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Essay Writing: How to Write an Essay Outline

Assignments like essays help us organize our thoughts, develop analytical and critical thinking, and improve research skills. But sometimes you can’t perform all the ideas in a proper way and a task becomes a disaster. If you’re a beginner in writing or just want to have an effective tool that helps with papers consider creating an outline before you start working. You’ll choose the key thoughts, structure, and tailor a text in a better way. Read our guide to understand how to create it, but first, let’s find out what is an essay outline.

The Definition of an Outline

An outline is a plan and a short summary of the entire essay. It contains the key points, arguments, small details, and structure of a text. You have to create it before you start writing a paper as you’ll return to it all the time. It’s the best way to organize thoughts and decide which structure fits your text. Traditionally, you have to write an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. With an essay outline, you’ll see how many paragraphs, subheadings or bullet-points there can be in your paper.

The Guide on Writing an Outline

An essay outline isn’t an additional task but a helpful tool you’ll use while working on a paper. There’s nothing hard in creating a draft for a text, and you’ll cope with it quickly if you know the subject well. Follow our guide to write effective outlines in minutes.

1. Choose a topic and conduct research

If you have the right to select any subject, think well before making a decision. It should be an interesting topic connected with your discipline. Read books or Google for inspirations and research. Once you’ve chosen a subject, explore the idea and determine the key points and arguments for your essay outline. There’s a simple way to put all these details in order – write your topic in the center of a paper sheet, circle it, and draw the lines leading to the main thoughts. Then look at this picture and ask yourself a question: “Are all these details important?”. If you don’t have arguments for proving the necessity of some thoughts, remove them. Besides, check all the facts you’re going to use in your essay outline. They have to be true and persuasive.

2. Determine your purpose and audience

The purpose of an outline is to organize and structure your ideas, but what’s the purpose of your essay? Does your paper have to inform, entertain, or educate? You must meet the professor’s requirements with your topic and provide the ideas connected with the purpose of a task. It’s easier to write an excellent essay outline if you have a clear understanding of this factor. Besides, you must know your audience to create an engaging and influential paper.

3. Write a thesis for your essay outline

The thesis consists of one or two sentences and describes the main focus of your essay. It shouldn’t contain your personal opinion or list of facts. Here, you’ll explain what you’re arguing about in a text.

4. Decide how to organize an outline

At this stage, you have to decide which structure type works best for you. A well-tailored, logically organized text is easier to read and understand. You have to lead an audience through your paper with the help of bullet-points and paragraphs. Choose any convenient essay outline format:

1)      Alphanumeric structure:

  • Capitalized letters (A, B, C, D);
  • Lowercase letters (a, b, c, d);
  • Roman numerals (I, II, III);
  • Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3).

2)      Decimal structure:

  • 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 – for sections;
  • 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3 – for subsections.

5. Organize your essay outline

It’s not enough to write an interesting text – it also has to be a well-tailored one. A logic structure is a key factor for understanding papers. And an outline will help you organize an essay in a proper way. Divide it into three sections:

1)   Introduction. Write a short description of what you’re going to tell in your essay outline. The introduction is an important part of any text as a reader decides if he wants to get to the final word of a paper. You can use a catchy sentence containing some interesting fact, ask a question, and write about the problem you’re exploring. It is a brief section that consists of one or two paragraphs.

2)   Body text. It’s the most comprehensive and the largest part of an essay outline as it will contain a few paragraphs depending on the list of the main ideas. Here, you’ll write the key points and separate them with sections. Paragraphs of an essay outline should look like this:

  • a brief introduction concerning the main thought in this section;
  • arguments supporting this idea;
  • evidence;
  • conclusion – 1 sentence summarizing a paragraph.

3)  Conclusion. Now, you know how to write an outline for a paper and it’s time to learn how to finish it. Write a brief summary of your thesis, mention the key thoughts, and propose the ways of the problem solution. You can explain why these thoughts are important. You shouldn’t give any new information in the conclusion part – only final words.

6. Check an essay outline

Revise your outline and check if it meets the requirements of your assignment. If you see that some thoughts or sections are unnecessary, remove them. Do the same with poor arguments and details that don’t have any value for a topic.

Final Words

Keep our guide at hand whenever you need to write an assignment. Now, when you know how to outline an essay, it’s easy to better organize and progress with your papers. At first, you may think that it’s too hard to create it, but you’ll be surprised to see the effectiveness of this tool. With an outline, you’ll improve your writing and be able to develop an essay into a persuasive and engaging paper.

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