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How to Create an Outline for Writing an Online Article

Updated on August 7, 2012

Freelance Writing

Writing articles online is a way that many people around the world make money every day. An important part of the online writing process is creating the outline. The outline is one of the first steps and sets the groundwork for creating an article that does well for page views online and is well-composed as well.

Create an Outline

Let's get writing, shall we?!
Let's get writing, shall we?! | Source

Writer's Poll

Do You Create An Outline For Your Articles?

See results

Organize Your Thoughts

One important reason to create an outline is it serves as a way to organize your thoughts. You can create your outline using software such as Microsoft Word, or use the pen and paper method. The main point is that you are able to organize your thoughts into written form.

Without an outline, a writer may fear that halfway through the article he or she will forget a point or the great ending that was planned for the piece.

Another fear may be that the publish button will be pressed without citing all of the collected sources; some online publishers do not allow clients to revise articles once published. As well, the chance of blank page syndrome striking right in the middle of writing the article, without an outline as "back-up", is eliminated.

An outline ensures that your ideas are all written out. As well, new ideas may occur to you as you are creating the outline. Complete sentences are not necessary on the page, but writing needs to be eligible so that you are able to follow the words later as you flesh out the points to create the finished product.

Create the Title and Headings

Write the title and headings for your article on the outline.
Write the title and headings for your article on the outline. | Source

Research Title and Headings

Research is involved in creating an effective outline. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords that are Low in competition and have at least a few thousand global monthly searches performed per month.

Repeat the same research strategy for the Headings. Headings are very important as they are the groupings for your main ideas. You likely already grouped your ideas within your outline when you organized your thoughts in the previous section. Now is the time to ensure that the words you choose for your Headings within the article will help you get page views online for the work. Make them precise and effective in wording.

Take a Look Back At the Outline

Let's read it again, shall we!
Let's read it again, shall we! | Source

Look Over Outline

Now that your basic outline is created, you can begin to flesh out the ideas more. Consider other elements essential for an article to perform well online. Ask yourself:

  • Have you missed any major points?
  • Are there gaps or do you need to do more research online for a specific point? The outline helps you to see these holes.
  • Do you have reputable sources to support your points and any statistics mentioned? If so, make reference to them on your outline to remind yourself to link to the article when you write your own piece.
  • Do you have articles that you can link to within this one? Jot down any related article titles that you can embed within this article onto the outline so that you do not forget when you write the piece.
  • What types of photos will you use? Remember that adding photos increases page views as photos catch the reader's eye, create interest, and can be picked up by image queries on search engines.
  • How can you engage the reader further? Would a Poll add to the article?

The Next Step

Now that the article is formed, you can begin the process of writing the online article. If you created your page online, print it out or move it to a second monitor (if you use one) to have it within your line of vision. Keep your paper outline at the side of your workspace to refer to as you write. You will likely find a comfort in having the outline to refer to as it is the backbone for the published piece.

You have done a large chunk of the work in creating the outline and now you flesh out the ideas. Add in visual interest with photos, polls, and other features, and remember to accurately site quality online sources. Press the Publish button and be confident as you know that your work is well-researched and effectively written.


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    • fivesenses profile image


      4 years ago from new delhi

      I usually create an outline on word...very informative.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hehe it's a syndrome, I tell you! Thanks

    • rumintasari profile image

      Ruminta Sari 

      5 years ago from Sleman

      great write up, I really should try to practice this, too many of those 'blank page syndrome'.. lol, I really like that phrase. Voted!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi B. Leekley, I do find an outline is helpful for organizing my thoughts. Let me know how the process works for you!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for the good tips. I'm not used to using an outline, but maybe I should try it. I have a book review in mind for a hub. That might be a good one to try outlining before I draft it. Maybe I'll use WorkFlowy.

      Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared with followers.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Excellent Rolly, then you can duplicate the information as you need. Great idea, and glad you took away some new information from this hub as well.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Christy... great hub and one I have bookmarked. I have adopted a filing system within the writing program I use. It is very similar to this for the novels I write. The beauty is I can have all the reference material I need on the same page.

      Thanks for sharing this with us... voted up and shared for certain...

      Hugs from Alberta

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Appreciate it Jen!

    • jenbeach21 profile image


      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great information! Shared and voted up.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Glad you find it helpful and I appreciate the positive words!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      great notes for making sure your article has more views!! Thanks, Christy, and I am sharing this!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      I love these useful suggestions and will set my referral tracker up from now on! Thanks for the great tips, Christy, which I am sharing!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Roses, that's a great tip! Thanks for adding the perspective to the hub. I can see that with that technique you wouldn't have to worry about remembering the line as you've typed it already on the screen as a reference.

