Essay Writing Guide

Essay Outline

Last updated on: Jun 10, 2023

A Complete Essay Outline - Guidelines and Format

By: Nova A.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jan 15, 2019

Essay Outline

To write an effective essay, you need to create a clear and well-organized essay outline. An essay outline will shape the essay’s entire content and determine how successful the essay will be.

In this blog post, we'll be going over the basics of essay outlines and provide a template for you to follow. We will also include a few examples so that you can get an idea about how these outlines look when they are put into practice.

Essay writing is not easy, but it becomes much easier with time, practice, and a detailed essay writing guide. Once you have developed your outline, everything else will come together more smoothly.

The key to success in any area is preparation - take the time now to develop a solid outline and then write your essays!

So, let’s get started!

Essay Outline

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What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is your essay plan and a roadmap to essay writing. It is the structure of an essay you are about to write. It includes all the main points you have to discuss in each section along with the thesis statement.

Like every house has a map before it is constructed, the same is the importance of an essay outline. You can write an essay without crafting an outline, but you may miss essential information, and it is more time-consuming.

Once the outline is created, there is no chance of missing any important information. Also, it will help you to:

  • Organize your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understand the information flow.
  • Never miss any crucial information or reference.
  • Finish your work faster.

These are the reasons if someone asks you why an essay outline is needed. Now there are some points that must be kept in mind before proceeding to craft an essay outline.

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Prewriting Process of Essay Outline

Your teacher may ask you to submit your essay outline before your essay. Therefore, you must know the preliminary guidelines that are necessary before writing an essay outline.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You must go through your assignments’ guidelines carefully.
  • Understand the purpose of your assignment.
  • Know your audience.
  • Mark the important point while researching your topic data.
  • Select the structure of your essay outline; whether you are going to use a decimal point bullet or a simple one.

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How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

Creating an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and organized piece of writing. Follow these four simple steps to create an effective outline:

Step 1: Understand the Topic

To begin, thoroughly grasp the essence of your essay topic. 

Break it down into its key components and identify the main ideas you want to convey. This step ensures you have a clear direction and focus for your essay.

Step 2: Brainstorm and Gather Ideas

Let your creativity flow and brainstorm ideas related to your topic. 

Jot down key pieces of information, arguments, and supporting evidence that will strengthen your essay's overall message. Consider different perspectives and potential counterarguments to make your essay well-rounded.

Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

Now it's time to give structure to your ideas. 

Arrange your main points in a logical order, starting with an attention-grabbing introduction, followed by body paragraphs that present your arguments. 

Finally, tie everything together with a compelling conclusion. Remember to use transitional phrases to create smooth transitions between sections.

Step 4: Add Depth with Subpoints

To add depth and clarity to your essay, incorporate subpoints under each main point. 

These subpoints provide more specific details, evidence, or examples that support your main ideas. They help to further strengthen your arguments and make your essay more convincing.

By following these four steps - you'll be well on your way to creating a clear and compelling essay outline.

Essay Outline Format

It is an easy way for you to write your thoughts in an organized manner. It may seem unnecessary and unimportant, but it is not.

It is one of the most crucial steps for essay writing as it shapes your entire essay and aids the writing process.

An essay outline consists of three main parts:

1. Introduction

The introduction body of your essay should be attention-grabbing. It should be written in such a manner that it attracts the reader’s interest. It should also provide background information about the topic for the readers.

You can use a dramatic tone to grab readers’ attention, but it should connect the audience to your thesis statement.

Here are some points without which your introduction paragraph is incomplete.

To attract the reader with the first few opening lines, we use a hook statement. It helps engage the reader and motivates them to read further. There are different types of hook sentences ranging from quotes, rhetorical questions to anecdotes and statistics, and much more.

Are you struggling to come up with an interesting hook? View these hook examples to get inspired!

A thesis statement is stated at the end of your introduction. It is the most important statement of your entire essay. It summarizes the purpose of the essay in one sentence.

The thesis statement tells the readers about the main theme of the essay, and it must be strong and clear. It holds the entire crux of your essay.

Need help creating a strong thesis statement? Check out this guide on thesis statements and learn to write a statement that perfectly captures your main argument!

2. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of an essay are where all the details and evidence come into play. This is where you dive deep into the argument, providing explanations and supporting your ideas with solid evidence. 

If you're writing a persuasive essay, these paragraphs will be the powerhouse that convinces your readers. Similarly, in an argumentative essay, your body paragraphs will work their magic to sway your audience to your side.

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and no more than one idea. A topic sentence is the crux of the contents of your paragraph. It is essential to keep your reader interested in the essay.

The topic sentence is followed by the supporting points and opinions, which are then justified with strong evidence.

3. Conclusion

When it comes to wrapping up your essay, never underestimate the power of a strong conclusion. Just like the introduction and body paragraphs, the conclusion plays a vital role in providing a sense of closure to your topic. 

To craft an impactful conclusion, it's crucial to summarize the key points discussed in the introduction and body paragraphs. You want to remind your readers of the important information you shared earlier. But keep it concise and to the point. Short, powerful sentences will leave a lasting impression.

Remember, your conclusion shouldn't drag on. Instead, restate your thesis statement and the supporting points you mentioned earlier. And here's a pro tip: go the extra mile and suggest a course of action. It leaves your readers with something to ponder or reflect on.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Structure

An outline is an essential part of the writing as it helps the writer stay focused. A typical 5 paragraph essay outline example is shown here. This includes:

  • State the topic
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduction
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis
  • Summary of the essay
  • Restate the thesis statement

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Essay Outline Template

The outline of the essay is the skeleton that you will fill out with the content. Both outline and relevant content are important for a good essay. The content you will add to flesh out the outline should be credible, relevant, and interesting.

The outline structure for the essay is not complex or difficult. No matter which type of essay you write, you either use an alphanumeric structure or a decimal structure for the outline.

Below is an outline sample that you can easily follow for your essay.

Essay Outline Sample

Essay Outline Examples

An essay outline template should follow when you start writing the essay. Every writer should learn how to write an outline for every type of essay and research paper.

