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        How to Write an Essay Outline: 5 Examples & Free Template

        • calenderApr 07, 2023
        • calender 7 min read

        Creating a clear and organized essay is not easy, but making an outline can help. By arranging your ideas in a logical and coherent way, an essay outline can guide you in effectively structuring your essay. 

        Whether you’re working on a school or college assignment, take the time to create an outline. It can help you overcome the challenges of organizing your thoughts while writing. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to create an essay outline with the help of some useful examples and a downloadable template.

        Craft clear and structured essays!

        What is an essay outline?

        An outline acts as a blueprint for your essay, presenting the structure and content of each paragraph and showing how they connect. By creating an outline, you can streamline the writing process and minimize the need for revisions. It can also help you develop strong points to support your thesis statement.

        Typically, an outline is created after establishing a working thesis statement and gathering relevant information. The collected information is then organized into a logical flow that can be expanded into a structured essay.

        Why is it important to create an essay outline?

        An essay outline not only gives structure to your essay but also helps effectively link its parts. It helps create a logical flow for your essay and also helps identify its primary components. Let’s take a look at this in detail.

        1. Sets a logical order

        To create a well-structured and impactful essay, the arrangement of information is key. Creating an essay outline makes it easier to organize bits of information from general to specific. 

        Start off by creating a broad thesis statement or central idea. Then move on to providing examples or pieces of information that support this statement or elaborate on it. This method also provides a comprehensive overview of your essay and helps identify any missing bits of information.

        2. Generates greater impact

        The primary goal of your essay is to effectively present information that supports your thesis statement. If your essay is haphazardly structured, the message of the thesis statement can get lost.

        In order to present a coherent message, determine the important bits of information that best support your thesis statement and organize them logically. Then elaborate on these bits to create a flow. This not only creates a greater impact but also makes your final essay more convincing.

        3. Leads to smoother transitions

        Transitions are the bridges that connect your ideas and ensure that your argument flows smoothly. However, creating smooth transitions from one point to another can be quite challenging.

        A college essay outline helps you identify where you need to include transitions and what type of transition you should use to connect your ideas effectively. Creating smooth, logical, and cohesive transitions is crucial in ensuring that readers can easily follow your train of thought and grasp your argument. 

        How to write an essay outline

        After conducting all the necessary research, it is time to narrow down the central idea of your essay. Make sure that the scope of your idea is neither too broad nor too narrow. 

        Select the main bits of information that elaborate on this central idea and organize them in a logical manner. Then provide specific examples to back them up. Let’s take a detailed look at these steps. 

        1. Figure out the central message or the thesis statement of your essay.

        Picking out a central idea or generic point for your essay can help create a base you can elaborate upon. 

        You can start with a broad idea or stance and then research the specific bits of information that support this idea and provide more information on it. 

        2. Identify the main points or arguments.

        After collecting the necessary information to elaborate on your central idea, identify the broad points that give it substance. 

        These points will form the headings of the essay. They should be broad enough to cover major themes, but specific enough to provide a clear focus for each section.

        3. Organize your headings.

        Decide the logical flow of your essay and arrange your headings in an organized manner.

        It is crucial to have obvious starting and ending points, but the body can be organized in a way you consider to be the most impactful. Depending on the type of essay, your headings can be arranged chronologically, on the basis of importance, or from general to specific.

        4. Provide examples and evidence to support the headings.

        Once the headings are created and organized, provide statistics, anecdotes, and examples to back them up. These specific pieces of information can be elaborated upon while writing your first draft.

        You can use this general essay outline format to create your own 

        Essay outline template

        To help you write a logical, well-structured, impactful essay, we have developed this fool-proof, comprehensive essay outline template. It will help you categorize all your essential information into well-structured, organized headings and subheadings.

        The template includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, an optional paragraph for a counter-argument, and a conclusion. Under each of these headings, there are relevant subheadings that are applicable to all types of essays.  

        The template uses an alphanumeric format, with Roman numerals for the headings and capital letters for the subheadings.

        Essay outline examples   

        Essays are highly versatile pieces of writing. They include various types, such as persuasive essays, compare and contrast essays, analytical essays, and cause-and-effect essays. 

        But most of these essay types are a combination or a derivation of these four main types of essays. They include narrative, descriptive, argumentative, and expository essays. 

