The UDL Educational Technology Guide 2019-2020: Technology for Special Education

John F. O'Sullivan

Section 14 Outlines


Outlining is an important skill when planning writing. As a teacher that has taught writing and as a writer, I understand the power of outlining. This is the most basic way to organize and plan writing. You can always change your outline when you start your writing. The biggest mistake students make is to start writing without a plan. The goal is not to complete the work or write a predetermined amount of words.  Every time a student writes, they should learn something. The goal of writing is not to make the teacher look good or get a grade. If every time a child touches a pencil and puts it to the paper, they learn just one concept, then every child would be a much better writer. In order to slow students down and to get them to think about what he or she is doing, you need to get them to write an outline.

One Note

This program wins awards and yet is not being used enough in the field of education. You can make an excellent outline with this program. There are many good features that you will find that you like. To Learn One Note, it takes time. However, Microsoft has very good free training online.

Google Documents

You can use the outlining tool that comes with Google Documents. You can also import graphics organizers that are in Google Documents or MS Word. Often it is easier to use the products that your school already has instead of going to a different platform.

MS Word

MS Word has an outline feature that comes with the program. You can also find a ton of templates and graphic organizers on the web. If you are already using MS Word, then doing prewriting actives on the same platform avoids file transfer and file format issues.

Mind Mapping – MindMeister

This is a very good outlining website and app. The best part is the product integrates with Google Drive. You can also export to Microsoft Word. If you are a Google School Microsoft Word files can be uploaded and converted to Google Documents. You can sign in with a Google account. If you have a need to work on prewriting activities in detail with students that have executive function issues, this is a consideration.

Exporting to different formats:


Cloud Outliner Pro

This is a highly rated outlining app. This app has several excellent features at a reasonable price. You can transfer your outline across platforms.

Inspiration Family

The outlines are very good. You could load the pictures to Google Drive and use Google OCR technology to convert the outlines to text. Inspiration makes good products. 

Kidspiration Maps Lite

iThoughtsHD (mind-mapping)

This app has a lot of tools.


This online paid service allows you to create outlines.

SimpleMind Pro+ Intuitive Mind Mapping

This is a highly rated outline app.

Grafio 3 - Diagrams & ideas

You can make very detailed outlines with this app. It is well thought out, and the app is highly rated.

MindNode 5

This is an outlining app that gets solid reviews.

Suru - Organize | Outline | To-do

You can make color-coded to do lists, agendas, and schedules.



I like this app because it is also a website. You might want to consider going to the website first. 



This is a very good outlining website. Since it is on the web, it works across platforms. The program has a number of shortcuts to increase productivity. The products convert files into different formats. It would integrate with a number of platforms. The product is a paid service, but you can try all it for free so that you know what you are getting. If you do not mind paying a modest fee for an outlining tool, this is a very good option.


This product integrates with all the major platforms and gets excellent reviews online. It is a paid service, but they do have free accounts. You can sign up to see what it has to offer. You can sign up with your Google email. I would suggest you try it, compare it to other products and consider if you think it is worth the price.

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