Essay outline 4th grade

Essay outline 5th grade

Essay outline high school

Essay outline college

Given below are essay outline examples for different types of essay writing.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An  argumentative essay  is a type of essay that shows both sides of the topic that you are exploring. The argument that presents the basis of the essay should be created by providing evidence and supporting details.

Persuasive Essay Outline

A  persuasive essay  is similar to an argumentative essay. Your job is to provide facts and details to create the argument. In a persuasive essay, you convince your readers of your point of view.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A  compare and contrast essay  explains the similarities and differences between two things. While comparing, you should focus on the differences between two seemingly similar objects. While contrasting, you should focus on the similarities between two different objects.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is written to share a story. Normally, a narrative essay is written from a personal point of view in an essay. The basic purpose of the narrative essay is to describe something creatively.

Expository Essay Outline

An  expository essay  is a type of essay that explains, analyzes, and illustrates something for the readers. An expository essay should be unbiased and entirely based on facts. Be sure to use academic resources for your research and cite your sources.

Analytical Essay Outline

An  analytical essay  is written to analyze the topic from a critical point of view. An analytical essay breaks down the content into different parts and explains the topic bit by bit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical essay is written to examine the writer or artist’s work and develop a great essay. It also includes the discussion.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A  cause and effect essay  describes why something happens and examines the consequences of an occurrence or phenomenon. It is also a type of expository essay.

Informative Essay Outline

An  informative essay  is written to inform the audience about different objects, concepts, people, issues, etc.

The main purpose is to respond to the question with a detailed explanation and inform the target audience about the topic.

Synthesis Essay Outline

A  synthesis essay  requires the writer to describe a certain unique viewpoint about the issue or topic. Create a claim about the topic and use different sources and information to prove it.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A  literary analysis essay  is written to analyze and examine a novel, book, play, or any other piece of literature. The writer analyzes the different devices such as the ideas, characters, plot, theme, tone, etc., to deliver his message.

Definition Essay Outline

A  definition essay  requires students to pick a particular concept, term, or idea and define it in their own words and according to their understanding.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A  descriptive essay  is a type of essay written to describe a person, place, object, or event. The writer must describe the topic so that the reader can visualize it using their five senses.

Evaluation Essay Outline

Problem Solution Essay Outline

In a problem-solution essay, you are given a problem as a topic and you have to suggest multiple solutions on it.

Scholarship Essay Outline

A  scholarship essay  is required at the time of admission when you are applying for a scholarship. Scholarship essays must be written in a way that should stand alone to help you get a scholarship.

Reflective Essay Outline

A reflective essay  is written to express your own thoughts and point of view regarding a specific topic.

Getting started on your essay? Give this comprehensive essay writing guide a read to make sure you write an effective essay!

With this complete guide, now you understand how to create an outline for your essay successfully. However, if you still can’t write an effective essay, then the best option is to consult a professional academic writing service.

Essay writing is a dull and boring task for some people. So why not get some help instead of wasting your time and effort? is here to help you. All your  do my essay for me  requests are managed by professional essay writers.

Place your order now, and our team of expert academic writers will help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of outlines.

Here are the three types of essay outline;

  • Working outline
  • Speaking outline
  • Full-sentence outline

All three types are different from each other and are used for different purposes.

What does a full-sentence outline look like?

A full sentence outline contains full sentences at each level of the essay’s outline. It is similar to an alphanumeric outline and it is a commonly used essay outline.

What is a traditional outline format?

A traditional essay outline begins with writing down all the important points in one place and listing them down and adding sub-topics to them. Besides, it will also include evidence and proof that you will use to back your arguments.

What is the benefit of using a traditional outline format and an informal outline format?

A traditional outline format helps the students in listing down all the important details in one palace while an informal outline will help you coming up with new ideas and highlighting important points

Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps | Examples

Learn how to write an essay outline with our expert guide. We also shared some essay outline examples for you to clear understanding. Start writing essays like a pro today!

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Last updated on Mar 14th, 2024

How to Write an Essay Outline

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Table of Contents

Have you ever stared at a blank page, an essay prompt looming, feeling completely lost? You’re not alone. Many students struggle to translate their thoughts into a well-structured and compelling essay. The key to conquering this challenge often lies in a fundamental step: writing a strong essay outline. But you don’t know how to write an essay outline.

This might seem like an extra load, but trust me, it’s an investment that will pay off big time. Consider an outline to be your essay’s template. It offers a clear road map that directs your ideas and arguments systematically and sensibly.

Today, we’ll break down the process of writing an effective essay outline, turning essay writing from a daunting task to a streamlined success story.

Why an Essay Outline is Your Secret Weapon

Writing an essay [1] can feel overwhelming, like staring up a giant mountain. You have a goal in mind or your thesis statement, which is like reaching the peak, but figuring out how to get there feels like a confusing journey. That’s where an essay outline comes in to help you. It’s like a map that helps you:

  • Organize your thoughts : Just like packing for a trip, you need to gather your ideas. An outline lets you brainstorm and see how everything connects before you start writing.
  • Build a strong argument : A good outline helps you focus on your main points and the evidence that supports them. It’s like planning your route. you know exactly which points you need to hit to reach your destination or thesis.
  • Write efficiently : With a clear roadmap, you won’t waste time getting lost. You’ll know exactly what goes in each paragraph, making writing faster and smoother.
  • Avoid writer’s block : A blank page can be scary! An outline gives you a starting point and keeps you on track, preventing that dreaded feeling of being stuck.

An outline is basically your personal writing coach, strategist, and cheerleader all in one. It helps you get your thoughts organized, build a strong argument, write faster, and avoid getting stuck. So, next time you have an essay due, forget the fear and grab your outline writing tools . You’ll be surprised at how much easier and more successful writing becomes.

In short, an essay outline is your secret weapon for conquering essay writing. It helps you organize your thoughts, build a strong argument, write efficiently, and avoid writer’s block.