        Each of these essays serves a different purpose and is structured differently. Let’s understand the purpose of each of these essay types with the help of relevant essay outline examples:

        1. Narrative essay outline

        A narrative essay outline is a highly personalized outline that reflects your unique experiences, feelings, and observations. 

        The goal of this outline is to tell an impactful story with the help of vivid descriptions and sensory details that engage the reader’s attention.

        Narrative essay outline example

        Let us better understand the narrative essay outline with the help of an example. The following example is a personal narrative about growing up as an immigrant child.

        I. Introduction

        A. A vivid description of the moment I found out I was moving to a new country.

        B. Brief explanation of my background and reasons for immigrating.

        C. Thesis statement: The challenges and opportunities I faced as an immigrant in a new country.

        II. Body

        A. Struggles in adjusting to a new culture.

        1. Language barriers I faced in school and everyday life.

        2. Differences in cultural norms and expectations.

        B. Navigating a new education system

        1. Differences in teaching styles and expectations.

        2. Adjusting to a new curriculum and grading system.

        C. Finding a sense of belonging

        1. Challenges in making friends and building relationships.

        2. Coping with homesickness and missing family and friends.

        III. Conclusion

        A. Reflection on my journey as an immigrant

        1. Lessons learned and personal growth.

        2. Significance of the experience.

        B. Acknowledgment of my resilience and determination.

        1. Overcoming challenges and achieving success.

        2. Encouragement for others facing similar challenges.

        C. Memorable closing statement related to my journey.

        2. Argumentative essay outline

        An argumentative essay outline requires you to take a clear stance on a topic and provide strong evidence to support it. 

        The goal of this outline is to convince the reader to see your point of view on a controversial topic.

        Argumentative essay outline example

        The following example shows us how the internet is beneficial to the mental development of school children. It establishes the internet to be a valuable resource for children.

        I. Introduction

        A. A surprising statistic or fact about children and their use of the internet.

        B. Brief explanation of the prevalence of the internet in modern society and its impact on children.

        C. Thesis statement: Despite concerns about safety and privacy, the internet is a valuable resource for children due to its educational opportunities, communication tools, and access to diverse perspectives.

        II. Body

        A. Education opportunities.

         1. Access to information and resources that may not be available in traditional classroom settings.

        2. Interactive tools and games that can reinforce learning and engage children in new ways.

        B. Communication tools

        1. Social media and messaging platforms that allow children to connect with peers and mentors.

        2. Online forums and discussion groups that foster collaboration and problem-solving skills.

        C. Exposure to diverse perspectives

        1. Access to a variety of viewpoints and perspectives from around the world.

        2. Exposure to different cultures and ways of thinking can foster empathy and understanding.

        III. Counterarguments and Rebuttal

        A. Potential safety concerns and risks associated with internet use

        1. Explanation of safety measures and precautions that can mitigate these risks.

        2. Rebuttal of the idea that the risks outweigh the benefits.

        B. Potential negative effects on cognitive and social development

        1. Explanation of the positive effects of internet use on cognitive development and social skills.

        2. Rebuttal of the idea that the internet is inherently harmful to children.

        IV. Conclusion

        A. Restatement of thesis statement and main points of the argument.

        B. Reflection on the importance of the internet as a valuable resource for children.

        C. Final thoughts and call to action for readers to embrace the benefits of internet use for children.

        3. Expository essay outline

        An expository essay outline requires you to provide a detailed overview of a subject from all angles. It is used to test your knowledge of a particular subject.

        The purpose of this essay outline is to inform, explain, or describe a topic or idea, rather than to persuade the reader or share personal opinions. 

        This type of essay is often used in academic settings, such as in writing assignments, research papers, or even textbooks.

        Expository essay outline example

        The following example provides us with information on SONAR technology, its uses, its impact on the environment, as well as its benefits. 

        I. Introduction

        A. A brief explanation of the significance of SONAR and its impact on underwater navigation and detection.

        B. A definition of SONAR and its origins, and the history of its development and uses.

        C. Thesis statement: This essay will provide a detailed overview of the use of SONAR technology, its applications, and its impact on various fields.

