Tool Time: Outline view in Word
There’s an ongoing war–okay, maybe a minor skirmish–over whether to outline your work before you start writing. On the plus side, and outline can give you a structure to write to, and keep you from running down rat holes so far that you’ll never get back. On the minus side, if you don’t outline, your plot may surprise you–and by extension, your reader.
For the purposes of this post, we don’t care. But we can help you outline in cool and user-friendly way by using Word’s outline view.
What is outline view?
Outline view allows you to use the heading styles set in the Word document to create a hierarchical structure within a document, making it easy to list bullet points below chapters.
In the outline, you can move easily from level to level and build an informational hierarchy.
Getting to Outline View
Note: Before you start, you’re best off using a new document and using this for outlining purposes only. In most cases, building your outline into an actual manuscript is much more work than just writing the manuscript in a separate document.
To get to outline view, click the View tab and select Outline.
Using Outline View
You can move from one outline level to the next by pressing the Tab or Shift+Tab keys, or clicking the arrows in the upper left corner of the window.
You can contract a section by selecting the higher-level outline item in that section (for instance, Chapter 1) and clicking the minus button. You can expand it with the plus button.
And you can move a section up or down in your work (like moving chapter 1 after chapter two) by compressing both chapters, then selecting chapter 1 and pressing the down arrow button. The up arrow button works the same way, but moves you up.
It might be a little trickty at first, so if the outline doesn’t do what you want it to do, remember to use your undo button.