How To Make An Outline For An Article

How to write an outline for an article
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Typically, amateur writers mock the idea of writing an outline for an article. Most people believe that pre-organizing their thoughts curtails imagination and makes writing uninspired and stiff. Some writers also feel that if they plan it all, it can put creativity at risk.


The thing with any writing piece is that if you cannot create a self-explanatory documentation of your thoughts, you may struggle to prove your worth. The prowess of clearly explaining is a critical skill, which can help the reader objectively evaluate the writing and earns good dividends for the writer.


However, writing does not come naturally to every writer. So, how do you overcome the writer’s block and logically structure and produce your articles? The solution – by simply learning how to create an article outline before you start writing.


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Without a structure in mind, you tend to blab in a cluttered fashion. It adds to the writing and reading time. In addition, since you do not have a clear flow of the information in mind, you tend to research more. It also results in some writers stretching the word count.


So, If you always want to create polished articles, speed up the writing process, and ensure that your writings make perfect sense, you need to learn how to make an outline for an article. It is the whole purpose of this guide.


What Is An Outline In Writing?

Before we address how to write an outline for an article, you need to know what it is?

In an article, the outline is the general layout of everything you intend to write. This layout will discuss the:

  • Order of the information
  • Importance of every point in the piece
  • Contents and relationship between information in every paragraph


Ideally, an outline attempts to take the piece from a general to a specific level. So, you start with a broad idea and then back it with examples to reach a precise point.


Even students use overviews in research papers & dissertations. Regardless, in any piece of writing, an outline can streamline workflow and make it less time-consuming.


Now, let us look at the steps on how to make an outline for an article.


Steps To Writing An Article Outline

Here are things to keep in mind to know how to write outline for articles:


1. Know your audience and their level of understanding

First things first, you need to understand the intended audience. Are you writing it for the students in your class, or is it for a blog on your website, or to assign it to your teammates to prepare a writeup?


As per your article’s audience, keep in mind to prepare the outline, because your outline is going to be the backbone of your article.


2. Reason for writing the article – inform/describe/persuade

Consider what objective will this article serve. Why do you want to write this article – to inform the reader about something, persuade him/her to buy something, or describe a topic.


With this in mind you will prepare the right outline for your article.



3. Decide on a specific topic

You cannot create an outline if you do not narrow down the subject to a specific topic. With a topic in mind you will be clear on how to go with the flow of information.


4. Rough title

Once you have a topic in hand, you can then think of a rough article title. The title is also necessary to ensure that your outline and writing are in sync. So decide on a preliminary title, and you can change it as you finish the whole article.


5. What’s your angle?

The most crucial point to learn how to write an outline for an article, is to have an angle in mind. You can study it on Google to know what other people say about the topic. Then, search for some fresher ideas to enlighten your audience. It is your unique angle on the subject.


Learn how to create an article outline that fills the gaps in knowledge existing online. Now, draft your text in a manner that fills these gaps. It can be your angle.



6. Find your main idea

Now you have the topic, title, and the angle ready. Next, you need to jot down the ideas and the work already done on it so far. Highlight the questions you solved or the pain points you addressed.


Your objective should be to write down everything associated with the article you intend to include in your writing. Later, according to the word count, you can filter out some points.


Tips for organizing your thoughts:


  • Writing everything that comes to your head
  • Using diagrams to structure this information.
  • Noting the thoughts on index cards.
  • Reading it later to see if info flows logically


7. Pick the subheadings

Once you have clarity on the main idea, you can start dividing the article into sub-sections. These secondary headlines divide the article into parts and add to their readability, and make your whole article look put together.


Please remember that the H1(title) will be the primary headline. Following this, you will introduce the article. Then comes the sub-heads or the H2s. Your research will give you substantial sub-heads, but please have them in sync.



8. Look at Google’s ‘people also ask for’ ‘related searches’ & ‘autofill’ options

To stay relevant, next to your outline, you need to ask some questions that relate to your target keyword. Inclusion of answers to these questions guarantees that you performed intensive research for the selected keyword. It makes your write-up more informative. So, how do you source these questions?


Ideally, you have two ways to go about it when it comes to question hunting:


  • Google’s People Also Ask sectionhas tons of related questions. – In this, there are all the questions that searchers need answers to. So, if you want to create a well-rounded article, this can be an excellent place to start.

    You can Google your keyword, and several questions will pop up. Alternatively, Keywords Explorer is another rescue place. Including these questions in your headings will make your content more valuable and up-to-date.


  • Threads on Reddit and Quora– Search your keyword on Reddit and Quora, and see which threads show up. Now, add answers to these questions in your outline for content optimization.


