Outlining a content piece can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By utilizing some simple tips, you can outline a content piece quickly and with confidence.
1. Start with your main point
Think of the main point or takeaway you’re trying to communicate and start there. What do you want your readers to walk away with? Once you have your main theme or message established, you can work around it to build out the content.
Outlining a content piece can be daunting; with so much to consider and express, how do you even begin? Here’s a surefire tip to make it easy to get started and organized: start with your main point!
When you have the main point of your content piece worked out, you can easily adorn it and make room for elaboration on your topic. That’s why it is important to identify your main point right away and use it as your starting point.
How to Find Your Main Point
The first step to finding your main point is to brainstorm. Take a moment to really think about the topic you’re writing about and jot down a few ideas or takeaways you’d like to cover. With these ideas in mind, you can then take a look at the common theme that ties all of the ideas together and let that be the main point of your content piece.
For example, consider the topic, “How to optimize energy efficiency for your business:”
- Invest in energy efficient appliances
- Change the types of lights and lightbulbs used
- Implement a temperature control system
The main point of this content piece could be, “Taking certain steps to make your business more energy efficient can help reduce costs and benefit the environment.”
Adorning Your Main Point
Once you’ve identified your main point, you can start adorning and expanding it. This means you can delve into more detail and create separate sections or points about the same topic, all rooted in and stemming from the main point.
Continuing with the example above, to adeptly explain the theme about “optimizing energy efficiency for your business,” you can create a few sections to adorn the main point:
- Benefits of energy efficiency
- Investing in energy efficient appliances
- Changing the types of lights and lightbulbs
- Implementing a temperature control system
Now that you have a main point and sections stemming from it, you have a better understanding of the scope of the content, a framework to follow, and a solid basis to get writing!
Remember, identifying your main point first is key to a successful content piece outline. It helps to have a clear and concise message to guide your readers, and taking the time to develop a well thought-out main point at the start of your outlining process can be the difference between writing an effective piece of content or an ineffective one. So get out there, brainstorm, and start crafting an outline with your main point in mind!
Make a list of all the various facets, concepts and ideas related to your main point. Brainstorm the big ideas and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks of information.
Brainstorming can help you generate ideas and shape your overall concept. Here’s a guide on how to brainstorm as you’re outlining a content piece:
Get to Know the Subject
Before you start outlining the content, it’s important to get to know the subject. You don’t have to know it in depth, but understand the basics, like the topic, purpose, audience and have a general idea of where it’s going.
Brainstorm with a Team
Teamwork can go a long way when brainstorming. Get others’ perspectives by considering how they’d approach the content and what unique ideas they bring to the table.
Use Mindmaps and Tree Diagrams
Creating visual representation of your brainstorming helps to both organize and stimulate ideas. Mindmaps and tree diagrams provide you with a visual outline of the concepts at play, which can make it easier to move into content creation.
Don’t Discard Ideas
Sometimes ideas that seem too far-fetched or outlandish can make for the best content. Don’t dismiss any idea outright – just brainstorm on it. It can serve as a springboard for other ideas to develop and take hold.
Be Creative and Diversify
Take things in an unexpected direction or break out of the traditional structure of your content piece. The more you diversify and think outside of the box, the more unique ideas you’ll come up with.
De-Clutter and Take Breaks
Nothing stifles creativity more than clutter. Clean up your work area and put away anything that might be distracting. It can also be helpful to take a step back by going for a walk or doing something that allows you to have some mental distance.
Have Fun with It
Remember – brainstorming is supposed to be fun! Don’t be afraid to get creative or make mistakes. At the end of the day, your content piece is supposed to be something that stands out and engages your audience.
Good luck as you brainstorm for your content piece!
3. Group related ideas
Once you have your list of related concepts, start to group them into categories. What points go together? What parts of the content piece have to be in the same section? But how should you group related ideas when outlining a content piece? Here are some guidelines to help you get started.
Start With a Main Idea
Before you start outlining your content piece, it’s important to have a clear idea of what it will be about. Decide which concept or idea you want to focus on and write it down. This idea should be broad enough to encompass all the topics you want to include in your piece.
Identify Your Most Important Topics
Once you have your main idea, it’s time to brainstorm. Make a list of all the topics relevant to your main idea and narrow it down to the ones you want to focus on in your piece. These topics should be closely related to your main idea and should be the main subjects of your piece.
