Sentence Outline: Benefits, Rules as SO, Sample short paper SO

Benefits of Writing a Sentence Outline

  1. Clarity. 
    If you can't write a clear sentence summarizing the paragraph's point, you certainly can't write a clear paragraph.
  2. Flow of argument. 
    It is much easier to quickly judge if present order of paragraphs (as sentences in the outline) makes the most effective argument. Rearranging order might improve logic/flow or argument.
    Omitting one or more paragraphs might make cleaner argument.
  3. Efficiency. 
    Revision of the plan of paper is much easier and quicker if you have only to delete and re-order sentences. Doing this on the completed draft involves much more work.
    1. Since a concept must be explained when it first appears, interchanging paragraphs will require moving definitions.
    2. Paragraphs should flow smoothly into each other. Reordering paragraphs may require extensive rewriting.
  4. Writing to length. 
    From sentence outline you can easily judge manuscript's length and modify to keep essential material within the desired length.
  5. Time. 
    All the above -- clarity, argument flow, efficiency, length management -- can be done faster using a sentence outline.

Sentence Outline Principles in Sentence Outline

Abstract: The abstract's few, carefully written sentences summarize the major points in the paper. Numbered sentences summarize the major point of each paragraph in the paper.

  1. Each sentence must be a sentence -- that is, it has a subject ("each sentence"), a verb ("must be"), and a complement ("a sentence").
  2. The sentence should be as specific as possible so that the main points/features of the paragraph are clear.
  3. Each sentence is the "topic sentence" of the paragraph and usually appears as the first sentence of the paragraph.
  4. If one numbered item contains two sentences, make sure you are not squeezing two paragraphs into one. For a paper of n double-spaced pages, there should be 2 n to 3 n paragraphs.
  5. The sentences organize coherent arguments toward paper's conclusions.
  6. An introductory paragraph sets the paper in context; in this paragraph the topic sentence can be at the end.
  7. Generally, the next paragraph presents the principal results or conclusions to be defended in the text of the paper.
  8. The final paragraph deftly summarizes results in the paper.
  9. At the end list the most important references you will use. These references can be cited at relevant sentences in the outline.


Example of 2-3 Page Short Paper SO

Field-Rampable, 12-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Abstract: Magnetic Resonance Imaging is the preeminent imaging modality in clinical medicine. This non-invasive, powerful technique yields excellent diagnostic images unsurpassed in detail and contrast. MRI is the only technique that analyzes cellular biochemistry within the living organ in real time. It promises unlimited research opportunities in medicine, engineering and science. MRI constitutes a pivotal technology for OSU's mission to become one of the very best public research universities.

  1. With its investment in assembling the world's first and only whole body 8 tesla MRI system, OSU has now positioned itself to become the undisputed leader in clinical MRI.
  2. The university embarked on its 8 tesla project despite tremendous financial, engineering and physical risks.
  3. Magnetic resonance imaging at 8 tesla has provided OSU with a tremendous scientific adventure ... Today, OSU can set the research direction in MRI for the entire world with profound implications for medicine, engineering and science.
  4. At the same time, scientific discovery and engineering challenges have not deterred us from our clinical responsibility.
  5. Initial MRI studies at 8 tesla have underscored the need for more extensive studies into the physics and engineering aspects of magnetic resonance science.
  6. OSU should embark on an aggressive plan to assemble the first large bore (80 cm) fully rampable 12 tesla scanner.

Summary: Through the assembly and construction of its 12 tesla system, OSU will provide its faculty with a university-wide opportunity for collaborative research. OSU can establish itself as an institution without rival in medical imaging sciences.

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Edited by: on Saturday, 22-Mar-2008 18:02:15 EDT