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 

      5 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Thumbs up! I can't write without an outline. One interesting thing I've noticed since wordprocessing was introduced many years ago: when I am writing, if I think of an idea or phrase that I want to use, I type it below whatever I am writing and keep moving it down the page until I can work it into whatever I'm writing.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Jane, you are not alone there. I have talked to others who do the same. I find outlines get the information out of the mulling stage :) Thanks for the comment and support!

    • profile image

      Jane Carroll 

      5 years ago

      Alas...I'm not a good outliner...I'm a muller...I mull it around in my head until I figure it all out...then put it on paper. I think the outline method might be more productive. Great hub and tips!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Rajan, I just knew you would be someone who uses an outline, considering how well organized your hubs are. Thanks for taking time to stop by to read and comment. I really enjoy how thorough your hubs are and am pleased that you enjoy my hub.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Extremely useful tips, Christy. I try to make a list of points that need to be incorporated into my hubs before I start the writing work. It does help to make the job easier and faster.

      Voted up, useful and awesome. Sharing it.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @teaches, wishing you much success here!

      @flash, Excellent! Thanks for the great feedback

      @toknowinfo, Thank-you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Great advice, Christy. I know that I will find it very helpful. Voted up.

    • flashmakeit profile image


      5 years ago from usa

      Thank you for sharing this useful article. I learned a lot after reading it.

      Vote up and sharing!

    • toknowinfo profile image


      5 years ago

      Well written hub that has a lot of great info to offer. Voted up, useful, interesting, and awesome.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks everyone for your positive comments, votes, and shares too! I am glad the concept for the outline came across well to you. While some of you use outlines, others do not and just may try doing so. Knowing that I am able to help you is a great feeling and glad to have my hubs so carefully read by you all.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and useful. Informative and thought provoking. Great suggestions. Passing this on.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Christy! I do use outlining quite frequently, and this will add to my bag of tricks. Nicely done!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Another great teaching Hub. I always write an outline, usually on legal size paper. Then I try to "fill in the gaps". I also have a checklist that I use before I hit the publish button so I don't forget to do something!

      I voted this Hub Up, etc.etc. and I will share.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Good reminder! I sometimes do and sometimes don't use outlines. I just might again soon :)

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing these useful and helpful tips Christy. Anything to improve upon our hubs is great and this is excellent. Voted up, shared, interesting, and useful :)

    • Scribenet profile image


      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      A well-written Hub! Organizing an article with an outline is the best way to present information. I thought this article was top-notch in presenting the process and reminding us all how it can improve the quality as well as views of our writing!

    • nanderson500 profile image


      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great hub, luckily Hubpages lets us edit our articles but we would still save time doing this stuff.

    • RTalloni profile image


      5 years ago from the short journey

      Preparing to write is as important as writing an online article if we want to do a good job of it. Thanks for a good look at creating outlines!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I think all of us are willing to learn new things (or old ideas revisited) in our writing career. This is an excellent hub and worth the time ti read very carefully. Voted up.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      It is a useful hub for every writer. Thank you for sharing.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love all of these comments! So pleased that some of you say you will be referring back to this hub and others say they will try the tips. I am passionate about inspiring others and teaching useful tips, so feedback from all of you is great. Thanks for the comments, votes, and great energy!

    • Rob Winters profile image

      Rob Winters 

      5 years ago

      A most concise, helpful and useful hub Christy.This should be required reading for all new hubbers. Votes 4 U :-)

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 

      5 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      Looks like you're taking your steward work into the blogosphere! Good on 'ya, Christy! A lot of newbies and other writers could use this information! Well done!

    • samsons1 profile image


      5 years ago from Tennessee

      Great hub and thanks for the suggestions. I see the importance and am eager to start outlining. From your description I can visualize the importance. Voted up, useful and interesting...

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Outline outline outline. I never quite got the reason for it until I became a full time writer. I can't live without outlines! Nice job :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Christy, this is oh so helpful! I sometimes get a little sidetracked and find that if I back up and create an outline, suddenly, things get finished a lot faster. Now, I just have to train myself to start with the outline. You have provided a lot of useful information. Thank you so much for this! :)

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent Hub. I write only a very sketchy outline. I find that as I write, the ideas flow. This doesn't happen at the outline stage, but it is a good idea to write at least a preliminary one.

    • Jools99 profile image


      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Christy, this is a very interesting article. I must admit, I am not much of an outline writer though recently I did start to try and do outlines for my Women of WW2 hubs and found doing them a really good help - I think them being historical hubs needed some sort of chronology and the outline helped me to order my thoughts. Voted up and shared.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi Christy.

