Essay Outline

If you sit down to write an essay, whether it’s for your undergraduate thesis or if you’re just completing a school assignment, you will want to have a clear structure. Without creating a clear structure, your essay will simply not flow as it should. As a result, you’ll be making your points a lot less readable and you may actually bore the audience, or not substantiate any arguments (if you’re writing an analysis essay). You will want to approach your essay writing by having the freedom of creativity, however, it needs to be regimented and your writing needs to be structured in a way that helps the audience read it. In this guide, we're going to take you through how to write an essay outline, because before you even begin to write, you will need an outline to help you out. Let’s take a look at how to create an outline for the perfect essay.

What Comprises An Outline?

So what exactly is an outline and how are you going to create one? You can think of an outline as you think of a plan. Imagine if you’re hosting a wedding – you’ll need some sort of plan to help guide you through events, and so the essay plan is designed to discipline your mind in the same way. If you look at an essay, article or piece of text, you’ll notice that it is actually broken down into separate paragraphs that have their own separate uses. You may even find, especially in articles, that subheadings tell you what’s going to be written in the paragraph below. You can use the same format within an essay, however, instead of subheadings, you can note down the names of outline items. In essence, outlines can be extremely useful to conceptualise your own thoughts when writing, allowing you not to make any confusion in your mind about what you’re going to write. Having an outline also organises your writing, thought processes and execution.

How Can You Create An Outline?

Creating an outline is fairly simple – you needn’t spend time making it look pretty, because it really doesn’t matter. A great outline can be simply written on a sheet of paper, with rough ideas sketched out. Think of your outline as the skeleton which will need to be fleshed out later with actual text. You’re going to be just thinking about the structure and the most necessary points, so you won’t need to get bogged down in serious detail and you won’t need to write anything other than short sentences. Let’s take a look at the common structure that you want to replicate in your outline.


Think carefully about your introduction, because this is the part of an essay which will engage your audience. It’s your make or break point in the essay, so you will want to make sure it is executed to perfection. Within the introduction, you will want to introduce the audience to the main points in the topic. The key is to be succinct and to bring the audience to question the idea that the essay revolves around. You needn’t create an introduction that is too long, so a couple of paragraphs should suffice.

Within your outline, create some bullet points for the introduction, including the main ideas that you’re going to be introducing the reader to. Take a step back at times in order to refine your bullet points. Is everything succinct.

The Main Body

This section can be thought of as the bulk of the flesh for the metaphorical skeleton we discussed earlier. It is certainly the part of the essay which bears the most attention and is the longest part. It really is up to you how long you want the body to be. Unlike the introduction, you don’t need to be as succinct. However, there should be no room for waffling – get all the most important points down your body in bullet points to add to your outline.

There are numerous different structures that the body can have. You could go for the thesis- argumentation structure whereby one establishes what the essay is about and then goes on to prove it. There is also a facts-inference structure where a situation is described and then details are given before drawing a conclusion. One could also give their thesis and then support it by several different arguments. Whatever type of essay you’re going to write, take the term thesis to mean the crux of your essay, or the main idea.

When you are arguing your point, make sure that you don’t overbear the reader with much to many arguments. If you overload all of your text, this will make your thesis less understood. The trick is to be very limiting in your approach and succinct - this will allow your arguments to flourish.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is where everything comes together. Think of it as an executive summary, i.e. a way that you draw upon everything you have written about in a succinct manner. If you thought of a new point you’d like to write about, don’t put it in here – you’re best off putting it in the body. A conclusion should never include any new information – it should only draw on the information you provided within the body. Try to relate back to everything that you’ve written and when planning for this in your outline, make some bullet points on what the essay has touched on and how you think it should end. The conclusion is what draws everything together, so if it’s not done properly then your essay would be as convincing as you think.

Example Of An Essay Outline

Now we’ve talked about the structure, that saying how it all plays together. Here’s an example of an essay outline that you could use. It’s just the bare bones, you need to flesh it out somewhat, however, you could use it to guide your outline.

  1. Introduction
    1. Your thesis statement
    2. A sentence to attract your audience in (a hook)
    3. Some preliminary information you’d want to touch on
  2. The body
    1. Your first idea
      1. Substantiating evidence, reasons, claims and logical argument
    2. Your second idea
      1. Substantiating evidence, reasons, claims and logical argument
    3. Your third idea
      1. Substantiating evidence, reasons, claims and logical argument
  3. Conclusion
    1. Your main ideas
    2. Relate back to your thesis statement
    3. An ending or a few sentences to end your essay

How Can I Begin To Write An Essay?

Now that you’ve got your outline, the next step is to actually write the essay. A lot of people actually start by writing the body first. It may seem strange to start with the middle, but you’ll find that the introduction and conclusion are a lot easier to complete after you’ve got your main points down. You can also use the body to inspire your introduction and conclusion. As you write, you may think of other ideas in your body which you may want to draw on in your introduction and conclusion, so it makes sense to start with the body. If you’re not sure still about how to write the body, you can use our essay writing services where a team of dedicated experts will help you to complete your assignment in a time critical manner.

When you’re fleshing out your essay, make sure that you can move things from start to finish in a logical manner. Beginning in a simple manner and then move on to make things more complex. When you build your text, you may want to think about some of the following things, depending on what kind of essay you’ll be writing:

  • The abstract
  • Different arguments for your thesis
  • Being logical
  • The flow – don’t put all of your ideas into one paragraph
  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation – the nitty-gritty details make all the difference

We hope that with the advice we’ve given you, you’ll have the tools you need to write a great outline that will be the foundation of a great essay. You’ll see that once the outline is there, the rest will come naturally. All the best in your essay writing for the future.

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