How to Outline in Word Step by Step

How to Outline in Word Step by Step

We are sure that of all the options and possibilities that Microsoft Word gives you, you don’t even know half of them and you don’t use even a quarter of them. Did you know that it is possible to outline in Word? And if so, do you know how to do it? Now, how do you outline Word step by step? That is something we are going to tell you here today. So, get your pen and paper ready because we’re getting started. We’ll tell you that it’s simpler than you think.

What is a Word outline?

The first thing I will tell you is that, thanks to having an outline in your documents, you will have a well-structured summary of your content. Outlining is especially helpful during a study process. Talking about my experience, a summary of lectures, and different notes helped me write my essay because I could use existing information well and grasp the main meaning.

To make such an outline, you need your document to be organized by levels to be divided into points.

Ideally, this type of outline should only be used for long documents, with a lot of information that needs to be classified. It would not make sense if we want to place it in a short article without much content.

Now then, you have two options. Start the house from the roof and place this outline first, basing all your writing on it, or first, write the document and, then, already place this outline. Both options are valid. Let’s see how to do it.

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How to create an outline in Word?

Whether you create the outline before or after writing your document, the steps will be the same. It may be easier if you already have the finished document with its subheadings and parts, but it doesn’t matter if both options are valid. Let’s get started!


  1. Open the Word document and go to the menu. It’s exactly where it says “View” at the top of the screen.
  2. When you click on it, you will see an option called “Outline”. Just to the left of the screen. Between the “Reading” and “Web Design” buttons.
  3. Now, a completely different view will open where you will have to type the titles that will be used or have been used in the document. The menu will also change, keep this in mind.
  4. The next thing to do is to write the document’s title in the first bullet point that appears. It could also be that you want to call it a different name. That’s up to you. Hit the “Enter” button and you have the first step.
  5. The title you have chosen must belong to “Title 1” and “Level 1” of the outline.
  6. You must do the same for each subheading you need to organize. That is to say, the first subtitle would be assigned level 2, the third subtitle level 3…
  7. In this scheme you can also incorporate annotations. To do so, you only have to drop down the levels menu and click on the “Independent text” button.
  8. You are not finished yet. Go to the “Master document” group, click on the “Show document” button and click on the “Create” button. You will get the Word outline subdocument. The only difference between creating the document from scratch and starting from an already drafted document is that Word automatically recognizes the headings and subheadings when drafting if you have used the H1, H2 or H3 options while writing.
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Is it better to make an outline in Word or to use an external tool and insert it as an image?

You may have already made outlines in Word through some other external tool. In that case, you might want to stick with your method. But is it better to make outlines in Word for a reason?

The truth is that making such tools in Word saves you time, and time is precious. There are no extra benefits to using Word except this one that we mentioned, which for us is crucial.

However, it must be said that Word outlines are very basic and do not allow you to get into design or aesthetic issues. Therefore, if you are going to create such an outline as a complement to facilitate reading at an amateur level, it will be enough for you. But, if you are a great professional and need to present your document with a specific aesthetic, we recommend you choose any external tools to Word that exist today, even for free and without downloading anything.

Now that you know how to outline in Word, you will surely have all your documents much more organized. You will save a lot of time and you will be able to invest that time in tasks other than looking for specific information in a document.

Of course, we recommend that the first time you do it, go with time to follow this step by step and not repeat the process too many times. In addition, we give you a recommendation: while you are outlining, save every few minutes if it is a very long text, we do not want something to happen, and everything goes to waste, right? We hope you have found this helpful article, where we explain how to outline Word step by step.

Ayhan Fletcher

"Subtly charming zombie nerd. Infuriatingly humble thinker. Twitter enthusiast. Hardcore web junkie."

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