Tips for creating an outline


Create outline

Whether seminar work, housework, bachelor’s or master’s thesis – often the supervisors of scientific work at universities and technical colleges would like to receive a first outline of the scientific work to be created right at the beginning of the processing time. This makes sense in principle, but it can also trigger tremendous pressure on students – even to the point of being overstrained.

In this article, we’ll put together some tips and recommendations on how to handle the requirement to create an outline in a timely manner.

topics clarification

First, it helps to understand why your lecturer (often within a short window of time) wants to get an outline of you:

The insight into the structure of your scientific work gives your supervisor the structure of your work and how you want to proceed in the preparation of your topic. Your structure makes it clear to him whether you have understood the question to be dealt with and whether your research / investigation / analysis is going in the right direction. It is therefore easy for him to determine whether your project potentially meets the expectations and requirements of the chair / university. If this is not the case, your supervisor can intervene promptly and express his criticism or point out potential for improvement. Your intended approach may not be clear enough. In this case, your supervisor can assist you with specific queries to clarify your project.

Recognize that this is a great opportunity: if the structure of your academic work is aligned with your supervisor, then it is very unlikely that you are working on or missing the topic inadequately.


Even if it seems complex to create the structure of your work right at the beginning of the processing time, be aware of the advantages:

To create a meaningful structure, you need to get an overview of the topic. Here you can – with the help of a first literature search – recognize which contents are particularly relevant or (especially in theses) where there is still a need for research.

This gives you a quick overview of which direction your further research should take and does not get lost in details. The coordination of the structure with your supervisor can also help to find a focus and to exclude less relevant questions.

The structure helps you to tackle your project from the beginning in a structured way.

Relief of further work

So if you have already compiled a first outline, the general structure of the scientific work is clearer. Although changes may still be made in the course of further literature research and development, the outline helps you stay focused and develop your text step by step. If you have discussed the structure with your supervisor, it will be very unlikely that you will work “on the topic”. In most cases, it is expected that the comments on the individual outline points will each contain approximately the same amount of text. This is an important guide to your research and execution. If, during the course of the processing, you find that individual chapters seem to be more extensive and important, while others are rather superfluous, please discuss this with your supervisor.

Structure of the structure

Roughly, an outline can be divided into the areas of introduction, main part and conclusion (conclusion, summary, outlook). The main part is usually further subdivided and usually includes several chapters. The following are examples of classic breakdowns:

  • Introduction
  • Theoretical basics
  • Consideration of the practical phenomenon
  • Analysis of the phenomenon against the theoretical background
  • Conclusion
  • Introduction
  • Basics
  • Empirical Study
  • Results
  • Conclusion and outlook
  • introduction
  • Subject area I (eg automotive industry)
  • Subject area II (eg sustainability)
  • Combination of topics (eg sustainability in the automotive industry)
  • Conclusion

The structure of your work should contain more than one structure level. For seminar and home work, two levels of classification often suffice. Theses are expected to have at least three levels of structure. Here, for example, an outline could be structured as follows:

1. Introduction

1.1. question

1.2. Construction of the work

2. Basics

2.1. process management

2.1.1. definitions

2.1.2. aims

2.1.3. content

2.2. Processes in companies

2.2.1. …

2.2.2. …

2.2.3 ….

2.3. success factors

2.3.1. …

2.3.2. …

2.3.3. …

Comparative analysis of different process management methods

3.1 Method I (name)

3.1.1. classification

3.1.2. content

3.1.3. Practice in practice

3.2. Method II

3.2.1. classification

3.2.2. content

3.2.3. Practice in practice

3.3. Comparison of the methods

3.3.1. similarities

3.3.2. differences

3.3.3. Advantages and disadvantages

3.3.4. application recommendations


4.1. Summary

4.2. outlook

If you are faced with the challenge of creating an outline for your scientific work, we are happy to advise you. You can also contact us at any time for general questions about scientific copywriting. We offer a comprehensive program of study support and coach students to help you meet your challenges. We are pleased, if you contact us, and make you a non-binding offer.

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