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Reading and Outlining an Assignment

Reading the Assignment Instructions

Keywords and Clues in Your Assignment Description

Your instructors often use keywords and clues in your assignment descriptions, so you should follow these steps: 

1. Read your assignment description carefully - read through the assignment description to find what your instructor is looking for.

2. Highlight, underline, or take notes as you read. You should be able to identify key words or pieces of information that your instructor is asking you to include.

  • E.g.: causes, symptoms, recommendations
  • Each section must include...
  • Three credible sources must be used.. 

3. Sometimes the assignment will identify the sections needed in your paper.  Highlight those and make sure to identify what your instructor is looking for in each section.

  • E.g.: introduction, overview of problem, ethical considerations


The following 25-minute video developed for an N414 assignment offers a lesson on how to read an assignment carefully to understand what your instructor is looking for. It also discusses how to outline an assignment using APA headings

Click here or on the image to access the video in D2L.