Talk:Outline (list)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Education (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Education, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of education and education-related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Books (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Books. To participate in the project, please visit its page, where you can join the project and discuss matters related to book articles. To use this banner, please refer to the documentation. To improve this article, please refer to the relevant guideline for the type of work.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Literature (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Literature, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Literature on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


Italic textOkeydoke; I know I'm just a newbie, but I'm gonna be bold and revert this back to a candidate to be moved to Wikitionary-- as it stands it's not even a full definition and I can't really see how it could be made encyclopaedic. And I really don't mean this personally, but Kappa, I'd just like to point out that the template for moving to wikitionary says: "If this article can be modified to be more than a dictionary entry, please do so and remove this message" (emphasis added). Simply deleting a request to move without attempting to expand the article strikes me as counterproductive; this article's been on the Cleanup list since the day it written with no significant alterations since then. I'm just trying to do my part to keep the place neat.  ;-) Soundguy99 23:02, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Notwithstanding what the tag says, things get speedily deleted (arguably out of process) after moves to wiktionary, and I oppose the deletion of encyclopedic topics like this. Kappa 23:34, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Minor gender issue[edit]

"They both help the writer to organize her ideas."

I changed 'her' to 'his or her.' Many people believe that offering either gender when sex is unknown is cumbersome, so they agree to use the masculine pronoun. I prefer 'his or her' to keep things equal, but it really doesn't matter. Change it to masculine if you want. But leaving it as feminine makes it seem like all writers are female. --Acetic Acid 04:01, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

The essential notion is fairness, which means that we not do it one way all the time. Using masculine all the time is not an avoidance of the cumbersome, it is a return to an old style which eliminates feminine gender from serious discussion. Not acceptable, today. Your last line is perverse. Pray tell what impression it leaves if we "leave it as masculine"? Another common solution is to alternate genders, through one's text, or to use the third person pronoun (in English ("they"). More and more I see the latter. Tom Cloyd (talk) 15:10, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
The notion is flawed, and using "her" in random places instead of "his" is no better than using "him" all the time (worse, since it's jarring to anyone over the age of about 20, and distracts them from the article, putting them into a frame of mind about gender and language instead of what they're reading). The blindingly obvious solution is to simply rewrite all such case to avoid any such construction, whether an awkward "his/her", a political and distracting "her" or an insensitive and patriarchal "his": "They both help writers organize their ideas." — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 06:24, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Tone dispute[edit]

Hi, GPHemseley filed a request for a third opinion [1] regarding the ongoing dispute over the tone. After reviewing the separate reversions and the edit summaries, I'm inclined to agree with GPHemseley's version. However, neither he nor Rmcmn have explained their reasoning on this talkpage and both users have failed to maintain civility. I have added the NPOV template because the entire "Outlining reports" section is someone's opinion stated as though it were fact. Whose opinion this is is unknown to me. DRK 21:37, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

He didn't have a version. All he did was change the header levels and request a change of tone. I did explain that there aren't any contractions, abbreviations, or slang: meaning it's not informal. As for bias, I added some qualifiers. Writer's guides generally recommend these practices.--Rmcmn 00:34, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Please remain civil. Calling other users' edits vandalism, when the edits are made in good faith, is pointless. Please state which writers guides recommend these practices. DRK 03:01, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
I changed the header levels because they needed to be changed. They were too small and should have been bigger. "Contractions, abbreviations, or slang" may constitute informality, but the lack of them doesn't automatically constitute formality. You can be "formal" (as per that definition) and still not have the right tone. Tone often goes along with NPOV, as DRK has mentioned above. Not to mention that Rmcmn registered simply to revert my changes to this article. Those are his only contributions. (And it should be noted that I requested a third opinion immediately after my second revert.) Gordon P. Hemsley 20:58, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

More background needed[edit]

This article is more of a how-to article, which is common in encyclopedia articles about outlines. But a really good article would have historical information about the evolution of outlining styles. Presumably they arose in pedagogical circles, but that information would be interesting. Mark Foskey 13:51, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

the article is a disaster. It is also unreferenced. It should probably just be turned into a redirect to summary. --dab (𒁳) 13:02, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

There is a draft of a rewrite at Wikipedia:WikiProject Outline of knowledge/Drafts/Outline. Hasn't been worked on since April though. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)


Found in Category:Wikify_from_August_2007; Did what I could...Added WPBanners and flagged for needing attention. -- Mjquin_id (talk) 22:16, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Objection to the move and to the merge[edit]

There was already a disambiguation page. This page should be moved back to Outline, as it is the main outline article.