What is a Perfect Essay Outline

What is a Perfect Essay Outline

You might think an essay outline needs to be super fancy, but that’s not true! The best outlines are clear and organized, and help you build a strong essay. Here’s what goes into this winning formula:

  • Clear and Concise : Your outline is like a map, not a story. Use short words or key ideas to show what each part is about. Keep it short and sweet – you can add details later in your essay.
  • Logical Flow : Imagine explaining your essay to a friend. Your outline should be like a guide for that conversation. Each part should connect easily to the next, leading your friend (and later, your reader) on a clear and interesting path from the beginning to the end of your essay.
  • Thesis Powerhouse : Your thesis statement is the heart of your essay, and your outline should reflect its importance. Make sure your outline clearly highlights your thesis and how each body paragraph supports it.
  • Evidence Essentials : Don’t just write down what you’ll talk about in each paragraph. A great outline also mentions the stuff you’ll use to prove your points, like facts, numbers, quotes, or even stories. Having this info handy keeps you on track and helps you write faster.
  • Balanced Structure : Think of your essay like a team. Each paragraph is a player, and they all need to work together. Your outline helps make sure each paragraph has its own clear job that supports your main idea.

By following these simple ingredients, you can write an essay outline that serves as a powerful tool for writing success. It will keep your thoughts organized, your arguments focused, and your essay on track for an impressive finish!

The Main Parts of an Essay

Imagine your essay is like a three-act play, with each part working together to tell a clear and interesting story. Here’s a look at the main sections of an essay and what they do:

1. The Introduction

The introduction is like the beginning of a play. It introduces the topic and grabs the reader’s attention. You might start with a question, a surprising fact, or an interesting story to make them want to read more.

Then, you’ll give some background information to help the reader understand what you’re talking about. Finally, you’ll state your thesis statement , which is like the main idea of the play. This is a short sentence that tells the reader exactly what you’ll be arguing throughout your essay.

2. The Body Paragraphs

Think of your essay’s body paragraphs like chapters in a story. Each chapter focuses on one main idea that helps prove your main point or thesis. Imagine you’re trying to convince a friend of something – each chapter would be a reason why they should believe you.

To make your chapters convincing, you need evidence. This is like showing your friend proof!  The evidence can be anything from facts and numbers to quotes from experts, or even your own experiences that show your point is true. 

Transitions between chapters, like in a story, help things flow smoothly. They connect one idea to the next, making your argument clear and easy to follow. This way, each chapter builds on the one before it, making your overall argument even stronger.

3. The Conclusion

Wrap things up with a strong conclusion, like the final act of a play that leaves the audience thinking. Briefly remind the reader of the key points you made, but avoid just repeating yourself. 

Instead, explain why your argument matters and what it means in the bigger picture. End with a thought-provoking idea that ties back to your thesis statement , leaving the reader with something to consider and creating a satisfying finish to your essay.

How to Write an Essay Outline: A 4-Step Guide

How to Write an Outline in 4 Steps

Writing a great essay can be tough, but there’s a secret weapon that can make things much easier: the essay outline. 

Think of an outline like a map for your essay. It helps you organize your ideas and build a strong argument, just like a blueprint helps an architect build a house. Ready to ditch writer’s block and write your essay with confidence? Let’s break down the steps to creating an awesome outline.

Step 1: Identify Your Essay’s Objective

Every essay has a specific goal, like a top-secret mission! Before you dive into crafting your outline, take a moment to crack the code and understand the type of essay you’re tackling. 

Are you a persuasive detective, building a case to convince the reader of your viewpoint, or argumentative essay? Or are you an undercover storyteller, crafting a captivating narrative that unfolds like a thrilling adventure?

It helps you tailor your outline for maximum impact, ensuring you choose the best approach for presenting your ideas and achieving your essay’s goal.

Step 2: Refining Your Focus

Brainstorming is like a fun playground where you can explore all sorts of ideas for your essay. But now it’s time to get serious and focus on your essay’s main goal.

Think of all your brainstorming notes as a giant pile of toys. Now you need to be like Mission Control, picking the toys that will help you launch your essay into outer space (success!). 

After considering each concept, ask yourself, “Does this support my main argument?” If you can’t give a clear answer about how the idea supports your main argument, it’s okay to set it aside.

Just keep the important stuff – the ideas that are like powerful rockets, ready to take your essay to the top. Getting rid of the “fluff” helps you focus on the best ideas and build a strong, clear outline.

Step 3: Mapping Your Key Points

Now that you have your mission-critical points, let’s turn them into a winning strategy for your essay. Look at those strong arguments you identified the ones that really back up your main idea. 

These will become the main parts of your essay, like chapters in a book, or paragraphs that focus on one key point. Think of it like this: Imagine you’re writing an essay about why your school needs more water fountains. 

Your key arguments, the points you want to make, might be:

  • Water fountains save students money.
  • Fountains help reduce plastic waste.
  • Having more water fountains can prevent heat exhaustion.

All these important details you gathered, along with your main points, are like the building blocks of your essay outline. Having a clear outline is like having a roadmap for writing a strong essay. It shows you exactly where to put all your information to create a well-supported and convincing piece of writing.

Step 4: Building Your Outline

Now you’ve figured out your essay goal, sorted through your ideas, and identified your key points. Time to build the actual outline like constructing the skeleton of your essay.

There are different outline styles depending on the essay type. For now, let’s focus on a basic template that works for most essays with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Grab Your Template : There are many outline templates available online or in writing guides. Choose one that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • Fill in the Blanks : Using the key points and supporting details you identified earlier, start filling out the sections of your outline template.
  • Introduction : Briefly mention your topic and hook the reader. Then, state your thesis statement clearly.
  • Body Paragraphs : Each paragraph should represent a single key point that supports your thesis. List these points in your outline, along with some brief notes about the evidence you’ll use to back them up.
  • Conclusion : Briefly summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression.

Remember, keep your outline clear and concise. Use bullet points, short phrases, or keywords to capture the essence of each section. Don’t get bogged down by writing elaborate sentences at this stage.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a strong outline that serves as a roadmap to writing success.

