Essay writing is an integral part of school education, and it does not depend on the academic level. No matter if you are a high school student or are facing a Ph.D. degree – there will always be an essay to write. Such papers make a significant part of all homework assignments. One unpleasant thing about them is that even a small piece always takes loads of time. Thus, students seek the means to make these tasks easier. 

It might seem strange, but a good outline of an academic paper that many students try to avoid is the best means to save your time and energy. The effort necessary to develop an outline is minor in comparison with the benefits it brings. Of course, you need to master the skill of outlining, which is a frequent demand for the assignment in any way.

For you, we’ve prepared this outline guide for an essay. You will learn all the details necessary to cope with the job efficiently, and it is free. Then, you can apply its results to writing an academic paper for the highest grade.

What Is an Essay Outline – the Essence and the Role in the Assignment

Before we proceed to prepare an outline, let’s clarify what this component is. In brief, an outline is the detailed sketch of your essay, organized as a multi-level list. In your work, it is an intermediary between that vague idea you have on your mind after the research and the ready academic essay. 

A proper essay outline is a model letting you compile your future paper from different components and adjust them correctly. Students who start to write research papers often skip the outlining stage and rewrite their essays several times. For instance, another better idea comes suddenly, or they want to change something in the process.

This is why you should not ignore the planning stage:

  • You, as a reader, can choose the most important fragments from your research results. Then you put them into the model to see how they correlate with each other in the essay;
  • It is easy to play with the components’ layout and check how this or that combination works for your purpose. The process of taking so much energy and time in writing is much more straightforward in the sketch;
  • Any ideas or remarks that dawn on you get tested at once. Insert them into the outline template and evaluate how they match and influence the other parts of work. 

The best thing is that you do it all before you start to write the essay. As a result, you spend less time – the article you write based on the outline is already perfect. You already know what you write, how, and what for. 

Even the most detailed outline is not a problem consuming so much time as writing the essay itself. At the same time, fulfilling this stage ensures 90% of your success. When you complete the sketch template, you have the ready paper in your mind. The next thing is to dictate it to yourself and write down.

How to Develop the Essay Structure Outline

As you know, any research paper structure must consist of three components: the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion. While elaborating on your detailed essay outline, note that it ensures that your work will match the academic structure requirements correctly. It is because you outline all these three mandatory parts, and you “split” them into minor meaningful fragments to describe each section’s contents. 

Parts of an outline would look as below: 

The Introduction. In this opening part, you should provide the following components: 

  • Ensure the opening hook to grasp the attention of the audience;
  • Present the theme of the paper;
  • Explain the value of this theme for you personally and your audience to motivate them to follow your narrative;
  • Introduce the thesis statement – a central idea of the essay that you prove by your research findings.

The Body. It is the central part of the essay, where you prove the thesis statement. What is worth your specific attention is the structure of each Body paragraph. It should be equal to the essay structure:

  • The topic sentence must open the section and state the main idea of that paragraph. This sentence serves as a mini-introduction of that piece. 
  • Clarify the theme of the paragraph and explain it to the audience. 
  • Prove your point of view with arguments.
  • Appeal to the weighty evidence from reliable sources and your personal experience, supporting your statements. 
  • Conclude the paragraph by summarizing your findings. 

The Conclusion. It is the summary of the whole text and the thesis restatement. Mainly, you need to stress once again that your ideas are right. The structure of this part is simple:

  • Summarize your main ideas presented in the piece of writings.
  • Restate the thesis. Note that you should not paraphrase it only – give it a new dimension by showing it in a broader context. 
  • End the text with a catchy phrase leaving the audience engaged. 

One issue that annoys many students is that outlining the paper is often mandatory. You have to submit it together with the paper itself for evaluation. This condition means additional demands for the outline paper format. It won’t be a freeform work convenient for you only, as you have to format it in the required academic style.

Now, let’s check how an outline of an essay should look when compiled and formatted. 

How to Set up an Essay Outline: Examine the Example

As we mentioned earlier, a “physical” outline in written form is a multi-level list type. It consists of titles and subtitles. The title is for a more general idea, and the subtitles clarify that idea by stressing some aspects and going deeper. There can be as many titles and subtitles as needed to note all the details you want to include. 

Creating an outline for evaluation also implies formatting – the standard styles are APA and MLA. Each entry has its distinct marker type to distinguish the level of subordination. The level markers are numbers (Roman and Arabic) and letters (in upper and lower cases). 

Depending on your situation, you may have up to five levels of detail. Get familiar with them below. The current requirements are equal for both APA and MLA: 

Level 1 – the Roman number followed by a period: I. 

Level 2 – the letter in an upper case followed by a period: A.

Level 3 – the Arabic number followed by a period: 1.

Level 4 – the letter in lower case followed by a period: a.

Level 5 – the number in parenthesis without a period: (1)

The below example demonstrates how to organize the outline and format it in writing. Note the markers for each entry. 

  • Introduction:
  1. The hook: a successful essay outline makes 90% of the overall success. 
  2. The thesis statement: a proper research paper that matches all requirements is impossible without a solid outlined foundation.
  3. The transition sentence: we’re going to prove it, so let’s see how outlining works in action.
  • The Body:

A. Paragraph 1: 

  1. Any essay starts with brainstorming and in-depth research on the topic, and this stage always finishes with loads of information. When sort it, collect the ideas, and then select the most interesting and persuasive ones.
  2. Put these ideas in order and build the skeleton of the essay this way. When you have the scheme in front of your eyes, you won’t miss any essential ideas.
  3. Cite the evidence. 
  4. The transition phrase: These advantages are weighty, but there are more. 

B. Paragraph 2:

  1. With the outline, you can experiment and polish the contents and the structure. 
  2. As the essay model is the combination of all significant components, each one must have its place.
  3. You note the statements, arguments, and references down, and you can easily insert more elements and change the pattern. It is simple to do it on the outline and understand the overall impression of every variation.

(1) Reference to the example – cite an expert. 

  1. Trying different content and ideas in the outline means that you don’t have to rewrite the essay.
  2. The transition: the outline polishes the patterns, but it is even more significant for the meaning and logic. 

C. Paragraph 3:

  1. The best thing about outlining is that it turns the collection of facts and thoughts into a logical structure. 
  2. You may not worry that your central lines will be vague for the audience, and the phrases will wander. It is possible to check the plotline and interrelations between the paragraphs and all arguments on the sketch. 
  3. The outline is the ingredient creating order from chaos. Cite an example from experience.
  4. The transition: therefore, we see how useful this method is.  
  • The Conclusion: 

Writing an outline is the opportunity to imagine and estimate the ready paper. It helps to be precise, make the story organized and catchy, and find the winning text edit for the best impression. 

The good news is that the Microsoft Word editor has the option of setting custom multi-level lists. Thus, you can develop the “formatting” template to apply it with one click to your outline. 

Use the Guideline on How to Write Essay Outline for Your Convenience

Making an outline for an essay is an excellent mental exercise. Besides its obvious value of helping you to prepare an impressive paper worth the highest grade, it encourages you to train critical thinking and analytical skills, supports your creativity and experimenting, etc. 

The usage of outlines is a great aid. Still, if you haven’t mastered the art of how to prepare this plan, but you must present it for your assignment – we can help you. Address our professional academic aid service, and our specialists will be happy to assist you with this job. You can get support with the essay outline or the paper itself. Just contact us, and count the job done!

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