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Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas

/Guides & Tips on Writing/Writing Tips/Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas

Organize Your Ideas
An essay or term paper should always follow a specific academic format: MLA format, APA format, or AMA. Depending on the format the essay should have an outline or diagram. The purpose of an outline or diagram is to put your ideas about the topic on paper, in a well organized format. The structure you create may still change before you finish the essay.

You should decide whether to use the cut-and-dried structure of an outline or a more flowing structure. If you start one or the other and decide it's not working for you, you can always switch to another later.

Tips on Using a Diagram

  1. Begin your diagram with a circle or a horizontal line or whatever shape you prefer in the middle of the page.
  2. Inside the shape or on the line, write the topic of your essay.
  3. From your center shape or line, draw three or four lines out into the page. Be sure to spread them out.
  4. At the end of each of these lines, draw another circle or horizontal line or whatever you drew in the center of the page.
  5. In each shape or on each line, write the main ideas that you have about your essay topic, or the main points that you want to make.

If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments. If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed. You will need to group these into categories. If you encounter problems with grouping the steps into categories, try using Beginning, Middle, and End. If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.

  1. From each of your main ideas, draw three or four lines out into the page.
  2. At the end of each of these lines, draw another circle or horizontal line or whatever you drew in the center of the page.
  3. In each shape or on each line, write the facts or information that supports that main idea.

When you are done with it, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.

Basic Outline for an Essay

  1. Begin the outline of your essay by writing the topic at the top of the page.
  2. Next, write the Roman numerals I, II, and III, spread apart down the left side of the page.
  3. Next to each Roman numeral, write the main ideas that you have about your essay topic, or the main points that you want to make.

If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments. If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed. You will need to group these into categories. If you encounter problems with grouping the steps into categories, try using Beginning, Middle, and End. If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.

  1. Under each Roman numeral, write A, B, and C down the left side of the page.
  2. Next to each letter, write the facts or information that supports that main idea.

When you are done with it, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.



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