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An outline is a plan for how to structure your material in an academic assignment, thesis or article. 

It can be helpful to think about the outline as a structure for how to answer the research question(s) in your problem statement, what elements to include and in which order. You can also use the outline to get an overview of how long each chapter or section can and must be. 

Making an outline will give you a preliminary idea of how your assignment could turn out. It is different from the table of contents precisely because it is preliminary. 

You may want to base your outline on a standard structure.  

Write an outline 

When writing an outline for your assignment, it is a good idea to follow the points below. 

  • First, write your problem statement

  • Write all the elements that may be included in your assignment. Be critical when assessing whether individual sub-topics are relevant in relation to answering your research questions.  

  • Make sure there is clear coherence between, and progress in, the sub-elements of the assignment. Do all sub-elements contribute to answering the research questions? 

You will often have to adjust the outline while you are writing the assignment, and usually, the outline will not be final until late in the process. Find more inspiration on the Writing process page

Tips & tricks 


The information about formalities is general guidelines. They do not replace the provisions in your academic regulations, your lecturers ' guidance or information on your course's website. First, please contact the above-mentioned locations. If in doubt, ask your supervisor.