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Home > Writing > How to Write an Outline for Your Article?

How to Write an Outline for Your Article?

Soniya Jain
Written by
Soniya JainProfessional Tech Writer
Updated on:Mar 12, 2024

Some writers believe that writing an outline stifles creativity. And sure, sometimes you need to give yourself space to write aimlessly and explore ideas freely without the constraints of a predetermined structure. But there’s only so far you can wander without a roadmap.

And that’s precisely what an outline is – a roadmap. It helps you keep your creativity on course. That’s why you should always create an outline, especially when writing longer pieces.

Given how important outline writing is, it might be surprising to learn that not all authors, students, and content creators know how to do an outline properly. If you fall under this category, don’t fret. This guide will help you learn how to write an outline and give you specific outline ideas and examples to immediately enhance your writing skills. Let’s begin!

Use HIX AI Writer to Produce Structured Outline Instantly

Creating a structured outline is crucial for maintaining focus and organization in your writing, but it can be a time-consuming task. If you're facing difficulties or simply need to save time, consider using an AI-powered text generator like HIX AI Writer.

As part of the powerful AI-driven tool set from HIX.AI, HIX AI Writer brings you user-friendly outline generators tailored for essays or blogs. With these tools, creating a clear, concise outline for any paper or article is just a few clicks away. The fully customizable options also ensure that the results are perfectly suited to your particular writing project requirements.

Best of all? Both tools are free to use for up to 1,000 words per month, a generous offer for occasional needs. Plus, if you need to create outlines frequently, you can subscribe to unlock a higher word count. Then, you’ll also be able to generate outlines in bulk.

To use these tools, you only need to enter some basic information including:

  • The intended title of your article
  • A brief description of your article
  • Target audience
  • The tone of voice (e.g., friendly or professional)
  • Language (over 30 languages, including English, Portuguese, and Chinese)

The Essay Outline Generator will also ask for the same information and have an additional essay type option available (e.g., argumentative or narrative).

Why Write an Outline?

Some people might consider making an outline a waste of time, or an unnecessary constraint on spontaneous and creative expression, even with the help of AI-drive tools. But the truth is, when done right, an outline can do wonders for your writing process. An outline helps you see the big picture but also allows you to distill the topic into more manageable chunks.

By outlining an article (or any other piece of content), you check the following boxes:

  • Keeping track of your research on the topic
  • Following up on any important details
  • Arranging your ideas in a logical manner
  • Avoiding repetition
  • Connecting ideas to create a seamless flow
  • Knowing where your story is headed instead of discovering it on the go
  • Streamlining and segueing from one topic to the next
  • Keeping your writing project on track
  • Avoiding burnout

What Should an Outline Include In General?

It’s important for you to understand one thing straight away – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when writing an outline. It all depends on your specific writing style and the nature of your writing project.

Some writers think of an outline only as a broad list of topics they want to cover. Others prefer a more detailed outline, mapping out each section with extensive details.

Still, both sides will ultimately look like the following structure:

  1. An introduction
  2. The main body of the article
  3. A conclusion

For the introduction paragraph outline, you need a hook to grab the reader’s attention from the get-go. As for the conclusion, use it to summarize the main points and leave a lasting impression on your reader. The main body is where the difference between a basic and a detailed outline shows the most.

Since a basic outline is only about listing ideas, we’ll show you a more detailed outline example below. This outline should be structured by sections (listed as Roman numerals), sub-sections (typically listed with capital letters), and individual points and subtopics (listed as Arabic numerals). If you want to go into more detail in your outline, you can add lowercase letters to your outline.

Here’s how this looks in practice on a partial outline for an article titled “A Brief Overview of Thanksgiving Traditions:”

I. Before Thanksgiving

  • A. Planning and Preparation
    • 1. Creating a guest list and sending invitations
    • 2. Planning the menu and grocery shopping
    • 3. Decorating the house and table
  • B. Traveling and Reuniting
    • 1. High travel season during Thanksgiving
    • 2. Reuniting with family and friends

II. Thanksgiving Day

  • A. Morning Traditions
    • 1. Watching or participating in parades
    • 2. Cooking and preparing the Thanksgiving meal
    • 3. Setting the table and creating a festive atmosphere

You can also see that we’ve only provided a part in our simple outline example. Why? An outline can go on for several pages, and there’s no need to include every single one to help you understand the gist. Of course, not every outline is as long. Before you ask, “How long should an outline be?” refer to the beginning of this section – it all depends on what you’re writing and how you approach outlining.

