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The Necessity of Outlines

We must assume that you have finally reached the point where you understand the question you are addressing, you have narrowed your topic drastically, you have read everything written on the topic, you have taken copious notes, and you have documented your sources thoroughly.

The next step is to start writing. The impulse of most inexperienced freshmen is to just start writing, assuming that the paper will flow from their head like beer from a spigot.

Unfortunately, what comes out is usually undigested mush. True, they make beer out of mush.. but it involves a LOT of work before someone will pay money for it.

The most reasonable approach, especially if you are dealing with a large quantity of research notes, is to first create an initial outline of major subject subdivisions into which you can copy and paste the appropriate pieces of your notes.

The next step is to outline each each subdivision in greater detail. Then copy and paste the notes again.

You keep doing this process until you get down to one idea per section--that is, one paragraph worth of quotes and research and ideas.

This sort of progressive process makes it very easy to then write each paragraph and tie the paragraphs together into a paper.

If you have many notes and don't use an outline with this method, you may not EVER finish. Think about it.

Now let's look at
Creating a Coherent Whole

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Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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