Essay Outline Examples

Feeling stumped for an essay topic? No worries! This example shows you how to craft a strong outline for a descriptive essay, focusing on a relatable experience:

Argumentative Essay Outline

Argumentative Essay Outline

Remember, this is just a sample personalize and expand upon this outline to capture the unique elements that make your movie nights truly unforgettable.

Persuasive Essay Outline

Title : Ditch the Car, Ride the Bus: Why Public Transportation Should Be Your Go-To


  • Briefly introduce the current reliance on personal vehicles for everyday travel.
  • Mention the growing concerns about traffic congestion and environmental pollution. 
  • Thesis Statement: Public transportation offers a more efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective alternative to personal car usage, and its widespread adoption should be encouraged.  

Body Paragraphs

 Body Paragraph 1 : Battling Gridlock 

  • Main Point : Public transportation significantly reduces traffic congestion on our roads.
  • Evidence : Cite statistics on the number of vehicles removed from the road with increased public transport usage.
  • Explanation : Explain how fewer cars translate to smoother traffic flow, shorter commute times, and a less stressful driving experience for everyone. 

 Body Paragraph 2 : Saving the Planet, One Ride at a Time 

  • Main Point : Public transportation plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.
  • Evidence :  Cite statistics on the lower carbon footprint of public transport compared to personal vehicles.
  • Explanation : Discuss the positive impact of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and creating a cleaner environment for all.  

Body Paragraph 3 : Saving Money on the Move  

  • Main Point : Public transportation offers a more budget-friendly option compared to owning and maintaining a car.
  • Evidence :  Compare the costs of public transportation passes or tickets with the expenses of gas, car maintenance, and insurance. 
  • Explanation :  Highlight how opting for public transport can free up money for other expenses or allow individuals to save for the future.  
  • Briefly summarize the benefits of public transportation – reduced traffic, environmental protection, and cost savings.
  • Emphasize the importance of a shift towards a more sustainable and economical transportation system.  
  • End with a call to action, encouraging readers to consider using public transportation more frequently (optional).  

This example shows you how to take the persuasive essay structure and use it for a new topic. Remember, you can add your own details about public transportation in your area and change them to fit the people you’re writing to!

Admissions Essay Outline

Title : From Shy Singer to Stage Presence: A Band Odyssey

  • Briefly introduce your initial discomfort with singing and performing in front of others.
  • Mention how joining your school band changed your perspective on music and self-expression.
  • Thesis Statement: Participating in my high school band transformed me from a shy singer into a confident performer, fostering a deeper appreciation for music and collaboration.
  • Details : Describe your feelings of anxiety and how performing felt like a daunting challenge.
  • Explanation : Explain how this initial discomfort almost made you quit the band altogether.
  • Details : Mention specific examples of how your band director or peers helped you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.
  • Explanation : Explain how the positive and encouraging atmosphere within the band fostered your confidence and passion for music.
  • Details : Describe the process of working together with other musicians to achieve a unified sound.
  • Explanation : Explain how learning to play your part effectively within the band fostered a sense of teamwork and a deeper appreciation for different musical roles.
  • Briefly summarize the transformative impact of band participation on your confidence, self-expression, and teamwork skills.
  • Emphasize how these skills developed through music will benefit you in your future endeavors.

Personal Essay Outline

  • Briefly introduce the special bond you share with your dog.
  • Mention a specific incident where your dog’s actions surprised and impressed you.
  • Thesis Statement: During a seemingly ordinary walk in the park, my dog, [Dog’s Name], showcased his bravery and became my hero most unexpectedly.

Body Paragraph

  • Describe the setting in detail – what park were you in? What was the weather like?
  • Explain what happened – what were you doing with your dog when the incident occurred?
  • Focus on the details of your dog’s actions – how did they react to the situation? What did they do that surprised you?
  • Explain the impact of your dog’s actions – did they protect you from danger? Did they alert you to something you missed?
  • Describe your emotions after the incident – were you relieved? Grateful? Proud of your dog?
  • You can mention specific details or reactions from others that highlight your dog’s heroism.
  • Briefly summarize your dog’s heroic act and its significance.
  • Reflect on the deepened bond you share with your dog due to this experience.
  • You can end with a heartwarming anecdote about your dog’s continued presence as your furry hero (optional).

FAQs: How to Write an Essay Outline

These FAQs will provide some helpful information to readers seeking guidance on how to write an essay outline.

When should I write an essay outline?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some writers prefer outlining before diving into the first draft, while others use it as they go. Try different things to see what suits you the best.

Isn’t outlining just a waste of time?

On the contrary, an outline saves time in the long run. By organizing your thoughts beforehand, you avoid getting sidetracked and rewriting entire sections later.

What are some common essay outline formats?

There are various formats, but a popular one uses Roman numerals (I, II, III) for main points, capital letters (A, B, C) for sub-points, and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) for further details. Bullet points and short phrases are also common for keeping things concise.

Are there any online tools that can help me outline?

Yes! There are several online outlining tools and templates available. They can provide a visual structure and guide you through the outlining process.

Do teachers always require essay outlines?

Not always, but they can be a valuable addition, especially for longer or complex essays.  If unsure, always check with your teacher for specific requirements.

How long should my essay outline be?

There’s no set length. It should be detailed enough to guide your writing but not so detailed it becomes a full draft. Aim for clarity and functionality.

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How to Write an Essay Outline

How to Write an Essay Outline?

28 August, 2020

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Author:  Tomas White

Now that the school year has begun, you will start to receive many essay assignments. One way to organize your thoughts before writing is to create an essay outline. What is an essay outline? It's a tool that helps you organize your ideas and write a better essay. In this article, we will discuss why writing an outline for your essay is helpful, how it will improve your writing, and how to go about creating one.

Essay Outline

What is an Essay Outline?

An outline is a tool that you can use for organizing your ideas and structuring your essay in a proper manner. It should summarize your essay and help you organize your content in a logical order. An outline can guide you throughout the writing process and remind you of what you should be writing about. Most commonly, an essay is written following a 5-paragraph structure, addressing the key points that you have laid out in the outline. Below, you will find more about the proper structure of your essay outline and what these 5 paragraphs should include.

