How to Do an Outline of a Paragraph

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Knowing how to do an outline for a paragraph can save you a lot of time and frustration. If you remember that a paragraph contains a topic sentence followed by proof, you will be well on your way to writing a great passage. All you need at the end of your paragraph is a conclusion sentence. This format works for almost any topic.

  • Paper
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Word Processing Program
  • Printer

1 On a piece of notebook paper

On a piece of notebook paper, write the topic of the paragraph you intend to write. For example, if you wish to write about summer vacation, you could write down "summer vacation was fun" at the top of the paper. Now, lengthen that idea into a complete sentence. Try, "My summer vacation was fun."

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2 List some supporting ideas

List some supporting ideas that strengthen the claim that you make in your topic sentence. If you want to write about your fun summer, you would list some of the exciting things that you did. You might write down words and phrases like "water park," "fireworks," "swimming in the pool," "playing outside with my friends" and "camping." Circle the three ideas that you like the most. They will eventually be written in sentence form and become your three primary support sentences.

3 Be followed by a secondary support sentence

Each primary support sentence can be followed by a secondary support sentence. For example, if you wish to write "One of the best places I went this summer was the water park," you would follow that sentence with a secondary support sentence that added detail. It could say something like "It was really fun to ride on the water slides with my cousins Josh and Sara." Secondary support sentences are usually quite specific. Write at least one for each of your three primary support sentences.

4 Think

Think of a sentence that concludes your paragraph and repeats its main idea. If your paragraph is about summer vacation, you might conclude it by writing: "I really had a great time during my summer vacation."

5 On a new sheet of paper

On a new sheet of paper, write your complete topic sentence at the top of the page. You can number it with a "1" or an "I" if you choose. Follow that with your three primary support sentences. Number them 2, 3 and 4. After each primary support sentence, write an A and a B. After each A and B, fill in any secondary supports that you are using to explain each primary support sentence. Finally, write the number 5 and follow that with your concluding sentence. When you are done, your outline is complete.

  • Make sure that your secondary support sentences are adding interesting details about your primary support sentences. It can be easy to go off on a tangent in this stage of paragraph planning, so remember to stay on topic.
  • While a sentence outline was suggested in this article, some people choose to write their outlines in incomplete sentences or phrases. Whether you use sentences or phrases, your outline will help you write your paragraph if you address your ideas in the order they appear in your outline.

Elle Dugan is a writer and educator. She contributes articles on culture, education and parenting to several websites and magazines. She holds a master's degree in English.