The Basics of Outline

Are there still rules to follow in making an Outline?

   Definitely, there are set of rules that you need to consider if you are planning to make an effective outline. If you are to follow these rules you will reap the fruits of it. The purposes, Remember??
   Here are the rules:

  1. Arrangement

        An outline, whether sentence or topic, is divided into points and subpoints.  Subpoints always go under the main points of which they are a part and which they support.  For example:
          I.Kinds of apples
           A. Jonathan
           B. Granny Smith
           C. Macintosh

        The divisions in any series should be of equal importance.  That is, the heads numbered I, II, III, IV, etc., should be the main divisions of a paper; divisions lettered with capitals should be sub-divisions of heads and numbered with Roman numerals.  For example:


           Improperly Divided                    Properly Divided
         I.   The executive branch            I.   The executive branch
        II.  The President                       A.The President
        III.The Cabinet                            B. The Cabinet
        IV.  The legislative branch          II.  The legislative branch
        V.   The House                           A.The House
        VI.  The Senate                          B.The Senate
        VII.The judicial branch             III.The judicial branch
        VIII. The Supreme Court                  A.The Supreme Court
        IX.  The lower courts                    B. The lower courts

  2.   Co-ordination

        Points of equal importance should be coordinated-that is, given an equal and parallel ranking.  It would be illogical to outline our national defenses thus:

        I.The armed services
           A. The Army
           B. The Navy
           C. The Marines
        II. The Air Force
       The four divisions, being of equal importance, should be parallel:
        I.The armed services
           A. The Army
           B. The Navy
           C. The Marines
           D. The Air Force

     3. Overlapping 

        Parallel points in an outline should not overlap, as they do, for example, in the following:
         I.American automobiles
        II. Ford
          The following would be better:
         I.American automobiles
           A. Ford
           B. Chevrolet
        II. Foreign automobiles

       4.Single subpoint

        Do not use single subpoints in an outline.  When you divide anything, you always have at least two parts.  Thus, if you have an A., you should have a B.; a 1. should be followed by a 2.  If you think that you have only one subtopic, include it in the topic above.  For example, instead of writing:
          I.Large, sparsely populated states are hard for salesmen to cover.
           A. Montana is one of these states.
          I.Large, sparsely populated states like Montana are hard for salesmen to cover.

         If I.  is a pronoun, II. should be a pronoun; if A. under I. is an adjective, B. under I. should also be an adjective. 

  6.   Consistency            
       In a topic outline, all points and subpoints must be words, phrases, or clauses.  In a sentence outline, all points must be sentences.  In other words, do not mix topic and sentence outlines.

  7. Numbering and lettering 
 Periods, not dashes, should be placed after these figures and letters.
  8.   Capitalization

            Capitalize the first word of every point and subpoint and only such other words as would naturally be capitalized. 
  9.   Punctuation
        Use a period after each number or letter indicating a point.  Do not use a period at the end of a line unless the point or subpoint is a sentence.
 10. Indentation
        Indent equally headings of the same rank.  Corresponding letters or numbers--I, II, III; A, B, C; 1, 2, 3-should be kept in vertical columns.  If a subtopic is too long for one line, the second line should line up under the first word of the line above.  Do not write directly under the symbol when a line runs over; i.e., use hanging indents.

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