Schaum's Outlines are a series of supplementary texts for American high school, AP, and college-level courses. The full name of each outline is Schaum's Outline of Theory and Problems of the outline's subject, but this is almost always shortened to Schaum's Outlines. The outlines cover a wide variety of academic subjects. The series originally featured titles in mathematics and the physical sciences, but has branched out into engineering, computer science, biology, accounting, finance, economics, grammar, and other fields.
The series was originally developed in the 1930s by Daniel Schaum, son of eastern European immigrants, and has continued as an aid to students to this day. Titles are continually revised to reflect current educational standards in their fields, including updates with new information, additional samples, the use of calculators and computers, etc. New titles are introduced in emerging fields.
Despite being marketed as a supplement, several Schaum's Outlines have become widely used as primary textbooks (the Discrete Math and Statistics titles are examples) for courses. This is particularly true in settings where an important factor in the selection of a text is the price, such as in community colleges.
Schaum's Outlines are a staple in the educational sections of retail bookstores, where books on topics such as chemistry and calculus may be found. Many titles on advanced topics are also available, such as complex variables and topology, but these are typically not found in retail stores.
The titles feature noted authors in their respective fields, such as Murray R. Spiegel and Seymour Lipschutz. Originally, the series was designed for college-level students as a supplement to a course textbook. As a supplement, each title typically has introductory explanations of topics, plus many fully worked examples, and further exercises for the student.
Condensed versions of the full Schaum's Outlines called "Easy Outlines" have appeared in recent years, aimed at high-school students and AP courses. These feature the same material in their full-size counterparts, but edited for length and suitability. They also cost about half the price of the full outline. The smaller size of the Easy Outlines makes them more portable.
Differential with other supplements
Schaum's Outlines are part of the educational supplements niche. They are frequently seen alongside the Barron's "Easy Way" series and McGraw-Hill's own "Demystified" series. The "Demystified" series is introductory in nature, for middle and high school students, favoring more in-depth coverage of introductory material at the expense of fewer topics. The "Easy Way" series is a middle ground: more rigorous and detailed than the "Demystified" books, but not as rigorous and terse as the Schaum's series. Schaum's originally occupied the niche of college supplements, and the titles tend to be more advanced and rigorous. With the expansion of AP classes in high schools, Schaum's Outlines are positioned as AP supplements. The outline format makes explanations more terse than any other supplement. Schaum's has a much wider range of titles than any other series, even for some graduate level courses, but these are typically not found at retail outlets.