Basic Outlining

Next use the ideas you’ve generated about why your best friend would make a good employee to create a simple outline that includes a thesis and three supporting points. Even though many example outlines don’t use full sentences, your outline should. Make sure:

  1. the thesis is the broadest idea and that the three supporting points logically support (help convince the reader of) the thesis,
  2. all points, thesis and supporting points included, are complete sentences. They make sense in the blank, “I will show that __________________________________.” (Don’t leave the word “that” out when you use this trick.),
  3. the thesis and supporting points are single ideas—no “and,” “as well as,” or “in addition to,” allowed, and
  4. the supporting points do not overlap.*


Thesis- Lowering the drinking age is a bad idea.
Supporting point #1 – A lower drinking age would result in more traffic fatalities.
Supporting point #2 – A lower drinking age would result in more teen suicides.
Supporting point #3 – A lower drinking age would cost taxpayers more money

*Important note: supporting points shouldn’t overlap.  In the example below, two of the supporting points overlap.

Thesis: We should work harder to improve the physical health of our nation’s youth.
SP1. We should eliminate junk-food vending machines from our schools.
SP2. We should work to eliminate junk food from our children’s diets.
SP3. We should make vigorous aerobic exercise a daily requirement for students.

In the outline above, point one and point two overlap. Point one is really a smaller part of point two, so you certainly may write about the idea of eliminating vending machines as you write about eliminating junk food from our children’s diets in point two, but point one should not be in the outline as a point.