Drafting from an Outline

While there are distinct differences between developing and organizing support, and between developing/organizing support and drafting the essay, differentiating these steps can sometimes be difficult – in many cases, they blend into one another. As you develop support, you may find that you are also organizing that support into categories, thus creating a draft in outline form.

If outlining seems logical to your way of thinking and approaching a writing project, know that there are  several different kinds of outlines:

  • Roman or Arabic Numeral (highly structured, more formal)
  • bullet point (less structured, more informal)
  • mind map (less structured, more informal)
  • other methods as appropriate, such as a timeline, powerpoint slides, or whatever method works for the topic and your own way of thinking about the topic

Roman Numeral Outline

Thesis statement: E-mail and internet monitoring, as currently practiced, is an invasion of employees’ rights in the workplace.

    1. The situation: Over 80% of today’s companies monitor their employees.
      1. To prevent fraudulent activities, theft, and other workplace related violations.
      2. To more efficiently monitor employee productivity.
      3. To prevent any legal liabilities due to harassing or offensive communications.
    2. What are employees’ privacy rights when it comes to electronic monitoring and surveillance in the workplace?
      1. American employees have basically no legal protection from mean and snooping bosses.
        1. There are no federal or State laws protecting employees.
        2. Employees may assert privacy protection for their own personal effects.
      2. Most managers believe that there is no right to privacy in the workplace.
        1. Workplace communications should be about work; anything else is a misuse of company equipment and company time
        2. Employers have a right to prevent misuse by monitoring employee communications

Arabic Numeral Outline

Numerical outline titled Contents (from Wikipedia article). 1 Outline organization. 2 Types of outlines. 2.1 Outline styles 2.1.1 Sentence outline 2.1.2 Topic outline 2.1.3 A sample topic outline application: An outline of human knowledge 2.2 Outlines with prefixes 2.2.1 Bare outlines 2.2.2 Alphanumeric outline 2.2.3 Decimal outline 2.2.4 Integrated Outline. 3 See Also. 4 Notes. 5 References.

Bullet Point Outline

List outline. Set up - introduce the characters, world building, normal life. Event One - the first incident that causes the journey to begin. Reaction - In the beginning, she is always reacting to the events around her. Event Two - Something else big happens that changes the story. Proactive - This is where she begins to take matters into her own hands. She is no longer reacting. She is making decisions. Event Three - Something else happens usually increasing the stakes more and more. Resolution - She has decided what she'll do and takes steps to make it happen. Even [sic] Four - The stakes are as high as they'll get now. This is the black moment The End - wrap it up quickly. Show how she has changed or not. A glimpse at her new life.

Mind Map Outline

Flowchart moving from left to right. Title on left: Network English. Five branching trees. 1 Introduction: Language and English. Splits into "English on Internet" and "Network English: A Speech Variation" which further splits into "Internet as a speech community" and "Network English as a speech variation." 2 Historical Development of Network English, split into "Pre 1995 Era" and "Post 1995 Era." 3 Observation of Network English. One branch, "Vocabulary" divides into "Word Formation" ("Componded Word" / "Derivated Word" / "Coined Word"); "Semantic Change" ("Semantic Narrowing" / "Semantic Broadening" / "Semantic Shift"); and Sign Language. Other branch of 3 is "Grammar," divided into "Sentence Structure" and "Omission" (Suject [sic] / Prep). 4 Characteristics of Network English: "Easy to Type" / Simplicity / Creativity / colloquialism. 5 Conclusion.

Whichever type of outline you’ve started with, it can conveniently morph into an essay draft, simply by choosing a portion of the outline as a place to start writing. Start developing that portion with topic sentences, full sentences, complete thoughts, details, examples, facts, opinions, and all appropriate types of support.  Remember that an outline identifies the ideas you intend to use in the essay; you develop the actual essay draft by adding support to those ideas.

One of the many advantages to working from an outline is that you create an idea structure and can see visually how/whether those ideas relate, so you can see what needs to be added or edited. Because outlines capture ideas, they also allow you to begin your draft with whatever section or group of ideas you choose. Pick a section you feel strongly about, and start there. Move around your outline in whatever order you choose, in order to keep the momentum going to develop your essay draft.