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How to Write an Essay Outline?

How to Write an Essay Outline?

Jane Roberta Jones
Jane Roberta Jones
November 11, 2023

An essay outline is a tool that can help make writing an essay easier and faster. By organizing your thoughts and ideas before starting your writing, you can ensure your essay flows logically and stays focused on your topic. A good outline essay will also allow you to check that your essay contains all the key elements – thesis statement, supporting arguments, evidence, and conclusion – needed to convey your message effectively.

In the introduction section of this blog post, we’ll walk through the basics of how to write an effective essay outline with some example outline.

What is an Essay Outline?<br />

An essay with outline is a structured plan for an essay that includes the main points and arguments you will make, organized in a logical sequence. It is a skeleton of your essay’s structure that you can build upon to complete a thorough, coherent and argumentative essays.

Outline of an essay helps you organize your argument and evidence into relevant sections – an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This organization ensures that the argument flows logically and is easy for readers to follow.

Creating an outline is often the first step you should take as you begin working on a new essay. The outline will help you structure your essay before you start writing process.

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Benefits of Essay Outlining Techniques

Organizes your ideas and arguments so your essay flows logically.

Identifies gaps in your argument or areas that need more supporting evidence.

Serves as a blueprint to structure your essay and keep you students focused.

Allows you to check that your essay contains all necessary elements before writing.

Saves time during the writing process since your structure is planned.

In short, outlining an essay allows you to focus on expressing your ideas clearly from the start, rather than trying to impose order later. Crafting a clear, logical essay from scratch can be challenging – an outline makes the writing process much more efficient. Discover a world of knowledge with our engaging expository essay topics – perfect for expanding your horizons!

Types of Outlines

Types of Outlines

There are several types of outlines that can be useful depending on the length and complexity of your essay assignment.

Topic Outline

This is a basic outline that includes brief mentions of your main points and arguments. It does not include full sentences, but rather lists the topics you plan to cover.

Topic outlines are especially useful for short essays where each main point will only take a paragraph or two. It allows you to brainstorm ideas and then organize them logically.

Students diving into evaluation essay topics, creating an outline allows you to map the progression of key developments over time before drafting your analysis.

Sentence Outline

A sentence outline expands on the topic outline by writing full sentences for major point rather than short phrases. Each point is expressed as a full sentence, indicating the argument you plan to make in the corresponding paragraph.

This helps clarify your key points as complete thoughts before writing your draft. Sentence outlines are great for essays that have more complex arguments and require more detailed support.

Now, clarify your key points on potential Process Analysis Essay Topics as complete thoughts before writing your draft, with sentence outlines being great for essays with more complex arguments that require detailed support.

Paragraph Outline

The paragraph outline takes the sentence outline to the next level. Rather than just sentences for your main points, a paragraph outline will include a short paragraph summarizing each key point.

This is the most thorough type of outline and helpful for long five paragraph essay, persuasive essays or complex essays. Seeing your points expanded into paragraph form can reveal gaps in your argument that need to be addressed before writing your final thoughts on your essay draft. Delve into the intriguing debate of Nature Vs Nurture with our insightful essays, and unravel the mysteries of human behavior!

How to Write An Outline For An Essay

How to Write An Outline For An Essay

Now that we’ve covered the basics of supporting idea of outline for essay, let’s walk through a step-by-step guide to creating an outline to organize your essay.

Choose Your Topic

Before writing your outline, you need to determine what topic or argument you will be making in your essay. If you have not been assigned a specific topic, take some time to consider what interests you or ideas you want to convey.

To pick a good topic:

  • Choose something specific, not overly broad. For example, write about the effects of social media on teenagers, not technology in general.
  • Make sure it’s an argument that can be supported with evidence and research. The topic should be debatable, not a statement of pure fact.
  • Consider your audience and what would be relevant, interesting, or thought-provoking for them.

Once you have a focused topic, you can start planning your essay outline.

Decide on Your Thesis Statement

Your research papers or thesis statement is the central argument or position that your entire essay will revolve around. This should be expressed as a concise assertion or clear point of view – essentially, your essay stated in 1-2 sentences.

All the major points you made in your essay should work toward supporting and proving this thesis. The thesis gives focus and cohesion to your essay outline and finished essay.

Take time crafting your thesis statement, as it is the backbone of your work. Make sure it is concise, coherent, and supported by the arguments you plan to present. Master the art of concise writing with our step-by-step guide on crafting impactful short essays!

