We use outlining to structure our thinking

Outlining is thinking Outlining invites us to organizer our analysis in hierarchies featuring topics on top and detail below so that we can better sort through our materials, identify what is important, and bury the rest for retrieval when we might need it as we see here.

Structure is the basis for presentation Whether in books, articles, or on the web, you will find such structuring everywhere, such as this page and this page from a report by the consulting firm PWC.

Structure is one thing, display is another, which is illustrated in this illustration of tree structures in science

The Web is an Outline On the web, the interactive CSS Zen Garden invites you to see how one well-structured HTML file can be presented in 218 radically different ways using CSS styles

Brainstorming of course is often best down with pencil on paper, as Leonardo da Vinci worked out centuries ago, here, and mind maps are indeed outlines

Illustrating is made easy by outlining as you can position images carefully within a text’s overall structure, which will help you clarify what each section is about, as McKinsey does here, or help you explain a given passage’s meaning

Working Systematically in outlining means being able to identify and organize the different kinds of questions, information, or activities that might contribute to our work, in a way that advances our thinking, such as with a business model canvas.

Analyzing your material systematically will help you developed complexity and sophistication — which you’ll need for developing research questions as you see here and here

Outlining will transform your reading, because once you know your process involves subordinating discussion and detail under keywords, you will do more scanning than skimming, as you see here, and organizing your notes under headers which you can prioritize, move up and down, as here and here.

In my classes, I will invite you to organize your materials in hierarchies beginning with headers and sub-heads, and underneath them your discussion and supporting details, like this.

  1. Header, Assignment Date
  2. Sub-head, Article Title
  3. Sub-head, Article Section
  4. Text, Discussion
  5. Quotations, Images
  6. Citations (from Mendeley)