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How To Write An Outline For An Essay: An Easy Strategy


Writing an outline is one of the preliminary steps for writing an essay. Regardless of the type of essay you are writing the outline is a key component which can aid you with the remainder of your essay.

The outline for your essay is where you gather all of your thoughts. The brain can actively focus on about seven thoughts at once in the conscious mind. That is why when trying to remember something you often have to push away thoughts about something else. The same thing is true when you are forming an argument or preparing evidence. You cannot necessarily keep all of the notes you have in your head and access them immediately. But by writing them down you can clear away any distractions you may face and get all of your research related notes out and on paper.

The nice thing about the outline is that you can play around with the evidence you have and see which areas have too many points or which areas lack enough evidence. You can play around with the order of the evidence that you have until you find the order which works best. Some people present the arguments they have in order from the strongest to the weakest while others want the weakest points first. If you don’t know which one you want or you are unsure of which will work best for your paper then you can work with the order via the outline.

Your outline can consist of a simple bullet point form or it can be a more lengthy full sentence form. The structure remains more often than not the same regardless of whether you flesh out the points you plan to present in the outline or just keep a bullet point and flesh it out once you start writing. Most outlines look like the following example:

  1. 1. Introduction

    • - thesis statement
    • - opening quote

  2. 2. Body

    • - paragraph 1

      • i. topic sentence
      • ii. evidence
      • iii. transitional sentence

    • - paragraph 2

      • i. topic sentence
      • ii. evidence
      • iii. transitional sentence

    • - paragraph 3

      • i. topic sentence
      • ii. evidence
      • iii. transitional sentence

  3. 3. Conclusion

    • - summarize thesis
    • - summarize paragraph 1
    • - summarize paragraph 2
    • - summarize paragraph 3
    • - closing remarks and inspirational quote

When writing your outline you may have more paragraphs or more spaces for supporting evidence. You might also decide to use full sentences with the quotes integrated into the outline or you can just reference where the quote is so that when you are writing the first draft you know where to find it.

Essay Writing Tips

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