Why Do You Need It?

Sitting down to write an essay can be overwhelming. Writing an outline helps alleviate some of that frustration. Furthermore, it will help you organize thoughts, present ideas logically and with a natural flow, as well as clarify your thesis and conclusion.

Find out the basic essay information with this article: What is an Essay?

Overall, an outline will help you communicate your point in a clear and organized format. The structure of your essay will rely on the outline you compose.

Preparing Your Outline

Before you begin writing an outline for the essay, make sure you understand the assignment. Namely, what exactly is the instructor looking for? Our  essay writer  recommends you to follow these simple steps:

Writing an Essay Outline

1. Develop a Topic

The first step in your outline is to identify your topic. Once you have a clear understanding of the instructor’s expectations, begin brainstorming topics that fit within the assignment. Make a list of ideas and pick the ones that are of your interest. If you are stuck between a few ideas, begin free writing. Give yourself 5 minutes for each idea and just write everything that first comes to mind without editing or stopping. The idea that inspires you the most may just be the perfect essay topic for this assignment. In fact, essays are easier to write and read if the author is passionate about what he/she is writing.

Related Posts: Argumentative essay topics | Compare&Contrast essay topics

2. Identify the purpose, audience, and argument/ideas

Once you have developed a topic, you will need to define the purpose (or the reason) for writing this essay as well as who you are writing for. By having a clear understanding of the purpose, the audience, and the necessary arguments/ideas that need to be addressed, you will be better prepared to write an influential essay.

Purpose, audience, argument of an essay

Take a second to look back over the instructions for the assignment and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What are the objectives of the assignment?
  • Are there keywords that stand out in the instructions?
  • Are you being asked to persuade, entertain, enlighten, or educate your audience?
  • Who is your audience? Is it the teacher, the other students, or someone else?
  • What arguments or counter ideas might the audience have for your topic/idea?
  • What emotions might these ideas bring up and how can you counterbalance them with facts?

3. Develop a thesis statement

Now that you know your topic, purpose, audience and have developed your main arguments/ideas – it is time to write your thesis statement . A thesis is only one to two sentences long and highlights the question your essay will be answering. It does not state your opinion or list facts though, but rather identifies what you will be arguing for or against within the body of your essay. Keep in mind that thesis statements must be accurate, clear, and relevant to the topic.

Structuring Your Outline

Now that you have read the above information, the question is:  how to write an essay outline?

First, decide on what structure to use. There are two main essay outline formats to choose from:   alphanumeric and decimal .

The alphanumeric format uses Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, etc), capital letters (A, B, C, D, etc.), Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), and lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, etc.).  This one is more common than the other.

On the contrary, the decimal format only uses numbers. It begins with 1.0. Subsections add a decimal. The most important points under 1.0 would be 1.1, 1.2, etc. The subsections beneath 1.1 would be 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, etc. For a visual example of an essay outline scroll to the bottom of this article.

For the visual examples of the stated outline formats, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

Apply sub-section structure. The more detailed content of your essay will be found within the sub-sections, while the main sections are your fundamental ideas and arguments. Therefore, the sub-sections are the facts that support main sections. Think of the section title as the topic sentence for your paragraph and the sub-section as the tiny details that explain the idea of the topic. Notably, your sub-sections need to flow naturally from one to another.

Essay outline structure

Integrate paragraphs into your outline. Start fleshing out your section and subsection notes. Your introduction will need to include your topic and thesis statement. For a short essay, this only needs to be one paragraph long. Then, refer to your assignment instructions to clarify the length. Next is the body part – a ‘skeleton’ on which the entire essay is based. This section will consist of several paragraphs, each playing a supportive role in the filling of your thesis. The final section of your outline is the conclusion. This is a summary of everything you have stated in your essay. In this part, paraphrase your thesis statement and highlight the arguments made within the essay to support it. Remember that presenting new ideas and concepts in the concluding sentences is a big academic mistake. Rather, your final words should only emphasize the points you’ve indicated earlier and focus on the already-highlighted ideas.

Essay Outline Examples

Now, it’s time to showcase the most common essay outline types. For you to get the right idea of what an outline actually is, we have transformed the content of the article you are currently reading into an outline.

Alphanumeric format essay outline sample:

Alphanumeric Outline template

Decimal format essay outline sample:

Decimal outline example

Drawing the Line

Now that you know how to use an essay outline, you are well on your way to writing clear, persuasive essays. This tool will help you improve your writing and earn a higher grade for your essay. Now it’s time for you to get started and make use of this tool.

In case you have any questions, you are free to skim through our essay writing guide where you can find helpful information on how to plan, structure and write different types of essays.

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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write an Essay Outline

How to Write an Essay Outline

It’s 11 p.m., your paper is due tomorrow, and you’re only about halfway done. You’re typing along and when you realize that, wait…you’re actually not a huge fan of your argument or the supporting examples you’re using. Your options are to haphazardly keep writing or to backtrack and rehash what you’ve already done. Ugh. Unsurprisingly, both options aren’t great.

This scenario is scary, but totally avoidable! Though it’s tempting to just start writing, one of the best steps you can take before you type a single word is to create an outline for your paper. By taking the time to write a paper outline, you can prevent the scenario above and make your writing process a cinch!

Guide Overview

What is a paper outline, why it’s worth writing an outline.

  • Step 1: gather your relevant materials
  • Step 2: create your thesis
  • Step 3: find examples
  • Step 4: analyze your examples
  • Step 5: arrange your examples

A paper outline is a skeletal version of your paper. Another way to think about an outline is to view it as a roadmap. An outline helps you organize and streamline your thoughts ahead of time. By front loading this work, you allow the eventual writing process to be much easier: instead of having to backtrack and see if your paper makes sense, you can refer to your outline and be rest assured that you’re on the right track.

It’s understandable if you think it’s not worth the time to write an outline. After all, writing a paper in itself is a lot of work – why add an extra step?

Here’s the secret: creating an outline and then writing your paper takes about the same amount of time as jumping straight into writing your paper. Why? By immediately writing, you run the risk of having to go back and see if the flow of your paper makes sense. Backtracking takes up a lot of time: having to go back and revise your paper because you missed a point can be a pain.

