Writing a PhD Dissertation Outline

An outline provides a roadmap to create a monument of your Ph.D. dissertation. A dissertation outline is also an essential way to organize your ideas in one place. Some essential tips to write a Ph.D. dissertation outline are given below; 

Expert Advice on Writing a Ph.D. Dissertation Outline

The arrangement of different sections of a dissertation in the form of a tree structure is known as a dissertation outline. A dissertation outline presents the main points and components that are necessary to add in a dissertation. We can also say a dissertation outline a drafting tool for a dissertation or a table of contents. After preparing a dissertation outline, the students can get a roadmap to create a monument of a dissertation before the deadline.

1) Plan your outline

There are two possible ways to write an outline for your dissertation. First, you can write it by hand and secondly, you can type it. You should select that method which is suitable for you. If you are preparing the outline of your PhD dissertation for your advisor, you should follow his instructions. After selecting the method, you should try to narrow down your topic. Narrowing down your topic means that you are able to organize the thoughts and ideas of your dissertation in the form of an outline. To identify the purpose of a dissertation outline is also helpful to you in planning the outline. 

The main purpose of a dissertation outline is to get a roadmap to complete the dissertation writing task. Your intended audience members are also helpful to you to plan your outline. In order to find out the main points or thesis statement of your dissertation, you should brainstorm your ideas. After brainstorming these ideas, you should jot down these ideas in the form of a dissertation outline.

2) Structure your outline

While preparing an outline for a PhD dissertation, you will have to prepare a list of lots of points. These points should be organized alphanumerically. This alphanumerical outline should move from main ideas or points of your dissertation to the sub-points. There are various ways to organize these points like Roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals, lower case letters and parenthesis. If you are going to show the relationship between the ideas, you can use decimal points. For example, if your main point is 1.0, you can write its sub-points like 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 etc. There are some students who write the outline of a dissertation in the form of full sentences and there are also some students who outline the dissertation in the form of phrases. To my extent, to prepare an outline for a dissertation in the form of phrases is the best choice for you.

3) Organize your ideas

No doubt, some students also face some problems to organize the ideas in the form of a dissertation outline. The first step to organize your ideas is to group your ideas together. While grouping your ideas, you should try to keep the same ideas in the same group. These groups will become the main points of your dissertation outline. There are some broader ideas and some specific details of your dissertation. The broader ideas should be considered as the main points and specific details should be considered the supporting points of these main points. As we know a PhD dissertation is divided into different sections. After that, you should organize these ideas in the form of these sections. This is the best strategy to create content for each section of your dissertation.

4) Finalizing your outline

There is a specific purpose of preparing the outline of your PhD dissertation. After preparing this outline, you should make sure that you have achieved your purpose. This is the best way to look at the missing points of your dissertation outline. Sometimes, there is a possibility that some ideas of your dissertation outline are missing. Under such a situation, you should try to add these ideas in the form of a dissertation outline. If you feel that you have added some additional points in your dissertation outline, you can edit and remove these points from the outline. If you feel that it is necessary for you to add some layers in the dissertation outline, you can add these layers in the form of lowercase Roman numerals.


An outline provides a roadmap to create a monument of your PhD dissertation. A PhD dissertation outline consists of the main points of the dissertation. The first step to prepare an outline is to plan and find out the main points that are necessary to add in your dissertation outline. Secondly, you will have to structure your outline. Thirdly, you will have to organize your main points in the form of different categories. At last, you will have to finalize it by adding some additional points and by removing unnecessary points.



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