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The Role of Essay Outlines in Writing

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Don’t know about essay outlines? If not, you are not doing anything right. An outline is essentially the skeleton of an essay. In other words, it is a text representation of the thesis and critical supporting points of an essay.

Essays are the most common type of academic writing. Outlines serve many purposes, including assisting writers in arranging their thoughts before starting work, allowing readers to read a quick synopsis of the essay, and acting as a guide for the writer as they work on their next supporting paragraph. Writing an essay outline is not a challenging task. In this blog post, we are going to shed light on this topic. Go through it to gather valuable insights and learn about the key points that you must consider to come up with an effective essay outline.

Understanding the Essay Outline

An essay outline is an informal document that lists the essay parts to ensure the writer stays on track and doesn’t miss a single point. As it’s not formal, the outline is mostly written in incomplete sentences, just like notes.

Outlining is a crucial early stage in the writing process. This is the stage where you arrange all of your ideas and understandings into a clear and concise roadmap. Your outline can possibly help you get back on track if you get stuck while composing your essay.

In colleges and universities, students need to submit the outline of an essay before they can start writing. This is because the instructors want to make sure each student is on the right track in terms of picking an appropriate essay topic that comes with ample referencing sources. Most importantly, it helps the instructors ensure that the essay criteria are met and that the students master the task.

Components of an Effective Essay Outline

Even though every essay is unique, all follow the same fundamental essay structure, which is as follows:

  • Introduction Section

The introduction is the very first section of your essay. As the name suggests, this is the part where you introduce the points you will be explaining in your essay.

Hook or Opening Statement

This comes under the introduction part. A hook or opening statement is a full sentence that you need to incorporate to draw the attention of the readers. It is more of a concise statement that the audience relates to.

Thesis Statement

Talk about your thesis in the introduction part as well. It is the definitive sentence where you make clear arguments. This allows the reader to understand your perspective when going through the paper.

Body Paragraphs Section

Your essay might feature only two paragraphs, or it may even be a five-paragraph essay. Unless your instructor allocated a specific number of paragraphs, it’s completely your call when it comes to creating categories to divide the essay.

If you want to add multiple sources to support your thesis statement, follow the universal rule of one body paragraph per source cited. However, depending on the kind of essay you are writing, you might have to stray from this rule.

Conclusion Section

Once you get to the conclusion paragraph, you are almost done! This is the part of your essay where you summarise and list the main ideas from each of your body paragraphs. This is an opportunity to share any final ideas or viewpoints you would like the reader to see before they end up consuming your essay.

Crafting Your Essay Outline

So, you are ready to craft the outline of your essay. That’s great! But how can you get started? Follow four key steps and make the rest of your work simpler and easier. Scroll down and have a look:

  • Determine your goal—Consider your thesis statement. Though the exact terminology may not yet be clear to you, you should have some idea of the argument you will put forward and defend in your essay. It is easier to go over your brainstorming thoughts and create a solid outline when you have a defined purpose.
  • Filter out the fluff—When you came up with ideas, you considered every angle you could explore and every piece of information you possibly wanted to include. Now, it’s time to review the brainstorming notes and select the ideas that will help you write your essay efficiently.
  • Track down the points you will make in each paragraph—Determine the primary arguments that you will make in your essay with the set of concepts you wrote down.
  • Use a standard template for your outline—Arrange your main ideas into an understandable, well-organised framework that you will fill in with information as you prepare your first essay draft using a template that suits the type of essay you are assigned to compose (more on that in the following section).

Tips for Creating an Effective Essay Outline

You can easily create a detailed outline for your essay if you follow a few key points as mentioned below:

Understand the purpose of your essay – Prior to outlining, figuring out your essay purpose is the key. In other words, you must keep track of:

  • Grasping the paper requirements
  • The essay topic
  • The thesis statement of your essay
  • Your audience

Pick an order – When you draft an outline, you effectively provide your future essay with structure and purpose. You will need to consider whether to arrange your essay chronologically, spatially, or importance-based.

Creating the structure for a short essayIf you are writing a short essay or a 500-word five-paragraph essay, your structure should be like the following:

  • Primary idea
  • Supporting idea 1
  • Supporting idea 2
  • Supporting idea 3
  • Conclusion

Developing an outlineUsing templates is the best option for creating sentence outlines. You can select the template essay that best suits your needs and only answer each text box question with a single sentence, which will provide you with a concise, one-sentence summary. After that, you can share or export the outline with classmates or instructors for their input.

