Skip to Main Content

Reading and Outlining an Assignment

Reverse Outlining

Use Reverse Outlining to Double Check Your Paper Before Submission

Just like using your rubric to check your work, you should also reverse outline before submission. 

Your outline will help you write a more organized paper, but you should follow these steps to be sure you have written your ideas in an organized manner:

1. Read your paper through completely - preferably out loud to yourself. Reading to yourself out loud often helps you "hear" mistakes you might not have caught when not reading it out loud. 

2. Make notes about each section of information. As you are reading, you should be able to identify each section and what information is included. Make sure to write down the order that each section appears in your paper. 

For example, your introduction should be clear.  It may need to include some background, a rationale and a thesis statement.  Can you find all these pieces? You should be able to identify all your other sections, such as symptoms, causes, recommendations, and conclusion.

3Make notes about the information within each section. Now that you have an ordered list of information in your paper, you need to check the information within each section. Do all of the ideas in each sentence have a clear connection to the topic of the section? Do the ideas in each section follow a clear organization, such as from general to specific information, chronological order, or another logical pattern?

4. Check your order and information. Did you miss anything? Check your rubric. Does it flow together well or jump from one topic to another? Did you include enough details and information for each section?

5. Rearrange or add information as needed.  Again, you can use your rubric to help you make decisions about where information should go and what needs to be included for full marks.

Reverse outlining can help you see mistakes in your paper's organization and fix them before you submit it. 


Watch this 2-minute video for an introduction to reverse outlining.

UNC Writing Centre. (2018, September. 6). Reverse outlining - UNC Writing Center [Video]. YouTube.

Watch this 10-minute video about using reverse outlining to check your work.  This video speaks directly to graduate level writing, but can be useful for all students. 

Badenhorst, C. (2019, January 2). Reverse outlining [Video]. YouTube.