Taking the time to outline your paper gives you the space to see what arguments work, which examples to include, and more. Doing this prep work ahead of time prevents you from having to do it while in the middle of your paper. Your completed outline serves as a solid reference as you write your assignment. In an ideal world, your outline should be so thorough that the writing process is essentially just you converting your bullet points into sentences that flow together!

How to outline a paper

Step 1: gather your relevant materials.

The first step to take when outlining a paper is to gather all your relevant materials. If you’re writing a paper about a book you’re reading in class, start thinking about which passages from the book are relevant to your prompt. If you’re writing a paper about a broader topic, identify what sources you’ll need to construct your argument.

Pro tip: Avoid plagiarism and keep track of the sources you’re using at! Easily create an APA or MLA format citation , try out our Chicago citation generator , and find help for other citation styles.

Step 2: Create your thesis

After you’ve compiled your materials, start thinking about your thesis statement. Revisit your assignment prompt, peruse your materials, and determine what your viewpoint is regarding the prompt.

Step 3: Find examples

Once you have your thesis, come up with ways to support it. Identify the quotes you need or the arguments you want to utilize in order to bolster your thesis.

Step 4: Analyze Your Examples

Write 3-4 bullet points connecting your examples to your thesis. The analysis part of your paper is the meat of your paper, so feel free to take as much time as you want during this step.

Step 5: Arrange Your Examples

Now that you have your examples and analysis, arrange them in a logical way that helps you develop and support your thesis. This is the step in which you can start copying and pasting your notes into an outline that mimics the flow of your paper. By the end of this step, you should have a solid outline!

Here’s a template for a five paragraph essay you can use for your papers moving forward:

Paper outline example

Before you jump into writing your paper, it might pay to take a quick look at our EasyBib grammar guides . Discover what an abstract noun is, read a determiner definition , see the difference between regular and irregular verbs , and get familiar with other parts of speech.

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  • Academic Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • College Admissions Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Research Paper
  • Thesis Statement
  • Writing a Conclusion
  • Writing an Introduction
  • Writing an Outline
  • Writing a Summary

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How to Write an Outline

Last Updated: March 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,953,879 times.

An outline is a great way to organize ideas and information for a speech, an essay, a novel, or a study guide based on your class notes. At first, writing an outline might seem complicated, but learning how to do it will give you an essential organizational skill! Start by planning your outline and choosing a structure for it. Then, you can organize your ideas into an easy to understand outline.

Quick Outline Slideshow

Sample outlines.

how outline an essay

Planning Your Outline

Step 1 Decide if you will write your outline by hand or type it.

  • Some people process their ideas better when they write them down. Additionally, you can easily draw diagrams or examples, which might help you conceptualize the subject. However, it might take longer to write out your outline, and it won't be as neat.
  • Typing your outline might be easier if your notes are already typed on the computer, as you can just copy and paste them into your outline. Copying and pasting also allows you to easily rearrange your sections, if necessary. Also, it will be easier to copy and paste information from your outline into your paper if you type your outline. On the other hand, it's harder to jot down notes in the margins or draw out organizational diagrams.

Step 2 Narrow down your topic.

  • If you’re working on a creative project, such as a novel, identify your concept, genre, or premise. Then, allow the outlining process to help you structure your work.
  • It’s okay if your topic is somewhat broad when you first start, but you should have a direction. For example, your history paper topic could be French life during the German occupation of France in World War II. As you write your outline, you might narrow this down to the resistance fighters called maquisards .

Step 3 Identify the purpose of your outline, such as inform, entertain or reflect.

  • For a school assignment, review the assignment sheet or talk to your instructor. If the outline is for work, use an existing outline as a model for yours.
  • If you are the only person who will see the outline, you can choose formatting that works for you. For example, you might write your outline in shorthand.

Step 5 Assemble your notes, research or supporting materials, if applicable.

  • Paraphrased ideas
  • Historical facts

Step 6 Brainstorm to identify your argument or main ideas.

  • Freewrite as ideas come to you.
  • Create a mind map .
  • Write your thoughts on index cards.

Step 7 Develop a thesis...

  • For example, you may be writing a paper about policy change. Your thesis might read, “Policy makers should take an incremental approach when making policy changes to reduce conflict, allow adjustments, and foster compromise.” Each of the 3 reasons listed in your thesis will become its own main point in your outline.

Structuring Your Outline

Step 1 Write an alphanumeric outline for the easy approach.

  • Roman Numerals - I, II, III, IV, V
  • Capitalized Letters - A, B, C
  • Arabic Numerals - 1, 2, 3
  • Lowercase Letters - a, b, c
  • Arabic Numerals in Parentheses - (1), (2), (3)

Step 2 Make a decimal outline to highlight the relationship between ideas.

  • 1.1.1 - Each side presents a case before the vote
  • 1.1.2 - Citizens voice their opinion
  • 1.2 - Neither side gets everything they want

Step 3 Decide if you want to write full sentences or short phrases.

  • You might use short phrases to quickly organize your ideas, to outline a speech, or to create an outline that’s just for you.
  • You might use full sentences to make it easier to write a final paper, to make a good study guide, or to fulfill the requirements of an assignment.

Organizing Your Ideas

Step 1 Group your ideas together.

  • If you jotted down your ideas or made a mind map, use different colored highlighters to identify ideas that belong in the same group.
  • Sort your index cards, if you used them to brainstorm. Put cards with related ideas together. For example, you can put them in stacks, or you can line your cards out in rows to make them easier to read.

Step 2 Put each group in order from broad ideas to specific details.

  • For example, your main point might be that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein champions emotion over reason. Your subpoints might be that Victor Frankenstein is restored by nature and that his scientific efforts create a monster. As supporting details, you might include quotes from the book.
  • If you're writing a story or presenting a historical argument, a chronological order makes sense. For an essay or speech, pick the subtopic with the most supporting materials, and lead with this argument. From there, order your major subtopics so each one naturally flows into the next.
  • Your broad ideas should connect back to your thesis or controlling idea. If they don’t, rewrite your thesis to reflect the main ideas you’re putting into your outline.

