Marketing Guides

Text Outlining

5. Text Outlining

Now that you have your process determined, it's time to outline what you'll actually write and include in your content.

This step will vary depending on the format you choose, but you'll generally be able to outline anything you want with the standard method.

  1. General idea
    1. Supporting idea
      1. Detail
      2. Detail
    2. Supporting idea
      1. Detail
      2. Detail
  2. General idea

This system is used in almost every industry to plan pretty much anything. It works phenomenally well for blog posts, infographics, video scripts, and way more.

While the outlining system is well-known, we'll take a different look at each part of it to see how you can use it in different content formats.

1. General idea

The "general idea" section of an outline is the place for an overarching topic.

You can use this as either the topic sentence for a paragraph or the heading for an entire section.

General ideas work best when you can sum up your topic in two or three words. If you go longer than that, the subject can become too wordy to warrant further explanation.

Basically, keep it short and sweet so you can save your words for later.

In all forms of content, general ideas are used as major section headings. Depending on someone's outlining style, there may only be one general idea per piece of content, which is the content's actual title. 

2. Supporting idea

"Supporting ideas" are often topic sentences for paragraphs. They present a concept that supports the idea you laid out before, and they're reinforced by details.

In text-based content, supporting ideas are usually topic sentences for new paragraphs.

In audio-based content, supporting ideas segue into new discussion points.

In graphic-based content, supporting ideas are sub-headings that present new data.

In video-based content, supporting ideas are often new video sections where someone may make a cut and jump to a new scene.

3. Details

"Details" are the smallest points of an outline. At times, they may have sub-details, but that usually only happens if a topic is so complex that it requires multiple layers of explanation.

Most often, details are data points, quotes, or other credible references that tie ideas together.

They can show why a supporting idea is justifiable, which then supports your general idea as a whole.

In text-based content, details can be anything from data points to explanations of how something works.

In audio-based content, details work the same way except they're spoken.

In graphic-based content, details are data points or other points of interest that have a visual aid, making them easier to understand.

In video-based content, details can be text popups, accompanying images, animations, or spoken word.

Overall, outlining is a practice that's easy to learn and difficult to master. The best outlines will be concise, but they'll also have enough explanation to guide a content creator.

That's a tough middle-ground to find, but you can find it repeatedly with enough practice.

4. Process Drafting                6. Drafting