8 Tips on Creating an Outline for Your Essay

If you are struggling to start with your essay, the best approach to take would be to come up with an outline.

In fact, it is recommended that you begin by structuring your essay in order to organize both your thoughts and writing. It can help you bring order to your disarrayed ideas and convert them into a compelling piece of writing.

What is an Essay Outline?


Before we get started on how to create an essay outline, you should have a clear idea of what it is.

Put simply, think of an outline as a map of your essay. It is a guide that helps you provide a structure to what you intend to communicate through your paper. You will divide your writing into different sections and paragraphs to understand what goes where.

Working with an essay outline can be particularly crucial for college papers such as argumentative essays, expositive essays, and more. Even a narrative essay that focuses on the story rather than the argument can benefit from some order.

Tips on Creating Your Essay Outline

Developing your essay outline is all about finding a roadmap that keeps you focused while you work through your writing process. Below are a few tips that can help you along the way.

1. Work With the Thesis Statement


Before you start outlining your essay, you should have a clear idea of what your thesis statement is. In fact, even if you are looking for an essay for sale from EssayHub, you would want to make sure that your chosen writer understands what your thesis is. You can even attach an outline of your own so that it is explicitly clear how you plan to work with your thesis statement, and what position you want to take.

2. Structure of the Outline

Yes, outlines are intended to bring structure to your essay. But even before that, you should know how you want to approach the outline.

Some academic assignments might even require you to add a copy of your outline before you start with the essay. If this is the case, you might know which outline format to follow. If not, you can choose between these:

  • Alphanumeric structure
  • Decimal outlines
  • Staggered bullet points

No matter which format you choose, there should be a hierarchy that is visible to anyone looking at the outline.

However, there are also students who prefer to create an outline based on topics and not the hierarchy. Regardless, the aim is to ensure that there is a logical flow within your essay.

3. Before and After Research


One of the main purposes of an outline is to get your research organized. That said, if you haven’t done any research yet, you might not have enough understanding of what to put on the essay or how to draft the outline.

Regardless, preparing an outline before you start the literary review will give you an idea of what exactly to look for. Moreover, when you are collecting information, you will also be able to organize the data and insert supporting evidence wherever required.

4. Be Flexible With Outlines

Remember that outlines are only meant to guide you. In other words, if you think you need to change them along the way, you can, and you should. The outline can help you gain a better understanding of the logical order you need to follow.

But it is only after doing the research that you will know how it would fit altogether. An outline has to make sense to you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t deviate from it.

5. Save Introduction for Later


The introductory paragraph of an essay aims to give an overview of the topic as well as some background information. It will help the reader to understand the premises of your argument and your thesis statement.

The majority of students start by working on the introduction, as it is the first thing on the outline. However, if you think about it, you will only know what the concise summary of your thesis is only after you finish it. So, in practical terms, you do not have to follow the order of your outline while writing the essay. You only need to come back to organize your paper.

6. Defining the Body Paragraphs

When you are working on an outline, it can be difficult to pinpoint what goes in which paragraphs. The idea is that each paragraph should discuss an argument that supports your thesis statement.

You can begin each paragraph with a topic line that concisely presents the specific evidence and how it links to the argument. You can also add examples, statistics, studies, or citations of any other data you think is crucial to the topic.

7. Include a Paragraph for Opposing Views


Unlike with a thesis or an elaborate research paper, you might not dedicate an entire section to discuss the counterarguments in your essay. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t acknowledge them. Make sure that you include a paragraph before your conclusion to shine a light on any opposing points of view.

This additional step of considering your topic from different perspectives will add to the credibility of your essay.

8. Concluding Your Essay

Similar to the introduction, your conclusion should also reiterate your thesis and provide a summary of all your arguments. However, instead of merely introducing the idea – present these with a proper concluding statement.

Your conclusion should tie up all the body paragraphs and the arguments you discussed. The aim is to bring together a conclusion that will make a memorable impression on the reader.

When you work with an outline, you are transforming the ideas into an essay rather than starting with a black paper. You can even begin by putting the research material on paper based on your outline and work from there.

This way, you will be able to tackle your essay much more efficiently.

Also, bear in mind that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to your writing approach. What might work for one student might not be suited to your style. Therefore, feel free to develop an outline that makes your writing process easier for you.

About Jeanette Iglesias