Study Notes for Students | Your Key to Effective Studying

The Detailed Outline

Once you have completed your research you are ready to approach your detailed outline from which you will begin to write your first draft. Once you have gotten this far you are typically well past the half-way point. The toughest part is pretty much complete. Now you start the more rewarding part where you can start to see your creation flesh out and become what you had hoped.

First take some time to rethink your original direction and determine if the conclusion you were going for is still valid or whether you need to adjust that to some degree. Once you have that decided you can gather your note cards together and arrange them to correspond with the order of your general outline using the number you placed in the top right corner of each card. Once you have all of the like numbers together you can take a look and adjust them so that those with the same clue words you put in the upper right corner are together. Then sort through those cards you weren't sure where to place and your personal views and comments cards and determine where you will fit them. If there are any of these cards you still have trouble placing, put them last in your pile.

Now you can read through your note cards from start to finish and see if the flow is what you wanted and whether the order still makes sense to you. If you want to make some changes now is the time to do it. Make sure you make the notations in the upper right corner of the cards you change so that their new location in the outline is noted.

Keep in mind that you can organize your project in more than one way. Perhaps the flow is best in a chronological order, or in a numerical approach. You may be dealing with problems and their potential solutions or effects and their causes. Maybe you want to organize things from the least important to the most important, or vice versa. Do what seems to work best for you in terms of making it easiest for you to write. Then proceed to do any re-arranging of your cards to flow with whatever organizational approach you have chosen. Try again to place those cards you couldn't earlier and if you still can't leave them out for now. You can now start putting your detailed outline on paper just by going through your cards one at a time as they come up in sequence. While you are working through your detailed outline, be alert for weak areas that may need a bit more material or research. You still have time to beef up any weak areas after you complete your outline.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013


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