9. Research

Nothing can replace the importance of a well-researched article. Go through authentic resources to gather information and build your content outline based on it. You could use, encyclopaedias, .org/.edu/.gov sites.


10. Brainstorm

Now, you have everything on paper:


  • Your title
  • Main idea
  • Supporting ideas
  • Questions you want to answer
  • Research bits


Next, brainstorm further to see what else can to include. Write more and more ideas to make your piece informative & logical. You can always go back and eliminate the points later which you find redundant.


11. Plan a logical content flow

Till the above step, all your required information is handy. Now, see which point goes under what sub-head, and plan a logical content flow. Everything should be in sync. So club common topics under one head from your outline, and you are good to go. If you need more supporting details, research and add further.


12. Revise and keep the content crisp

Read through it all, and ensure that everything seems smooth and crisp. There should be no rough transitions to any head. Further, check for formatting, grammatical errors, and typo flaws.


Related: Synopsis Writing Tips

How To Write An Outline For A Research Paper?

Begin with research title and abstract, followed by literature review, thesis statement and the main body.


Here is a format to follow


A. Introduction

  • Background details
  • Relevant history
  • Statistical data
  • Quotes
  • Facts
  • Thesis statement or hypothesis


B. Main Idea

  • Details
  • Developing a connection with what’s to follow


C. Supporting Topic

  1. Brief description of the supporting idea
  2. Quotes or relevant information


D. Supporting Topic 2 and so on


  1. Brief description


E. Findings & interpretations

F. Conclusion


Related: How to write an academic book review?


Why Is An Outline Important?

A few benefits associated with writing an outline before beginning the actual article are:

  • It helps you organize and construct ideas thoughtfully and sequentially.
  • It enables you to pick quotes or statistical data early on.
  • The outline gives a steady foundation for writing.
  • It is the perfect groundwork for writing.
  • It helps in the thesis creation.
  • It provides you with an understanding of the required research work.
  • It aids in finding the angle and direction where you wish to take the article.
  • It equips you to know how to defend the ideas.
  • It gives a clear flow and structure.


Are Article Outline Generators Helpful?

An article generator can be helpful. It can help avoid the unnecessary wandering of the ideas in your piece. These are handy for bloggers wishing to club all related ideas together seamlessly. Hence, if you want to make the articles easy to read for the audience, you can find an outline generator too beneficial.


However, keep in mind that it is artificial intelligence. So, do not expect the same results as human research and outline preparation.


Related: How to write a book summary? How to write an author’s biography?


Article Outline Example

Here is a perfect example of an article outline discussing the link between educational attainment and health


A. Introduction

1. Prevailing problem – Decrease in the educational attainment rate in the US and a continuous spike in the healthcare-related costs.

2. Area of focus – Low-skilled or unskilled workers

3. Key terms – Well-educated, healthy


B. Thesis statement

– Given the constant pressure resulting in depression, stress, anxiety (cite sources), and income deficit (cite sources), students do not pursue graduation, resulting in susceptibility to mental and physical health disorders later in life.


C. Background

1. Historical Healthcare Overview – Adequate healthcare and benefits offered to unskilled workers (cite sources)

2. Historical Employment Overview – Unskilled or low-skilled laborers were unionized and decently compensated for work.

3. Developing a link between employment type and education – Uneducated workers get hired for low-skilled or unskilled jobs (cite sources).

4. Research gaps – Detailing the health implications of the current conditions in low-skilled jobs.


D. Main Point 1 – Employment conditions impact the worker’s physical health.

1. Unskilled and low-skilled workers are prone to workplace injuries (cite sources).

2. Workplace environments do not give ample compensation or time to recover from injuries (cite sources)


E. Main Point 2 – Employment conditions impact the worker’s mental health.

  1. Relation with stress (cite sources)
  2. Stress adds to mental health concerns (cite sources).


F. Main Point 3 – Developing a correlation between physical and mental health

  1. How one leads to another (Cite sources)
  2. Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources).


G. Clubbing points – People with more financial woes have worse physical health and higher stress.

  1. High school dropouts experience financial stress (cite sources).
  2. Financial concerns result in/stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices – abusive relationships, excessive smoking or drinking, unhealthy food choices, etc., (cite sources).


H. Conclusion

1. Restatement of thesis  – Dropout students are susceptible to both physical health and mental health concerns across their lives.

2. Next steps – What should be done? What society can do? What educators can do? How to increase student retention to ensure a better living standard and physical health? Warning and spreading awareness amongst students dropping out of high school.


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