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Outlining is a subject that is rarely taught in middle school and high school today, which is why so many students have difficulty writing outlines for their collegiate papers. When professors assign papers in MLA or APA styles and require an outline, students are often stumped and have no idea where to being. The easiest thing to remember about styles like MLA and APA is that they provide a format for essay and research paper writing. Those styles carry over into the outline, too.
When you write an APA outline, you need to be sure that your paper is formatted properly. These are the formatting requirements:
Writing the actual outline does require knowledge of formal outlining. The traditional numerical outline with Roman numbers and Arabic numbers is the outline style that is preferred by most instructors. This style requires that the main headings of each paragraph be set apart with capitalized Roman numerals. The next heading, which is the first subheading, should be indented one tab and given a capital letter. Details that support the subheading should have an Arabic number and indented another tab.
These outlines should be double-spaced and they should follow the rule of two: if you have one heading, you should have a second; if you have one subheading, you should have a second; if you have one detail, you should have second. It is also a good idea to write each entry in a parallel style, too. This means that if you start one entry with an infinitive, you should start all entries with an infinitive. Continuity is important in outlining, which is one of the reasons that so many students have struggles with them.
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