Do Outlines Need to Be in Complete Sentences?

Writing an outline to help with a writing assignment is a way to organize research or brainstorm notes.
... Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Developing an outline for a writing assignment helps to organize thoughts, puts the writing in an understandable sequence and ensures that all parts of the writing are included. Outlines do not need to be in complete sentences to be effective.

1 Caveman Talk

An outline does not need to be written in complete sentences. Caveman talk -- five words or less -- for each entry of the outline is sufficient. The outline, even with incomplete sentences, is enough to help the writer know the direction and content each paragraph is to contain. When using this type of informal outline, without complete sentences, it's recommended to write out the topic sentence or thesis sentence of the paper. This helps to keep the focus of the paper. An outline may be written in complete sentences. This type of outline may be used for more formal essays or research papers.

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.