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How to Write an Essay Outline

How to Write an Essay Outline and Ease the Writing Process

If you do not know how to write an essay outline, you will most probably face some difficulties in the writing process. As a rule, such challenges occur due to the writer`s block and the inability to organize ideas logically. However, when one composes an outline prior to the process of writing an essay, he/ she will definitely find it easier to develop the ideas consistently and ensure a logical connection between the ideas. Even though many students are tempted to start with the final draft already, it is not a good option to write without a plan. Still, when you come up with an essay outline, it will serve as a backbone for your paper and you will definitely prevent the writer`s block scenario from happening.

What Is an Essay Outline?

Many students confuse an outline with a regular plan, so what is an essay outline in reality? Metaphorically speaking, an essay outline can be compared to a skeleton of your paper. It puts forward the basic ideas, i.e. bones, which are firmly fixed in relation to each other. Sometimes an outline can be compared to a roadmap that helps a student where to go next, where to turn, where to stop, etc. When you have an essay paper outline, you may find it easy to think faster than you are writing as you already have these ideas that you merely have to elaborate on while writing your paper. If you want to modify something, change something or maybe have a comprehensive vision of what your paper will look like in the end, an outline will come in handy for you. If you are writing your paper within a few days, keep in mind that the outline will assist you in keeping track of the ideas.

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When it comes to the structure of a paper outline, it mainly depends on the writing type, academic complexity level, and specific professor`s instructions. Still, the most widespread essay structure outline is a five-paragraph structure, where you need to provide an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. When you are writing a paper outline, you are providing yourself with a guarantee that you will not miss any ideas, arguments, evidence, or specific illustrations.

Top 5 Tips on How to Write an Outline

It is critical to know how to write an outline since it will help you structure your essay ideas in a coherent and logical way and not forget about some points. With the help of an outline, you will be able to transform your ideas into words and sentence structures. If it is going to
be the first time that you create a paper outline check out the following five tips singled out by expert writers.

Tip 1. Pick a topic and indicate the writing purpose. Many students struggle with the topic outline because they often fail to select a clear topic or narrow it down. If you are given a list of topics, it may be easier to choose one since you already have some alternatives. However, if the topic should be of your own choice, you need to pick the one that you consider interesting both for yourself and for the target audience. From the topic that you put forward, it should be clear to your readers what your central focus is and what you are going to write about. So, before indicating the topic, think of the main aims and objectives that you pursue and the ultimate paper`s aim, i.e. what the readers should get in the end.


Tip 2. Come up with a list of the core paper ideas. Brainstorm the main ideas you would like to include in your paper. It will help you keep track of everything you would like your paper to entail. After you have outlined the ideas, elaborate on them, and provide more details and arguments next to each one.

Tip 3. Organize your ideas. After you have gathered a long list of ideas in step two, now you have to look through them and pick the one that you would definitely include in the paper. Along with that, you need to arrange the ideas in the required order, i.e. logical, chronological, or order of importance.

Tip 4. Add relevant content. When developing your main points, add sufficient proof and relevant examples to support the ideas. It is essential that you expand on each of the ideas with the help of some quotes, figures, numerical numbers, theories, etc.

Tip 5. Review the body outline, the revision process is essential to make sure that your essay is ready for the draft writing process. Even though many students consider the revision process a waste of time, it will actually help you avoid mistakes in the writing stage.

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Even though the process of writing a research essay outline may seem a long and time-consuming process, it will help you save time in the end. When you put the full stop in your outline, be sure that the major part of the work has already been done.

Narrative Essay Outline Example

Since narrative essays are some of the widely assigned, our company`s experts have decided to provide a narrative essay outline example to show you how to organize a college essay outline.

So, a narrative essay is a type of academic writing, that requires one to narrate a story that focuses on the personal experience or experience of some person. The main feature of a narrative essay is that it should include sufficient and vivid details. With such an approach, you will make the reader more involved in the reading process.

When you are writing an essay outline, adhere to the following structure:


Put forward the central subject of the essay, formulate the thesis statement, and include the potential plan of ideas development.

Thesis statement: The very first time that I took part in the running competition, I ended up in the last position. However, after I became more disciplined and organized with my training, I was able to win second place in the championship.

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Plan of development: I was in real despair over the results from the first competition, so I decided to focus on my training and improve my nutrition and physical shape. My hard-working approach helped me to become a better runner and thus improve my results.

