To understand what an essay outline is and how to write it, you need first to understand what an essay is. An essay is a formal piece of writing of varying lengths that is written about a specific topic. Not everyone writes essay outlines. Some people are okay with winging it and just writing the draft directly from their notes. However, writing an essay outline is a great way to go if you want to pass the essay.
What Is the Outline of an Essay?
An essay outline is a short-form version of an essay. You note down the topic, the essay's main arguments, and the conclusion before you write the actual essay. It is not to be confused with the essay's draft, which is the initial version of the essay. You may be wondering what the importance of writing an essay outline is. Here are five reasons:
- It will help you organize your thoughts from your notes. This saves your memory for other things.
- It helps you understand the flow of thoughts in the essay. This enables you to structure it in the most effective way.
- This helps you incorporate everything you want to include. In the research process, you will encounter many points you could use. It is easy to miss some issues, but with an outline, you eliminate that risk.
- It will help you increase the speed of your writing and the quality of your essay. The deliberation that goes into making an outline allows you to organize your thoughts so that you present them effectively. This makes the writing process go smoother.
- Some professors ask for an outline of your essay. Learning how to write an essay outline will help you present your essay in the best possible light.
Essay Outline Format
The essay format of most essays is similar. The instructions may direct you on how many paragraphs to have, but the standard is a 5 paragraph essay.
Generally, there are three elements to every essay: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Whatever information is presented in these portions should be appropriately cited to avoid plagiarism. There are several referencing styles like Harvard, APA, and MLA.
A citation is an acknowledgment that you are using someone else's ideas in your work. Generally, you should only use one referencing style in a paper. Two common referencing styles are MLA and APA. Usually, MLA formatting is used in humanities while APA is used in sciences like social sciences. However, most teachers or institutions have a specific referencing style they prefer, so it's best to follow their instructions.
An introduction in an outline will contain three main components:
- The Title
You don't have to come up with the title when you are in the process of making the outline. Many times, the title that you come up with encompasses the contents of the essay, so it may be the last part of the outline you fill out.
- The Thesis
This is the claim your essay is making. Usually, the thesis depends on the purpose of the essay. The thesis should be something arguable, not a fact. An emotionally charged thesis is one way to hook the reader.
- The Hook
How do you intend to hook the reader to the essay? There are several recommended ways to make a reader attached to an essay. You could use an anecdote, a joke, or a little known interesting fact. A hook draws the reader in.
The introduction introduces your reader to the essay. Explain what the reader is going to read about in the most interesting way so that they are motivated to go on reading.
The body contains the meat of the essay. This is where you make your case for the topic. You introduce arguments, counterarguments, the evidence, etc. A standard five-paragraph essay has three body paragraphs. You don't want to present too many ideas. In an essay outline, your outline body can have the topic sentence, the evidence, and a paragraph conclusion on how the topic relates to the essay.
The body varies depending on the type of essay. A narrative essay will have a body with paragraphs that progress through the narrative. An argumentative essay's paragraphs will have arguments and counterarguments. Understand the assignment so the body matches the type of essay you are writing.
There are three ways you can organize your arguments:
- Chronological order – This is when the ideas are organized in order of time. This order is especially crucial for narratives.
- Anticlimactic order – This is where you organize your arguments from the least potent to the strongest. You are essentially saving the best for last. It's also called the emphatic order.
- Climactic order – This is the opposite of the anticlimactic order. Here, you organize your ideas from the strongest to the weakest. Many college essays follow this format.
This is a summary of what was covered in the essay. It reiterates the essay and summarizes the goal of the essay. Your conclusion can also direct your reader to other sources for further study.
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Essay Outline Example
As was mentioned by our write my admission essay for me writers, the essay outline depends on the type of essay you are writing. Some examples of the kinds of essays include an argumentative essay, a persuasive essay, an explanatory, a narrative essay, and a college admission essay.
Below is an essay outline example for a persuasive essay:
Topic: Skipping is an ideal sport for everyone.
Thesis: Skipping rope is an excellent alternative to other sports.
Interesting fact: Some studies show that intense skipping for 10 minutes is equivalent to 30 minutes of running.
Body paragraph 1
Topic sentence: Skipping provides the same benefits as other sports.
- Detail 1: Skipping tones the body and builds muscular strength.
- Detail 2: Skipping, just like other exercises, is good for the brain.
Body paragraph 2
Topic sentence: Skipping has some unique advantages over other sports.
- Detail 1: Skipping requires just a little space.
- Detail 2: Skipping requires fewer utilities to start.
- Detail 3: Skipping can be both a solitary and a team sport.
Body paragraph 3 (Counterargument)
Topic sentence: Swimming is a good alternative sport for people of all ages.
- Detail 1: Swimming tones the whole body simultaneously.
- Detail 2: Swimming requires certain conditions like the availability of a pool.
