For general information and tips on creating effective outlines, check out the Purdue: Online Writing Lab.

For information and tips on creating effective outlines specific to Erikson writing assignments, read on. Click on the links to see examples of an effective outline at each stage.


First: gather your materials

  • Read through the assignment description and any class notes you have regarding specifics tips for the assignment.
  • Set aside any articles or notes that you know you must include in the paper.


Second: brainstorm

  • Using the assignment description or outline provided by your professor as a guide, jot down ideas you would like to include for each section of the paper. NOTE: Broader, big ideas tend to fit better in the introduction and more specific ideas or examples fit better in the body of the paper, under the proper section headings.
  • Make note of questions for your professor that come up as you brainstorm; ask the questions at your next class or via email.


Third: Create a working outline

  • Using the assignment description provided by your professor and this template as your guides, insert the information you will include in your paper. *NOTE: if your professor provides an assignment outline, complete with headings and questions to answer under each heading, follow that outline exclusively.
  • Remember to include relevant citations for other’s ideas in your outline so that you do not forget to do so in your paper. All citations should be in APA format.


Fourth: begin writing your paper

  • Using your outline as a guide and checklist, begin writing your paper, making sure not to stray from your outline and checking off each point as you include it in your paper.


Other tips:

*Refer back to your assignment description often. Make sure you are answering the questions and discussing the topics deemed necessary by your professor.

*Sometimes it helps to take a break from your work once you’ve completed the pre-writing steps. Coming back to your work after a break will help you focus and be a more effective writer.