In this edition of the EazyPaper newsletter, Professor Randy explains the powerful practice of outlining, and Michael teaches you how to master columns in Word.
Develop an Outline
by Professor Randy
In last month's newsletter, I discussed the importance of knowing the purpose of your paper. Having this purpose clear in your mind sets the stage for developing an outline that will serve as a framework for your entire paper.
Builders know that having a strong foundation and accompanying structure is essential for structural integrity. In the same way, the purpose of your paper serves as the foundation while your outline functions as the walls and floors that give shape to that purpose. Your paper's purpose and outline help to give your paper structural integrity.
Sometimes, your professor will give you your outline or part of it in your assignment description. For example, your professor may want you to discuss American foreign policy with Canada, Japan and China. The main points of your outline would be: 1) Introduction - every good paper has a strong introduction and conclusion, 2) American foreign policy with Canada, 3) American foreign policy with Japan, 4) American foreign policy with China, and 5) Conclusion.
Now, you may already have considerable knowledge about American foreign policy and can add sub-points to your outline. However, most students will likely need to do more research on the topic. I would suggest adding your research notes under the three main topics of your paper. I would also encourage you to include an appropriate citation with each research note (this will be important later on when you write your paper and need to give credit to certain authors). In addition, make sure that every idea you record aligns with the overall purpose of your paper.
As you take notes, you will begin to notice the emergence of certain themes. These will likely become sub-points in your outline. For example, with American foreign policy with Canada, you will likely discover the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement. This agreement would become one of your sub-points.
Your number of sub-points will likely depend on the length of your paper. If you were writing a six-page paper, you would likely have two to four sub-points for each main point. For longer papers, you may have additional points under your sub-points. Typically, you would devote one paragraph to each sub-point.
As you can see, your emerging outline becomes a way to organize both your research and your writing in keeping with the purpose of your paper. Next month, we will take a closer look at strategies for researching and organizing your ideas.
by Michael Hu
Last month's article covered page orientation and size, so this article will cover columns as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Columns on the Page Setup section
Columns are typically not used in academic papers, even ones destined for publication. Usually, the publisher decides where to place your article in a particular publication medium. So, your article could be rendered in two columns in a journal, but in only one column on the web. Thus, publishers usually require your article to have no columns so they can make these kinds of layout decisions. However, if you are the one who are making the decision, perhaps by self-publishing a newsletter, then this article is for you.
Adding a column to a document is simple: just click the Columns button of Figure 1 and select the number of columns you would like in your paper. Now you can type in the first column. To move the cursor to the second column, you need to insert a Column Break as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Inserting a column or section break
When you want to get back to one column, insert a Continuous Section Break as shown in Figure 2, and then a One Column layout as shown in Figure 1.
Columns are not the easiest feature to master in Word, but they are powerful enough for you to use Word for some basic desktop publishing.