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March 4, 1968

Making an Outline

Author Affiliations

From the Scientific Publications Division, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1968;203(10):877-878. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140100059013

There are as many ways of writing as there are authors. Each must find his own particular way of doing things, and what comes easy for one may be quite difficult or impossible for another. Fortunately, there is no such thing as the way to prepare an article or a book. Experienced writers can describe methods that have proven helpful to themselves— and may prove helpful to others. But nothing could be more absurd than to set out definitive rules for achieving a finished composition.

Of all the sacred cows which graze in the field of medical writing, perhaps the most sacred is The Outline. The Outline, we learn, is the framework, the skeleton. It displays the major and minor categories and topics in as much detail as you can muster. To use an outline properly you must accumulate a vast quantity of cards on which you have written your