How to Create a Good Outline from Your Notes

There’s so much information covered on the patent bar. So how do you start organizing all of it?

One of the best ways to use any notes you’ve taken is to create an outline. An outline helps you condense your notes into tiny pieces of information to help you learn the material faster. But without a method for creating an outline, you won’t be able to get the most value out of your notes. So how do you create a good outline?

Start with the Core Ideas

Read through your notes quickly to get a sense of the main ideas. For example, if you’re trying to outline the topic of dog health, you may find that the core ideas focus on diet, exercise, and genetic disorders. By establishing these core ideas, you’ll be able to get a strong sense of where to focus your attention.

Categorize and Format the Information

The next step is to start categorizing the information. Start going through your notes and put essential pieces of information in each of the main ideas. Organizing into main ideas will help you transfer lengthy notes into themed and condensed pieces of information that have a clear relationship with each other.

It may be beneficial to create sub-categories for each main topic. You’ll know if you need to create sub-categories by looking through your notes and seeing what information is essential and what topics are covered many times. When categorizing and organizing the information, it helps to format the outline like this:

[Example: Dog Health]
– Whole Foods vs. Commercial Foods
— Pros and cons of whole foods.
—– Whole foods are healthier but can be very expensive.
—– Raw uncooked meat can create problems with bacteria for dogs and owners.
— Commercial foods that are healthy and affordable.
—Portioning out your dog’s diet based on breed and activity.
– Exercising for Health
— Exercises that can help keep dogs in shape.
— Helpful exercises for overweight dogs.
— Maintaining the health of less active breeds.
– Common Genetic Disorders
— Study the breed’s common problems
— Taking measures to delay the onset of genetic disorders.

You can see that indentation is used to help list sub-categories. You can then create additional indentations under the sub-categories to list the information as shown in this outline method. If you want to make things clearer, use color-coding or different colored pens.

Order Everything in a Logical Manner

Harvard’s Writing Center recommends that you logically order your outline. For example, if you’re cooking a dish, the first thing you’d do is prep all the ingredients first. It can be confusing if the instructions tell you to start boiling the water, then ask you to chop up the onions, and then ask you to pat off the excess moisture in the beef.

By organizing logically, you’ll be able to learn the most critical points and then move on to the less critical aspects. Everything will also follow a linear path so that it feels natural. The hierarchy and relationships will be even more apparent, and that will help you learn from your notes faster.

Create the Necessary Connections

There will always be related pieces of information, not within the same category. Naturally, these pieces of information will be located in different categories in your outline. To ensure that you don’t forget about these connections, you have to mention it in your outline.

If you find that there are many different connections, you can do one of two things. You can list the connection in the category, or you can simply add a small note to refer to a specific section. If choosing the latter, it will help to number your outline so you can quickly identify different segments of information. For example, you can jot a quick note saying “refer to section 5.1” as reference.

This overview should help you create a good outline from your notes. It can be tough to read through a block of text to get the information you need. With a good outline, you’ll be able to isolate the essential pieces of information and organize them in a manner that allows you to learn everything more efficiently and quicker.