Essay Outline Format

  1. The title of the essay
  2.  Introduction
    1. Creative Opening to catch the audience’s attention. Students can use quotes, interesting facts and figures, joke or anecdotes, etc.
    2. Background information
    3. Preview of the main points of the essay.
    4. Thesis Statement affirms the main idea of the essay.
  3. Body
    1. Paragraph 1
      1. Topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph and transitions from the paragraph before it
      2. Supporting details defend or strengthen the topic sentence. Students should use at least two supporting details in each paragraph.
      3. Supporting details can include facts, examples, and expert opinions about a specific subject. If primary or secondary sources are used, students must use in-text citations.
    2. Paragraph 2
      1. Topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph and transitions from the paragraph before it
      2. Supporting details defend or strengthen the topic sentence
    3. Paragraph 3
      1. Topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph and transitions from the paragraph before it
      2. Supporting details defend or strengthen the topic sentence (NOTE: More paragraphs can be created using the same format.)
  4. Conclusion
    1. Restate thesis statement. Students should reword the thesis statement.
    2. Summarize main points. Students should reword topic sentences.
    3. Tie to Opening. Students should relate their conclusion to the opening of the essay.

 

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Most students tasked with an assignment requiring them to write an essay find the task especially daunting at the beginning. You might find yourself gazing at a blank page wondering about what next even though you are provided with the title. The most significant thing you should do at the point is to relax! Sounds wary? Probably! However, with a proper outline, you will find that you can write any type of essay with relative ease, to the point of even exceeding the word count!

An outline briefly summarizes the content you intend to put into your essay and then organizes in a coherent, logical manner.

The following guidelines should direct you on to prepare an essay outline irrespective of the subject or purpose:

  1. Understand the essay requirements

Before you embark on the process of drafting your essay outline, make sure that you read and fully comprehend the instructions of the assignment. From your readings and analysis of the resources you will use, you can prepare simple notes, generate ideas, and collect evidence that you will use in the essay. If anything is unclear, you can consult your lecturer for further clarifications until you are sure of what is required from you.

  1. Generalizing

Generalizing involves going through the individual pieces of information that you have gathered, analyzing each, and then organizing them into categories. Your goals at this point should involve organizing your ideas and the material that you will use in the essay. The exercise develops the topic of your essay and the supporting materials. This also ensures that your essay outline will contain relevant and orderly information that will best support the arguments that you make in the essay. This is beast achieved if you break down your notes or points into categories and then reasonably arrange them.

An example of a question that you can ask yourself under this step is, “If I were to classify or organize this information into classes, where would each piece of information fall?” Assuming you were writing about air pollution, you can have information categorized into:

  • Meaning of air pollution
  • Major sources of air pollution
  • Air pollution policies across the world on in a specific country/state
  • Mitigation of air pollution and,
  • Future mitigation of air pollution, among other categories.

As you review your notes and materials, try to assign information to the categories you have developed where appropriate. Repeat the process for every category in you come up with. Your goal here should be to trim down your information or notes such that they can constitute preferably one or one and a half pages of category lists.

Once you have established your category headings, review them to determine whether there is any redundancy in or repetitiveness altogether. For instance, in the above example, the categories about mitigation of air pollution and future mitigation of air pollution can be combined to make a single heading.  Also, eliminate any categories that you might deem irrelevant to your argument. Generalize further by condensing your information such that you have few categories, but which covers a comprehensive issue or topic in your essay.

A suitable analogy to help in the last part above is to assume that you are filing information you have gathered into cabinets. Ask yourself “which cabinet would I put each piece of information and what label I would assign to each cabinet?” Assume that your cabinets are the various categories of information you have determined, and the label is each heading. Putting information into the cabinets would correspond to the points that you will argue under each category.

A common practice in developing essay outlines is to ensure that the categories are generalized as possible and that they fall under the range of around 3-4 for an essay of around 7-10 pages.

  1. Structure of Your Essay Outline

Once you have generalized your information, your next step should be to organize your essay outline in a logical and standard manner. Usually, all essays are organized into an introduction part, the body part, and the conclusion part. The introduction should occupy the first section of your essay outline. Your introduction subsections in the essay outline can include:

  • First sub point; a sentence introducing the topic of the essay, usually phrased to capture the reader’s attention
  • The second subpoint; should provide a description of the topic including factors such as background or history of the issue being explored
  • Final sub-point; should include the thesis statement of your essay.

The body part of your essay outline is conventionally the largest section, since the same is true in the final essay draft. Usually, the body part comprises of at the least three subsections in the outline. Each subsection under the body part also corresponds to a heading of sub-heading in your essay outline. You can include short points that will correspond to the paragraphs of each subsection in your essay outline.

The conclusion section of your essay outline will come last, although you can have a further section where you will list your references or sources of information. Your conclusion part in the essay outline should rephrase your thesis statement and final declaration.

Once you have accomplished all the steps discussed above, your essay outline is ready, and you can now begin writing a draft of your essay.

If you are having problems writing an essay outline, Gudwriter can help draft an effective essay outline.

 

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