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Outlining - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Outlining. Booooooooooo. Introduction. A general statement introduces the topic to the reader in a “general” or overarching way. The key is to make your general statement hard to argue with… Cancer is the most important problem facing the world today. Vs.

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  • A general statement introduces the topic to the reader in a “general” or overarching way.

  • The key is to make your general statement hard to argue with…

    • Cancer is the most important problem facing the world today.

    • Vs.

    • Cancer is ONE of the most important problems facing the world today.


  • An example statement supports your general statement with an example…

    • According to life123.com cancer kills 10.9 million people a year.


  • A thesis statement

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion

  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.

  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.


  • A thesis statement (continued):

  • makes a claim that others might dispute.

  • is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.


  • Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships.

  • Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a "working thesis," a basic or main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may need adjustment along the way.

Thesis strength
Thesis Strength

  • A thesis is rarely “right” or “wrong” but rather strong or weak. For example:

  • The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

Working thesis
Working Thesis

  • While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions.

Final thesis
Final Thesis

  • While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government.

  • Compare that to the old….

  • The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

How to test thesis strength
How to test thesis strength

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.

  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?

  • If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it's possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.

How to test thesis strength1
How to test thesis strength

  • Is my thesis statement specific enough?

  • Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like "good" or "successful," see if you could be more specific: why is something "good"; what specifically makes something "successful"?

  • Does my thesis pass the "So what?" test? If a reader's first response is, "So what?" then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.

How to test thesis strength2
How to test thesis strength

  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It's o.k. to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.

  • Does my thesis pass the "how and why?" test? If a reader's first response is "how?" or "why?" your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Now the body
Now…the body

  • Begin by organizing the points you are going to make….together.

  • It makes more sense to introduce the state of the world, country, city, etc. chronologically

  • AKA, start with the beginning and continue in order

Pearl harbor
Pearl Harbor

  • II. Body Paragraph 1

    • A. The United States was not interested in joining a war for various reasons.

      • i. Quote from page 6 of World War II History

    • B. However, they were supplying Britain and other European countries with supplies.

      • i. Paraphrase page 10 World War II History

    • C. The United States was cutting off supplies from Japan, angering their government.

      • i. Quote website “Historyof.org.”


  • I. Body Paragraph 1

    • A. Job Description

      • Quote from Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance vol. 2, page 347.

    • B. Work Environment

      • Teachers work in a variety of classroom situations depending on the level of students they teach (Paraphrase BLS.gov)

    • C. Salary

      • “Teachers earn between $25,000-$75,000 annually” (bls.gov).


  • Now, repeat the process for however many body paragraphs you need for you paper.

  • Outlines are meant to ORGANIZE your thoughts.

  • They should show you where you have gaps in information, sources, etc.

  • They are FLEXIBLE in that they should work for you!

  • If you have more information about a given topic or section, you may need more than just one A. or one source…you need to look at your information and see what is needed.


  • The outline should create a flow for your paper in a way that makes sense for you but ALSO other people.

  • Once your outline is created the hardest part of your job is DONE. You have organized your information. Yes, you might have to go back and fill in gaps, but now you know where they are and you have a step by step plan to writing your paper. All you need to do is take the information and put it into sentences which connect and flow together.

Conclusion that makes sense for you but ALSO other people.

  • The important part of the conclusion is that you remind your reader of the points you have made and that they also support your thesis statement.

  • Thus, you remind your reader of your main points, and RESTATE that wonderful thesis.