HUNTER COLLEGE READING/WRITING CENTER
THE WRITING PROCESS
Organization: Standard Outline Form
     Numbering, indentation, punctuation, and other physical
aspects of outlines follow certain conventions, particularly when
the outlines are to be read by someone other than the writer.  When
you are required to turn in an outline with your paper, use the
type of outline your instructor specifies and put it in standard
form.

Numbering and Indentation

     Make the numbering of your headings consistent throughout.
This is the typical method for numbering and indenting a topic or
sentence outline:

Thesis statement:__________________________________________________
___________________________________ (sentence statement)
I. ________________________________ (roman numeral for main head)
    A. ____________________________ (capital letter for subhead)
       1. _________________________ (arabic numeral for second
       2. _________________________     subhead)
          a. ______________________ (lowercase letter for third
          b. ______________________     subhead)
    B. ____________________________
II. _______________________________

     The main heads (I,II,III...) are set flush with the lefthand
margin.  The subheads are indented four or five spaces in typed
copy,  or they may be indented so that they are directly under the
first word of the preceding heading.  When a heading runs over one
line, the second line is indented as far as the first word of the
preceding line:

     I. The photoelectric cell, known as the "electric eye," has
        been put to a variety of practical uses.
        A. It is used in elevator floors to enable the elevator to
           stop at exactly the right level.

     Avoid overelaborate and confusing outlines.  There is rarely
any need to go further than the third subhead (a,b,c...). Two
levels of headings are often enough for a short paper.

Punctuation and Capitalization

     In a topic outline, capitalize only the first letter of the
word beginning the heading (and all proper nouns), and do not put
any punctuation at the end because these headings are not complete
sentences.

     I. Present need for physicists
        A. In private industry
        B. In government projects

     Punctuate every heading in a sentence outline just as you
would punctuate the sentences in your paper: begin with a capital
letter and end with a period.  Except for proper nouns, the words
in the heading are not capitalized (a heading is not a title).

     I. Although a general course of study may allow students to 
        more fully explore their educational options, the         
        advantages of specialization in college are many.
        A. Students can practice setting professional goals.      
        B. They can obtain more knowledge about their subjects. 
                                                        

Content of Headings

     Each heading in an outline should be specific and meaningful. 
Headings such as "Introduction," "Body," and "Conclusion" are not
useful unless you indicate what material belongs in the sections. 
Instead of using general labels such as "Causes," and "Results,"
indicate what the causes or results are.
     Putting headings in the form of questions or in statements
that will have to be filled in later is not an efficient habit. 
The necessary information will have to be supplied when you write,
so you might as well supply it in the planning stage.
     Indefinite                      Definite  
                                   
     I. The Wars of the Roses        I. The Wars of the Roses
        A. When they began              A. Started 1455
        B. Why?                         B. Caused by rivalry
                                           between Houses of York
                                           and Lancaster
Dividing the Material
     
     Generally, if a heading is to be divided at all, it should be
divided into more than one part.  When there is only one heading
under a topic, it usually repeats what is in the topic and should
therefore be included with it:

     Unnecessary division
     The Smithsonian Institution
     I. Established by an Englishman
        A. James Smithson
           1. in 1846
    
     Accurate division
     The Smithsonian Institution
     I. Established by James Smithson,
        an Englishman, in 1846

     The heads of an outline should represent equally important
divisions of the subject as a whole, and should be parallel in
grammatical form and tense.  In a topic outline, if `I' is a noun,
`II' and `III' are also nouns; if `I' is a prepositional phrase, so
are `II' and `III'. The same principle applies to subdivisions.  A
sentence outline should use complete sentences throughout and not
lapse into topic headings.

     Unequal headings              Equal headings
     Growing roses                 Growing roses
     I.   Preparing the soil       I.   Preparing the soil
     II.  Planting                 II.  Planting
     III. Growing the plant        III. Watering
     IV.  Mildew                   IV.  Fertilizing
     V.   Insect pests             V.   Spraying
     VI.  Using a spray gun

The subdivisions should also designate equally important and
parallel divisions of one phase of the main divisions.  

     Unequal subheads              Equal subheads    

     I. Job opportunities in       I. Job opportunities in 
        Wisconsin                     Wisconsin 
        A. Raising crops              A. Agriculture
        B. White-collar work          B. Business
        C. Dairy farms                C. Industry
        D. Factory Jobs                 
        E. Breweries

Headings of equal rank should not overlap; what is in II should
exclude what is covered in I; B should be clearly distinct from A.

     Overlapping                   Accurate

     Transporting Freight          Transporting Freight
   I.   Water                    I.   Ship
        A. Ships                      A. Passenger Ships
        B. Freighters                 B. Freighters
   II.  On the ground            II.  Truck
        A. Trucks                III. Railroad
        B. "Piggyback"                A. Loaded into cars
           in trucks                  B. "Piggyback" in
   III. Railroads                        trucks
   IV.  In the air               IV.  Airplane





(Adapted from Handbook of Current English 8th Edition, Jim W.     
     Corder and John J. Ruszkiewicz)
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