Sentence Outline

A sentence outline is much like a regular outline, but uses complete sentences in place of short phrases and terms. Sentence outlines are ideal for organizing papers that contain many details or concepts because the details and concepts can be more easily embodied in the sentences. Also, each sentence in the outline can represent a complete paragraph, which typically consists of a single concept, thought, or idea spanning 3 to 5 sentences in the paper.

Writing a sentence outline is relatively straightforward; however, prior to starting your sentence outline, you will need to:

1) Determine the purpose of your paper–what are you trying to tell your readers, or get them to understand?

2) Who is your audience? Your audience will help determine how you write your paper. NOTE: Your instructor is NOT your audience.

3) What is your thesis–the overarching topic of your paper?

Once you have determined these 3 items, you can begin organizing your thoughts. In the not-so-distant past, people often used 3×5 notecards for this step, but you can find a wide variety of free note card apps for your smartphone or tablet, if that is more appropriate for you. Regardless of your approach to organizing your thoughts, follow these steps:

1) BRAINSTORM: List all of the ideas you need and want to include in your paper. Use one note card per idea. These ideas should be based on and supported by research. You should also include any relevant citations on the card (e.g., on a card about cognitive development theory, you might cite: Piaget, 1936).

2) ORGANIZE: Group related ideas together by grouping and/or categorizing the note cards (use stacks for physical note cards, and consider categories or groups if using digital cards). Consider a logical organization, such as from general to specific, or abstract to concrete, or perhaps from the unknown to the known.

3) ORDER: Arrange the notecards so the ideas flow logically within each stack or category, and also from stack to stack, or group to group. The goal here is to establish a logical flow of information from start to finish.

4) LABEL: Once you have ordered your cards, create main and sub-headings for each group. These would equate to your Level 1 and Level 2 headings in APA 6 (see Sections 3.02 and 3.03 in your APA 7 manual). You might consider each stack, group, or category as a Level 1 heading, and the sub-headings within each stack, group, or category as your Level 2 headings. Although APA 6 provides 5 heading levels, you will likely only need Levels 1 & 2, with perhaps an occasional Level 3, depending on how detailed your paper is written.


Using the guidelines above, construct a sentence outline for your Theory Case Paper.

BE SURE TO USE COMPLETE SENTENCES!! also need a essay that I due on later date.