      Great hub and very good suggestions.

      With me I have the beginnings of a hub or the idea for one, so I sit down at my desk with my pad and just write, write, write. I get everything down on paper from what's in my head along with the research.

      After 1000 words or so I set about dividing and making the story/info into an understandable hub.

      Then I go through it again and get it into my Open Office program and edit my work, ie. grammer and spelling and then transfer to hubpages as a finished hub and read again before publishing.

      A lot of work, but it's my way.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Thanks, it does really help to do an outline first. Great hub!

    • kellyteam profile image


      5 years ago from Michigan

      Good suggestions! I sometimes jot down ideas for completing a hub that I use like an outline, but nothing as formal. I can see the value in it though, because when I don't make notes I have faced the blank page syndrome in the middle of an article. Thanks for the hub!

    • rcrumple profile image


      5 years ago from Kentucky

      Christy -

      Great article. I can completely understand the need for an outline in researched articles. In creative / conversational writing stylings, a moment of spontaneity can be lost in the need to follow the guide.

      However, I learned the hard way that a book must have an outline. The same creativity that can make your writing flow with the wind can also blow you way off course. I found myself with too many loose ends without a road map to show me the way back.

      Tremendous information and exceptionally useful!

    • SaraDuggan profile image

      Sara Duggan 

      5 years ago from California

      I an outline for writing. I number my paper 1 - 5. First I write the main point with three supporting points underneath. When I'm ready to write the article or blog post it is nice to have an outline all worked up to follow.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 

      5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks Christy, yet another very helpful hub. I especially like the idea of printing it out once outlined or moving it to a second monitor. This one is getting archived, sharing

    • CarlySullens profile image


      5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Hi Christy, I write outlines in my head, but after heading this hub, I see the benefit of writing outlines down on paper or on the computer.

      I have several ideas always brewing at once, and an outline will help me keep all these thoughts organized until I have a chance to write it out.

      Thanks for the great ideas and the reasons behind them.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      5 years ago from Alabama

      Appreciate this hub. I outline on paper, Word and sometimes just my head. I will have to figure out which works best for me.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks everyone for the wonderful response to this hub! The support is encouragement and I am glad that many of you state you have learned new details here.

      @Bill and @Curiad, glad you both have a system that works for you, regardless if you have an outline in place. I like the security of the outline on paper.

      We each the processes that work for us at HubPages and other sites; the main thing is to find what works and build on that framework. Thanks again all for the great comments, votes, and shares too!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi Christy! Unlike billy here, I love my little outlines, although mine probably aren't much to look at. I think my oulines look more like shopping lists, but they serve their purpose: to lay out all those ideas ahead of time so that I don't forget to include them as I'm writing.

      While doing my keyword research, I also like to jot down related keywords to sprinkle into my hub as I outline's main points are long-tails that will become the headings for each section/text capsule.

      Great hub. I will be sharing it on my site. Voted up and stuff!

      PS. - eligible? =) luv ya Christy...keep those great hubs coming! Aloha

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Great information Christy, I do this sometimes, but like Bill said, I tend to create the outline in my head and put the citations in if needed as I write.

    • Gamerelated profile image


      5 years ago from California

      Nice work ChristyWrites! It is a well written and informative article. I also like the layout of your article. Every time I read one of your articles I learn something.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      You're so right, Christy. When I don't outline, my thoughts and words turn into a disorganized mess! Thank you for the reminder. Voted up!

    • zsobig profile image


      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice article, it is a good idea - although I have to confess that I never write and outline as I always completely keep writing my toughts into points until I don't feel that there is enough information to write a complete and quality, very informational hub from the thoughts.

      Still, I advise other hubbers to follow your advice, as this is a more secure way :)

      Voted up + useful!

    • Volitans profile image


      5 years ago from Seattle

      Nice hub here. I used to hate outlines when I was in school, but I find them incredibly helpful these days. When I have an outline, I feel like I write both faster and better.

      Voted up, interesting, and useful.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 years ago from New York, New York

      Another useful article Christy about writing and building an outline I agree is so very important and an essential element when beginning to write a new article. I always begin with an outline and then go in to begin filling in the blanks so to speak. Seriously, I feel like I always learn something new though every time I read a new article by you. Thank you sincerely for that. Voted and shared too.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Fabulous hub here on the importance of outlining articles! Your hubs are very useful, relevant and informative. Thanks again Christy, I am sharing!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All great suggestions and as a former teacher I applaud this hub. Having said that, I don't do outlines although I have found the older I get the outline seems to write itself in my brain.

      Great hub Christy; well-worth the read!


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