How to Write an Outline for an Essay: Start Now


If you’ve written an essay before, you know that each work is one of a kind. This means that each writer has a unique approach and language. However, an exact order is necessary to avoid incoherence as sometimes thoughts can appear disorganized. Having an accurate outline to bring off your task has no alternative.

Outlining is structuring and developing your ideas with logical coherence. It’s not simply a draft or a short plan of your assignment. Covering every key point with summary sentences is an integral part of further smooth transitions between paragraphs.

Even if you aren’t assigned separately to write an outline for an essay, it is still compulsory to be involved in a prewriting process. How come? If you overlook this stage of essay writing, you’ll fail the thoughtful flow even with the most influential ideas. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the core of how to write an outline for an essay. Remember that outlining is the only option to arrive at your and your reader’s mutual understanding.

What Is an Outline for Essay?

If you think of the outline as a precise and direct map of your entire work, it will ease your job. It displays how to accomplish your work with quality content, clear order, and coherent paragraph transitions. You can quickly assess how well all the points work together and make corrections straight ahead. The unequaled role of outlining is evident as it allows the writer to figure out ways to unite all the information to support the thesis.

Outlining is a process that may seem time-consuming at first. However, reviewing will take more effort later if you are not patient enough. It is committed to developing a good thesis statement and an overall view of an essay theme. Outlining allows the writer to determine if they are on the right track in presenting the information.

In addition, outlining enables the writer to experiment with techniques to determine the best production strategies. So, how to make an outline for an essay to carry through to completion? Learn the ropes at basic outline structure to satisfy your and your audience’s expectations.

What Are Top Helpful Tips to Structure an Essay Outline?

An essay outline format thoroughly corresponds to an academic essay structure. Regardless of the specific measurements, the paper needs to have an introduction, body, and conclusion. However, you don’t have to describe each of these paragraphs. Instead, wrapping up the main points with one word or sentence is enough. The following outline essay example is here to provide you with a clear picture of your final work.

The introductory paragraph should consist of:

  • Opening statement: How will you bring your reader into your essay? For the introduction, use memorable phrases, facts, and rhetorical questions.
  • Background: What else will you say to introduce your ideas?
  • Working thesis statement: What is the main idea of your essay? The last sentence of your intro takes careful wording because of its importance.

The body paragraphs are the central part of your outline. The number depends on the requirements of your assignment. However, it usually includes at least two. Write as many body parts as needed to meet your essay requirements.

  • Topic sentence: What will this paragraph introduce?
  • Evidence: What specific facts or ideas are you bringing into play here? What is the evidence?
  • Concluding sentence: How will you link this paragraph to your thesis? The sentence should explain how the evidence above proves your thesis.

The concluding paragraph wraps up everything you’ve stated in your essay.

  • Summary/synthesis statement: What’s the point of my essay? How can I sum it all up? Restate the thesis in light of what you have proven. It should be the mirror image of your thesis statement.
  • Supporting sentences: This includes the key-point recap of your essay.
  • Strong closing sentence: This is the final sentence of your essay, ending your discussion of the topic.

Now that you’ve got the basic outline of a paper at hand, it will be a piece of cake to organize your thoughts in the best way possible.

Five Steps to Develop an Impeccable Outline

As a writer, you should know the outline structure and how to compile your collected ideas. Thus, there are some measures you need to consider when writing an essay outline. So, abide by the essay structure while implementing the following five steps to make the grade.

Relevant Topic Selection

The subject matter is the starting point for your preparation and research. You may get the topic of your essay beforehand from your professor. It spares extra time and labor for some students, but others prefer having free will to pick whatever they want. If your situation is the latter, try some idea-triggering methods.

There are numerous ways for brainstorming, like mapping, freewriting, looping, and invisible writing. Implement one that satisfies your needs best. It’s better, however, to pick a topic that is familiar to you and you have a general knowledge to develop further. It will help to select the necessary literature and formulate the thesis.

Determination of Your Essay Format

Prewriting takes some research-based preparation. First, consider essay requirements. Secondly, you need to choose a suitable format like volume, style, word restrictions, and primary sources. Then, match it with your working thesis for the essay and body paragraph topics. Next, use the working thesis statement to establish a coherent paragraph structure.

Finally, it would be best if you composed the supporting arguments from the working thesis statement into topic sentences for each body. So, you can see the harmonic relationships between ideas as you generate an outline.

Paragraph Development with Supporting Ideas

Have you structured your basic outline for essay? If so, you’re ready to start enriching it with details supporting each topic sentence. Keep your clearly defined purpose and thesis in mind during the writing process. Everything in your paper must reveal every point stated there; otherwise, you’ll lack focus.

Besides, consider possible transitions between main points. Use personal experiences, stories, observations, and readings as examples within the main points. In addition, the transition sentence shows how that paragraph idea smoothly works with the following topic and even connects to the conclusion.

Finally, a developed outline allows the writer to rehearse the essay’s content before drafting.

Inclusion of Details in Your Essay Outline

At this point, it’s essential to consider your essay type. You have enough facts in your outline, so it’s time to make up a strong paragraph. For instance, if you are writing an argumentative essay, use a proper counterargument to support your claim. On the other hand, imagine you are writing a persuasive essay. In this case, use facts and statistics to convince your target audience to make them take your side.

If you write an opinion essay, establish your opinion’s relevance best. After doing so, your supporting information will refute the counterargument and support the topic sentence and thesis statement. If the counterargument is rough, you must paraphrase by adding more details. Repeatedly imply this process for each body paragraph expanding with evidence.

Conclusion Outline Formatting

A good concluding paragraph should unite all your points to make a logical conclusion. It is usually done by restating the main points and synthesizing them from the thesis statement of the introduction. Although your target audience is likely to agree with the main point, you still need to consider those who oppose it.

A synthesized conclusion creates harmony. Therefore, briefly summarize each main point found in the body paragraphs of your paper. However, while editing, you should be careful not to change your position about certain statements. In addition, avoid repetition of your thesis statement in the concluding paragraph. You would instead restate the main argument from each section.

Likewise, be sure the final emphasis falls on your point: end with an absolute attention grabber to your central claim. Then, similarly, add a strong clincher statement that is appropriate, meaningful, and ties together all the main ideas.

When Can I Hand Over My Outline?

If you have enough knowledge about how to do an outline for an essay, here is the question you may come up with: When am I done with my essay outline? At some point, you may be on the fence if you’ve accomplished your essay outline. First, you understand if you feel prepared to write your essay to figure that out. You might feel confident with a few words, while others need somewhat detailed outlines.

Writing an outline for essay organizes your all-over-the-place thoughts to develop your paper. The result of this process is the first draft of your paper, and with a well-structured one, you will be better prepared to write an influential essay.

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