Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

6: Step 4 (Organize and Outline)

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    This chapter covers:

    • Organizing: Finalizing Your Purpose Statement and Bottom Line
    • The Outline: Why Do I Need One?
    • Outlining the Body: Pick a Pattern

    After completing the first three steps of the Seven Steps to Effective Communication you are well on your way to an outstanding spoken or written product. Now it’s time to talk about organizing and outlining, the final step in prewriting. A detailed outline helps you arrange your material logically, see relationships between ideas, and serves as a reference point to keep you on target as you write your draft. Think of your outline as the blueprint for your communication product, and realize that the time you spend preparing it will pay off when you start writing sentences and paragraphs.

    Prewriting Process Summary: Steps 1-4

    Before starting your draft, you should know...

    Step 1. Analyze Purpose and Audience.

    • Your purpose: to direct, inform, persuade or inspire.
    • Your purpose statement: one sentence that captures your bottom line.
    • Your communication format: Point paper? Staff study? Academic essay?
    • Your audience: experience, education, attitudes about topic, etc.
    • Your unit’s position: Could you create problems for others? Should you coordinate this?
    • The appropriate tone will depend on purpose and audience: usually polite, personal, positive and inclusive; often informal and direct.

    Step 2. Research Your Topic. Relevant information from boss, coworkers, office files, Internet and the library.

    Step 3. Support your Ideas.

    • How to use relevant information to support your ideas and meet your purpose.
    • How to "build a case" (a logical argument) for your position, if needed.
    • How to use facts, definitions, statistics and testimony as evidence for your position.
    • How to avoid mistakes in your logic and notice problems with your evidence.

    Step 4. Organize and Outline.

    • Your chosen organizational pattern (topical, chronological, problem and solution, etc.).
    • Your outline, which graphically shows the flow of your main points.


    This page titled 6: Step 4 (Organize and Outline) is shared under a Public Domain license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by US Air Force (US Department of Defense) .

    • Was this article helpful?