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Create a document outline

Document in outline view

A document in outline view.

In this lesson, you'll find out how to create a basic outline from scratch using outline view. When you've finished reading this page, click the Next button to continue the lesson on your own.


When you want to create an outline, you start in outline view. Similar to normal view or print layout view, outline view provides a unique display of your document content. But more than that, it provides a working environment that is particularly suited to outlining; it structures and displays the content in clear outline format, with all of its headings and body text indented to represent their level in the overall document structure, or hierarchy. It also offers tools specific to outlining, housed on the Outlining toolbar. In short, outline view creates an environment in which you can quickly manipulate the outline headings and the text within them.

You can use outline view as a starting point for laying out your main ideas into headings. From there, you can quickly reorganize those headings, as well as change their indentation level so that they take either greater precedence as top-level headings or lesser precedence as sub-headings or body text. (This is also known as promoting or demoting entries.)

You can also use outline view to evaluate the structure of a document that you've already written, and make organizational adjustments if necessary.

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