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Monday, May 18, 2015


HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY OUTLINE?

Writing an essay can feel like driving a car in the dark; if you can’t see what’s ahead of you, then how do you know where to steer? Fortunately, creating an outline can make the essay writing process easier, no matter what your assigned word count is. Creating an outline will give you a clear plan from which to work and will also result in a logical essay with a strong foundation.

Begin at the End or Start in the Middle?

The experience of reading an essay should be smooth and logical, but the process of writing one is not always as orderly! When creating an outline, you may wish to try writing out your thoughts in the order that you plan to write them, but be advised that this method does not work for all writers. You may find that listing out your main ideas first helps you get a sense of what the bulk of your essay will look like. Or you may wish to think about how to construct your introduction and conclusion first and then fill in the middle with the path from A to B. Either way, your outline should eventually list out the basic structure of your essay with a short description of each paragraph to give yourself a clear plan.

Order, Details and Transitions

When constructing an essay outline, consider the order in which you’d like to present your paragraphs. In a narrative essay, you will typically go in chronological order, but a descriptive essay may jump around a bit more in time. Your outline is the place to figure out what you’d like to present first, next and last, so allow yourself enough time to move the pieces around until it feels right.
Once you have the order set, take a look at the main ideas of each paragraph and add at least one detail that you plan to include. For an expository or persuasive essay, this can be a fact or a piece of evidence that will further your argument. For a narrative essay, this detail might be a particular moment you want to focus in on during the paragraph. Finally, for a descriptive essay, this can be a sensory detail that you want to make sure really stands out to your reader.
Once you have your order and details listed out, you can consider including your ideas for how to transition from one paragraph to the next. Adding transitional phrases or sentences can be done in the last stage of writing your essay, after you have a first draft complete, but it can be helpful to jot down your transition thoughts as early as possible, so you don’t get stuck when you’re ready to transition from one paragraph to the next.

Introduction and Conclusions

When writing an essay outline, you may decide to hold off on thinking about your introduction and conclusion until you actually begin writing. It’s important not to forget about these important “bookends” altogether, though, so you may wish to think about how you’re going to introduce and close your essay when you plan your outline. You can introduce your essay in a number of different ways, from including an anecdote to asking a question or offering a vivid description. To close your essay, you’ll want to sum up your main points or ideas and avoid bringing in any new information.

Essay Outline Example

If you get stuck while creating your outline, try using the following template.
  1. Introduction
    1. I will introduce my essay by …
  2. Body Paragraph 1
    1. My main idea in this paragraph is …
    2. One important detail I want to include is …
    3. I will transition to the next paragraph by …
  3. Body Paragraph 2
    1. My main idea in this paragraph is …
    2. One important detail I want to include is …
    3. I will transition to the next paragraph by …
  4. Body Paragraph 3
    1. My main idea in this paragraph is …
    2. One important detail I want to include is …
    3. I will transition to the next paragraph by …
  5. Conclusion
    1. I will sum up my essay by …

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