MTM Writing Clinic
A reverse outline is a great way to start a summary of another author's work, or to proof your own work after having completed a rough draft. Reverse outlining allows you to review the overall structure of your work, and add, remove, or re-organize your paper effectively.
As you read your paper, identify the main idea of each paragraph. If you seem to have multiple ideas in a paragraph, you may need to create a new one. If you're having problems identifying the topic, you may not have enough claims and evidence to support your assertion.
Once you have created a list with all your main ideas, read it over. Does each paragraph idea support the thesis? If not, you may have evidence that you have not integrated fully into your thesis, and may need to update it. Are any paragraphs redundant? You may need to consolidate two paragraphs into one. Does each idea follow logically from the preceding idea? Be consistent in your content by grouping similar topics, or talking points together.
A reverse outline should assist you in identifying major structural and organizational flaws during the revision process.