        II. Body

        A. Explanation of SONAR technology

          1. Basic principles of SONAR.
          2. Types of SONAR and how they work.

        B. Applications of SONAR technology

        1. Military applications, including submarine detection and mine detection.

        2. Commercial applications, including underwater mapping and exploration, and marine life observation.

        C. Advantages and disadvantages of SONAR technology

        1. Advantages, such as accuracy and range.

        2. Disadvantages, such as interference and environmental impact.

        III. Counterarguments and Rebuttal

        A. Safety and environmental concerns

        1. Explanation of the measures taken to minimize the environmental impact of SONAR technology.

        2. Rebuttal of the idea that the benefits of SONAR technology are outweighed by its environmental impact.

        B. Potential misuse or abuse of SONAR technology

        1. Explanation of regulations and laws governing the use of SONAR technology.

        2. Rebuttal of the idea that the potential misuse of SONAR technology justifies limiting its applications.

        IV. Conclusion

        A. Restatement of thesis statement and main points of the argument.

        B. Reflection on the significance of SONAR technology and its impact on various fields.

        C. Final thoughts and call to action for readers to learn more about SONAR technology and its applications.

        4. Descriptive essay outline

        A descriptive essay outline requires you to create a detailed and sensory-rich description of a person, place, object, event, or experience. 

        The goal is to provide the reader with a visceral experience that engages their senses and imagination.

        Descriptive essay outline example

        The following example provides a highly immersive experience and uses multiple sensory descriptors to describe the summers spent by the writer at their grandmother’s farm.

        I. Introduction

        A. Description of a typical summer day at grandma’s farm.

        B. Brief overview of the location and purpose of the farm.

        C. Thesis statement: Summers spent at grandma’s farm were some of the most memorable and enjoyable times of my childhood, thanks to the idyllic setting and the rich sensory experiences it provided.

        II. Body Paragraph 1: The Scenery

        A. Topic sentence: The farm was located in a picturesque rural area surrounded by rolling hills and green pastures.

        B. Sensory details:

        1. Visual: Describe the lush greenery, the colorful flowers, and the endless expanse of blue sky.

        2. Auditory: Mention the sound of the chirping birds, the rustling leaves, and the occasional mooing of cows.

        3. Olfactory: Describe the fragrant smell of fresh hay and the earthy aroma of the soil.

        4. Tactile: Describe the feeling of the warm sun on the skin and the softness of the grass underfoot.

        III. Body Paragraph 2: The Activities

        A. Topic sentence: The farm provided numerous activities and tasks that kept me busy and engaged throughout the day.

        B. Sensory details:

        1. Visual: Describe the sight of the cows grazing, the chickens clucking, and the horses trotting.

        2. Auditory: Mention the sound of the milking machine, the creaking of the barn doors, and the whinnying of the horses.

        3. Olfactory: Describe the smell of the freshly baked pies, the wood smoke from the bonfire, and the scent of the freshly cut grass.

        4. Tactile: Describe the feeling of the cow’s rough tongue licking my hand, the warmth of the freshly laid eggs, and the rough texture of the hay bales.

        IV. Body Paragraph 3: The People

        A. Topic sentence: The farm was a family affair, and spending time with my grandmother and other relatives was a highlight of the summer.

        B. Sensory details:

        1. Visual: Describe the sight of my grandmother cooking in the kitchen, my cousins running through the fields, and my uncles fixing machinery.

        2. Auditory: Mention the sound of laughter and conversation around the dinner table, the chatter of family members working together, and the clinking of dishes.

        3. Olfactory: Describe the smell of home-cooked meals, the familiar scents of family members, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

        4. Tactile: Describe the feeling of hugs from family members, the rough texture of my grandfather’s hand, and the warmth of a family embrace.

        V. Conclusion

        A. Restate thesis: Summers spent at grandma’s farm were truly unforgettable, filled with vivid sensory experiences and cherished memories.

        B. Summarize main points: Recap the main sensory details and experiences shared in the essay.

        C. Final thoughts: Reflect on the impact of the farm on the writer’s life and express gratitude for the memories made there.

        Once you’re done writing your essay, it’s time to thoroughly revise, edit, and proofread your essay. If editing and proofreading is not your cup of tea, you can make things easier for you by working with a professional essay editing service.

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        Nandita Linkedin

        Nandita is a budding writer with a background in Psychology. She adores mysterious movies with unusual plots, cozy coffee houses, and any conversation involving Agatha Christie!

        One comment on “How to Write an Essay Outline: 5 Examples & Free Template

        1. Sally Jamil says:

          It is a very useful presentation of the topic. It helped my students in a very good way. Thank you.

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