Formal outlines - Step 4 – Organize

7 Steps to Better Writing - Charles Maxwell 2020

Formal outlines
Step 4 – Organize

Brief documents only need a mind map that you group and sequence, but complex subjects and long documents benefit from formal outlines. Moreover, many technical reports have to follow prescribed guidelines. If this is your case, then move the elements of your mind map or fishbone diagram into an outline that matches the required guideline.

Outline software is indispensable for long and complex documents. Microsoft Word’s Outline View is an excellent tool for this. The easiest approach is to use the Styles feature to designate heading levels, with the major concepts using the header 1 style and supporting ideas using subordinate levels (header 2, header 3, etc.). You can find more information on Microsoft Styles at:

Google Docs has a similar, but more limited, outline feature.