Rules for outlining

• Center the title above the outline; the title is not one of the lettered or numbered topics.

• Do not include terms of organization, such as "introduction," "body," and "conclusion" in your outline. Keep the terms in mind as you write, however, so that the outline shows these elements, even though they are not labeled.

• Write a thesis sentence just below the title. This sentence states the main idea which is to be developed in your outline.

• Develop a three-level outline; that is, use Roman numerals, capital letters, and Arabic numerals in that order. A three-level outline is adequate for most purposes, but here is a six-level example:

Project Title thesis sentence/statement

I. --------------------------------------------------------- first major heading/topic

A. ---------------------------------------------------- first subtopic of "I"

1. -------------------------------------------- subtopics of "A"

a. --------------------------------------- subtopics of "2"

(1) ---------------------------- subtopics of "b"

B. ---------------------------------------------------- second subtopic of "I"

1. -------------------------------------------- subtopics of "B"

II. --------------------------------------------------------- second major heading/topic

- Begin each topic or sentence with a capital letter.

- In a topic outline do not follow topics with a period, since the topics are not sentences.

- Never put a lone subtopic under any topic. No topic can logically be divided into fewer than two parts.

- Observe parallel structure. Although all items in an outline do not need to be parallel in structure, all items within a given group of topics or subtopics should be parallel.

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