Thompson Rivers University

Don’t Forget the Map!

  Posted on: March 16, 2015

What am I writing about again?  What am I trying to say? How many words do I need to finish?  Every new writer asks themselves these questions and writing a paper can seem like a daunting never-ending adventure. Students have a natural tendency to skip the outline because they are not being marked on it and it is not always mandatory. Nevertheless, an outline is essential in writing a well thought out paper.

Before you start writing you need to know with clarity and specificity what you are writing about.  Developing an excellent outline doesn’t magically occur when you start writing your paper. The outline is the most difficult step in writing a paper, and it takes time. Talk with your friends about your outline and ask for feedback!

The outline is a map of your paper and it tells you what you are writing about. This map is imperative to making your way through your paper, not repeating yourself, and staying on topic. Whenever you start asking yourself “What am I writing about again? What am I trying to say?”, go back to your outline and answer these questions. You already know what you are writing about and what you are trying to say because you have developed an outline.

An outline is key to paper writing success.  Problems do not start when the pen hits the paper. Rather, they start before the pen hits the paper and you can solve these problems with a detailed outline. Writing a paper is an adventure and your outline is the map that guides that adventure. Do not embark on your next writing adventure without a map or you may get lost.

What does an outline “map” look like? Find out here:

Author: Cassandra Milne