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CSU Global Writing Center: APA7 Outlines


In this section, you'll find resources on creating Outlines. APA style does not require any specific formatting for outlines because APA style is intended for published texts and academic essays.

Creating an Outline

An outline is a drafting tool to help you plan your paper. An outline provides structure for the sections and/or paragraphs of your paper, depending on the scope of your project. Please note that APA style does not require any specific formatting for outlines because APA style is intended for published texts and academic essays.

An outline should illustrate the progression of your thesis statement. Since each paragraph should have a main idea supported by evidence, you can use support from your research to outline your paper, paragraph by paragraph

  • A thesis statement is a short statement that introduces the argument of your paper as a whole.
  • Every paragraph in your paper should begin with a claim/main idea, which will be a debatable assertion or position that requires support. Claims build off one another in order to develop an argument over the course of an essay.
  • Every claim should be supported by evidence or support, the proof that validates your claim. Evidence and support usually come from other sources, like peer-reviewed journal articles. This can include facts, data, statistics, anecdotes, and more.

Keep the following tips in mind when creating an outline:

  • Remember, outlines should be helpful for you when writing your paper. You should be able to look at your outline and write major sections or paragraphs using the information and ideas in your outline.
  • Level 1 bullet points should outline the major topics and ideas of your paper.
  • Level 2 bullet points should plan out sub-topics, supporting ideas, and organizational aspects of your essay.
  • Level 3 bullet points illustrate an extra level of thought and detail in your outline that you might not need. However, if you have done a lot of research on your topic already, you can use Level 3 bullet points to plan out your analysis for each piece of evidence or where to address specific counterarguments.
  • It is not always required, but it can be a good idea to include a references page after your outline. This way, your sources are already organized when you begin drafting your essay.

Sample Outline

This downloadable sample outline will help you understand what a completed outline could look like.

Outline Template

You can use this downloadable outline template to help you get started with your assignment.