Barbara P
Barbara P

How to Write an Essay Outline Like a Pro

10 min read

Published on: Nov 8, 2020

Last updated on: Jul 23, 2024

Essay Outline

Have you ever experienced the frustration of starting an essay with a blank page and feeling uncertain about how to begin? 

Do you find it difficult to express your ideas coherently when your thoughts are scattered? 

If so, you're not alone!

Many students struggle with starting their essays, specifically creating outlines. 

In this blog, we will delve into how to craft the perfect essay outline and explore how they can be a game-changer in your writing process. 

By the end of this blog, you'll be able to tackle any writing task with confidence and clarity.

So, let’s get started!

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What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is a precise plan and order of your essay or paper writing. Here, you write the key idea and give it a structure that makes your argument presentable.

In other words, an outline organizes all your thoughts in paragraphs and assures that you did not miss anything.

Importance of Essay Outline 

The reasons why an outline is important are:

  • It organizes your thoughts and ideas. 
  • An outline helps to know the flow of information.
  • It enables you to see how your ideas and arguments fit together.
  • It provides a roadmap that keeps you on track.
  • Also, an outline will make you not miss anything to add to the content.

Essay Outline Format 

There are two basic structures of essay outline that you can use in your essay to give it an appealing and neat look.

Alphanumeric Format

The alphanumeric structure is the most common type of outline in essay and research writing. It involves presenting your general ideas in a specific order by assigning each piece of information a number.

Decimal Format

This format is similar to the alphanumeric outline format. The only extra benefit of this format is that it uses decimal notation, which makes it easier for the readers to see clarity on every level.

How to Write an Essay Outline?

The common structure for most college essays is five paragraphs. These include an introduction, body (providing arguments), and conclusion so that's how your outline should look like.

Key Parts of an Essay 

There are several academic essay writing types. But they all generally follow a common writing format. The basic format of writing an essay includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Body Paragraph 3
  5. Conclusion

Drafting each section of the outline in a clear manner is crucial for ensuring the overall effectiveness of the essay.

1. Introduction

An Introduction is the opening paragraph of an essay used for the audience to make them familiar with the topic.

The first two paragraphs where the topic and basic information are provided are called introductory paragraphs.

A strong essay introduction would make your audience stick to your essay.

Therefore, a catchy and interesting introduction is essential to make the audience go through your work.

A good introduction consists of the following elements:

  • 'Hook' Statement - A hook is the very first line of an essay used as an opener. This opening line is the secret thing that helps to grab your reader's attention.

There are some basic hooks that you can use in your introduction to make it interesting:

  • Quotations
  • Questions
  • Famous Phrases
  • Funny Statements
  • Facts
  • Sarcasm, etc.

The most important thing to be careful of is to use the right hook for your topic. If you are addressing an issue that is serious and sensitive, you can't begin your essay with a casual statement.

  • Thesis Statement - A thesis statement is the main argument that you build in your essay. Your entire essay is based on this argument. All the information you gather works as evidence to support this statement.
  • Background Information - After stating your thesis statement, provide a little background information about it. Keep in mind that this is just an introduction and you just need to touch the background and not go into the details.

The purpose of an introduction is to give a hint of what your essay is going to point at. Your introduction works as navigation for your essay. Make sure that your introduction is perfect.

2. Body Paragraph

The main body of the essay is all the information and data presented in paragraphs to support the thesis statement.

In the body paragraphs of your essay, you provide all the reasons and evidence that collectively prove the point you made in the introductory paragraphs.

Every paragraph in the body section is based on the following elements:

    • A Topic Sentence - It is the first sentence that includes the basic idea or argument of that specific paragraph. Drafting a topic sentence is important as the reader gets an idea of what the paragraph is about.
    • Supporting Information - Following the topic sentence comes its supporting information. Use strong and logical evidence to persuade the audience.
    • Transition Words - The transition words should be used in all the body paragraphs to give a logical flow leading to the conclusion.

3. Conclusion

It is the last paragraph or a concluding statement of an essay that sums up your whole argument. The conclusion basically acts as a result that decides a course of action for the readers in some cases.

