Outlining Your Outline, Part II: Example Paper Assignment -->

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Outlining Your Outline, Part II: Example Paper Assignment

Writing and Time Series | Walden Writing Center Blog

This month, we're talking about topics related to writing and time. Need to catch up on what you missed? Check out our latest WriteCast episode for Beth and Brian's discussion of favorite (and free!) apps you can use to save you time when you write, Beth's reflection on what she learned from writing her master's thesisSarah's 5 tips for writing when you have no time, and Ellen's post explaining the benefits of outlining your outline.  

Last week, I wrote about a time-management strategy called outlining an outline, which can help you break up your writing task into manageable pieces, stick to a schedule, and incorporate downtime. (If you missed last week’s post, I suggest reading that first!) This week, I want to share an example of what an outline of an outline looks like when written out.

Outlining Your Outline writing strategy | Walden University Writing Center Blog

When outlining your outline, you will want to take your own assignment scope and due dates into account. This example plan below incorporates a paper review service offered to Walden students, but it can still apply to other writers. If your school has a Writing Center, substitute our paper review service for a similar service your center provides. If you do not have access to a Writing Center, you can ask a classmate or friend to peer review your draft in lieu of a Writing Center appointment.

The following example of outlining an outline uses specific dates and times for an imagined course paper due on May 10. The outline itself is in bold, with some suggestions underneath.

Step 1: Schedule a paper review appointment

Make an appointment with the Writing Center for a paper review for May 7

I suggest making a note for yourself at the beginning of your outline that reminds you to make an appointment to have your paper reviewed by a Writing Center writing instructor before you begin writing your paper. That way, if you stick to your own due dates, you will be able to submit your paper for review immediately after you finish drafting it! Your outline will also build in time for you to make revisions based on the feedback you receive from the Writing Center instructor.

Step 2: Outline the outline

I.            Introduction (1 hour; Due: April 27)

It takes me a long time to write introductions and conclusions because I take a lot of time to revise and rewrite, so when you make your own outline of an outline, be sure to take into account which sections might take you longer to write.

II.           Main Point #1 (1 hour; Due: April 28)
a.   Topic sentence
b.   Sub point
c.    Sub point
d.   Sub point

This is a pretty basic outline to help you envision the skeleton of your paper. Remember that as you develop your paragraphs, you will also want to include analysis and a wrap-up/conclusion sentence.

III.         Main Point #2 (1 hour; Due: April 29)
a.   Topic sentence
b.   Sub point
c.    Sub point
d.   Sub point

IV.         Main Point #3 (1 hour; Due: April 31)
a.   Topic sentence
b.   Sub point
c.    Sub point
d.   Sub point

Notice how I leave a day or two between writing each of the sections of my paper. I do this so that I have some downtime to reflect on what I wrote, so I then have a better idea as to what I want to write next and how I want to revise. However, you might not need this much downtime (or you might want more), so feel free to alter the amount of downtime you allow yourself based on your own needs.

V.           Conclusion (1 hour; Due: May 4) 

Step 3: Make revisions

Revise paper (1.5 hours; Due: May 5)

Make sure to set aside time in your schedule to revise your paper on your own. I recommend setting aside a little more time than you think you need so that you do not feel rushed. Revision should involve looking at the “big picture” elements on your draft, such as your overall argument, your paper’s organization, and the strength of your evidence. For tips on revising, check out these resources, including a handy checklist. We also have several blog posts and a WriteCast episode about revising your writing, including what it involves, why it's important not to skip this step of the writing process, and how to revise effectively.  

Step 4: Proofread draft

Proofread paper (1.5 hours; Due: May 6)

You’ll also want to build in some time to proofread your work, focusing on sentence-level issues such as grammar and punctuation mistakes, typos, confusing wording, and APA formatting. For help, check out our proofreading tips. 

Step 5: Attach paper to Writing Center appointment

Attach draft to your myPASS appointment to be reviewed by a Writing Center Instructor (15 minutes; Due: Before 5 a.m. Eastern Time on May 7)

Remember how you made an appointment with the Writing Center before you even started writing your paper? Here is where your hard work and planning will pay off!

Step 6: Use feedback

Revise paper based on Writing Center Instructor’s comments (1.5 hours; Due: May 9)

The writing instructor will return your paper within 2 days of your appointment. This means that you want to build that response time into your planning. With an appointment on May 7, your review should be complete on May 7 or May 8, leaving you time to revise the paper before it’s due on May 9.

As I said in my last post, outlining an outline is a time management and writing strategy I've used in every academic paper I've written since college. I hope you find it helpful, too!

We want to end with a thank-you to all of our readers and to the student who inspired this follow-up post! We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions, including what you would like us to write about. As always, we invite you to share your thoughts with us in the comments section (if you are reading this post via email, simply click the post’s title to visit the blog). We love to hear from you!


Ellen Zamarripa
 is a writing instructor at the Walden Writing Center. She enjoys helping students from around the world develop their writing skills and reach their educational goals. 

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