How to Make a Tentative Outline


Whether you are writing a presidential speech or a grade school lesson plan, create an outline to transition your project from the brainstorming phase to the drafting phase. The tentative outline should be flexible, not too detailed and logically ordered. As simple as a tentative outline is on paper, the process of writing one requires that you have already researched your topic and thought of a clear direction for your piece. One major challenge of drafting the tentative outline is knowing where to start.

Prepare by gathering your notes beforehand. You can also have your research materials at hand. However, it is best to focus on your own notes instead of drawing directly from your source material.

Decide what the main sections of your paper will be and list them in logical order. Number these with Roman numerals. These will be your headings.

Under each heading, write at least two supporting arguments or pieces of evidence. These can be labeled with capital letters, starting with A.

Add details to your outline by adding more specific sections to your subheadings. In a standard MLA outline, your headings will be labeled with Roman numerals, then capital letters, than Arabic numerals, then lower case letters in order of broadest to narrowest.


Try to add at least two points per subsection. For your entire piece you should have at least two Roman numerals which in turn should have at least two capital letters and so forth. You can choose not to use the Roman numeral system in your outline, but the arrangement of ideas from broadest to narrowest is still a good method of organization.

Cite this Article