Last week, we shared some tricks on how to get started with writing . Taking an idea, writing drafts, editing, and seeing it come into fruition as a proper, readable piece of content. 

But if you’re going into writing in-depth content, you should rely on a more structured writing strategy — outlining your content. This may be an unfamiliar term to some new writers, but it’s one of the best methods to writing effective content.

What is an outline? 

An outline, or content outline as we like to call it , is the breakdown of a topic you’re going to write about. 

It is a structured content consisting of talking points of the topic. It helps to align your ideas and visualise a beginning, middle, and end, so that your writing flows coherently 

How does an outline help with your writing?

No fluff

An outline can help you focus on writing what matters and eliminating what we’d like to call “fluff”. 

Fluff is like that extra spoonful of sugar you put in your morning coffee. Writers usually fluff content to pad the word count, but it dilutes the overall value of the content. Rather, content should focus more on substance so that it’s actually beneficial for readers. 

Clarity

An outline provides you with a clear structure, reducing any chance of repetition. You can also review your content flow and sequence in the outline, and identify gaping holes such as logic leaps.

Balancing the amount of emphasis and information for each point is also key to effective writing. You don’t want to delve too deep into explaining a minor point with an entire paragraph. 

You might be wondering… what happens if you don’t do outlines?

Well, it may lead to 2 scenarios:

  1. Your content rambles on and on, not following the initial idea.
  2. Not knowing what to write and spending hours or even days on it.

Remember, creating content takes time — from developing the idea, researching, and writing, to editing and publishing. Every step involves a decent amount of effort. You don’t want to waste any. 

Use outlines to help you write more quickly and effectively. 

2 types of outlines 

Over the course of producing long-form articles for our clients, we’ve identified 2 types of outlines. Depending on the project requirements and brief, we determine which would best fit the project— whether in the working process or the type of content.

#1. Loosely structured

A loosely structured outline may look something like this:

Title The power of outline
Outline Introduction 
What is an outline?
Benefits of outline
What happens if you don’t do outlines
2 types of outlines
Steps to creating an outline
Conclusion

This type of outline gives you more freedom to explore and expand the talking points within the topic. We think that this type of outline is more suitable for viral content, as it is more flexible, adaptable, and less restrictive. 

#2. Formatted, in-depth, and detailed

On the other hand, a formatted and detailed outline may look like this: 

Title The power of outline
Outline Introduction 
What is an outline?
– Cover talking points
– Align your ideas
– Give a visualisation of the content flow
Benefits of an outline
– Helps you to focus 
– No fluff
– Reduce repetition 
– Helps you to review your content flow and sequence before actually writing
– Lets you balance the amount of emphasis and information for each point
– Can move things around or remove unnecessary information
– Lets you review any gaping holes
– Helps you to write more quickly and effectively
What happens if you don’t do outlines
2 types of outlines

– Loosely structured
– More freedom to explore and expand the talking points
– Formatted, in-depth, detailed
– Guided, ensures every point is covered and written as structured.
Steps to creating an outline
– Topic idea 
– Research
– Note down key points
– Develop and elaborate
– Organise
Conclusion
[CTA] Stay tuned for more!

This type of outline is more restrictive in terms of what should be covered.

Notice the bullet point indentations? A detailed outline can serve as a guide for you to organise the content as a main point or sub-point clearly. You can even take it one step further and write in call-to-actions.

This type of outline seems to be more effective in the overall communication and workflow with clients, as they can visualise how the content will be and point out any preferences for the actual content.

How to create an outline for your content

The very first step to all content creation is to establish your topic idea. Flesh out what you’ll be writing about. It’s important to ensure that what you want to write about is what people want to read. 

Post-it notes in a notebook
Put your research down in writing

Next, do your research. This is where having good research or Googling skills come in. Read up and get a good grasp of the topic.

It helps to have somewhere to list down key talking points and impactful quotes from your research. 

Our advice is to have a separate document to store all the information. They will come in handy later. Having proper tools to organise information can help you be more productive and develop beneficial writing habits. 

A tip: Some of us at 2022卡塔尔世界杯小组赛时间 use Evernote, while some of us have a Google Doc open for noting these points.

Now that you have all your points, it’s time to develop, elaborate, and organise them in your outline. Don’t be afraid to move the points around, or even remove non-essential materials! If needed, you can go back to researching and expanding on essential points.

Once you’re satisfied with your outline, you can start the writing process. Remember, drafting and editing should still be in your process, even if you have an outline to guide you! 

That’s all for now. Have fun writing!