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It is not to be confused with the general context of the term "outline", which a summary or overview of a subject, presented verbally or written in prose (for example, The Outline of History is not an outline of the type presented below).The outlines described in this article are lists, and come in several varieties.
Each numeral or letter is followed by a period, and each item is capitalized, as in the following sample: Some call the Roman numerals "A-heads" (for "A-level headings"), the upper-case letters, "B-heads", and so on. (1) (a) – and does not specify any lower levels, though "(i)" is usually next.
Some writers also prefer to insert a blank line between the A-heads and B-heads, while often keeping the B-heads and C-heads together. In common practice, lower levels yet are usually Arabic numerals and lowercase letters again, and sometimes lower-case Roman again, with single parentheses – 1) a) i) – but usage varies. a) (1) (a) i) – capital Roman numerals with a period, capital letters with a period, Arabic numerals with a period, italic lowercase letters with a single parenthesis, Arabic numerals with a double parenthesis, italic lowercase letters with a double parenthesis, and italic lowercase Roman numerals with a single parentheses, though the italics are not required).
to present the main points (in sentences) or topics (terms) of a given subject.
Each item in an outline may be divided into additional sub-items.
If more levels of outline are needed, lower-case Roman numerals and numbers and lower-case letters, sometimes with single and double parenthesis can be used, although the exact order is not well defined, and usage varies widely. MLA style is sometimes incorrectly referred to as APA style, based on the practice of the United States Congress in drafting legislation, suggests the following sequence, from the top to the seventh level (the only ones specified): I. Because of its use in the US Code and other US law books, many American lawyers consequently use this outline format.
The scheme recommended by the MLA Handbook, among others, uses the usual five levels, as described above, then repeats the Arabic numerals and lower-case letter surrounded by parentheses (round brackets) – I. Another alternative scheme repeats all five levels with a single parenthesis for the second five – I) A) 1) a) i) – and then again with a double parenthesis for the third five – (I) (A) (1) (a) (i).
Reverse outlining is like reverse engineering a document.
The points or topics are extracted from the work, and are arranged in their order of presentation, by section, in the outline.
When completed the integrated outline contains the relevant scholarly sources (author's last name, publication year, page number if quote) for each section in the outline.
An integrated outline is generally prepared after the scholar has collected, read and mastered the literature that will be used in the research paper.