How to Write an Essay Outline?

The purpose of an essay outline is to give you a basis for organizing the information you intend to use in your paper. The outline helps you develop a basic idea of how the final paper will look. There are several ways to create an effective outline. The advice provided below is a guide to help you organize your essay ideas.

First Step

  • You should start by choosing a suitable topic for your paper.
  • You need to be certain you understand what your tutor wants or expects you to write the essay about. You can save a lot of time and effort if you communicate with your tutor about their precise requirements. For instance, you will know whether to create a persuasive essay outline, an argumentative essay outline, a descriptive essay outline, etc.
  • What about a thesis statement? Have you developed one yet? Do you know what ideas or points you are going to try to present or prove?
  • Use the thesis statement to summarize your topic or subject matter and your point of view. For example, “Tobacco smoking negatively impacts society in many ways such as the manner in which it affects people’s health, leads to life-long addiction and pollutes the air.”

Second Step

When you have chosen a topic, make a list in your essay outline of between three and six main points related to it. Think carefully about the purpose of your work. The ideas you have formulated will form the body paragraphs of your essay as you continue to develop it. The following are a few questions to consider when you are attempting to generate ideas:

Third Step

Look for evidence or proof, either from your text or from your secondary research sources) to support the main points you have listed. This material will form the flesh for the main paragraphs in the body of your essay. This tip is applicable no matter what type of outline you are writing e.g. a persuasive essay outline, narrative essay outline, and so on.

Fourth Step

You should end your essay or essay outline with a conclusion that reaffirms or links back to the thesis statement in your introductory paragraph. Be careful to reiterate the main points of your essay but do not repeat them. Use different wording.

  • Is the topic you have chosen for your essay appropriate?
  • Are you sure, you properly understand what it is your tutor expects you to write the essay about? Remember, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress by communicating effectively with your tutor.
  • Do you think you have given enough thought to the thesis statement/thesis sentence? Does it adequately reflect the point you want to make and prove?
  • The thesis statement should describe your topic and your point of view (e.g. the negative impacts of smoking as mentioned above).
  • Is your aim to try to prove your point of view or some argument?
  • Is the purpose of your essay to explain or describe some process e.g. how to undertake some task or how to use some piece of equipment?
  • Is your aim to try to educate or inform your readers about the topic you are writing about?
  • Do you think you can adequately explain the relevance of each of your points, why you have chosen them, and how each one is linked to the thesis statement you provided in the introductory paragraph?