Building an Essay Outline: Tutorial for Dummies

Students usually write outlines before they start working on their essays. There are several reasons for doing this. First, it helps you organize your writing process. Second, it is easier for you to formulate and structure your thoughts and supplementary information. Another important reason is that this is a great way to show the relationships among your ideas in the paper. So, you should learn how to build a high-quality outline easily.

How to Write a Typical Essay Outline

To summarize the intended content of your essay, you can use the guidelines provided below:

  1. Read the assignment instructions carefully and write down what you have to keep in mind.
  2. Do the prewriting work, including choosing a topic idea for your paper, writing your main points, and clustering the materials that you have.
  3. Determine what the purpose of your writing is and identify your audience. You should meet the expectations of your readers and anticipate their reactions.
  4. Write your thesis statement that is an arguable claim that focuses your writing. You cannot use facts and emotional statements as thesis ideas.
  5. Choose an outline structure. Decide whether you will use Roman and Arabic numerals or capitalized and lowercase letters.
  6. Consider whether to use brief phrases or full sentences in your essay outline. It is faster to create a brief outline. However, a longer one is more helpful when you start writing.
  7. Remember to use parallel structures for your outline parts. It is recommended that you use present tense and active verbs.
  8. Ensure that your sections contain more important information, as compared to the subsections.
  9. Provide an adequate amount of information for each section. Typically, each section should include two-three main points.
  10. Keep in mind that each section should contain equally important information to other sections.

Organize Information in Your Essay Outline

A typical paper consists of five paragraphs. The first section of your outline should introduce your topic and attract the reader’s attention. There, you should also provide your thesis statement. Sometimes, students also write transitions at the end of each section.

The second part of your outline should include ideas and evidence that support your thesis. You should write what points you will explore and include supporting evidence under each of that points. The last part of your writing is a conclusion that should contain your rephrased thesis and a concluding statement.