Organizing Ideas

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Directions to create an effective outline.

Directions to create an effective outline.

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  • 1. Organizing Ideas I’ve got this pile of note cards, so now what do I do?
  • 2. Rationale
    • A good paper has a logical sense of flow (coherence).
    • Imagine driving to a place that you’ve never visited before-how would you prepare for that trip?
      • Stop along the way and ask people for directions…
          • OR
      • Get on-line or to a store and get a map…
  • 3. The Answer is Get a Map
    • Just as a map gives driving directions, outlines give your paper “driving directions.”
      • Beginning research often takes us in unintended directions.
      • Beginning research often leads us to ask previously unthought-of questions.
      • Beginning research sometimes makes us realize a lack of or gap in information.
  • 4. Why Outline?
    • It forces you to think about the logical progression of information in your paper.
    • It draws attention to gaps or conflicts.
    • It keeps you from driving into uncharted territory.
      • Here there be monsters.
  • 5. How to Outline
    • You started your research with a few questions:
      • What makes this happen?
      • Why is this good/bad?
      • What is the consequence of this action?
    • Your research has given you some answers and probably given you more questions.
  • 6. How to Outline— A Rough Draft (where you wanted to go when you started)
    • Write down your working thesis statement
    • Jot down, in outline form, your main ideas, conflicts, terminologies
    • Under each main thought, jot down a few supporting examples
    • Jot down the conclusion—a call for action, a question, a restatement
  • 7. How to Outline
    • Consider your note cards and your rough outline.
      • Match up the note cards to the points in your rough.
      • Make new points for the important ideas your research has added.
      • Set aside (don’t throw away) note cards that just don’t quite “fit”.
  • 8. How to Outline
    • Like choosing a route on a map, consider the information on the note cards and the rough outline:
      • Is this the most direct route I can go? (does the evidence support the thesis?)
      • What type of vehicle would best suit my drive? (narration, description, definition compare/contrast)
      • Where are the “must-see” tourist attractions on my route? (the main examples)
      • Are there any speed traps or road construction areas on my route? (things that are unclear and that will slow down the reader)
    • Depending upon your paper, there are several different paradigms to use (See Organizational Paradigms ppt)
  • 9. How to Outline— A Final Draft
    • Now that you’ve clarified your route, thought about the sights along the way, and avoided the cops and construction, you can begin to finalize your trip.
      • Parallelism
      • Coordination
      • Subordination
      • Division (see Organizing Your Writing ppt)
    Information on the next four slides created by Jennifer Duncan. It can be found at:
  • 10. Parallelism
    • Put your words in the same grammatical order.
    • If your first heading is “Researching the Topic” (verb, noun), then your next should be:
      • Generating the Ideas
      • Idea Generation
    • Don’t be too rigid about this as sometimes it won’t make sense to do it.
    If you chose “Generating the Ideas”, you were correct. It has the same verb, noun structure.
  • 11. Coordination
  • 12. Subordination
  • 13. Division
    • Separating the kinds of points you make.
    • There are several options—LATCH (see Organizing Your Writing ppt)
    • Be consistent by using only one basis of division at each point.
    • Make the basis of division distinct.
    Information created by Jennifer Duncan. It can be found at:
  • 14. The Final Draft
    • Using standard symbols (I, A, 1., a), create the outline with key words, evidence and facts
    • I. Introduction
    • A. Attention grabber (see Intro and Conclusion ppt)
    • B. Thesis (highlight or label as thesis)
    • II. Body
    • A. Major point that supports thesis
    • B. Major point that supports thesis
    • 1. Fact/example
    • 2. Fact/example
    • C. Major point that supports thesis
    • 1. Fact/example
    • a. sub statement
    • III. Conclusion
    • A. Wrap up ideas in paper.
    • B. Concluding thought (see Intro and Conclusion ppt)
    Use complete sentences in all areas! If you have a “1”, you must have a “2”. Likewise, if you have an “a”, must have a “b”. Use Roman numerals for 3 main sections Use capital letters. Use ordinal numbers here. Use small letters here.
  • 15. Reminders
    • Always organize within the essay or paper (remember LATCH).
    • The supporting ideas are what make the paper worth reading.
      • Expert opinions from research
      • Real world examples (use a fictional character)
      • Statistics and numbers
    • Use the PIE or Quotation Sandwhich within paragraphs!
  • 16. How to Outline— A Final Draft
    • Finally, you’ve written an outline.
      • Directions are clear
      • You know where additional support is needed.
      • You know what is not important to the immediate paper.
    • But wait, there’s one more step!
  • 17. How to Outline— A Final Draft
    • For each point, fact, or key word in your outline:
      • Write a complete sentence.
        • Some of this will be the “great” quotes you found during research.
        • Some of these will serve as topic sentences for paragraphs.
      • Use direct, concise language.
      • Explain any technical terms in layman’s language.
  • 18. Bon Voyage
    • Remember that you are taking a trip, not running in the Indy 500.
    • Take pictures of your trip.
    • Call for reservations at hotels.
    • Travel with someone you like.
    • Pack for emergencies.