How To Create an SME Outline

Your outline will serve as the foundation for the writer, so it's crucial to include all the important details. Here's more information about the SME outline workflow and how to create a good outline.

SME Outline Workflow

Outline production workflows vary, but commonly include these steps: 

  • SME Outline: The SME creates an outline based on a keyword and directions.
  • Writing: A writer creates the article based on the outline.
  • SME Review: The same SME reviews the writer’s content and makes comments/adjustments as necessary.
  • Editing: An editor ensures the content is grammatically correct and follows the style guide.
  • QA: A QA team member makes a final review of all work.
  • PM Approval: Sometimes combined with the QA task, the project manager will check the content before sending it to the client.
  • Client Approval: The client will approve the work or send it back for edits. 

What To Consider When Outlining

Keep these points in mind when you create an outline: 

  • You are the expert on the topic.
  • The writer won’t have as much experience as you in the field.
  • Your outline should include specific details and facts that the writer can use.
  • Your spelling and grammar don’t have to be perfect- the writer and editor will take care of that part.
  • Most of all, we want you to focus on getting the facts of the topic right.

How To Approach Your Outline

You might find these steps useful as you create your outline:

Step 1: Preparation

Read the instructions and scan the style guide. Look for:

  • Article brief
  • Resource link (including Content Harmony)
  • Any special directions about subheadings to include
  • Services/products the client offers
  • Personas (the point of view)
  • Target audience

Your instructions may include a link to Content Harmony for the article topic. This site contains useful information about the keyword, including search intent, top hits, and the content of the leading sites. Take some time to review the top articles' subheadings to get an idea of what readers want to know.

Step 2: Subheadings

Add your subheadings

  • Base them on the brief and resource links
  • Most articles have at least three subheadings
  • Subheadings could be altered by writer or editor

Step 3: Details

  • Add supporting details under your subheadings
  • The information should be detailed enough that a writer with no experience on the topic can create the article
  • Bullet points are easy to read and digest

Outline Examples

Here are some examples of outlines and the final articles created from those outlines:

Keyword: Predictive Analytics in Healthcare

Outline vs. Final

Keyword: What Are Annuities 

Outline vs. Final

Keyword: Leadership in the Workplace

Outline vs. Final

eBook: Outline vs. Final


Creating an Outline Indiana - University of Pennsylvania

How to Write an Outline in 5 Steps - Grammarly

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