Break Up each Topic Into Supporting Ideas
Once you’ve identified your topics, it’s time to break them down into smaller tasks. For each topic, make a list of your supporting ideas and subtopics. These smaller topics should support the main idea of your content piece and help explain it in more detail.
Group Your Ideas in a Logical Structure
Now it’s time to organize your ideas into a logical structure. Divide your main topics into headings and subheadings and group related points together. This will make it easier to read and navigate through the content, ensuring that your ideas and points remain consistent throughout the piece.
Use Bulleted or Numbered Lists
Sometimes, it can be a good idea to use bulleted or numbered lists to group related ideas. This makes it easier to break up topics into sections and make sure that readers can follow along easily. It also allows them to quickly access specific pieces of information without having to read through the entire text.
Use Visual Aids to Highlight Ideas
Sometimes, using visual aids can help readers to understand your points and follow along more quickly. Adding images, charts, and diagrams to your content piece can help to highlight key ideas and create a more engaging experience for readers.
4. Establish a flow
Look for patterns in your groupings and determine a logical order for the content. Consider relationships between concepts and ideas and think about what comes first, what should come next and what should come last. If you know the right techniques, you can create an organized, coherent, and interesting piece that readers won’t be able to stop reading. Here are some tips to help you start writing a well-structured content piece that has flow and coherence.
Understand the Purpose of the Piece
The purpose of the piece is critical when mapping out the flow. Ask yourself why the piece is being written and what primary message the writer wants to convey. Once you have the core ideas laid out, you can begin to think about how to structure the flow of the content to best deliver them.
Think About the Structure of the Piece
Start by sketching out a basic structure of the piece. Consider what topic areas you will cover, how long each section should be, and how the various topics should link together. This will help to ensure that the piece maintains a logical flow.
Now that the structure of the piece is in place, it is time to start writing. Begin by writing up each of the sections in the order that you planned, linking them together with words such as “however,” “furthermore,” and “subsequently.” These types of transitional words will help the writing feel more cohesive and natural.
Edit and Refine
Once the piece is fully written, you can then go through and edit and refine. Look for any sections that don’t flow well, any areas that need more explanation, and any words or sentences that don’t quite fit. Make sure the flow of the piece is logical and consistent, and that each sentence complements the one before it and after it.
With these techniques, crafting a well-structured, logical flow for any content piece should be easy. As long as you know the primary message you want to convey and plan out the structure before you start writing, your outline should be perfect.
5. Check for accuracy
Double-check your work! Make sure all the details are correct and everything is in the correct order. Be sure to check again after you’ve written and edited your content piece, just in case any changes were made in the process.
It can be difficult to ensure accuracy when creating your outline. Here are a few tips to help you check for accuracy when completing your outline.
Gather Your Research
The first step when creating an outline is to gather your research. Research can come from all sorts of sources, including books, journals, websites, interviews and more. Make sure that you respect any copyright laws when conducting your research. Also, double check the accuracy of your sources. Do this by cross-referencing your findings with other reputable sources.
Identify the Topic of Your Content
Once you have gathered your research, you need to identify the topic of your content. Make sure that you are clear what you want to focus on and make sure it is appropriate for the audience you are aiming for. Additionally, define any terminology you need to carefully and accurately so that everyone is on the same page regarding the topic.
Outline the Details
Now it’s time to start outlining the details of your content. Begin by creating an introduction that introduces the subject and provides a summary of what will be discussed. You can then create a structure for your content, such as points or subsections. Inside each of these sections, make sure you outline the main topics that will be covered, as well as any subtopics or facts that are relevant.
Check for Accuracy
Once you have completed your outline, double check it for accuracy. Make sure that all the information is up-to-date, correct and relevant. Additionally, ensure consistency in terms of usage of terms, terminology and facts. As you are writing your content, refer back to your outline often to make sure that you are staying on track and not skipping out on any key details.
Creating an accurate outline is essential when it comes to writing engaging content. Following the above steps will help ensure that your outline is detailed, up-to-date and accurate. By doing this, you can save yourself time in the long run and make sure your content is ready to be enjoyed by your audience.