There's no apparent reason to merge the article with "summary".

The Transhumanist 02:08, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

well, then let's reduce the current revision to what is actually sourced. We will then have a stub without any real content. You will be free to build an encyclopedic article from that, provided you do it properly.
This article already combines two meanings of the term "outline", viz., "hierarchical document structure" and "plot summary". This is the result of an article of a secondary meaning of the term residing at the outline title. Your "hieararchical list" thing isn't the primary meaning of "outline", check a dictionary. If you can defend a standalone encyclopedic article on this topic, that's fine. If not, we should merge. By "defend" I mean sit down and actually come up with some content acceptable within our content guidelines. --dab (𒁳) 07:30, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm against reducing the article, on the grounds that it is more useful in its current state than a stub would be. You are welcome to AfD it, but I think others will agree it's worth keeping.
You might want to contact the authors and let them know about your proposal. They may have an interest in improving the article.
The Transhumanist 21:21, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
An outline comes chronologically before the content is created; it's a plan. A summary is a subsequent analysis of the content. I think that Outline (plan) should be the title of the article we're talking about here. Binksternet (talk) 22:34, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Hierarchical outlines can be stand-alone documents, and outlining can be used as a form of writing (where outlines are the writing medium) or as a notetaking method. And outlines can be used as writing tools before the creation of a written work, or afterwards as a revision tool. For example, most of the outlines created on Wikipedia are "reverse outlines" (outlining what is already on Wikipedia). The main characteristic of outlines, whether used at the beginning or end of the composition process, is that they are hierarchical. Therefore, I've renamed the article to Outline (hierarchical). The Transhumanist 19:33, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

your article has no apparent basis in any reference cited. "Outline" is just another term for "rough summary". So outlines can be "hierarchical". How is this an article topic? The article's content seems to be restricted to like, you can use numbers or letters to arrange your hierarchical outline. How is this encyclopedic? Wikipedia is WP:NOT a how-to guide. You should try wikibooks. --dab (𒁳) 14:24, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I also object to a merge. There is a clear distinction between an Abstract (summary) and an Outline (which have dedicated Outliner software). As the 3rd objector, I'll remove the merge tag. However, I would agree that there is potential for some sort of merge for these 3 articles - Summary, Executive summary, Précis - but that should be discussed elsewhere. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:24, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I concur with distinguishing the two - "There is a clear distinction between an Abstract (summary) and an Outline". I was struck by this confusion upon first encountering this article. With 7 years of graduate school under my belt I have no doubt at all as to what an outline IS. It is not essentially a summary, but rather a concept analysis (in the sense of a breaking into pieces). It surely CAN be used as a summary, but that is using one thing to do another - a legitimate action, but not an argument for confusing or confabulating the two. I will leave resolution of this matter to others (for now, at least), as I have more critical issues to attend to at WP. Tom Cloyd (talk) 22:43, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Correction of violation in this article of a basic principle of outlining[edit]

I am amused, as someone who uses outlining a great deal, to find that the outline of this article on outlines seems to have been prepared by someone who does not know the subject. It is basic (taught in the USA from middle school - approx. grades 6-9 - on) that when an entry in an outline is divided there must be two or more division. One cannot divide anything into one. That's illogical. Ironically, this principle is stated in the article itself: "Note that each category above has at least two subcategories." This appears in the section on Alphanumeric outlines.

This is wrong:


Either of these corrections is right:




I found this article, on 2010.03.15, to contain two instances of a division of a heading into ONE subheading. Nonsense. So now we have "illiteracy", "innumeracy", and "illoutlineracy" - HA!

But not in this article, any longer.

Divide and conquer!

