Writing Tip - Outlining Your Manuscript After It's Written for Flow

When a writer is compelled to write, she/he will sit down and spew creatively and freely, not worried about sentence structure, punctuation, wordiness and so on.  (Unfortunately, blogging isn't so forgiving and needs editing right away if you are to appear knowledgeable on any level).  Once a writer has 300 pages or so of wonderful creativity, the problem them becomes how does she/he make edit it to ensure it flows and makes sense since no one can read 300 pages in one sitting? 

Using the Table of Contents Feature is the way.  I speak here of non-fiction, though I suppose fiction would be able to use this as well.  It is very helpful to learn to use the Table of Contents feature in MSWord for this. 


Here is how to set up a Table of Contents (TOC).  In my version of Word, I go to Insert, then Reference, Index and Tables, and choose Table of Contents (TOC).

Choose to Show 4-5 levels and choose Show Outlining Toolbar.

Then go to your document and highlight your titles assigning levels.  For instance, Level One might be Part One, or Chapter 1.  After highlighting the title, go to the outlining toolbar and choose Level 1.

Proceed with each sub-title, assigning levels. 

For the purpose of using a table of contents for editing purposes, I recommend allowing hyperlinks – which means when you Control-click on a heading in your TOC it will take you to that section.

When using this as an unofficial table of contents for editing purpose, you can even add levels that simply explain what the page or chapter is about. 

When you’ve gone through the entire manuscript, then go back to Insert, Reference, TOC and choose Modify.  It will put your TOC all together for you. 

When editing your manuscript, the TOC will help you see the existing order and help you identify if there is flow, identify changes and jump to sections easily.

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