A shorter article outline can be concise and include just a few lines. On the other hand, when writing a paper for a thesis or other comprehensive academic work, your outline might need a few pages long.

How to Write a Success Outline?

Now that you know what an outline should look like, let’s help you learn how to outline any article.

Step 1: Identifying the Topic

If you’re in the process of writing an outline for your essay, you can skip this step. After all, you’ve probably already received the topic of your essay. If not, the first thing you should do is come up with a topic.

Step 2: Research

Once you have your topic, you can start researching. The more content you uncover during this phase, the smoother your writing process will be.

For creative writing, you can brainstorm ideas, explore diverse perspectives, and gather relevant examples. As for areas like academic writing, focus on collecting evidence from authoritative sources to support your thesis.

Step 2: Listing the Main Points

Once you’ve researched your topic sufficiently, you can move on to the actual writing-an-outline part. First, list all the main topics you want to cover in your writing. Don’t waste time arranging them since you’ll deal with that later.

If you struggle with extracting the main points from your research, think of it this way – what do you want your reader to know after reading your article or paper? If a point seems repetitive or unrelated to your main topic, bid it farewell!

Step 3: Arranging the Main Points

With all the main points before you, it’s time to organize them. Start by grouping your main points into related categories or themes. Then, consider the optimal order for those categories. As a rule of thumb, background information should go first, followed by a more detailed breakdown. Depending on your topic, a chronological order can also do the trick.

The main goal during this stage should be to organize the main points logically and sequentially, ensuring your outline flows well and makes sense to your reader. But remember – you can always move things around once you start writing, so don’t feel any pressure to “get it right” immediately.

Step 4: Adding Details

Depending on how detailed you want your outline to be, you can stop after Step 3. Alternatively, you can add supporting details to each section (e.g., statistics, quotes, and references).

Step 5: Revising

When you finish an article, what do you do first? Hopefully, you read it again. This allows you to ensure everything flows well and makes sense and nothing’s missing (or redundant). The same goes for writing an outline.

After finishing the first draft, give it a read-through. This will help you recognize potential problematic areas and rectify the issues before moving forward. You can even do this “review” a day later, allowing you to approach it with a fresh perspective.

How to Write an Outline: Examples

After arming you with all the necessary information to write a killer outline, the only thing left is to cover some specific examples so you know what to look for in an outline. We’ll also throw in outlines created by HIX AI Writer so you can see how well the tool performs in practice.

How to Write a Paper Outline: An Example

Though they are significantly more expansive than essays, you can use the HIX AI Writer’s Essay Outline Generator to create a comprehensive outline for any paper. Here’s an outline writing example for the topic “The Suffragette Movement: Women’s Fight for the Right to Vote” created solely by AI.

I. Introduction

  • A. Brief explanation of the suffragette movement
  • B. Importance of women’s fight for the right to vote
  • C. Thesis statement: This essay traces the origins and evolution of the suffragette movement, analyzes key figures, and assesses the movement’s global impact on women’s rights.

II. Origins of the suffragette movement

  • A. Historical context of women’s rights before the movement
  • B. Influence of other social and political movements
  • C. Emergence of early women’s suffrage organizations

III. Key figures in the suffragette movement

  • A. Susan B. Anthony
    • 1. Background and early activism
    • 2. Contributions to the suffragette movement
    • 3. Impact on the movement’s progress
  • B. Emmeline Pankhurst
    • 1. Background and involvement in women’s rights
    • 2. Formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU)
    • 3. Tactics and strategies employed by the WSPU
    • 4. Pankhurst’s role in mobilizing women for the cause

IV. Evolution of the suffragette movement

  • A. Strategies and methods used by suffragettes
    • 1. Peaceful protests and demonstrations
    • 2. Civil disobedience and acts of defiance
    • 3. Imprisonment and hunger strikes
  • B. Opposition and resistance faced by suffragettes
    • 1. Social and cultural backlash
    • 2. Political obstacles and objections
    • 3. Male-dominated opposition