Reference: "Division - How do I accomplish this?" in Four Main Components for Effective Outlines

Tom Cloyd (talk) 15:06, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Please WP:Be bold, fix mistakes, and improve content. That's the only way this place works. :) -- Quiddity (talk) 22:26, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Thank you, sir. I shall unleash the shy pups of my intellect (well, they're more like rabid hounds, in truth), and forge on, emboldened by your affirmative response. Bold is easy for me. So is rational, and that does give some folks a bit of a problem - but most of them well deserve the problem, if I may say so! Tom Cloyd (talk) 22:36, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Two Chicago Manual of Style references[edit]

Resolved: This problem appears to be resolved. Tom Cloyd (talk) 20:08, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

There two different editions of the Chicago manual of Style referenced, which seems a bit silly. The 15th edition is reference in the first section and in "Outline organization", and the 14th edition is referenced in "Alphanumerically labeled hierarchical outlines". The references to the 15th edition were recently added by Tomcloyd. Since I don't have a copy of the 15th edition, it would be good if Tomcloyd or someone else could verify that the recommended style is the same in the 15th ed as in the 14th, and then update that last reference to just refer to the 15th ed. Rwessel (talk) 03:47, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree. I worked on the article this afternoon for as much time as I had, and noted this silly discrepancy (which I caused), but had more urgent issues to resolve at the time. I will fix this, and other things, tomorrow, when I have some time to go by the library, where the 15th edition is available to me.Tom Cloyd (talk) 05:29, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
update - Didn't get to this today. Will tomorrow. I also hope to expand the article just a bit, to make it more useful. Thanks for your patience. Tom Cloyd (talk) 04:18, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I updated it to the 16th. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 06:26, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Article improvements[edit]

Two very recent tag additions to the header of this article (by Verbal) lead me to comment:

  • notability tag: The concept of an outline is central to organization of complex subjects of all sorts, whether this organization be expressed in writing, speech, or graphs. I do not see how its notability can reasonably be questioned.
    • One could consider merging it with the hierarchy article, but there are problems with that which suggest it's not a good idea. For one thing, outlines are primarily a tool for ordering expressions (writing and speech), and have traditional rules for their construction which do not appear to map well into other areas in which hierarchical ordering is seen.
    • One of the central points of the present outline article is that items subordinate to any given level in an outline must be two or more in number. This principle is well documented in the article. It is also a principle routinely violated in Wikipedia (see the aforementioned Hierarchy article for an example of this!). The major English style manuals are in agreement on this principle, yet many editors at Wikipedia seem unfamiliar with the notion, with the result that their work appears to fail to meet accepted standards of writing. The solution to this is to question the notability of the concept? I hardly think so.
  • dicdef tag: This simply is not true. That that article should be congruent with such such definitions suggests that it is essentially correct. However, the presence of cited references, and of examples, clearly goes well beyond a mere dictionary definition. Reduction to a dictionary definition would make the content far less informative and useful. I will never support this.

What's needed - some sense of historical context or evolution - may not be possible. I do not yet know of secondary source material for the development of such a narrative. To suggest that the article is deficient because of lack of such content is a salient criticism only if such material exists but has not yet been referenced here. Let's execute - and document - a lit. search for this material, and post the result here. Whatever it is, the value of the article will be improved. I will personally commit to undertaking this little project sometime in August, after completing a few other tasks. Tom Cloyd (talk) 21:09, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Our policies are spelled out at WP:NOTE and WP:NOT. Could you please reference these to show how notability is met, and how this is not a dictionary definition? I think this may be a valid article, but I've yet to see any reliable sources on "outlines". Thanks, Verbal chat 21:17, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I guess my first question is how does the reference to the Chicago Manual of Style fail to satisfy the "General notability guidelines" in WP:NOTE? And as for dicdef, the article is clearly about the concept of hierarchical outlines, and not the word. Perhaps you could explain your specific objections? Rwessel (talk) 23:25, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
"Our policies are spelled out at WP:NOTE and WP:NOT. Could you please reference these to show how notability is met, and how this is not a dictionary definition?" You assert non-notability (apparently never having taken a college level writing course). You must justify your assertion. That's a basic rule in Western logic systems since at least the time of the classical Greeks. Merely citing a whole WP article does not constitute an argument justifying your assertion. I see this sort of nonsense done all the time at WP, and the majority of the time the citation is inadequate or irrelevant. Following in that tradition of misuse of citations, I assert that such does not constitute an argument (citation: Aristotle, Prior and Posterior Analytics). (You see how ineffective that is? Would you care to plow through that tome to find what it is that supports my assertion? That's what you ask me to do with your shotgun citations.)
I will readily agree that this article is not adequately sourced, and I have scheduled myself to return in mid-August (I'm busy moving to another state right now) and fix that. I assure you that the concept of outlines and outlining, as an essential part of writing, is well covered in all, repeat all, the major English style manuals in current use. They are always available for consultation in the reference section of any decent library. I have cited three of the principal manuals (Turabian, Chicago, MLA) in the article, in reference note 6.
I again assert that this topic - outlines and outlining - should be elevated in notability at WP, not reduced, given that article after article in WP demonstrates how NOT to construct an article outline. Let's get this Outline article up to snuff, then get the problem at WP addressed by making correct outlining an official policy here. Not to fix this problem makes editors here appear simply ignorant. Tom Cloyd (talk) 00:17, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
It will never be "an official policy". None of the WP:Manual of Style is. That said, if we had a well-documented article, at least very solid B-class (and I mean real B class, satisfying all six B-class criteria), and preferably a Good Article awardee, that would probably be a good basis from which to add outlining guidelines to the MoS. I say this as way-long-time MoS regular. PS: Turabian's importance (in academic writing generally, not just outlining) is grossly overstated most of the time. In my entire over-long academic career, spanning disciplines as diverse as technical writing, computer science, linguistics and archaeology, and a degree anthropology and communication), from the late 1980s until last year, I've never once been told to use Turabian style for anything. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 06:40, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

