The Art of Outlining

Just as the stability of any building depends upon its structure, so too does the stability of your documents depend on their structures. But few business writers take advantage of the most useful structural device: an outline.

Some people claim they have no time to outline. Others simply don’t know how. And others think that a high-level document template is all they need. Yet, outlines can help you write briefing notes, reports, summaries, web content, and other business communications—even emails—faster and more easily. Why? Because you will have done the hard work: selecting, categorizing, and sorting content. You’ll know what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it. All that remains is to expand on your points, a much simpler task when you know both your destination and your route.

Incorporating several outlining exercises that use Microsoft Word, this course will equip you with the skills to save time and effort while writing effective business documents and emails.

  • Topics
  • Audience
  • Instructor
  • Understanding an outline’s role in the writing process

  • Applying seven steps to outlining

  • Grouping and sorting information by organizing principle

  • Separating essential from non-essential text

  • Determining how much detail to include

  • Capitalizing on hierarchies to organize your thoughts

  • Structuring documents to reflect the way readers will use the texts

  • Composing four types of outlines: informal, formal, topic, and sentence

  • Applying a Modern Language Association formal numbering scheme

  • Using Microsoft Word’s outlining feature to organize your texts more easily

  • Automatically creating PowerPoint presentations from Microsoft Word

  • Overcoming writer’s block

  • Anyone who wants to improve how they organize their thoughts before writing
  • Anyone who wants to better structure briefing notes, reports, e-mails, letters, and other workplace documents
  • Writers who want to compose texts more quickly and easily than they do now


"I originally took the workshop to fill in for a colleague, but I am glad to have been able to attend. I learned a lot of tools and skills that I can apply to my everyday work. Thank you!"

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