An outline presents a picture of the main ideas and the supporting ideas of a paragraph. The skill of outlining will help you organize and remember what you hear or read. Outlining means to write information in order, from the most important to the least important. Main topics, subtopics and details are the important parts of an outline. Outlining will help you learn how to take notes notes and remember the main ideas of what you’ve read.


I. Title    An outline always has a title that tells you what the outline is about.


II.  Main Topics (Use the heading of each chapter section for these)


Use Roman numerals for each main topic. Write each main topic in the same way. Write in sentences or phrases, but capitalize the first word. A main topic is a very important idea and is comparable to the headings in textbooks. Below are Roman numerals for your review.

  • I = 1
  • II = 2
  • III = 3
  • IV = 4
  • V = 5
  • VI = 6
  • VII = 7
  • VIII = 8
  • IX = 9
  • X =10


II.  Subtopics


Use a capital letter before each subtopic: A,B,C,etc. Indent subtopics under the main topics. Subtopics give more information about the main topic.

III. Details

Use an Arabic numeral for each detail under subtopics: 1.2.3.etc. Indent details under subtopics. A detail is an extra piece of information that helps make the subtopic clearer.

Sample Outline Format:


  I. Main topic

A. Subtopic

  1. Detail

           a. Sub-detail

              1) Additional details

            b. Second Sub-detail

      2. Second Detail

B. Next Subtopic

What your outline must have:

1. Main idea of each paragraph (UNDERLINED)

2. New vocabulary in bold print (CIRCLED)

3. Answers to all section objectives (NUMBERED & WRITTEN IN RED INK))

4. All assigned charts/tables WITHIN EACH SECTION

5. All assigned labeled drawings WITHIN THE RIGHT SECTION & NOT AT THE END!



Sample Outline


Cornell Notes



Connections ColumnNotes Column
In this column, write one of the following:

  • Heading or Subheadings
  • Questions from reading
  • Vocabulary
In this column, write the following:
  • Topic of each paragraph
  • Main idea of each paragraph(s)
  • Bold, underlined, or italicized words & their meaning
  • Answers to questions
  • Supporting ideas & information
  • Examples
In this column also, use these hints to faster note taking:
  • Abbreviate familiar words
  • Use symbols when possible (+, =, )
  • Take notes in bullets!
  • Cut unnecessary words
Summary: Summarize what you read/lecture; write the 5 most important points of the section/lecture; &/or write questions you still have to answer.

Click here for blank note sheet

Click here for sample lecture note sheet


Biology Notebooks

All Materials © Cmassengale

Special Instructions:

  1. Use a 1-2″, 3-ring binder as your notebook.
  2. The cover of your notebook should have your name , subject, & period only! Do not include any other writing, pictures, etc
  3. A master cover sheet with your name & period must be clipped into your notebook as the first sheet.
  4. Dividers with tabs labeled with the name of each section must be included.
  5. All papers must be clipped into the notebook in the correct order.
  6. Notebooks must be brought to class each day!
  7. Students will only receive credit for their notebook each nine weeks IF it is kept in order!

Notebook Sections:


  • Materials needed, class rules, notebook guidelines, How to write lab reports, how to write 3-point essays, Essays and Due dates


  • Include a cover sheet for each chapter with its number & title
  • Chapter work should be in the following order — outlines/notes 1st, handouts 2nd, puzzles/worksheets 3rd, study guides last
  • Each sheet must have the chapter & title and your name, date, & period


  • Printed from computer by teacher approximately every 3 weeks

How to Fail

How to Fail  

  1. Always arrive late.
  2. Never slip into your desk quietly.  Instead, make a “big production” of entering the room by interrupting the class in session, dropping your books on the floor, etc.
  3. Better yet, don’t have your books with you .
  4. Never bring a pencil to class.  Always borrow someone’s and forget to give  it back.
  5. Never bring notebook paper.  Let other people spend their money on paper and you just keep borrowing from them.
  6. Use the paper you borrowed to write a note.  After you finish, make a big deal out of passing – or better yet, “throwing” it across  the room to someone else disturbing as many people as possible.
  7. Never, ever, do your homework.  The teacher will admire your consistency.
  8. Lose your textbook the first few weeks of school so you will have an excuse for not reading your assignments.
  9. During class, doodle on your notebook with a pen.
  10. Draw as much attention to yourself as possible by being loud, starting arguments, etc.
  11. Groan a lot.
  12. Say, “This is BORING!” loudly every five minutes or so, especially if the classroom is quiet.
  13. Ask, “Why do we have to do this stuff?” as often as possible.
  14. After the teacher says, “turn to page 36”, say, “What page?”
  15. When your group or partner is depending on you, show up unprepared. Better yet, don’t show up at all.
  16. Turn in all of your assignments incomplete.
  17. If  you absolutely can’t talk in class, fall asleep instead of working  on your next assignment.
  18. When you get your test back with an “F”, shout, “This isn’t fair! The teacher hates me!”
  19. Never show concern about your grade until the last day of the grading period.  Then ask the teacher for extra credit you can do to make up all the missing and failing assignments.
  20. If the teacher says, “No”, throw a fit.
  21. Tease the student that sits in front of you by banging the back of their chair or making strange noises.
  22. Tease the student that sits in front of you by taking their assignment, notebook, or pencil. Remember to keep an innocent look on your face.
  23. Stay up as late as possible so you will be sleepy in class.
  24. Always chew gum loudly and leave candy wrappers laying in the room for someone else to pick up.
  25. If you have a report to do, always copy it word-for-word from the ‘World Book Encyclopedia”.
  26. If you decide to do homework, make sure you copy it from someone else.
  27. If you decide to do your homework for fifth period English, be sure you do it during fourth period biology.
  28. Don’t take notes.  If you followed items #4 and #5, this should not be a problem.


“Remember that no one has the right to interfere with the learning of another.”


Following these rules will ensure that you fail and must repeat the class for a second time.