Body paragraph 1. You are expected to set the scene and introduce the first event. Adhere to the required structure of the body paragraph:

  • Topic sentence: I was so embarrassed about finishing the race last in my first championship that I decided to do my best to improve my performance.
  • Supporting sentence 1: I was working extra hours individually with my coach and have managed to greatly improve my skills and techniques.
  • Supporting sentence 2: In my free time, I went in for sports and started engaging in more fitness exercises, such as weightlifting and running hence increasing my resilience.

Body paragraph 2. Here you need to focus on the second idea and provide sufficient facts and examples.

  • Topic sentence: With time, I have significantly improved my results and decided to enroll in the state championship.
  • Supporting sentence 1: With the help of the new fitness level and resilience that I have acquired, I have become faster.
  • Supporting sentence 2: I was getting better and better and, as I was participating in competitions, I was obtaining the winning places.
  • Supporting sentence 3: I have finally become able to excel in running so that I qualified for the state championship.
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Body paragraph 3. Provide additional ideas with supporting evidence or illustrations.

  • Topic sentence: Having acquired resilience, confidence, and outstanding fitness level, I succeeded in finishing the running championship second.
  • Supporting sentence 1: Thanks to my newly boosted level, I was able to finish the race fast.
  • Supporting sentence 2: My former embarrassment vanished as that last-place finish was more than a nightmare to me.

Conclusion. Reiterate the main ideas and wrap up the main points of discussion. Conclusive sentence: My embarrassing last-place finish at the former championship served as a motivation for me to pluck up my strength and focus on training.

Expository Essay Plan

An expository essay is a type of academic writing, where you need to explore the given topic by providing critical analysis and evaluation of the ideas, which you later have to describe in detail and explain to your reader.

Check out a sample outline for an expository essay:


Introduce the core argument of the paper and convey the main point in the thesis statement.

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Thesis statement: It would be more advantageous both for students and teachers to shorten the school year and save the district money otherwise spent on school maintenance. It will also have a positive implication for students` academic results.

Body paragraph 1: Focus on the primary argument, indicates it, and support with examples and evidence.

  • Topic sentence: When shortened, the studying year would greatly benefit both students and teachers by enabling them more fee time.
  • Supporting sentence 1: Both students and teachers would finally be able to engage in more enjoyable activities and spend quality time with their families.
  • Supporting sentence 2: Teachers would recharge their batteries and will be more refreshed, and thus more effective in teaching.

Body paragraph 2: Provide secondary arguments and support them with evidence.

  • Topic sentence: A shortened studying year will help districts save money that could be spent on more urgent needs.
  • Supporting sentence 1: Districts could distribute the saved money on paying for electricity.
  • Supporting sentence 2: Districts would be able to save money spent otherwise on transportation and product supply.
  • Supporting sentence 3: Students will improve their academic performance after quality rest.

Body paragraph 3: Provide additional arguments and supporting facts.

  • Topic sentence: When the authorities shorten the studying year, parents and caregivers will derive many benefits from it, too.
  • Supporting sentence 1: Shortened studying year will cause less stress and anxiety for parents hosting in the run-up to the school year.
  • Supporting sentence 2: Caregivers would achieve more balance in their private lives when they have fewer studying days.


When concluding the essay, summarize the main argument and reiterate the ideas.

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Concluding sentence: Shortening a studying year will be a brand-new way of improving students` and teachers` quality of life. Besides, parents and caregivers will also be able to save money and get rid of their worries and anxieties.

Research Paper Outline Example

A research essay belongs to the type of academic writing, where a student is expected to provide a thorough and in-depth analysis of the topic and provide a logical synthesis of ideas within the paper. Sometimes, while preparing a research paper, you may also need to write a literature review outline since a literature review may be a complementary document or a chapter within the research paper. A crucial thing to remember while working on a research paper is that one should come up with clear arguments and supporting evidence.

Pay attention to the following outline that may come in handy for you while working on a research paper:

Introduction. Here provide background information on the topic so that your target audience understands what you are writing about. Normally, the number of background facts that you choose to include depends on the level of knowledge/ skills of your target audience.

The main body. When developing the body paragraphs, focus on the main ideas and try to provide supporting facts, evidence, and illustrations.

Conclusion. Summarize the paper, reiterate the thesis, re-emphasize its core findings.

There are dozens of essay types that you may be assigned in school and college. Among the other frequently assigned essays are persuasive and argumentative papers, so be sure to check our persuasive essay outline sample as well as an argumentative essay outline sample when you need to submit these tasks.

Remember that presentation outline writing is also essential when you are required to deliver a speech to a wide audience based on some piece of writing. So, do not underestimate its importance – it helps one to develop critical thinking and acquire more fluency in developing ideas.

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