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How to Write An Essay Outline

In the course of their studies, students are very often asked to write an essay on a particular topic. This type of written work allows a young mind to express themselves: to show non-standard thinking and the ability to make logical chains within the framework of the problem under discussion. But, in order to make your essay perfect and produce the desired effect on the reader, one cannot neglect the drawing up of a plan. So, how do you write a really good essay outline? To streamline the essay writing process and ensure a flawless outcome, some students opt to pay for essay services, allowing professional writers to craft well-structured and compelling essays on their behalf.

What Is An Essay Outline?

A well-composed essay outline serves to systematize the author’s ideas and correctly structure the piece. Its purpose is to summarize the essay and help the student to organize the content logically and structurally correctly. This is a kind of roadmap that helps the student “not to go astray”, that is, not to forget what exactly he is writing about and in what sequence he wanted to bring this or that argument/proof. Most often, a paper is written in a 5-paragraph structure that addresses key points.

It is possible to write a work without drawing up an outline, but its quality will undoubtedly suffer greatly from this, because:

  • An essay outline makes it possible to structure the material properly as your research on the subject matter for writing progresses and material accumulates. The plan makes it clear what, where, and how to put it for the best presentation of the problem, without losing a single detail.
  • Meanwhile composing an essay outline, the student gets to know the topic as such, which allows him to better present it to the reader.
  • When the outline is written, it is much easier for the author to navigate the material collected for the article.

Now that you understand the importance of an outline when writing an essay, it’s time to start with the actual problem of writing it.


The opening section of each writing piece naturally does not exceed 3-4 sentences. In them, the author must define the topic of the essay, which prompted him to write and necessarily the thesis, which is a fundamental part of the writing. The essay plan must contain the topic and thesis in itself. To best organize the introduction, you should adhere to the following recommendations:

  • The very first sentence always represents the topic of the piece and is obliged to attract the attention of readers, so to speak to “hook”.
  • The second sentence of this part of the essay should briefly cover the topic. It should be laconic, but familiarize the reader with everything he needs.
  • The last sentence concerns the thesis. Readers should know what the work is about.

Main Part

This is the most informative and largest part of your essay. Here, the main arguments and proofs of the problem are discussed. Each statement needs a corresponding quote from the research, writing, etc. All paragraphs of the main part of the essay should have an idea that supports the thesis.


In the very last part of the essay, the reader should be reminded of what was discussed in the paper, that is, once again voice the thesis, but paraphrasing it. Here, the author explains the importance/relevance/topicality of the thesis and why he thinks so.

A rough outline of an essay will look like this:

basic essay outline

Types of Essay Outlines

There are several common kinds of essay plans. Here, they are:

Alphanumeric Outline Style

The alphanumeric outline formation is the most commonly used. It is very comfortable and practical. So, this is how it looks:

  • Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.) are used to indicate the main paragraphs of the essay. Typically, there are no more than five of them.
  • Capital letters (A, B, C, etc.) are applied to indicate important points in the main sections.
  • Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) are utilized to further detail important points in the major paragraphs.
  • Lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) are applied if more detailing is indispensable.


Decimal Essay Outline Style

The decimal structure is also used quite often and has its adherents. The system uses only numbers. This type of essay outline starts at 1.0 and goes at 2.0, 3.0, etc., based on the number of main paragraphs. It is necessary to change the number after the dot for each new data detail. For example, if you include information to a paragraph with the number 2.0, the sub-clause will have the title 2.1, 2.2, and so on. In case additional sub-clauses are required, the author adds more decimal places. It will look like 2.1.1, 2.2.1, etc.


In order to achieve the best results when writing an essay, you should not neglect to write a quality outline. After all, an essay without a plan is chaotic, not thought out, the thought “wanders in a circle.” This means that you need to learn how to correctly draw up an essay outline. It’s not that easy.

Making an essay outline means breaking it into fragments (semantic parts of the text – paragraphs), mentally highlighting the main stages of the path along which your thought will develop. Each such fragment is a micro text, which can be equal to one paragraph. Each micro text will correspond to a point in the plan. It is important that it be united by the main thought, which has its beginning, development, and completion within its boundaries.

As a name in the essay outline, as a rule, not separate words and not sentences are taken out, but expanded phrases. Individual words are too “narrow”, specific, the main idea or theme is difficult to convey with them. But, complex sentences are not suitable either, because they represent an already finished, complete thought. It is the phrase that is more suitable for the essay outline. It is a kind of semantic unity that carries information in a collapsed form. And in the work itself, this information “unfolds” and the thought is revealed.

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