Types of Essay Outlines with Examples

Among all, the most common is the alphanumeric outline, and most people can able to recognise it. While all outlines have a similar overall structure, several significant differences must be considered when drafting one for a particular essay format. The different types of essay outlines are as follows:

  • Argumentative essay outline
  • Admission essay outline
  • Persuasive essay outline
  • Literary analysis essay outline
  • Personal essay outline
  • Alphanumeric outline
  • Expository essay outline

Take a look at more than one common example outline for varied essay types:

1. Argumentative essays

Title: “Italian Ice is a Superior Dessert to Ice Cream”


  • Thesis

State the features of Italian Ice


Why is it more refreshing?


2. Admissions Essays

Title: “Arigato, Sato Sensei”


  • Thesis

Discuss how English speakers struggle to learn Japanese language

Talk about the Japanese culture

Your experience


3. Persuasive Essays

Title: “We Need More Security Cameras in the Student Parking Deck”


  • Thesis

Share updated student car break-in statistics

Talk about the intangible value of high-end security

State the installation cost


4. Personal Essays

Title: “The Two Best Birthdays of my Life”


  • Thesis

Talk about your 18th birthday

Talk about your last birthday


The Importance of Essay Outlines

An outlined essay helps you stay on track and prove your argument in the best possible way. To avoid deviating from the topic, always start writing an essay after creating the outline. The main reason behind this is that essays with an outline are less confusing and easier to follow. Here’s what an essay outline brings to your paper:

  • An essay with an outline has more transitions, and that too, in appropriate places—The lack of transitional words and phrases in an essay is a sign of an essay without an outline. Whether you write an essay in the field of academics or a pitch to persuade your customer, transitions allow the readers to understand your arguments with ease.
  • Improved paragraph structure—Outlining can significantly improve your paragraph structure. Every paragraph should begin with a topic sentence and end with an argument, supporting points, an analysis, and a closing statement. Students who don’t outline frequently violate these rules of structure and eventually lose points.
  • No distractions or misplaced paragraphs—An experienced reader or writer can easily identify an essay with no outline as it is more or less confusing. When you create an outline, you know what type of argument you are going to support. The possibility of mistakenly mixing things up doubles when you start writing without first considering the essay’s structure.
  • No repetition of the writer’s arguments and ideas—Finally, experts from MyAssignmentHelp say that most essays without an outline tend to be repetitive. When you write a longer essay without any clear thought in mind, it’s easy to get carried away and lose track. For this reason, nearly all professional writing services provide an exclusive outlining feature. Though it’s not free, it’s rather affordable, so if you are not very good at outlining, getting it is quite relevant.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Essay Outlines

As we write an essay outline, we make common mistakes. After all, we are humans and we do get out of focus sometimes. Here are the mistakes students must consider, or they might have a significant impact on the quality of your essay:

Basic spelling

When reviewing your paper, the most common type of mistake you will find is the spelling mistake. Focus more on your spelling and take help from Microsoft Word and other processors to ensure your paper is error-free.

Sentence fragments

You can modify this part by reading it aloud. There are different types of sentences that just couldn’t stand on their own without an intro. If there is any type of sentence like this, simply remove it or merge it with another sentence. Make sure there are all full sentences in your essay, which is a strong criterion for securing excellent grades.

Bad spacing

If necessary, make sure your paper is double-spaced. However, it extends beyond that. The paper must look consistent and well-organised overall. If it is not, there may be an issue with your spacing. Most students lose points because of it, so keep a close eye on this.

Missing transitions

Again, reading your essay aloud will help you identify problems like, “What transitions are you missing? Is the paper clear? Do you have a thesis statement?”. Moreover, you can easily contact our expert essay writers at MyAssignmentHelp and ask them to highlight any flaws that you might have overlooked.


Once your outline is ready, proceed with the next steps in the writing process to finish the paper. If the above information falls short for you, don’t hesitate to seek expert essay help from MyAssignmentHelp. They can assist you in refining your first draft into an error-free and quality piece of writing. They can help you with any necessary edits that maintain a clear, consistent tone that precisely communicates what you are trying to convey.

Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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