To write an essay, a student should possess a wide set of skills and have appropriate knowledge of the subject. Essay writing can be tough, and many students have difficulties in managing the task. But it often happens that the reason for such hesitation lies neither in the complexity of the task, no in the knowledge of the trainee. In fact, the inability to structure the thoughts and gather them correctly is what makes things difficult. For this reason, there is an essay outline that helps figure everything out.
Essay outline definition
An outline is basically a road map that helps you coordinate your thoughts and find the best way to explain them. It is a plan that you use to for making the writing smoother and more organized. When dealing with an essay, you can have too many ideas to share. Sometimes it is hard to prioritize them and reveal correctly. It harms the content of the essay and makes it less readable.
On the contrary, with an outline, you have an exact plan and know where to go next. It really helps to focus on the right things and avoid inconsistency. So, how to prepare to write an outline?
Prepare for essay outline writing
First thing first, you need to take some time and get yourself prepared for an essay outline. There are several points to consider. To find them out, continue reading.
Learn the requirements
When a professor assigns you a task, there are usually particular guidelines to follow. In some cases, they are mandatory, but sometimes a student can also deviate slightly from them. So, first of all, you should check how strict the requirements are. Read the text with the rules to the essay and define the most important things. They correspond to the format of the text and structure of the essay. In the requirements, you can also find the info about the references and data sources. Different universities treat these issues differently. So, your task is to figure out all the peculiarities of the task.
Read the guidelines for several times and look whether there is something you can’t understand. If so, you should ask your professor or instructor for additional clarification. Do it before you start writing the essay.
Develop your topic
An outline will definitely help you organize the text. But to start the ball rolling, you need an exact topic. You can get the topic from your instructor. But if you need to create it on the basis of your discipline or subject, there are different ways and techniques to generate ideas and come up with a good and relevant theme for the text.
- Brainstorm. This is the most effective way to generate ideas. The technique is simple. You have a general topic, and you need to narrow down the list of possible options. So, take a list, think about the subject, and let your thoughts flow. Write down everything that comes to your mind. Don’t mind the punctuation or grammar. You have to generate the content. When you have a few ideas on paper, look at them and see if there is something common. Define the most obvious points and start the same activity with this new material. This way, you will finally define the best topic for the essay.
- Clustering. This method is opposite to the previous one. While in the first case, we were narrowing down all possible options, here we need to broaden them. Take a piece of paper and write the name of your subject. Think about the associative series and develop the topics.
- Question yourself. There is a 5W method that consists of 5 basic questions. You should ask yourself these questions and, on the basis of the answers, create a topic. Give detailed answers to these questions because it will be easier for you to develop the ideas this way.
These methods are major ones, but you can use what is appropriate for you. These are just examples of techniques that help students a lot.
Who is your target reader?
Identifying the target audience is crucial for a good paper. You have to know your readers. If you know the needs and expectations of these people, you know how to talk with them. You also know the best ways to communicate the problem and address it to the reader. Think about their lifestyle and how they can react to your writing.
Determine your goal
When you write a paper, you need to know the purpose of it. What effect do you want to achieve? If you need to entertain the reader, you should take one approach. If your task is to persuade the audience, you should generate informative and useful content. So, think about the purpose of the essay and choose the mood for your writing.
Create a thesis
When you know the topic of your essay, its purpose, and the audience, you can think of a thesis statement. In a nutshell, the thesis consists of 1-2 sentences and conveys the main idea of the writing. It has to include the core message of the essay and states a point.
- A good thesis is the one with an arguable point. It would be futile to introduce a fact or an obvious statement. The reader won’t take an interest in such a thesis. It has to be expressive and attention-grabbing.
- Don’t make your thesis watery. You have only one sentence to “hook” the reader. If you insert simple and unnecessary words to your thesis, you will spoil it. Make sure to use exact statements and correct expressions.
Tips to come up with a good essay outline
To make up an outline, you need to know its basic features and rules.
There are two main patterns for creating an outline. The first one, an alphanumeric type, is an easy one. You can easily spot it. It uses Roman/Arabic numerals, capitalized, or lowercase letters. The second type is called a decimal outline structure. In terms of structure, this one is similar to the previous one. But it explains how each section or subsection corresponds to the text as a whole. So, it’s your choice to decide on the purpose of your outline.
The length of the sentences can vary. They can be short and long, and it’s totally up yo you which one to choose. But to present the ideas in a more informative way, you’d better make use of the longer sentences. They will convey more sense. It is also beneficial to use longer sentences if you have to submit an outline to the instructor.
Parallel sections structure
You need to follow a single pattern for your outline. It corresponds to the structure of the sentences as well. If you decide to start a subsection with a verb, the nest one has to follow suit. Such an approach will make the text solid and readable.
Coordinate the content
When you develop the structure of the outline, make sure to treat each section equally. You can’t fully develop one part of your essay, and say a few words about another aspect. It will make the text inconsistent. Try to distribute the information evenly.
Best way to structure your essay outline
The structure of the outline repeats the pattern of a regular essay. It needs basic parts, and your task to insert them into the outline structure.
In the first place, you include general information about the topic and introduce the main idea gradually. In the introduction section of your outline, there should be three sub-points where you discuss the following issues:
- Hook the audience and introduce the topic. Find a shocking fact, an anecdote, or a controversial statement.
- Describe the topic and tell briefly about the research or any other background information.
- Frame it with a thesis statement.
- To write an outline for the body section of your essay, find 2-3 arguments to support your thesis. You need to thoroughly elaborate on them. They need to be relevant.
- Present an argument separately and put a shred of evidence to support the thought together with it.
This section aims to summarize the text. Here you have to rephrase the thesis and take stocks. Divide this part into two sections. Firstly, return to the thesis, and then sum it up.
Let’s draw the line
Writing an essay outline isn’t difficult if you know basic rules and follow the guidelines given in the article. Don’t underestimate the importance of the outline, even if it isn’t mandatory, makeup one to ease the writing process.
Ask for help
We’ve covered the main points to help you manage an essay outline. But if you see that this information isn’t enough, feel free to ask our experts for help. We work with experienced writers. They know how to create an impeccable outline for you.