While creating an outline is an important part of the article writing process, it doesn’t have to be your 6th grade English version of an outline. Outlines can be made to fit your style including as many details as you’d like, however there are some parts of an outline that you must include in order for it to really work as a framework from which you can base your article:
How it begins
When outlining your article, it’s best to formulate your lede (lead) paragraph. The lede paragraph, depending on the type of article, can tell the readers what they’ll learn from the article, how the article’s information will affect them, or share an anecdote that relates to the information that follows. Creating this paragraph will tell you how to formulate the rest of your outline.
How it ends
The conclusion is usually not chronologically created after the lede, however it is second in importance only to the lede. The mark of a good article is a great beginning and a strong ending. The lede and the conclusion are often the sections on which writers spend the most time. Ask yourself, what do you want to leave the readers thinking about from the piece? Whether the reader comes away feeling satisfied that they’ve read good information or they are left with an action prompt, the one thing is to never leave them wondering what happened or worse, looking for whether the article continues on the other page.
The middle shouldn’t meander
An outline is designed to keep you and the article on task. List the points you want to cover chronologically with sub-sections. Every section of an outline can be complete sentences or fragments that serve as writing prompts for each paragraph/section.
The article’s body should be outlined to include source information, especially professional titles and quotes. It shaves time off writing if you have Dr. Snuffilumps, chief medical yogi and OTRA certified’ practitioner’s info right there on the same sheet. It helps the writer decide whether some information will be used as a pull out quote or clarified in shorter, easy to understand bullet points.
Play time counts
Outlines and their formats allow you to play with your article to enhance flow and accuracy awithout reworking an article repeatedly. Play around with the style that works best for you. List every detail or coordinate general ideas. This tool is also helpful in addressing any concerns your editors may have about your piece and vice versa. When an anxious editor wants to see your progress they can see the direction your piece is taking by viewing your outline.
It can also help protect a writer from writer’s block. Plugging information into an outline is like completing a jigsaw puzzle, there’s no pressure like there is when you finally start writing the article.
Here are some great article structure resources: