English 101/102

Paragraph Outline Example

This is a paragraph outline of the persuasive article “Toxic Soup Redux: Why Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Matter after Katrina,” by Julie Sze. The main purpose of the example is to show you what a paragraph outline might look like. You don’t have to read the article to get the point, but if you want to it’s only 10 paragraphs, 1742 words, about 2 pages (3 with footnotes).

This is one way of doing the outline. There are others. It’s not so important that your outline look just like this one. (And note that it’s for you; abbreviations are fine as long as you will remember what they mean.) What is important is that you get the basic information. This includes all the main ideas in the article, and the hierarchy of ideas (what’s the single overall idea, which are main ideas and which are supporting ideas).

First read the article

Before trying to do any of the steps below, you should read the article through at least once for basic understanding. Then go back and review, following these steps.

Step 1: Identify the thesis

Thesis: The concepts of environmental racism and environmental justice are more important than ever for understanding Katrina, specifically, and, generally, the situation of poor people and people of color around the nation with respect to health and the environment.

Step 2: List main points

Here are the labels I’ve given to the sections (the writing on the right, next to the brackets, in the handwritten example below).

  1. Env Racism an important concept
  2. We must understand environmental impacts on poor African Americans
  3. Env Racism/Env Justice perspective is useful
  4. Influential elements downplay this perspective
  5. Essential to apply this perspective to Katrina and in general

Step 3: Describe relationship of each main point to thesis

  1. Explains topic and why ignored
  2. Gives thesis human dimension
  3. Support for thesis
  4. Shows why thesis matters
  5. Restate thesis

Step 4: Summarize each paragraph

I’ve scanned a handwritten version so you can see what it looks like while it’s being created. Scroll down for a more readable, typed version.

Handwritten paragraph outline

Here is what the main list in the image says (the one on the left, listing the main idea in each paragraph):

  1. Env rac imp but ignored
  2. Definitions: ER: Disproportionate environmental impact. EJ: Movement to redress.
  3. Imp of poor Afr Am southern folk in mvmt/awareness
  4. Canaries—everyday problem
  5. Systemic problem
  6. Integrates social and environmental
  7. Specifically, ER <--> climate change
  8. Media, academy and politicians ignore ER/EJ
  9. Bush admin axed race/class from special consideration in def of EJ
  10. Need to bring ER/EJ persp to Katrina and in general

Group paragraphs under main points

The finished, typed outline would look something like this:

  1. Env Racism an important concept
  1. Env rac imp but ignored
  2. Definitions: ER: Disproportionate environmental impact. EJ: Movement to redress.
  1. Impacts on poor African Americans
  1. Imp of poor Afr Am southern folk in mvmt/awareness
  2. Canaries—everyday problem
  1. This perspective is useful
  1. Systemic problem
  2. Integrates social and environmental
  3. Specifically, ER <--> climate change
  1. Influential elements downplay
  1. Media, academy and politicians ignore ER/EJ
  2. Bush admin axed race/class from special consideration in def of EJ
  1. Essential to apply this perspective
  1. Need to bring ER/EJ persp to Katrina and in general