Basic Outline Form

Below is a synopsis of the outline form. The main ideas take roman numerals. Sub-points under each main idea take capital letters and are indented. Sub-points under the capital letters, if any, take italic numbers and are further indented.

    1. Subsidiary idea or supporting idea to I
    2. Subsidiary idea or supporting idea to I
      1. Subsidiary idea to B
      2. Subsidiary idea to B
        1. Subsidiary idea to 2
        2. Subsidiary idea to 2
    1. Subsidiary or supporting idea to II
    2. Subsidiary idea to II
    3. Subsidiary idea to II

It is up to the writer to decide on how many main ideas and supporting ideas adequately describe the subject. However, if there is a I in the outline, there has to be a II; if there is an A, there has to be a B; if there is a 1, there has to be a 2, and so forth.

Suppose you are outlining a speech on AIDS, and these are some of the ideas you feel should be included: AZT, Transmittal, AIDS babies, Teenagers, Safe sex, Epidemic numbers, Research.

To put these ideas into outline form, decide first on the main encompassing ideas. These might be: I. Transmittal, II. Societal Consequences, III. Research.

Next, decide where the rest of the important ideas fit in. Are they part of AIDS transmittal or AIDS societal consequences or AIDS research solutions? The complete outline might look like this:

Major Aspects of AIDS

  1. Transmittal of AIDS
    1. Transfusions
    2. Body Fluids
      1. Sexual
      2. Non-Sexual
  2. Societal Consequences of AIDS
    1. Epidemic disease pattern
      1. Teenagers
      2. Women
      3. Homosexuals
    2. AIDS babies
    3. Increased homophobia
    4. Overburdened health care
  3. Research Solutions to AIDS
    1. AZT
    2. HIV virus
    3. Other viruses