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Beginner's Guide to The Outlining Method

Increase productivity and organize your thoughts effectively with this beginner's guide to the outlining method.
Shiva Prabhakaran
Writer at Routine
Published on
October 7, 2023

The Outline note-taking method is one of the most commonly used note-taking techniques. One of the most significant advantages of the Outline method is its structure, where the notes are constructed to be the skeleton of the session.

The flow of the notes is logical and thorough. Hence it is suitable for most subjects. So let us look at the method and why you should consider using it.

The Outlining process

You start by structuring your notes in the form of an outline by using bullet points to represent different topics and add their subtopics using indentation.

Some users like me use the "bullet point" symbol to indicate sub-topics and numbers to indicate topics nested under sub-topics. It is all about your preference and what works for you.

You start on the left of the page and note down bullet points. When you have sub-points to be made under the main points, you can indent them to the right. Ideally, you can do this for three cycles.

You can quickly take notes under this system on the Routine app. It will take you less than 15 seconds to get started with "Pages" on Routine.

If you don't have access to Routine yet, click here to sign up for our wait-list.

Advantages of the Outlining method of note-taking

The method is perfect for subjects that follow a set structure. Some of the advantages of the Outlining method of note-taking are:

  1. Emphasizes relationships between points and sub-points.
  2. Generally, chronological notes are comprehensive.
  3. Less time is needed to edit and review.
  4. No need to write rushed verbatim notes.
  5. Easier to turn points into questions.
  6. Ability to use it on digital note-taking apps.

When to not use the method?

The method would not be ideal for notes in chemistry, mathematics, etc. The disadvantage is that knowing the correct formula use is far more important than the relationship between main points in subjects like mathematics and chemistry.

So, exploring another note-taking method like the Cornell Note-Taking Method would prove beneficial in the above case.

Best practices for the Outline method

  1. Keep the bullet point's length to 8-10 words.
  2. Check the accuracy of information after the session.
  3. Turn bullet points into questions after the session.
  4. Add cues to the points if a topic is complex.
  5. Write a summary based on the points after the session.

That is it for the Outline method. What are your thoughts on it? Tweet at us at RoutineHQ. We also publish similar content on "The Productive Minute" podcast, so check us out on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

About the author
Shiva Prabhakaran

Shiva is a subject matter expert in communication, marketing, productivity, and learning systems. He has previously contributed to many blogs and newsletters, including Validated, Mental Models, HackerNoon, and several brands. You can find Shiva onĀ LinkedInĀ or email him at shiva(at)routine.co.

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