An informal outline is a series of notes, words or phrases that help you and refresh your memory when you write and present something. An informal outline is a useful technique when you are writing some text and time is limited. In exams, informal outline plays a vital role when you have to write a lot of things in restricted time.

Basically, an informal outline is an impressive way to organize ideas and information for a speech, an essay, and also for other class activities. Learning how to write an informal outline is one of the most important study skills helping you in organizing information for study.

At first, writing an outline might seem complicated process; but, when you learn how to organize an outline, it will give you essential organizational skill which plays a very important role in developing career skills.

When you know the best way to organize an informal outline, it will be easy for you to write properly what you want.

Following tips and strategies help a lot while making an informal outline

Plan your outline

Planning of informal outline includes:

Know purpose of informal outline

First of all, it is very important to know about the purpose of your outline. If you are preparing outline for your personal use then choose the information that is best for you. If you are writing or preparing your outline for an assignment then it is necessary to follow your instructor’s directions.

Decide your topic

An informal outline helps you organize your thoughts, ideas or research regarding a topic. Without a main topic, your outline has no purpose. By focusing your main topic, add relevant and authentic information which make your informal outline more effective and elaborative.

Check your supporting materials

Be careful and selective while collecting material through research, note taking, or by personal experience. It’s important to review your supporting material before you start your outline. Material which you use in your outline should be accurate and authentic.

You should use following information as a supporting material.

  • Paraphrased ideas
    • Quotes
    • Statistics
    • Historical facts

Brainstorm your argument

Jot down your ideas, researches, and facts and figures. Brainstorming of ideas allows you to argue your material without any fear. For an informal outline, you should check your argument critically.

Here are some ways that play a crucial role in brainstorming

  • Free write as ideas come to you.
    • Create a mind map.
    • Write ideas with logic.

Structuring your informal outline

For structuring informal outline, following tips are very important:

Write in easy approach

Instead of complicated method, choose simple and easy way for your outline. When you adopt easy approach, it will help you in explaining the things.  You should use letters and numbers to make your outline clear and effective.

You can use these letters and numbers for both main and subheadings.

  • Capital letters- A, B, C.
  • Numbers -1, 2,3

Make a decimal outline to highlight relationships

A decimal outline looks very similar to an alphanumeric outline. However, an informal outline of decimal only uses numbers and each sublevel is set off with decimals which clear all concepts. This technique helps a lot in explaining large topic with subtopics.

Here’s how it might look.

  • 1.0-It shows main heading.
  • 1.1-First subheading of main heading.

Decide to write full or short phrases

Most outlines include short phrases which are also called topic outlines. However, when you are making a casual outline, you should use full sentences because these help you in better understanding of your ideas. If you are writing a paper based outline, the full sentences will give you a head start on your final paper.

Organizing your ideas

Organizing of ideas while writing an informal outline has following tricks:

Group your ideas together

Organize your ideas in the form of group. Organize ideas in such a way that relevant information is added in the same group. It’s okay if you have a lot of information at first. If you have lot of material you can minimize it. In group, you organize your information in the form of main and subheading sequence.

Put each group in order

Broad ideas are more likely to be your main points, while details are the bits of information you will use in your informal sketch to support ideas.

Depending on the purpose of your outline, you may have many sub points and supporting details. However, aim to have at least 2-3 sub points and 2-3 supporting details for each main idea.

Outline your introduction

You can use either phrases or full sentences in your informal framework, depending on what you choose to use. Some people prefer to write out their introduction which is also okay.

Here are the points you need in your introduction:

  • Introduction of topic
    • General overview of topic
    • Thesis

At least two sub points for each main idea

Your sub points are the second level of your outline; so, you will label them as A, B, or C for an alphanumeric outline or to decimal place for a decimal outline (1.1, 1.2). These are the ideas that further explain your main points. In an essay, they might be your reasons for making your arguments.

At least two supporting details for each sub point

Supporting details back up or illustrate the point you are making for you casual outline.  You might include your opinion, quotes, statistics, facts, figures, or examples. This is the third level of your outline.

Finalizing your informal framework

You must use following strategies when you are finalizing your casual outline.

Reread your outline

When you set your outline by collection of ideas, facts and figures and so on, before transforming them into essay, reread it. By rereading, you can correct those mistakes that are harmful for your text.