All's well that ends well. To give your essay a logical ending, restate the thesis statement and the main idea in different words and connect the ending with the hook you used in your introduction.

Different Types of Essay Outline - Examples

Almost every student knows the worth of making an outline for their essays. But they find it challenging to make. 

In order to give you a better understanding of the outline, we have gathered formats for some common essay types.

The following free essay outline examples can give you an idea of how to create one.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay is a writing type that is based on the writer's claim and factual supporting evidence. The writer uses logic to present his side of the argument.

This example of essay outline with thesis statement can help you craft one!

Persuasive Essay Outline 

A persuasive essay is an essay type that uses logic to support the argument to convince and persuade the readers. In this piece of writing, information is provided as evidence to support the writer's point of view.

Informative Essay Outline

An informative essay is a type of essay that attempts to inform the audience about the topic. The major purpose of this writing type is to answer the topic question directly by explaining the topic in depth. 

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A compare and contrast essay presents the similarities and differences among the chosen objects or subjects. The writer draws a comparison and contrast to inform the reader and justify the main thesis statement. 

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical analysis essay is a form of essay that studies a piece of work in greater detail and analyzes the effectiveness of the message. Moreover, the writer examines the persuasive techniques used by the author in the original content. 

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a type of essay writing in which a writer provides his personal experiences and stories and acts as an inspiration in his life. These essays are written to make significance in other people's lives through your experiences. 

Expository Essay Outline

In an expository essay, the writer clarifies the readers about a subject by explaining, analyzing, and illustrating it. 

Descriptive Essay Outline 

A descriptive essay is a type of essay where the writer discusses something in detail. The goal is to make the reader see, feel, and hear what you are describing.

To write a great descriptive essay, start by creating a well-structured outline. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ideas, making the information easier to read.

Here is a descriptive outline that you should follow for your help.

Synthesis Essay Outline 

A synthesis essay is a type of essay where you need to come up with a unique viewpoint on a central idea. To do this, you need to look at different sources and see how they connect to your thesis statement.

If you need to submit a synthesis essay, here is a template to help you get started. This outline will help you specify all the main points you want to cover in your essay.

Reflective Essay Outline 

In a reflective essay, you write about your thoughts and feelings related to a past event. In this type of essay, you are required to analyze the event from the present.

The following outline will help you understand the structure of a reflective essay.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline 

A cause-and-effect essay is a great way to demonstrate your understanding of the cause and then discuss its results. The structure for writing this type of essay is quite simple, but it's important that you plan before starting.

The following outline can help students understand how to create a perfect cause-and-effect essay outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline 

A literary analysis essay is a type of assignment that evaluates and examines a piece of literature. If you don't know how to structure this type of essay, here is an outline for you to follow.

Tips to Create an Essay Outline 

The most important thing to remember when writing an outline for your essay is that you need a clear idea of what the assignment entails and how many arguments or points there will be. This way, once drafting begins, it becomes much easier to create a perfect outline.

Below are some pre-outlining steps for your help.

  • Identify what your topic is. This is to understand the topic and analyze what information it actually requires. 
  • Look what the purpose of your essay is? Here you need to closely look at what essay type your topic demands from you to write. Is your topic asking to persuade or just entertain the readers? Answer the question and move on to the next step. 
  • Know who your audience is. In the case of academic writing, your audience will be your instructor, but if you are writing it generally as a hobby or activity, identify who you are writing this essay for. You need to know what type of high school or college essay you are writing before you start creating an outline for it.
  • Keep taking notes of everything that comes into your mind. All the related key points of the topic should be roughly written to know how to start writing. 
  • Now that you have enough information, state your thesis statement and start gathering information. 

Writing your outlines for essays is undoubtedly complex. Follow this guide to understand the concept and use of outlining. If you think you can do better with extra assistance, always go for that option. 

Say goodbye to the stress of starting an essay from scratch or struggling with organizing your thoughts. Try using our AI-powered essay writer to get an excellent outline.!

In addition, you can let our essay outline writing service take care of your writing needs, ensuring clarity, coherence, and professionalism in every piece.

So why wait? Hire our professional essay writing help at the most affordable prices. 

Barbara P


Barbara P (Literature)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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