tech tips for writers

Tech Tip for Writers #50: The Easiest Way to Outline

Tech Tips for Writers is an (almost) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: I always outline before I write my novel. What’s an easy way to do that?

A:  Outlining can’t be easier than doing it in Word. Here’s what you do:

  • Select the Numbered List or Bullet List in MS Word. MS Word 2010 lets you select the style up front. MS Word 2003–it’s a bit more complicated
  • Your first bullet or number appears on the screen. Type your item
  • Push enter to add another number or bullet
  • To create a subpoint, push tab after you’ve pushed enter to start the next bullet/number
  • To move a subpoint up a level, push Shift+tab after you’ve pushed enter for the next bullet/number

That’s it–three keys:

  • bullet list or numbered list
  • tab to indent
  • Shift+tab to exdent

The biggest problem is when you inadvertently get outside the numbered/bullet list. If that happens, do one of two simple steps:

  • backspace until their cursor is up against the last bullet/number, then push enter to generate the next bullet/number
  • click the tool for bullet/numbered list and reactivate the list


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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5 thoughts on “Tech Tip for Writers #50: The Easiest Way to Outline

  1. So much easier than those lined papers we did through high school. Thanks for also telling us how to get out of our mess if we screw up. That’s usually my biggest problem – fixing the errors.


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