Step 3 Outline your introduction as the first main point for a speech or essay.

  • Hook to grab the audience
  • 1-2 general statements about your topic

Step 4 Create your body headings, if you haven’t already.

  • Phrase outline: II. Frankenstein champions emotion over reason
  • Full sentence outline: II. In Frankenstein , Mary Shelley champions the use of emotion over reason.

Step 5 Write at least 2 subpoints for each main idea.

  • Depending on the purpose of your outline, you might have more subpoints. For example, a novel may have many subpoints. Similarly, a study guide will likely have several subpoints, as well.

Step 6 Add at least 2 supporting details for each subpoint.

  • In an essay, this is often where you “prove” your argument.
  • For a creative work, you might include essential details you must include in that scene, such as an internal conflict in your main character.
  • Similar to subpoints, you may have more supporting details, depending on your purpose. A novel or study guide will likely have more supporting details.

Step 7 Include more layers of your outline, if necessary.

  • Roman Numeral
  • Capital Letter
  • Arabic Numeral
  • Lowercase Letter
  • Arabic Numeral in Parentheses

Step 8 Outline your conclusion, if you’re writing an essay or speech.

  • Restate your thesis.
  • 1-2 summarizing sentences.
  • Write a concluding statement.

Finalizing Your Outline

Step 1 Read over your outline to make sure you’ve achieved your purpose.

  • This also gives you a chance to look for missing parts or ideas that aren’t fully fleshed. If you see areas that leave questions unanswered, it’s best to fill in those gaps in information.

Step 2 Revise your outline if ideas are missing or not fleshed out.

  • If you are making an outline for yourself, you might not worry about this.

Step 3 Edit your outline if you’re turning it in for an assignment.

  • It’s a good idea to have someone else check it for errors, as it’s often hard to recognize errors in your own work.
  • While you edit your outline, refer back to your assignment sheet or rubric to make sure you've completely fulfilled the assignment. If not, go back and correct the areas that are lacking.

Step 4 Add layers if necessary.

  • You can use more layers if you want to include more information.
  • You might also include additional layers for a long creative work or a detailed study guide.

Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

  • Be concise and straightforward in your outline. This doesn't have to be perfectly polished writing; it just has to get your point across. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't be afraid to eliminate irrelevant information as you conduct more research about your topic and narrow your focus. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • You can use outlines as a memorization tool . Choose concise words to trigger a concept. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how outline an essay

  • Generally, you should avoid only having one point or sub-point on any outline level. If there is an A, either come up with a B or fold A's idea into the next level up. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 2
  • Your outline should not be your essay in a different form. Only write down the major assertions, not every single detail. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1

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About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

The easiest way to write an outline is to gather all of your supporting materials, like quotes, statistics, or ideas, before getting started. Next, go over your materials and take notes, grouping similar ideas together. Then, organize your ideas into subtopics and use your materials to provide at least two supporting points per subtopic. Be sure to keep your outline concise and clear, since you’ll have to refer to it later! For more help on how to plan and organize your outline, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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The Role of Essay Outlines in Writing

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Table of Contents

Don’t know about essay outlines? If not, you are not doing anything right. An outline is essentially the skeleton of an essay. In other words, it is a text representation of the thesis and critical supporting points of an essay.

Essays are the most common type of academic writing. Outlines serve many purposes, including assisting writers in arranging their thoughts before starting work, allowing readers to read a quick synopsis of the essay, and acting as a guide for the writer as they work on their next supporting paragraph. Writing an essay outline is not a challenging task. In this blog post, we are going to shed light on this topic. Go through it to gather valuable insights and learn about the key points that you must consider to come up with an effective essay outline.

Understanding the Essay Outline

An essay outline is an informal document that lists the essay parts to ensure the writer stays on track and doesn’t miss a single point. As it’s not formal, the outline is mostly written in incomplete sentences, just like notes.

Outlining is a crucial early stage in the writing process. This is the stage where you arrange all of your ideas and understandings into a clear and concise roadmap. Your outline can possibly help you get back on track if you get stuck while composing your essay.

In colleges and universities, students need to submit the outline of an essay before they can start writing. This is because the instructors want to make sure each student is on the right track in terms of picking an appropriate essay topic that comes with ample referencing sources. Most importantly, it helps the instructors ensure that the essay criteria are met and that the students master the task.

Components of an Effective Essay Outline

Even though every essay is unique, all follow the same fundamental essay structure , which is as follows:

  • Introduction Section

The introduction is the very first section of your essay. As the name suggests, this is the part where you introduce the points you will be explaining in your essay.

Hook or Opening Statement

This comes under the introduction part. A hook or opening statement is a full sentence that you need to incorporate to draw the attention of the readers. It is more of a concise statement that the audience relates to.

Thesis Statement

Talk about your thesis in the introduction part as well. It is the definitive sentence where you make clear arguments. This allows the reader to understand your perspective when going through the paper.

Body Paragraphs Section

Your essay might feature only two paragraphs, or it may even be a five-paragraph essay. Unless your instructor allocated a specific number of paragraphs, it’s completely your call when it comes to creating categories to divide the essay.

If you want to add multiple sources to support your thesis statement, follow the universal rule of one body paragraph per source cited. However, depending on the kind of essay you are writing, you might have to stray from this rule.

Conclusion Section

Once you get to the conclusion paragraph, you are almost done! This is the part of your essay where you summarise and list the main ideas from each of your body paragraphs. This is an opportunity to share any final ideas or viewpoints you would like the reader to see before they end up consuming your essay.

