The Craftsman, pp. 36-45. The first step toward understanding an author’s premise(s) and supporting argument(s) is to list and define all the unfamiliar words or terms you might encounter while undertaking a close reading. Use a reputable source for your definitions such as the Oxford English Dictionary. After your list of definitions, construct a formal outline with complete, understandable sentences instead of using a few words or phrases. Research classic outline form and use the provided template as a guide. Be sure to identify the author’s premise(s), main argument(s) and supporting details.


  • Analyze the text.
  • List and define words or terms you find unfamiliar using the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Construct a formal outline of the text using complete, understandable sentences and not just selective words or phrases (please see template on following page).
  • Identify the author’s premise, claim or thesis.
  • Note all the main points the author makes.
  • List all the supporting details, facts, or information provided.
  • Include all the relevant sub-points as well.
  • Continue this process of thoroughly analyzing and outlining the entire text

This is a basic template structure for a typical, formal outline. The hierarchical indentions clarify how the author’s arguments have been logically constructed and supported.

  1. Introductory Premise, Claim, or Thesis (a long reading may have more than one)
  2. Main Point 1 (a topic sentence)
  3. Supporting Detail (sentences supporting the first Main Point)
  4. Sub-point (additional point about the Supporting Detail)
  5. Sub-point (etc…continue with additional Sub-points about the Supporting Detail)
  6. Supporting Detail (etc…continue with additional Supporting Detail(s) and Sub-point(s))
  7. Main Point 2 (etc…continue with additional Main Point(s), Supporting Detail(s), and Sub-point(s))

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