This Is The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Know All About Reverse Outlining

Call it the eleventh hour Samaritan that can save your assignment from absolute doom. Okay, while it’s not that dramatic, and won’t be barging in your window in a superhero suit to protect your paper from the mistakes you (or may not) be making in it, a reverse outline can pretty much still do the same job. Sans, the mindless theatrics, of course. So, before we start boring you with our ridiculously long musings on how awesome it is, let us tell you what a reverse outline actually is. So without further ado…

Reverse Outlining

A reverse outline is a tool employed for revision. What you have to do here is that you have to create an outline for your assignment after you’re already done writing it. Therefore, it’s different from an ordinary, at-the-start-of-the-paper outline as it happens right towards the fag end of your writing process, and its sole purpose is to help you understand and examine the structure of the assignment paper, which you’re done writing (so hurray for that, you did it after all).

With the reverse outline by your side, your dream of submitting a flawless paper can come to life. This tool is extremely powerful (and it’s free), and if used the right way, it can take your paper on a whole new plane from where average grades will appear as random specks of dust that are far, far away from touching your assignment.

Eager to know all about the benefits of reverse outlining and how to go about it?

For your convenience, we’ve divided this blog into two sections – in one we’ll be explaining how you can create a reverse outline, and in the second we will be talking about how reverse outline is helping you. We hope you find this useful. 

How to make a Reverse Outline for your Assignment?

Creating a reverse outline is not all that difficult, and we’ll be discussing two simple ways to create one. You can use either one of the ways as the difference is only in the method employed, the end result will be the same either way. It’s completely a matter of choice. So, let’s get the show started.

1. Creating a Reverse Outline with the help of a Table

In the table format of reverse outlining, the first step would be numbering each and every paragraph that you’ve written for your assignment – right from the topmost one that forms the introduction to the last paragraph that holds the conclusion. After you’re done with the numbering, you’ll have to create a table that looks something like this:

Serial No. Of The Paragraph 


1. Introduction

2. Thesis statement

3. Main Body (so and so forth)

What The Paragraph Is Supposed To Do What The Paragraph Actually Says

In the next step, you’ll have to fill in each column of the table with the necessary detail. What you have to fill up in the first column is absolutely clear. As for the second column – ‘what the paragraph is supposed to do’ – you will have to mention the aim of that paragraph. For example, if the second paragraph of your assignment is expected to establish the link between the income of a family and its diet, then that is what you will be mentioning in the second column.

In the third column, you’ll fill in the details of what you’ve actually written in that paragraph. But you don’t have to copy-paste that paragraph entirely; only the main points will do. However, remember to go sequentially and do not mix paragraphs, or the table would be redundant.

This would be your comparison tool, and you’ll be able to find if your paragraphs are in alignment with the purpose they are meant to serve. After you’re done making the table, you can check your paper and see if everything is in order, and that the arguments flow in a logical manner.

2. Creating a Reverse Outline on your Written Copy

This way of creating an outline can be a real time-saver, as you do not have to create a separate table and then keep referring to your assignment now and then to mention the details of each section in the table. You can use this method to edit within your copy. However, make sure this is not your final copy. And don’t worry if you have a soft copy. You can do it on your computer too with the help of editing tools, or you can get a hard copy printed out.

In this process, you’ll be making use of both the left-hand and the right-hand side margins of your copy. In the margin on the left, jot down the topic of each paragraph in as fewer words as possible. This is because, when you’ll get down to revising and editing your paper, these mini notes should come in handy without creating a muddled mess that’ll only confuse you.

As for the margin on the right side of your paper, write how the arguments you’ve presented are contributing to the focal point of each paragraph. Here too, you’ll have to keep the points as short and sweet as you can. The good thing about these mini notes is that when you start the revision process, you will be able to follow the rationale of your paper and analyze it on a microscopic level.

To know if the reverse outline you’ve created is helping you in perfecting your essay, you should ask the following questions while going through your assignment along with the notes (or table) you’ve made.

a) Does the opening sentence of each paragraph present a point that has been supported with the help of arguments throughout the length of the same paragraph? If you detect any discrepancy, you’ll know that changing the matter would be wiser.

b) Have the ideas you wanted to discuss in your paper been developed fully? By reading through you’ll know if there’s scope for expanding the ideas you’ve put forward in your paper, and whether they are actually in line with what you intended to say and what you actually wrote.

c) Are all your paragraphs in order and in accordance with the thesis statement of your assignment? The points in each paragraph should be relevant and should also follow a particular order so that you achieve a smooth flow in your essay. You may have to shift your paragraphs for your essay to make sense.

d) Does one single paragraph contain more concepts or points than it should? Often, in a rush, you may forget to break down your paragraphs according to the theories you’ve presented in each. You will have to deconstruct your paragraphs into smaller portions for them to make sense.

e) Is there something lacking in your assignment? If so, what is missing and how and where do you put these missing links? Your essay should contain everything it needs to make it whole, and if some connecting links are missing, you’ll have to come up with sentences that can help connect the dots.

These questions are critical to the analytical process that a reverse outline employs. Only by examining your text in the context of these questions will you know whether you’ve done everything in the correct fashion. But that’s not the only benefit of a reverse outline.

Check out the Amazing Advantages of this Tool of revision in the section below –

1. A reverse outline can help you ensure all the points are in order

This is the primary function of a reverse outline. As we mentioned before, this tool helps you in analyzing whether every point is in the right context and the correct order and if it flows in a very logical and easy to understand manner. If you get stuck while revising your essay and think that the points are not fitting in, a reverse outline will help you know which parts need changes. Consequently, you’ll be able to write a much more organized paper than you would’ve been able to without this tool.

2. A reverse outline helps you edit all the unnecessary portions

Not only is this a tool for revision, but it’s also a tool for editing too. Through the process of reverse outlining, you will figure out which are the necessary elements in your essay and which are those that your assignment can do without. Thus, if your paper is too long and has far exceeded the word limit because you had stuffed it with ideas, which you thought were important, now is when you’ll be able to downsize it and bring it to its perfect length.

3. A reverse outline helps you to spot common errors

This is because your mind will already be alert to the major changes that are needed in your paper that it will automatically tend to spot minor mistakes too such as issues with the spellings or the syntax of the sentence. What’s more, you’ll also be able to detect and rectify any incongruence present in the tense, the gender and the voice used in the construction of your sentences.

4. A reverse outline helps you find out if your assignment has reached its goals

Every assignment has a topic, and every topic is open to interpretation and can be written in various ways. The interpretation of your topic(essays) that you plan to present in your paper can be termed as its goal. Since reverse outline works by comparison, you will be able to analyze whether your paper has reached the goal that it set out to achieve by examining the thesis statement and the points mentioned in the body of your essay. Not only that, but you’ll also know if your paper is in accordance with the guidelines set by your assessor. 

5. A reverse outline helps remove writer’s block

Often creating an outline at the start of the assignment can be very limiting for some, stifling their creativity in the process so that they don’t understand where to begin. You might be one of them and may be facing that writer’s block. By using a reverse outline, you free yourself of the constraints that a pre-planned outline puts on you and can think freely, writing your assignment as it comes naturally.

A reverse outline is like God’s gift for your assignment. Although a little time consuming, we’d say it’s worth every bit of the extra effort that you put into it. Take our word; you won’t be disappointed with the results you get after using a reverse outline. Our word of advice before you get started: revise your final copy once more after you’re done revising it the reverse outline way. That way, there’ll be no mistakes left in your paper whatsoever.

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