Brainstorm Supporting Ideas

With main idea of your thesis statement articulated, start brainstorming the key ideas and arguments needed to support it. These will form the main body paragraphs of your essay.

  • Jot down the main point of each paragraph
  • Consider how each point directly relates back to your thesis
  • Identify about 3-5 supporting points – more if writing a very long essay

The best supporting ideas will come from research, facts, examples, statistics, quotes, and logical reasoning. This is where you draw on evidence to bolster your arguments.

Aim to come up with more supporting ideas than you will actually need, so you can pick and choose the strongest ones when organizing your outline.

Organize Your Main Points

Once you have gathered a solid list of supporting arguments, it’s time to organize them into a coherent order for your essay outline.

There are a few ways to approach this:

Chronological Order

Organize your points in the sequence they occurred or from beginning to end. This is useful for narrative essays or process essays that walk through certain steps.

Order of Importance

Structure your outline from your most compelling point to your least compelling. Place them so the stronger arguments are given more weight in the longer essay.

Compare and Contrast

If your essay is comparing/contrasting two elements or perspectives, you may alternate between points about each subject to highlight the differences throughout.

Look for the organizational structure that makes the most logical sense for your thesis and supporting ideas. You may also consider addressing counter-arguments to strengthen your reader or own position. Unleash your analytical skills with our expert tips on writing a Compare and Contrast Essay – a surefire way to showcase your critical thinking and writing prowess!

Add Supporting Evidence

For each main point in your outline, include the key evidence and examples you plan to use to back up your claims. This can include:

  • Facts
  • Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Anecdotes
  • References to authoritative sources like research studies or experts

Sprinkling the outline with some other relevant information and evidence will help ensure your essay is convincing and fact-based. It also helps clarify how each point relates to your thesis.

Write Topic Sentences

With your main points ordered, you can begin drafting clear topic sentences to start each paragraph. The topic sentence expresses the main idea or thrust of the paragraph so readers understand how it links back to your thesis.

When writing topic sentences:

  • Use concise assertive language rather than passive phrases
  • Include keywords from your thesis to keep consistent language throughout
  • Avoid transitions or references to other points from the essay
  • Use parallel grammatical structure between sentences when appropriate

Strong topic sentences will make the structure of your essay clear and improve overall cohesion.

Create Your Conclusion

The conclusion of your short essay, should summarize your main arguments and reinforce the validity of your thesis. Often, writers will also extend the significance of their thesis into broader contexts.

Some key elements that make a strong conclusion:

  • Restate your thesis in different words
  • Tie together the main threads of your argument
  • Explain the wider implications of what has been discussed
  • Close with a compelling observation or call to action

With your conclusion in place, your essay outline is complete! Use it as a roadmap to write a solid first draft efficiently.

As you structure your essay’s main points, it’s beneficial to monitor your word count to ensure each section is appropriately balanced. I recommend exploring the word-counter tool available at Assignments4u. This tool will assist you in keeping your sections concise and to the point, ensuring that your essay remains focused and adheres to any word limit requirements. It’s a simple yet effective way to enhance your essay planning and writing process.

Word Count: 0

Character Count: 0

Page Count: 0

Essay with Outline Example

Essay with Outline Example

To illustrate the components of a strong outline, let’s take a look at an outline example for an essay on the effects of mass media on perceptions of beauty.

Thesis Statement:

The narrow and often unrealistic portrayals of beauty created by the mass media have toxic effects on young women and their perceptions of their bodies.


  • Brief background on the prevalence of mass media today
  • Overview of how mass media depicts impractical beauty standards through various platforms like television, advertising, and social media

First Body Paragraph:

Topic Sentence: Mass media frequently depicts an unrealistic and highly filtered standard of beauty that sets narrow expectations for women’s appearances.

  • Evidence of airbrushing and editing of models and celebrities presented across media
  • Statistics showing tiny percentage of women who have these idealized body types
  • Examples of flawless media portrayals versus diversity of real-world appearances

Second Body Paragraph:

Topic Sentence: Exposure to unrealistic beauty standards through mass media is proven to contribute to negative self-image and low self-esteem in young women.

  • Research indicating the effects of media imagery on women’s self-perception and satisfaction with their bodies
  • Mental health stats related to rise in conditions like eating disorders and body dysmorphia
  • Anecdotal evidence from interviews with women who feel inadequete compared to media portrayals

Third Body Paragraph

Topic Sentence: The mass media has an ethical responsibility to depict broader standards of beauty to combat these toxic effects on young women’s body image.

