How To Write An Outline For An Essay

Posted: February 08, 2017 To: Study


Writing an outline before proceeding to write an essay is a crucial step for any writer. It allows the writer to create a comprehensive essay, without missing out on any important information, as well as a coherent essay, for the convenience of the readers.

1.Read the instructions carefully.

The first thing you have to do is to read the guidelines to ensure that you fully understand the type of essay that you are being required to write. As you go along, make sure to highlight the important details such as topic, questions to answer, and length.

2.Develop a topic.

If you are not provided a specific topic to write about, developing a topic might take up some time. To start the process, list down all the ideas that come to mind and assess them one by one until you are left with your top choices. Ideas are very broad so it will be best for you to pick an idea that is as specific as possible.

3.Identify the purpose.

Essays serve a lot of purposes: to inform, to entertain, or to persuade. The purpose of the essay is usually expressed or implied in the guidelines so make sure you read it carefully. It is important to identify the purpose at the very start, as this will set the tone of your essay.

4.Identify the audience.

Your readers will significantly affect the direction of your essay so make you are aware who are going to read your essay: your instructor, your classmates, perhaps strangers? This information will affect the tone of your essay, the information that you are supposed to include, and even the language that you will use to write your essay.

5.Develop your thesis.

Your thesis is your main argument in your essay. It will be the focal point of your essay, which you will try to defend in your arguments. In which case, you have to ensure that all your arguments actually corroborate your thesis, otherwise, you will only confuse your audience.

6.Decide on your structure and style.

The most commonly used outline is the one with alphanumeric, identified by roman numerals, uppercase and lowercase letter, as well as Arabic numerals. Decide on how you will enumerate your points and apply it consistently from start to end. Additionally, you have to decide whether you will write in full sentences or in brief phrases. Again, once you have decided on a structure and style, you have to apply it consistently on the outline to avoid confusing your audience.

7.Coordinate your headings and subheadings.

Your headings and subheadings are going to play an important role in your essay. They make it more coherent and easily readable to your audience so make sure you coordinate them accordingly. As an example, if you start with a verb, ensure that you start the rest of the headings and subheadings with a verb.

8.Provide an introduction.

The introduction is a crucial part of your essay because it can either attract or discourage readers from reading on. Introductions provide a general discussion of your essay, which also includes your thesis.

9.Provide a body.

The body of your essay should cover the majority of your essay. This is where you put all your arguments confirming your thesis. Unlike your introduction, your body is going to be more specific and should have more attention to details.

10.End with a conclusion.

Do not leave your audience hanging by ending it without any conclusion of some sort. Conclusions do not necessarily have to be fancy. You basically just have to confirm your thesis. To some, this is also the part where you convince your audience to act on a particular matter.

In conclusion

Outlines are usually required for approval before you proceed with your essay but in cases where it is not, it still pays to make an outline to ensure that your essay is both comprehensive and coherent.