There are many reasons why skipping rope is an excellent alternative to many sports, including…
How to Write an Outline for an Essay: Guidelines
Now that you know the basic format for writing essay outlines, there are some guidelines that will help your essay stand out. A well-written essay outline can be the difference between an average grade and an A+. Here are a few guidelines from our help me write my essay service experts to follow:
The first step is to read the instructions to the assignment several times. The instructions will clue you in on what type of essay is expected of you, be it an argumentative essay or a narrative essay. The instructions may also guide you on the essay's expected length, so you know how many arguments you need to have. Not understanding the instructions is a sure way to miss the goal of the essay entirely.
Understand the Purpose
The purpose of the essay is derived from the type of essay that is expected from you. A narrative essay is expected to inform the reader or entertain them, while a persuasive essay should persuade the reader. The purpose of the essay will help you craft a suitable thesis for your essay. It will also help you establish what writing technique to use and how to conduct your research.
Define Your Audience
Who is going to read your essay besides your teacher? Students? Strangers? How knowledgeable are they on the topic at hand? The audience you are addressing will help you determine what kinds of arguments to include in the essay. The audience will also help you decide what resources to use in your research and what evidence to present.
There are various ways you can get your information. You can use physical books, videos, or movies. You can use relevant online articles, journals, and publications. You can also use academic search engines, for example, Oxford Academic or Google Scholar. Be sure to note down whatever sources you use so that you can reference them when you are writing the article.
Start with a Thesis
The thesis is a crucial part of your essay and essay outline. It would help if you worked on it before working on the body of the essay. This is because it guides you on which arguments to include in the essay outline and, consequently, the essay. Your thesis will also guide you to come up with topic sentences for the body.
There are two key structures you can use when writing an essay outline. They are:
This structure uses both numbers and letters. It looks like this:
No method is superior to the other. The alphanumeric structure is more common, but the method you settle on is a matter of personal preference.
Organize Your Essay Outline
Now you know how to write an essay outline, what each section contains, and even have working notes to use, it's time to organize it. Follow the steps below:
Outline the Introduction
Pick a topic: This may be the first of the last things you do. But do my essay writers recommend coming up with a few topic alternatives to select the best one that best encompasses the message of the essay. A good essay topic, particularly for an essay that is meant to inform, should be something that is still up for debate, not something that has already been proven. For example, it is not advisable to have an essay topic like 'Why education is important.' A more arguable and reasonable topic is 'Why education is not the only path to success.'
Write your thesis: What claim is your essay making? Just like the essay topic, make it something that can bring up a debate, not something that is obvious or that has already been proven. Other mistakes to avoid when crafting a thesis are:
- Making it too broad;
- Making it neutral – the thesis makes a claim you want to prove, not announces your opinion;
- Making it a list-essay thesis.
Mention your hook: What will you use to draw the reader in? Do you have an anecdote or a fact? Do you have a question or a joke? Add it at this point.
Finally, write a sentence or two about the topic you are discussing.
Outline the Body
When you are writing an essay outline, the body is the most essential part of the essay. It is recommended that each paragraph presents a single point completely. For each paragraph, note down the following information:
Topic sentence – It introduces the argument you are about to give.
Supporting evidence – What evidence do you have in support of the topic sentence? What facts or statistics do you have? Note them down.
Concluding sentence – How does the evidence presented relate to the topic and the thesis.
As part of the body outline, you can introduce transition sentences that help you smoothly transition from paragraph to paragraph. The transition words used depend on the type of essay. A persuasive essay can have words like, in addition to, furthermore, and moreover. An argumentative essay can have transition words like, on the other hand, but, and in contrast.
Outline the Conclusion
Follow the following steps when outlining the conclusion:
- Restate the thesis.
- Propose options for further study, give your opinion, or propose solutions to the problems you presented in the essay.
- Write a concluding statement. If the topic is actionable, it can be a call to action.
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An Additional Tip on Essay Outlines
When writing the essay outline, you have an option between using shortened phrases or full sentences.
- Shortened phrases – If the outline is for personal use, shortened phrases are a preferable choice. They should be short enough to capture the point's essence but not too short that you cannot decipher them later on.
- Full sentences – If your professor or teacher requires the outline, it is better to use complete sentences. You may be able to understand your shortened phrases, but another person may misinterpret them as they don't have the same information you have.
Here is a bare-boned alphanumerical essay format:
- Mention topic
- Body paragraph 1
- Topic sentence
- Fact 1
- Fact 2
- Concluding sentence
- Body paragraph 2
- Topic sentence
- Statistic 1
- Statistic 2
- Concluding sentence
- Body paragraph 3
- Topic sentence
- Statistic 1
- Fact 2
- Concluding sentence
- Restate thesis
- Opinion or recommendation
- Call to action where necessary
To Sum Up
In the course of your academic life, you will be required to write many essays on many different topics. Learning to write an essay outline is the key to spending a short time writing an essay while still making it flow effortlessly. An outline is different from a draft in that it contains the same information contained in the final document but in a shortened version. You can practice writing essay outlines on topics that interest you to gain experience on how to do so.