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What should be written in a formal outline?

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clairewait eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,328 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

Here is my "outline" of a formal outline:

Thesis:

I. Topic Category 1
A.  Topic Sentence 1
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example
B.  Topic Sentence 2
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example

II. Topic Category 2
A.  Topic Sentence 3
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example
B.  Topic Sentence 4
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example

III. Topic Category 3
A.  Topic Sentence 5
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example
B.  Topic Sentence 6
1.  fact/support/example
2.  fact/support/example

Understand that in the above, A,B,C etc., are complete sentences introducing the body paragraphs which support your thesis.  Use as many as is necessary.  Also, 1, 2, 3, etc., is the concrete detail that proves the topic sentence. When you translate the outline into your paper, you need to synthesize the concrete detail with commentary or explanation of the relevance to the thesis.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In any formal outline, the structure should be clear as to what is going to be featured in a writing sample.  I think that different instructors featured different guidelines that have to be present.  Yet, some common link would be the basic idea that your outline should feature the point that are going to be argued in the paper.  There should be a structuring of the outline as Roman numbers would represent these major points or portions of the paper, numbers to represent the subpoints within these elements, and the use of letters and so on to display the finer and more supporting components of the writing sample.  Ideally, a formal outline would contain a very evident "skeleton" of what the real paper will feature.

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