6. Create a visual representation
To ensure you fully understand your outline, create a visual representation of it. Depending on the content, this could be a flow chart, storyboard, mind map, etc. This will help you keep everything straight and better understand the content you are creating.
Whether you’re mapping a complex project or writing a simple essay, outlining your content can help you stay organized and easily identify key points and ideas. To help you with this task, we’ve compiled a list of the best tools for creating flow charts, storyboards, mind maps and more.
Flow Chart Tools
Flow charts allow you to create visuals that demonstrate the linear progression of an idea or process in an easy-to-follow guide. Here are the top flow chart tools to consider:
- Gliffy: With a drag-and-drop interface and a massive selection of templates, Gliffy allows you to quickly create professional-looking flow charts. It’s ideal for teams who need to collaborate on projects.
- Lucidchart: Like Gliffy, Lucidchart is designed for quick and easy flow chart creation with a drag-and-drop editor and a large selection of templates. Plus, you can easily collaborate with others and share completed charts on social media.
- Microsoft Visio: Visio is a bit more sophisticated than the other tools, but well worth the learning curve for complex projects. It’s bursting with features and you can access a wide range of templates, data visualizations and business diagrams.
Storyboarding lets you visualize a project or story narrative by organizing documents, media and notes in a sequential fashion. Here are the top storyboard tools to consider:
- Storyboarder: For those who need something a bit simpler, Storyboarder is a basic tool with a clean and intuitive interface. You can quickly create panels and draw up simple sketches, notes and diagrams.
- Storyboard That: With Storyboard That, you can choose from a library of characters and objects to populate storyboards and easily share them with others. You can also add captions and themes to add a bit of flair.
- FrameForge: FrameForge is an advanced authoring tool that features a sophisticated 3D environment for creating storyboards. It’s ideal for filmmakers, photographers and other creative types who want to visualize specific shot angles before filming.
Mind Mapping Tools
Mind maps are an effective way to visualize ideas, draw connections between concepts and easily pinpoint the relationships between cause and effect. Here are the top mind mapping tools to consider:
- Coggle: Coggle makes it easy to visually illustrate relationships between thoughts and ideas. To keep you organized, it offers unlimited Mind Map sharing in real-time and private storage.
- MindMeister: MindMeister provides a fast, intuitive and collaborative way to create deep mind maps. It allows you to share links, notes, images and more and is compatible with a variety of web browsers and devices.
- XMind: XMind offers a wide range of features, including an efficient fishbone diagram tool to help you create organized mind maps with an easy-to-navigate structure. It’s widely regarded as the best mind mapping product on the market.
Creating flow charts, storyboards, mind maps and other tools can help you stay organized and easily identify key points and ideas. The tools we’ve listed above are the best in the market and offer plenty of features to help you outline your content effectively. No matter which one you choose, you can’t go wrong.
The last step is to review your work. Go back through your outline and make sure it all makes sense and is properly organized. Overall, make sure it is an accurate reflection of the content you intend to create.
Organizing Your Content Outline
The first step to crafting any content piece is to create an outline to help organize the structure. Questions you might ask yourself include: What is the purpose of this content? and How can it best be organized for the most impact?
The answers to these questions will influence the tone, structure and content of the piece.
Identifying the Key Elements
With a solid structure, you can then begin to identify the key points your content should make. When outlining the content, ask questions such as:
- What information must the reader take away from the piece?
- What is the most important message to convey?
- What experiences, feelings or thoughts should the reader have?
Generating a list of “big ideas” while outlining will help ensure the piece revolves around them.
Applying the Checklist Approach
Once you’ve identified the main elements of the piece, your next step is to apply the checklist approach. What you want to do is to go back through your outline and list out all the details, points, arguments and evidence you want to include to make those big ideas clear and believable.
Things to consider include:
- Have you finished your research?
- Are sources referenced correctly?
- Are there any ways to make the argument stronger?
- Have you written any factors that could be perceived as controversial?
Reviewing content outlines is an important step in the crafting process. It ensures the content piece is well developed and conveys the desired message.
By creating a structure, identifying key elements and applying a checklist, you are guaranteed to produce a quality end result. Good luck!
By using these 7 tips, you can outline a content piece quickly and with confidence. With a few simple steps, you can organize your thoughts and create a strong starting point for a successful content piece.