold, italics, fonts, sizes- use a continuous pattern throughout the outline
-Links- use hyperlinks within your outline to connect to your external brainstorming pages or to other bookmarks and anchor points located within the document
Tips for outlining:
If you are working on a computer then don’t worry about taking up too much space. Spread your ideas out so that you have enough room to think. Don’t pile ideas right on top of one another; this will clutter your manner of thinking. Don’t be afraid to use multiple pages within the file and to start new subsections on each page. Use blank lines to space out different ideas.
Start organizing the flow of your paper. If you see that multiple ideas are similar then arrange them in similar groups; filter out dissimilar ideas and put them in their separate place. Prioritize what you want to list first and how the material will proceed to the end.
Take a look around at different outlines. Search the internet. Also, many word processing programs offer preformatted outlines that are all ready to go.
Ask questions: An outline could be composed of a series of questions that you will set out to answer; a list of ideas you want to convey. Perhaps you don’t know the answer at this moment but you know that the idea is important to the development of your dissertation. In this instance you can write out the questions that come to your mind as place holders for your future research, studies, and understandings. Break each page and each paragraph down into a list of questions or just a single question. Make a separate outline for all of the questions your dissertation answers. With this list of questions you can then review your work and evaluate success in which your words and writing reflects the scope of the question you have set out to answer. Understanding the raw questions behind the content gives you an ability to focus and refine your ideas. A continuous list of questions will ensure continuity of ideas throughout the document.
The new age of outlining offers an interactive system of hyperlinks within the documents to help readers and writers to navigate with east throughout the content.
You can create hyperlinks within a document to accomplish interactive functions such as:
-opening up another related document: (Open the article on Brainstorming)
-navigating to an “anchored” or “bookmarked” point within the document: (Click: outline)
-opening a link to a website in a browser: www.unityforachange.com
For each individual section and subsection of your outline you may want to have a separate document created to organize all of your brainstorming. Within the outline you can use hyperlinks that open up each individual page of brainstorming. The outline serves as an interactive table of contents that allows you to organize your thoughts and easily navigate through your work.
1. Select the text (or image) that you want to turn into a link
2. Right click on the selection, or go to the ‘insert’ menu, and select ‘hyperlink’, or use the shortcut on the keyboard (ctrl k)
3. In the hyperlink window choose what document or bookmark you want the hyperlink to ‘link to’. You can choose to link within the document or link to an external location.
Creating bookmarks and anchors:
“Bookmarks” and “anchors” are points within a document that the reader is navigated to by clicking on other active hyperlinks within the document. Bookmarks and anchors create an internal navigation system within documents or web pages. You can create many bookmarks and anchor points within a document and have navigation features placed within each page, at the forefront as a table of contents, in the header of pages, or even as a legend on the bottom of the page.
1. Click the point, or select the text, where you would like to place an anchor or a bookmark
2. Go to the ‘insert’ menu and select ‘bookmark’
3. Name the bookmark
4. Now select the text or image (whatever you want to be used to navigate readers to the bookmarked point) and turn it into a hyperlink.
a. (begin to follow the process for creating hyperlinks as is listed above)
b. Where it says “link to” choose “place in this document”
c. Now just select the bookmark that you want to link to
Tips and tricks for anchor points:
Here is a nifty anchor technique that will help you navigate throughout your documents:
1. Place a bookmark at the very most top point of the document.
2. Then at the very most bottom point of the document write out: (Top) and turn it into a hyperlink (Top) which navigates to the bookmark you created at the top of the page.
You can also copy and paste the “top” hyperlink (or any other hyperlink) on the bottom of every page as a navigation tool to bring readers back to the beginning of the document.