10 Tips to Do a Detailed Essay Outline

Knowing how to write an outline is an invaluable skill. It will get you through college and help you survive written tests. Even though it is possible to write a good essay without an outline, creating it can make the writing process easier and better organized.

What is an Essay Outline?

The outline is a skeleton of the text, which helps you organize your thoughts and ideas in a logical way. It can be general or a detailed one and it creates a structure that you can build your writing on. The ideas need to flow smoothly and logically lead up to a clear and concise conclusion. Without an outline, you risk to go in different directions and end up with a text, which might not convey the main message to your reader.

How to Write an Essay Outline?

  1. Read Your Writing Assignment Carefully. There are many types of essays and different tutors provide different instructions. Make sure you fully understand what you need to write about. There might be a huge disappointment if in the process you realize that the point which you’re trying to make is not exactly what’s expected from you and now you need to rewrite the whole thing.
  2. Figure Out the Purpose of Your Essay. Most of the time, only tutors get to read your work. Still, when writing, you need to think of why you write this particular type of essay. Do you want to persuade your audience to agree with you? Maybe the purpose is to entertain or inform a reader? Identify your audience and think of what reaction you would like to achieve.
  3. Do Thorough Research. Checking out credible sources is important if you want to come up with a quality outline for your essay. You need to get a proper analysis in order to present valid arguments. Structuring of the plan will be much easier if you know as much about your subject as possible.
  4. Don’t Do Too Much Research. We’ve just said that it’s important to do proper research before you start creating an outline. Yet, it’s important to note that going too far down while studying the subject won’t do any good. You risk losing your focus and it’s easy to waste a lot of valuable time. Balance is the key.
  5. Take Notes. While you’re scanning the articles in order to look for new data or checking out your knowledge gaps about the subject, try to take notes. You won’t be able to remember everything you’ve found to be important, so write down the main points, which you find interesting and those that are related to the subject of your discussion.
  6. Check Out Templates. A great way to learn how to write an outline is to look through the samples written by professionals at Your tutor might provide them, but you can also ask your fellow students whom you can trust and who study well. If you struggle with that, you can find quality templates online by yourself and see what others have to say with regard to the topic that you’re going to discuss.
  7. Write a Thesis Statement. If you’ve done your research, formulating the thesis statement shouldn’t be a problem. Since you’ve learned enough about the subject and made up your mind in terms of what message you want to convey, writing a topic sentence should come easy.
  8. Do the Brainstorming. Typically, this advice is given if a student needs to write the whole essay, but it will work for writing the outline as well. You don’t have to come up with a perfect structure for the first time. Write down the main points and organize them in a logical order afterward.
  9. Choose a Suitable Format. The standard format is alphanumeric but you can opt for the decimal one as well. Choose the format which you will feel comfortable with. Use Roman numerals to indicate your main arguments (I, II, III, IV, etc.). Under each argument put another three or four statements to support it and label with uppercase letters of the English alphabet (A, B, C, D, etc.). If you want to include further statements that support the sentences, mark them with numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).
  10. Review and Adjust Your Outline. Last but not least is advice to review and adjust your outline so that you could check whether all your ideas are connected logically and coherently. Review and think if you’ve included all your thoughts and whether you managed to establish the connections well enough. It’s good to put away your work for some time and get back to it later in order to review it with a fresh mind and renewed perspective.

Writing an essay is a daunting task for many students. Perhaps you’re an essay writer who is experienced enough to produce the text off the cuff. However, if you’re new to essay writing or you are to deal with a difficult assignment, it’s better to create a viable outline before you start crafting your paper. Hopefully, our simple guide can help you complete your assignments successfully and come up with a great essay quickly and easily. 

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