Category Archives: website updates

How to write an outline: now with decimals

I have updated my page on How to Write an Outline to reflect my growing preference for decimal rather than alphanumeric outlines. Alphanumeric outlines repeat letters and numbers, so the reader must flip back and forth to figure out if a point labeled “3” is II.B.3 or III.A.3. Decimal outlines solve this: it’s always point 2.2.3. Also, decimal outlines offer an easier check on an overgrowth of points. Rather than tell students they may not use letters and numbers higher than V, E, 5, e, etc., I can simply tell them to write the outline without any digits over 5, anywhere in the structure.

I have also removed the reference to The Craft of Research, since the 4th edition does not include the useful advice that appeared in the 3d. In its place, I refer readers to the Purdue OWL page on Types of Outlines and Samples. And I’ve changed the way I outlined Wells’s introduction.

I’ve kept the old version online for fans of Roman numerals.

How to Write a Prospectus

I have posted a new page, “How to Write a Prospectus.”

A dissertation prospectus is an essay arguing that you have found a research problem whose solution merits thousands of hours of your time; hundreds of hours of the time of your various advisors and committee members as well as that of librarians, archivists, and other people of good will; and, if you are lucky, some public or foundation funds toward your research expenses. Though the dissertation you complete will likely differ significantly from the one you conceive, you should be able at least to sketch out a viable project before attempting to write one.

Comments appreciated as always.

New Theme

I have switched the theme of this blog to Twenty Ten. I liked the way Enterprise looked on screen, and for now I will continue to use it for But I like to be able to print the pages from HistoryProfessor.Org, and from what I can tell, Twenty Ten is one of the few themes that comes with a style sheet for printing. That’s a pity.