Crafting Your Essay Outline

So, you are ready to craft the outline of your essay. That’s great! But how can you get started? Follow four key steps and make the rest of your work simpler and easier. Scroll down and have a look:

  • Determine your goal— Consider your thesis statement. Though the exact terminology may not yet be clear to you, you should have some idea of the argument you will put forward and defend in your essay. It is easier to go over your brainstorming thoughts and create a solid outline when you have a defined purpose.
  • Filter out the fluff— When you came up with ideas, you considered every angle you could explore and every piece of information you possibly wanted to include. Now, it’s time to review the brainstorming notes and select the ideas that will help you write your essay efficiently.
  • Track down the points you will make in each paragraph— Determine the primary arguments that you will make in your essay with the set of concepts you wrote down.
  • Use a standard template for your outline— Arrange your main ideas into an understandable, well-organised framework that you will fill in with information as you prepare your first essay draft using a template that suits the type of essay you are assigned to compose (more on that in the following section).

Tips for Creating an Effective Essay Outline

You can easily create a detailed outline for your essay if you follow a few key points as mentioned below:

Understand the purpose of your essay – Prior to outlining, figuring out your essay purpose is the key. In other words, you must keep track of:

  • Grasping the paper requirements
  • The essay topic
  • The thesis statement of your essay
  • Your audience

Pick an order – When you draft an outline, you effectively provide your future essay with structure and purpose. You will need to consider whether to arrange your essay chronologically, spatially, or importance-based.

Creating the structure for a short essay – If you are writing a short essay or a 500-word five-paragraph essay, your structure should be like the following:

  • Primary idea
  • Supporting idea 1
  • Supporting idea 2
  • Supporting idea 3

Developing an outline – Using templates is the best option for creating sentence outlines. You can select the template essay that best suits your needs and only answer each text box question with a single sentence, which will provide you with a concise, one-sentence summary. After that, you can share or export the outline with classmates or instructors for their input.

Types of Essay Outlines with Examples

Among all, the most common is the alphanumeric outline, and most people can able to recognise it. While all outlines have a similar overall structure, several significant differences must be considered when drafting one for a particular essay format . The different types of essay outlines are as follows:

  • Argumentative essay outline
  • Admission essay outline
  • Persuasive essay outline
  • Literary analysis essay outline
  • Personal essay outline
  • Alphanumeric outline
  • Expository essay outline

Take a look at more than one common example outline for varied essay types:

1. Argumentative essays

Title: “Italian Ice is a Superior Dessert to Ice Cream”


State the features of Italian Ice

Why is it more refreshing?

2. Admissions Essays

Title: “Arigato, Sato Sensei”

Discuss how English speakers struggle to learn Japanese language

Talk about the Japanese culture

Your experience

3. Persuasive Essays

Title: “We Need More Security Cameras in the Student Parking Deck”

Share updated student car break-in statistics

Talk about the intangible value of high-end security

State the installation cost

4. Personal Essays

Title: “The Two Best Birthdays of my Life”

Talk about your 18th birthday

Talk about your last birthday

The Importance of Essay Outlines

An outlined essay helps you stay on track and prove your argument in the best possible way. To avoid deviating from the topic, always start writing an essay after creating the outline. The main reason behind this is that essays with an outline are less confusing and easier to follow. Here’s what an essay outline brings to your paper:

  • An essay with an outline has more transitions, and that too, in appropriate places— The lack of transitional words and phrases in an essay is a sign of an essay without an outline. Whether you write an essay in the field of academics or a pitch to persuade your customer, transitions allow the readers to understand your arguments with ease.
  • Improved paragraph structure— Outlining can significantly improve your paragraph structure. Every paragraph should begin with a topic sentence and end with an argument, supporting points, an analysis, and a closing statement. Students who don’t outline frequently violate these rules of structure and eventually lose points.
  • No distractions or misplaced paragraphs— An experienced reader or writer can easily identify an essay with no outline as it is more or less confusing. When you create an outline, you know what type of argument you are going to support. The possibility of mistakenly mixing things up doubles when you start writing without first considering the essay’s structure.
  • No repetition of the writer’s arguments and ideas— Finally, experts from MyAssignmentHelp say that most essays without an outline tend to be repetitive. When you write a longer essay without any clear thought in mind, it’s easy to get carried away and lose track. For this reason, nearly all professional writing services provide an exclusive outlining feature. Though it’s not free, it’s rather affordable, so if you are not very good at outlining, getting it is quite relevant.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Essay Outlines

As we write an essay outline, we make common mistakes. After all, we are humans and we do get out of focus sometimes. Here are the mistakes students must consider, or they might have a significant impact on the quality of your essay:

Basic spelling

When reviewing your paper, the most common type of mistake you will find is the spelling mistake. Focus more on your spelling and take help from Microsoft Word and other processors to ensure your paper is error-free.

Sentence fragments

You can modify this part by reading it aloud. There are different types of sentences that just couldn’t stand on their own without an intro. If there is any type of sentence like this, simply remove it or merge it with another sentence. Make sure there are all full sentences in your essay, which is a strong criterion for securing excellent grades.

Bad spacing

If necessary, make sure your paper is double-spaced. However, it extends beyond that. The paper must look consistent and well-organised overall. If it is not, there may be an issue with your spacing. Most students lose points because of it, so keep a close eye on this.

Missing transitions

Again, reading your essay aloud will help you identify problems like, “What transitions are you missing? Is the paper clear? Do you have a thesis statement?”. Moreover, you can easily contact our expert essay writers at MyAssignmentHelp and ask them to highlight any flaws that you might have overlooked.

Once your outline is ready, proceed with the next steps in the writing process to finish the paper. If the above information falls short for you, don’t hesitate to seek expert essay help from MyAssignmentHelp. They can assist you in refining your first draft into an error-free and quality piece of writing. They can help you with any necessary edits that maintain a clear, consistent tone that precisely communicates what you are trying to convey.


Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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    3. Expository essay outline. An expository essay outline requires you to provide a detailed overview of a subject from all angles. It is used to test your knowledge of a particular subject. The purpose of this essay outline is to inform, explain, or describe a topic or idea, rather than to persuade the reader or share personal opinions.

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    Brainstorm: List all the ideas that you want to include in your paper. Organize: Group related ideas together. Order: Arrange material in subsections from general to specific or from abstract to concrete. Label: Create main and sub headings. Remember: creating an outline before writing your paper will make organizing your thoughts a lot easier.

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  20. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    Mission. The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives.