An Alphanumeric Outline Definition: What is it?

Last updated on January 11th, 2018 at 11:21 am

Alphanumeric Outline

Before answering the big question, “What is alphanumeric outline?” it is important to note that outlining, in whatever form it may come, is an important step in writing any type of academic assignment. If you want to draft clear and focused papers, it is needful to work with an outline that will guide you through the assignment so that you do not lose the sense of organization. Essentially, all outlines, including an alphanumeric outline, have common characteristics. For instance, they all have headings, subheadings, and topics. The only major difference touches on how these components flow in the respective outlines they are a part of.

Alphanumeric outlines

Just as its name goes, this outline features numerals and letters of the alphabet, and hence, the name “alpha-numeric.” In academic cycles, this form of outlining widely used and accepted. It has the following components that distinguish it:


  • Arabic numeral or number
  • Roman numbers or numerical
  • Capital letters
  • Small letters

When you feel that your outlines may need subdivisions that go beyond a certain level, then it will be necessary to use Arabic numbers placed inside parentheses with small letters inside the same. When using this form of outline, generally, your topics and ideas will flow logically. Additionally, doing so will bring you into a better position of grouping your materials under general headings and sections.

Alphanumeric format outline

In this section, we will look at how a typical alphanumeric format outline will look like when using Arabic numerals.


  1. Primary topics
    • Subtopics
      1. Details
    • Subtopics
    1. Details
      • Sub-details
  2. Main topics
    • Subtopics

You can add to alphanumeric outline format as much detail, as your assignment’s length will allow you to do.

The MLA format

The MLA is one of the leading styles of academic writings, and hence, we shall examine its outlining requirements in this section of our guide. In most cases, this style does not have its special outlining format. Therefore, you need to liaise with your tutor’s guidelines to get any binding direction to follow as you outline your papers. The reason is that sometimes, your instructor may ask you to use write your outline using complete sentences.

Here is what the MLA suggests you outline your work using alphanumericals. The primary outline will have the following sections:

  • The introduction
    • Point 1
    • Point 2
      1. Sub-point 1
      2. Sub-point 2
    • Point 3
      1. Sub-point 1
      2. Sub-point 2
      3. Sub-point 3
  • Body paragraphs
    • Point 1
    • Point 2

However, if your mla alphanumeric outline will have more details, you can extend it to include the following:

  • Sub-point 1
    • Supporting point
      • Supporting point
      • Supporting point

A sample alphanumerical outline

Here are two alphanumeric outline examples to inspire your outlining skills as captured from this model –

  • Example one


Topic: Creating a killer outline—getting the complete picture of what it entails

  • 1. Creating your outline
  • a. Defining what it is
  • b. Why it is necessary
  • 2. Forms of academic outlines
  • a. Alphanumeric outlines
  • i. Topic outlines
  • b. Decimal outlines
  • c. Full sentence outlines
  • 3. Writing a killer outline
  • a. The pre-writing process
  • i. Thesis/summarizing sentence
  • b. Brainstorming your ideas
  • c. Organizing and ordering your ideas
  • d. Labeling your ideas
  • i. Sentence outlines
  • ii. Topic outlines
  • 5. Conclusion
  • Example two


Topic: Apply for your preferred college

  • A. Visiting and evaluating colleges
  • B. Visiting and evaluating college websites
  • 1. Looking for exciting classes
  • 2. Noting down key stats
  • A. Drafting a personal statement
  • 1. Selecting a fascinating title
  • a. Describing a figure who has greatly influenced you
  • (1) Your best primary school tutor
  • (2) Grandfather
  • b. Describing a challenging life occurrence
  • 2. Incorporate crucial personal information
  • a. Volunteering services
  • b. Participating in college games and sports
  • B. Revising your personal statement
  • A. Listing relevant coursework
  • B. Listing work history
  • C. Listing your volunteer involvement
  • 1. Instructor in a local college
  • 2. A caregiver at a children’s home

We hope this sample outline and other relevant information at will inspire you in writing your future academic assignments.

Tips on writing an alphanumerical outline


Now we come to the most fascinating part of our guide—tips that will fire you to greater levels of efficiency in creating alphanumerical outlines for your assignments.

  • Reading your assignment’s instructions well: Before coming up with excellent outlines, focus on what you should do. If you don’t grasp its gist, then there will be no need drafting an outline for something that will be rejected
  • Identify your readers: The aim of your outline is to help you draft your papers and help your readers to navigate your assignments easily. Therefore, put them in the center of your outlining pattern and structure.
  • Choose what works best for you: To succeed in drafting a great alphanumeric outline template for your assignment, it is needful to choose whether you will use short phrases or full sentences to outline your paper. Making this decision is necessary since where you use complete sentences, you will be in a better position to provide all the necessary information. This provision is more useful when you need to send your outline to your tutors for approval before proceeding with your assignment.
  • Harmonize your section titles and subordinate subsections

To succeed in your outlining process, let every section title include details that are equally vital to the other sections’ titles. On the other hand, ensure that the subsections of your paper include details that are less crucial that those ones you will include in the titles of your main titles.

A great outline is a critical tool that will guide you in your writing processes. Alphanumerical outlines are some of the best forms of outlines since they combine numbers and alphabets. Also, they are very easy and flexible to use and draft. We believe that the insights we have shared in this post will assist you in your usage of these outlines.