It also needs:

  • Information from non-US style guides (Oxford?)
  • Information from more style guides, generally. I know (just from being around for 4+ decades, reading a lot and spending more than half my life in academic, legal, technical and other "not flipping burgers" circles) that Chicago style on this is actually rare, and considered weird and wildly inconsistent. It was borrowed from the US Congress. I've made it secondary in the text. That said, I'd like to see more sources cited (I provided two, where there were zero) on the far more common style: I., A., 1., a., i. ... and whether there are actually any sources at all anywhere on whether the next round should be with double or single parentheses: (A), (1), etc. vs. A), 1), etc. AND, there is no source cited (I've flagged this issue with {{citation needed}} on the notion of repeating the entire sequence, including the upper-case Roman numerals, rather than having nesting begin with "A".
  • Information on what outliner software, and outlining features in major word processors, do by default. I don't use MS Word, so I can't help here. I can confirm (from a test a minute ago) that OpenOffice/StarOffice doesn't impose any hierarchical order at all. It defaults to "1." formatting, regardless of level. So, it isn't any help on trying to get a picture of what the most common order is. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 06:40, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Possible other style?[edit]

Forgive my ignorance on the issue - I really don't have much specific knowledge when it comes to outlining, though there was a style I picked up somewhere along the way. I have no idea if it's any organization or consortium's "official" style or if it's just something offbeat that I picked up from a professor in college.

Barring parentheses, italics, and similar alterations, I.A.1.a.i. seems fairly accepted, and it's the 6th level where everything starts getting muddy. As I said, somewhere in college, I picked up on the practice of using lowercase Greek letters. So it'd look something like this:

I. Major Heading

A. Minor Heading
1. Sub-Heading
a. Sub-Sub-Heading
i. Sub-Sub-Sub-Heading
α. Sub(x4)-Heading
β. Sub(x4)-Heading 2
γ. Sub(x4)-Heading 3
δ. Sub(x4)-Heading 4

And so on.

I've never been able to find any reference to this style, but then again I probably don't know the best places to look when it comes to digging into technicalities like these. From a logical perspective I kind of like it, but I could see how impractical it could be due to these characters being less accessible than others as well as writers' unfamiliarity with the Greek alphabet. Any merit it to I.A.1.a.i.α. ? Or is it totally made up?

Patrick of J (talk) 05:18, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

People have done all sorts of odd things with outlines, not all of them good ideas. That being said, I have seen Greek letters used, although rarely. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should (heck, I once saw someone use Cyrillic letters for an outline level once, and that doesn't even have the advantage of a mostly distinct set of glyphs!). As with any writing, the primary goal is communicating to your reader, and Greek letters, as you point out, present several problems for a general audience. On the flip side, getting much past five levels is probably something of an issue in most cases as well, although it clearly is legitimate at times. Personally I find purely decimal outlines easier to use and read (and that neatly sidesteps the 6th level issue as well).
Still, if you're suggesting we document the above scheme in the article, I'd say no, it simply is far too rare to mention. Perhaps a mention that many ad-hoc styles is exists is justifiable, but while they exist, they *are* pretty rare since the standard forms are so widely used. Rwessel (talk) 06:19, 27 November 2014 (UTC)