V. Impact of the suffragette movement on women’s rights

  • A. Achievements and milestones
    • 1. Successes in different countries
    • 2. Milestone events and legislative changes
  • B. Continued challenges and unfinished business
    • 1. Ongoing struggles for equality
    • 2. Intersectionality and inclusivity in women’s rights

VI. Summary

  • A. Recap of the suffragette movement’s origins and evolution
  • B. Assessment of key figures and their impact
  • C. Evaluation of the movement’s global influence on women’s rights
  • D. Final thoughts on the significance of the suffragette movement and its enduring legacy.

VII. Conclusion

How to Write a Business Report Outline: An Example

The exact structure of a business report will depend on its purpose. You might need to write a report recommending certain actions, presenting the company’s performance over a specific period, or analyzing an idea or a proposal.

Whatever the case, your report should have similar sections. See them in practice in this example of a yearly report on the performance of a franchisee reporting to the corporate headquarters.

I. Introduction

II. Methodology

  • 1. Data collection methods
  • 2. Analysis tools and techniques

III. Company’s Performance

  • A. Financial performance over the specified period
    • 1. Revenue and sales analysis
    • 2. Cost and expense breakdown
  • B. Operational performance
    • 1. Store operations and management
    • 2. Customer satisfaction metrics

IV. Analysis of the Franchisee’s Performance

  • 1. Strengths and weaknesses
  • 2. Opportunities and threats
  • 3. Comparative analysis

V. Recommendations

VI. Conclusion

VII. Appendices

VIII. References

How to Write a Cover Letter Outline: An Example

The content of a cover letter will mostly depend on what your potential employer asks for in the job posting. Still, some key elements will be present in a cover letter, regardless of the specific job. You can see them in the example below, a cover letter for a Social Media Coordinator position.

Note that each of the outline parts should be a paragraph at most.

I. Contact information

II. Greeting

III. Introduction

  • 1. Express excitement
  • 2. Indicate how you discovered the job opportunity

IV. Paragraph

  • 1. State your interest in the Social Media Coordinator position
  • 2. Briefly outline your experience in social media

V. Paragraph II

  • 1. Showcase specific social media skills and accomplishments
  • 2. Provide examples of your successes
  • 3. Align your experience with the social media needs outlined in the job posting

VI. Final paragraph

  • 1. Reiterate enthusiasm for the role
  • 2. Express keenness for an interview

VII. Professional closing

How to Write a Blog Post Outline: An Example

Writing a blog post or an article is undoubtedly more flexible than writing an essay or a research paper. You have the freedom to explore diverse writing styles, experiment with tone, and infuse your personality into the content.

Here’s what HIX.AI’s Blog Outline Generator came up with when asked to create an outline for a blog post titled “Portugal’s Festivals and Celebrations” with everyone as target audience and a friendly tone of voice:

I. Introduction

II. Festivals and Celebrations in Portugal

  • A. Lisbon
    • 1. Sant Antonio Festival
    • 2. Rock in Rio Lisbon
  • B. Porto
    • 1. São João Festival
    • 2. Fantasporto - International Film Festival
  • C. Madeira
    • 1. Madeira Carnival
    • 2. Flower Festival
  • D. Algarve
    • 1. Loulé Carnival
    • 2. Algarve International Piano Festival
  • E. Azores
    • 1. Sanjoaninas Festival
    • 2. Angra World Music Festival
  • F. Minho
    • 1. Romaria da Nossa Senhora da Agonia
    • 2. International Garden Festival

As you can see, the AI-powered outline generator transforms hours of research into mere seconds. With all the main points defined, you can take your time exploring each of the sub-points, or in this case, fun festivities.

Outline With Ease, With HIX.AI

Understanding the structure of a good outline is key to successful writing. With the right strategy, drafting an outline for an article or any other project can be easy, straightforward, and effective.

With an AI’s helping hand, this process becomes a breeze. Using HIX.AI’s free Essay Outline Generator and Blog Outline Generator tools, you’ll streamline your writing process while creating high-quality content effortlessly. Try these tools today for free and take your writing to the next level.

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