How to Create a Formal Outline of a Chapter

Creating an outline for each chapter makes it easy to study for exams.

Creating a solid outline of a chapter is an essential skill for students. Formulating a good outline is so important as no student, no matter how smart, can remember every single word he reads. A chapter outline allows you to take the dense facts and points that fill most textbook chapters and condense it down to the most important points. This way, when you study for a test, you can just turn to your outline rather than rereading an entire chapter.

Write or type the name of the chapter on a clean piece of notebook paper or on a blank document on your computer. Skip a line.

Write a Roman numeral one and write the name of this particular section of the chapter such as "Civil War Reconstruction Techniques" or, if the section has no title in your textbook, just write "Section one".

Read the introductory paragraph of this section in your textbook. Summarize it out loud in your own words. Skip another line and write or type a dash and then write in your one-sentence summary.

Skip another line and write or type a capital letter "A." Write the first main point you have found in your chapter. For example, if you were outlining a chapter on the causes of World War II, one main point would be that the failure to enforce the Treaty of Versailles was one of the leading causes.

Skip another line and indent one inch. Write down two or three facts connected to this main point. Number these points.

Continue to go through the chapter, finding main points and connected facts. Each main point you find should be a subsequent letter of the alphabet.

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."