How to write great essay outline

Understanding how to create an essay outline is crucial, regardless of whether you’re a student, academic, or researcher. Considering how essential it is, far too many people continue to write without doing it correctly. Making an outline for your assignment may assist you in better organizing your ideas before you start writing. Writing a paper outline beforehand has several benefits, including helping you prepare your responses and arrange them for a smoother flow. It also helps you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything crucial. An organized paper with a decent plan will increase its chances of publication or academic success. Accordingly, this article identifies the essential guidelines for creating an essay outline.

Understand your assignment

You ought to start by writing your thesis statement or the topic your instructor has assigned you. You should develop an outline that you’ll use as a guide before starting the final draft. The challenge is that you have to complete a few tasks before you can begin composing an essay. In addition, it’s critical to analyze your homework thoroughly. If you’re a student, take note of the marking rubric and strive to understand what your professor expects. Ultimately, you must ensure that you have read all the resources at your disposal and are addressing the task from the ideal perspective to develop a solid outline.

Identify the essential components of an essay outline

It would be best if you aimed to follow this structure in your essay outline since every research paper or essay requires one. Every essay outline needs the following components, listed in the most basic order:

  • A compelling thesis statement or introduction
  • A body that includes supporting evidence and counterarguments
  • A summary of the main points and a conclusion that restates the thesis statement

The ideal structure of your outline would place your points in order of priority. Suppose you’ve structured your outline into four categories, with the first two being more general and the others providing more specific information. Since you’ve started by creating an outline, you may easily reorder ideas and supporting evidence to ensure the outcome is appropriate for publication or assessment. Keep in mind who you’re writing for, and look for redundant thoughts or phrases. You should strive to employ several writing approaches to make your work more engaging and tailor it to your audience rather than just creating a standard paper that adheres to the assignment prompt.

Recognize the wording appropriate for outlines

Although you’ll develop a rough outline, paying attention to your wording is crucial. By focusing on language at this stage, you may prepare yourself mentally for composing your whole essay and help avoid grammatical errors that can later undermine it. Accordingly, you should ensure your outline is grammatically correct and coherent. It would help to also think of headings that make sense. Normally, your main headings ought to be more broad-based, and each sub-heading should describe your points in greater detail. You should use complete sentences even in the most basic parts of your outline. Write notes in the outline of any intriguing terms and notions you wish to include in the final draft.

Determine the maximum length for your outline

The length largely depends on the essay type you’re writing and how sophisticated your arguments are. Suppose you’re composing a five-paragraph paper. Provided your outline has the primary concept, a few supporting arguments, and a general conclusion, it may be as short as a few lines. However, you’ll require a more detailed outline if you’re composing an argumentative essay or a research paper for a university course that incorporates the same elements as a basic outline but with extra information that includes evidence and rationale for your views. Your outline shouldn’t be more than one or two pages long.

Decide how you’ll format your paper’s outline

Your paper outline must comply with the topic and other specifications your lecturer has given—this is why taking that initial step to analyze everything is crucial. While the alphanumeric format is the most common for paper structures, other possibilities exist, such as the decimal outline structure. While your professor’s suggestion determines the outcome, you’re free to utilize the format of your choice if there are no preconditions. However, keep in mind that consistency is important in this situation since you should adhere to the same structure throughout your outline and final paper. You may utilize the alphanumeric structure for your outline format and employ the characters below for headings:

  • Roman numerals
  • Capital letters
  • Arabic numerals
  • Lowercase letters

Alternatively, the decimal system is comparable but aims to demonstrate the connections between each section of the outline and the essay’s body. A decimal outline formats headings and subheadings using decimals rather than letters and numerals. While completing your references, formatting will be extremely crucial. Even if your paper includes all the reliable sources possible, failure to format them in the correct referencing style may undermine your paper and lower your chances of success. This occurrence may be very detrimental if you need to complete an academic paper or any writing that calls for a standard format and some critical thinking.

Establish your essay outline

It’s advisable to follow a step-by-step process when you’re ready to begin creating your essay outline. First, you should thoroughly evaluate the topic. Is the essay supposed to be expository, narrative, or argumentative? Different categories will call for various kinds of outlines—for instance, an analytical essay will require a different structure than a narrative essay. It could be beneficial to set aside some time to ponder all the subjects or concepts you would like to write about before selecting the one from the shortlist you believe has the most significant promise. Furthermore, this is a great chance to link related concepts and strengthen your research. The next phase is compiling your structured thoughts into an essay outline. It would help if you classified your thoughts according to priority while working on this section. When you compose the conclusion of your essay, consider how you may introduce these themes, provide a rationale for them, and make inferences from them. Keep your details brief. Next, develop headings and subheadings for your essay using the information you have collected. The headings are among the most overlooked aspects of composing an essay, but they also significantly impact how other readers perceive the paper. The key to producing excellent headings is to ensure that each one you use follows these rules:

  • Does the audience comprehend the essay’s subject matter?
  • Are the contents of each section clear?
  • How do the various parts relate to one another?

You must improve your headings if you can’t answer “yes” to any of the questions above. After completing the steps above, you may add your thoughts and draft sentences to your outline’s body to expound on them in the finished paper.

Essay sample outline

As discussed, you should divide and organize your outline into several levels. Let’s examine this more thoroughly to see how you should execute this step. Layer one of your outline is the broadest portion and will include an introduction to the concepts you’ll cover throughout the essay and the conclusion. Consider this to be your research’s elevator pitch. Layer one should appear as follows:

Topic: The stress levels brought on by working remotely

I. Introduction

  • What does remote work entail?
  • Remote employees who were polled expressed more stress than before
  • Statistics to back your claim

II. Factors that remote employees often find stressful

  • Describe the pressures particular to remote employees
  • Potential danger of excessive stress
  • Stress management for remote employees

III. Remote organizations

  • How organizations are addressing the stress factors for remote workers
  • The company versus worker responsibilities
  • Possibilities for future investigation of the solutions

IV. Conclusion

  • Facts in brief
  • Statistics synopsis
  • Final thought

As illustrated above, you should assign distinct sections to the essential parts of the sample outline. It would be best to present one or two supporting arguments for every major concept before introducing the next one.

Modify your outline

You may plan out your paper’s logic or structure using an outline. Therefore, modifying your outline is undoubtedly an essential step in the process. You may even need to add, change, or reorganize ideas in your outline after presenting it to somebody for evaluation or critique. When seeking help for your outline from a friend, teacher, or essay writing service, consider asking the following questions:

  • Do you comprehend it?
  • Is it logically sound?
  • Is it clear?
  • Does the thesis make sense?
  • Are the supporting arguments logical?


You’ll likely write many essays during your life. Thus, having read this article, you’ll know how to outline them better each time. Creating an outline may take a little longer than writing the entire paper right away, but the quality of the finished output will be considerably better. You’ll be able to write a better essay much quicker if you put in the effort to establish a good outline.

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