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Assignment: Create an Outline Using Word

In this activity, you will select and review an article that discusses a computer hardware topic and use it to create an outline using MS Word. Feel free to use the same article used with the discussion activity, so long as it has at least four to five paragraphs, and it is recent. You will be examining the article to locate and understand the thesis statement and major ideas. The contents of the article are to be copied into a text editor, which will remove the font formatting and is subsequently copied into MS Word. After copying to Word, you will create the outline by breaking the sentences into sections that contain the presumed thesis statement and major and minor supporting ideas. 

The use of outlines, such as this, are often used in the writing process. The first few stages of essay writing include organizing ideas into main topics and subtopics, and you can use an outline format to do so. Here we are using a completed article and breaking it down to demonstrate the concept and to learn a fast and easy way to create an outline. Of course, the normal approach when writing an essay would be to start with the thesis statement and then plan your writing by organizing major and minor ideas. Again, an outline is one approach to do this.

The final deliverable for this assignment is the outline. You will not turn in a completed essay, just the outline. Prior to starting, read the entire assignment. 

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Save this Example Outline (PDF)

  • Download Example Outline (PDF) to your computer, open the file, and read the document. This is an example of what your completed document should look like.  i.e. have a cover page, double line spacing, 1″ margins, page numbers at the top right, an outline of about two pages, etc.
  • Search for an article related to a computer hardware topic you have interest in.
    • The article must be no more than six months old. Tip: review the browser search features and limit the search by date.
    • Feel free to use the same article used with the discussion, so long as it is recent.
  • Open a text editor application.
  • Select and copy just the first four or five paragraphs of text from the article into the clipboard. We do not need the entire article. The keyboard shortcut here is Ctrl+C (Windows) or Command-C

Links to an external site.

 (macOS). See here for details on 

how to copy text (Computer Hope).

  1. Links to an external site.
  2. Next, paste (Ctrl+V or Command-V) the copied text into your selected text editor. Doing so removes the formatting such as color, text size, hidden formatting, and so on.
    • For macOS TextEdit: choose Format > Make Plain Text (Command-Shift-T). This works for most formatting. A Window will pop-up asking to, “Convert this document to plain text? Making a rich text document plain will replace the saved document file, and lose all text styles, images, attachments, and document properties.” Select OK.
  3. You may wish to save the file at this point. When you do, the file name will appear as: filename.txt. The file extension here is txt which means it is a text file.
  4. Next, Open MS Word. We are now ready to select and copy the text from the text editor and paste into MS Word.
  5. After pasting into Word, save the MS Word file using the title of the article. As expected, the file extension here will be .docx.
  6. Save the document.

Create the Cover Page

  1. Start by creating the cover page. Position the cursor at the top above all text (or before the text on the first line).  Press the Enter key three times to create some space.
  2. Next, select Insert > Break (or press Ctrl+Enter) and Word will insert a page break.
  1. Links to an external site. via Insert > Header & footer group > Page Number.  Select the top of the page, right side option.
  2. Referencing the example outline and enter information such as the title, your name, etc., onto the cover page. Note the title has bold font, and there is a blank line following the title. Be sure to center-align this text.
  3. Add the essay title at the top of the text which is now on the second page. Select a title that defines the article. Center this on the page.

Create the Outline

  1. In these steps, we will apply the numbering format to create a sentence outline of the ideas within the text you copied over.
  2. First, select the text you copied from the article. We cannot use the select all command as we did previously, as we now have the cover page. Try the ‘click and drag’ approach or try one of these methods: 15 ways to select text in a Word document.

Links to an external site.

 to the entire body of text. And here is another perspective on how to 

create an outline

  • Links to an external site. in Word.
  • Position the cursor just before each of the main ideas is introduced. Press Enter. This should create a new level to the numbered list.
  • Next, repeat the process for the minor topics. Position the cursor just prior to the new/next idea and press Enter, and then press tab once as needed. Pressing the tab key moves the sentence to the next level of the outline. Repeat as necessary for each new idea. Be sure to create a sentence outline, not paragraphs.
    • Note: pressing the Undo button, backspacing, and also Shift+Tab can be used to reverse an Enter and Tab command if needed.
    • The goal here is to create a two to a three-level outline of the major and minor ideas. Refer to the example outline.
  • With the four to five paragraphs converted to outline format, it is expected that the final outline would be about 1 to 1.5 pages long. There is no need to outline more than 1.5 pages. Feel free to remove any excess content beyond 1.5 pages.
  • Copy and paste the link to the article after the outline. This can be a hyperlink.


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