A sentence outline allows the writer to create a clear and workable blueprint of the paper to be written. Creating a sentence outline allows a writer to work through concepts and makes the final paper much easier to write. A sentence outline differs from a topic outline in that instead of single word topics and ideas, each heading and sub point consist of complete sentences. There is a very specific format to creating a sentence outline. Understanding and using this format is a vital tool for producing clearly written research papers.

Step 1

Write a thesis statement which will serve as the anchor for your paper. A thesis statement is usually one sentence long, makes a claim, takes a position or makes a promise of what is to come in your paper. An example of a thesis statement is: When thinking about attending college, I had to consider my home obligations, work commitments and available funds as reasons why I could not attend this year.

Step 2

Write a sentence that takes one position of your thesis and expands on it. This sentence begins the first section of your paper. This first sentence will have the section definer of Roman numeral I. Following the example from step 1: Having three children and a wife requires a lot of effort on a daily basis. What you are signifying with this statement is that you are expanding on the portion of the thesis dealing with home obligations. Take note here, that each subsequent section divider will also use Roman numerals. The next would be II, then III and so on.

Step 3

Write a supportive statement under the sentence created as section I. This supportive statement should stay on topic but at the same time should take only one position within the argument and begin to expand on it. Place this sentence in an indented position under section I and designate its position with a capital letter. In this example as it is the first sub-point, designate it as A. The example continues: It is my responsibility to be there emotionally for everyone in my house.

Step 4

Write under sub-point A created in step 3, a sentence that continues to expand the argument but focuses specifically on sub-point A. This is often called a sub-sub-point. This sentence will be indented under the sub-point and will be designated with the number 1. Following the example: "Helping my kids with their homework is something that needs to be done every day." You might also add another statement, define that as 2 and write: "My wife and I make plans to have date night every Friday." What you are doing in this step is creating multiple supportive points for the sub-point A. Each must be designated by number 1, 2, 3 and so on. When you have finished writing sub-points and sub-sub-points, you have completed section I.

Step 5

Write subsequent sections in the same manner. Continuing with the example, section II would create sentences to expand on work commitments. Section III would create sentences to expand on available funds. Under each of these sections you would create sub-points and sub-sub points that expand further. Complete all sections then return to gradually construct your paper, writing each section using the outline as your guide.