Posts Tagged ‘writing an outline’

06
Apr

Five Ways to Keep an Essay Paper Organized

Proper organization is the difference between a good essay and a weak one. An essay that is well organized is easier for the reader to understand and enjoy, while poorly organized essays force the reader to do extra work. Readers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a well organized essay; using simple organization techniques while writing will make the process easier for you as well.

Make a Plan

Before you begin writing, take some time to make a master plan fro your essay. Decide what information you want to cover and the method you will use to accomplish this. If your paper is a narrative, you might use pre-writing activities like brainstorming to come up with ideas. If you are writing a research paper, clustering to find a focus might work better for you. Though your plan may change as you research and write your paper, making a plan will help streamline the writing process by helping you focus on a final goal for your paper. Write your plan down and keep it near you as you write your paper to make certain that you are headed in the right direction.

Take Good Notes

Organized notes are essential for an organized essay paper. While conducting research for your paper, use your master plan to identify the topics you need to research and the questions you must answer in your paper. Write your notes on index cards; not only will they help you stay organized, but their small size forces you to condense information and keep your notes brief, which will reduce the risk of unintentional plagiarism. Carefully label each card with a topic and reference information.

Create an Outline

An outline is a kind of road map for your essay and is more detailed than your essay plan. The method you use to outline your paper will depend upon your style of writing and the type of paper you are writing; an outline for a personal narrative will probably be less detailed than the outline for a research paper. Use roman numerals or letters to organize main ideas, and then break those main ideas into smaller chunks of information.

Topic Sentences

Use topic sentences to organize ideas within your paper. These topic sentences can be used in your outline as main ideas. Begin each new paragraph or section of your paper with a topic sentence that outlines the main idea of that section. Then, use supporting sentences to expand upon or explain that topic sentence.

Revision

After you have written a rough draft, create a reverse outline, recommends the University of Toronto Writing Centre. To make a reverse outline, go through your paper and write down each main idea on a separate sheet of paper in the order in which they appear, leaving plenty of space between each topic. When you have finished, read through the main ideas to make sure that they make sense. Make sure that you have not left out key points or repeated topics. Make changes to your draft if needed. Next, go through your paper to find sentences that support your main topics, and jot these down below each topic on your reverse outline. This will ensure that you fully explain each main topic.

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