We’ve all learned how to outline a paper. Roman numerals, letters, numbers, and nonsense, according to Cal over at Study Hacks. ;) He recommends constructing a topic skeleton instead.

Forget hierarchies. Your outline should capture the topics you want to discuss in your paper. A topic is more general than a specific fact or observation, but less general that a multi-argument discussion. For example:

“Letter to Philip Johnson suggesting chapel idea” is too specific to be a topic.
“The conception and construction of the Rothko chapel” is too general to be a topic.
“Rothko’s Courting of Philip Johnson” is a perfect topic.

Topics are what you’ll capture with our outlining process.

After you’ve created your topic skeleton, simply dump all the quotations you’ve gathered from your visits to the library, and there you are. Arrange the information, organize transitions, and that should be it. Sounds pretty good to me. And much faster.

Read on: Monday Master Class: How to Use a Flat Outline to Write Outstanding Papers, Fast