Cyberia logo
Computerized Classroom-Lab
CCSF English Department

Arts Extension 265

Cyberia Home | Forms | Handouts | Software | Web Resources | Activity Guide

Planning and Outlining

mapping ideas Once you have completed your brainstorming and gotten a better idea of what you want to write about, you need to make a plan for your paper.  A well-written paper must be organized carefully, and it is easier to organize in an outline, where you can quickly see and fix any problems, than it is to write the entire paper and then try to fix problems later.  A good outline can help make writing the paper easier, too!  Writing an outline saves lots of time.



The following targeted Web sites offer several helpful representations that should help you learn more about planning and outlining:

In Search of Form

The Importance of Outlining

Principles of Organization

Shaping Information


Do you want to learn more about why an outline is good or bad? Jump to a handout that clarifies some of the differences between a good outline and a bad outline.


Watch a brief Powerpoint slideshow about essay outlining.

When planning and writing an outline, you want to represent your introduction with your thesis statement, your body paragraph with your topic sentences and some details, and your conclusion.  For the body paragraphs, remember that you need to put your points in a carefully considered order.  You can’t just randomly write down your points or write them down in the order you thought of them.  That could make for an essay that’s awkward to write and even more awkward to read.  You need to move through your arguments logically and keep similar ideas together.

This handout (pdf) could help you visualize your plan and make your ideas more persuasive.  Print the map that best fits your assignment, and write (yes, write) down your ideas in the appropriate spaces.  

Several CCSF-endorsed computer programs and Web sites could bring more depth to the work you do during outlining by offering you different ways to see and hear the development of your thesis-support essay.

  • Inspiration is a fun program which allows you to organize your paper graphically with shapes, colors, and lines.  Then, with the touch of a button, it will turn what you’ve done into an outline.
  • Draftbuilder is another program that helps you plan and arrange your ideas, as well as take notes, in the process of writing an essay.
  • Try hanging with the SLOTH
  • Try the Thesis Builder & Outline Outliner
  • And remember—the Microsoft Word program offers an outline view too!

If a 1-minute student video were to appear here, what would you like to see the student address?

Do you know of a student who would be able to offer a minute of tips or advice--or even share some frustration--about this topic?

If a 1-minute teacher video were to appear here in the "Do It" column, what would you like to see the teacher address?

Do you know of a teacher who would be willing to offer a minute of "Do It" tips or advice--or even share some frustration--about this topic?

You're on the Planning and Outlining page in The Cyberia Activity Guide's Planning and Writing Layers of Learning. To go to a different layer, click on one of the links below. As the layers are developed, links will become active.
  • Prewriting & Brainstorming
  • Forming a Thesis
  • Planning & Outlining
  • Drafting
  • Introducing & Concluding
  • Forming Topic Sentences
  • Strengthening Paragraphs
  • Giving & Getting Feedback
  • Revising
  • Proofreading
  • Learning from Sample Essays

Last updated: -- #BeginDate f>>> May 15, 2007
English Lab Page | English Department | City College of San Francisco