  • Arguments for why media creators have an obligation to consider the wellbeing of viewers
  • Good precedent of brands using more diverse models and featuring natural appearances
  • Proposed improvements and solutions to encourage healthy portrayals going forward


  • Restate thesis and summarize main arguments regarding media depictions and negative impacts
  • Discuss need for awareness and how everyday people can promote more diversity
  • End with call to action for both media creators and consumers to drive a shift in narratives of beauty

This sample outline shows how the thesis is supported by clear topic sentences for each paragraph, citing relevant evidence and examples. While you may deviate some in drafting the actual essay, the outline serves as an essential organizational blueprint.

Outline Templates

Using a template can also help kickstart your essay outline by providing an established structure to build on. Here are some sample outlines for common essay types:

Argumentative Essay Outline


  • Hook statement
  • Background context
  • Clear thesis statement

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic sentence stating first point
  • Evidence supporting first point
  • Analysis of how this evidence relates back to thesis

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence stating second point
  • Evidence supporting second point
  • Analysis of how this evidence relates back to thesis

Body Paragraph 3

  • Topic sentence stating third point
  • Evidence supporting third point
  • Analysis of how this evidence relates back to thesis


  • Restate thesis
  • Recap main points
  • Discuss implications of argument made
  • Memorable takeaway line

Enhance your persuasive skills by learning how to write compelling argumentative essays with our expert tips!

Narrative Essay Outline


  • Engaging hook stating theme or lesson learned
  • Brief background setting up story

Body Paragraph 1

  • Introduce story background and characters
  • Discuss first events leading to climax

Body Paragraph 2

  • Continue story, build up to climax
  • Share key details and descriptions

Body Paragraph 3

  • Story climax
  • Explain conflict, tension, emotions at turning point


  • Reflect on story events
  • Reveal theme/lesson learned
  • Close with resonant final thought

Research Paper Outline


  • Interesting factoid or anecdote introducing topic
  • Thesis statement answering research question
  • Overview of paper sections

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic sentence for section 1
  • Overview of research source 1 and relevant details
  • Overview of research source 2 and relevant details
  • Analysis of how these sources support thesis claim

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence for section 2
  • Overview of research source 1 and relevant details
  • Overview of research source 2 and relevant details
  • Analysis of how these sources support thesis claim


  • Restate thesis and summarize findings
  • Discuss research limitations
  • Implications for future research
  • Closing thoughts on topic

The Importance of Outlining Essays

The Importance of Outlining Essays

We’ve covered the key steps to take when creating an effective essay outline. With some planning upfront through outlining, you can simplify the writing process and produce polished, coherent essays.

Outlines provide the skeleton that you can build upon to ensure your essays contain logical arguments supported by solid evidence within an organized structure. By taking the time to craft a detailed outline, your writing will reflect thoughtful analysis and effective reasoning.

Whether you’re working on a personal narrative or a complex research paper, the outlining process allows you to organize your main ideas while checking for holes in your argument. Following an outline as you write keeps you focused and drives you to cover all the bases required to fully support your thesis.

Strong essay writing takes practice – and patience! Following the outlining process, seeking feedback, and revising drafts will improve your essay faster skills over time. But having an organized, thoughtful outline to guide your work will set you on the right path.

So take the time to craft an outline during your pre-writing process. With an effective outline as your foundation, you can write engaging essays that make an impact on your readers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 steps to writing an outline?

3 Steps to Writing an Outline:

a. Choose a topic and gather your research.

b. Organize your main ideas and subtopics.

c. Arrange your points in a logical order.

How do you write an outline for a draft essay?

Writing an Outline for a Draft Essay:

a. Start with a clear thesis statement.

b. List your main arguments or key points.

c. Arrange supporting evidence or sub points under each main argument.

d. Ensure a logical flow and coherence between sections.

e. Add an introduction and conclusion to your outline.

What is the format of an essay?

Format of an Essay:

  • Introduction: Hook, background, thesis statement.
  • Body paragraphs: Each paragraph focuses on one main point or argument with supporting evidence.
  • Conclusion: Restate thesis, summarize key points, and provide a closing thought.

How do you write an outline for a college essay?

Writing an Outline for a College Essay:

a. Begin with a strong thesis statement that reflects the essay’s purpose.

b. Outline your main arguments or key ideas, usually 3-5 in number.

c. Subdivide each argument into supporting details or evidence.

d. Plan your introduction and conclusion to effectively frame your essay.

e. Follow your college’s or instructor’s specific formatting guidelines if provided.

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Jane Roberta Jones
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