An important part of the technical writing process involves creating an outline. At this point, you take your ideas and put them into logical order. Of course, it is possible to create a technical document without creating an outline. However, this does increase the likelihood that it will be somewhat disorganized.

An outline lets you to see how your ideas are connected, how transitions occur between ideas, important details that may have been left out, and if there is a good balance and flow. A basic outline represents the main ideas that you plan to discuss in your essay. At a minimum, it should list the main ideas. You can then add sub-points under your main ideas. These sub-points become supporting ideas, arguments, and examples relating back to the main ideas.

There are different ways to create an outline. A basic outline may follow the following format:

1. Main Idea

A. Subtopic relating to Main Idea 1

Subtopic relating to subtopic A

B. Subtopic relating to Main Idea 1

2. Main Idea

C. Subtopic relating to Main Idea 2

D. Subtopic relating to Main Idea 2

There is no rule as to the number of ideas and subtopics required. However, a good rule to follow is if you have a main idea 1, there should be a main idea 2. The same holds true for the subtopics.

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