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Types of Outlines and Samples

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Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase Letters

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

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How to Write an Essay Outline with Examples

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Why write an essay outline.

An essay outline will help you organize your main ideas and determine the order in which you are going to write about them. In some cases, a decimal outline may allow you to organize your details better. Writing an outline with an alphanumeric structure is another very effective way to think through how you will organize and present the information in your essay. It also helps you develop a strong argumentative essay.

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Looking for a printable list of essay outline examples?

Our printable PDF features essay outline examples and templates that your students can use as examples when writing research papers, or as a supplement for an essay-writing unit.

Sample Outline - Persuasive Essay

Competitive Swimming, an Ideal Sport for Kids


Start your argumentative essay outline by stating your point of view and/or present your persuasive argument.

Thesis: Competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports.

Body Paragraph 1

Introduce your primary persuasive argument and provide supporting details in your argumentative essay outline.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides the same benefits as other sports.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   It is good exercise and builds muscular strength.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   It promotes cooperation among team members, especially in relays.

Body Paragraph 2

Introduce a secondary argument and provide supporting details.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides some unique additional benefits.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Swimming is an important skill that can be used forever.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Swimming poses a reduced risk of injury.
  • Detail Sentence 3:   Each swimmer can easily chart his or her own progress.

Conclude your essay writing with a summary of the thesis and persuasive arguments. Brainstorming details that support your point-of-view is a great way to start before creating your outline and first draft.

Concluding Sentence:   There are many reasons why competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports, including...

Sample Outline - Narrative Essay

How Losing a Swim Meet Made Me a Better Swimmer

Introduce the subject of your narrative essay using a thesis statement and a plan of development (POD).

Thesis: The first time I participated in a competitive swim meet, I finished in last place. With more focused training and coaching, I was able to finish 2nd in the State Championship meet.

Plan of development:   I was very disappointed in my results from the first meet, so I improved my training and fitness. This helped me swim better and faster, which helped me to greatly improve my results.

Set the scene and provide supporting details. Again, start by brainstorming different ways to begin; then go ahead and craft an outline and a first draft.

Topic Sentence:   I was embarrassed at finishing last in my first competitive swim meet, so I began working on ways to improve my performance.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I spent extra time with my coach and the team captains learning how to improve my technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   I started running and lifting weights to increase my overall fitness level.

Provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences to develop your general idea in your essay writing.

Topic Sentence:   Over time, my results began to improve and I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   My technique and fitness level made me faster and able to swim longer distances.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I steadily got better, and I began winning or placing in the top 3 at most of my meets.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  My results improved to the point that I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

Body Paragraph 3

The next step in the writing process is to provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences. You can then divide them up under different headings.

Topic Sentence:   With my new confidence, techniques, and fitness level, I was able to finish 2nd at the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I was able to swim well against a higher level of competition due to my training and technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I was no longer embarrassed about my last-place finish, and was able to use it as motivation!

Conclude the narrative essay with a recap of the events described or a reflection on the lesson learned in the story. Briefly summarize the details you included under each heading.

Concluding Sentence:   I used my last-place finish in my first competitive swim meet as motivation to improve my performance.

Sample Outline - Descriptive Essay

Visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame

Introduce the subject of your descriptive essay with a thesis statement covering the person, place, object, etc. you are writing about.

Thesis: The Hockey Hall of Fame is full of sights, sounds, and experiences that will delight hockey fans of all ages.

Set the scene and provide factual details.

Topic Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Canada and features exhibits from amateur and professional hockey.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   The Hall is located in downtown Toronto and is visited by 1 million people every year.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   You can see exhibits ranging from the early beginnings of the sport to the modern NHL and Olympics.

Provide additional sensory details, descriptions, and experiences.

Topic Sentence:   There are many types of exhibits and shows, including activities you can participate in.

  • Detail Sentence 1:  Player statues, plaques, and jerseys decorate the walls in every room of the Hall.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Many of the exhibits have movies and multimedia activities that make you feel like you're part of the game.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  You can even practice shooting pucks on virtual versions of some of the game's greatest goalies!

Conclude the essay with a paragraph that restates the thesis and recaps the descriptive and sensory details.

Concluding Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is an experience that combines the best sights, sounds and history of the game in Toronto.

Sample Outline - Expository Essay

Why The School Year Should be Shorter

Introduce the primary argument or main point of an expository essay, or other types of academic writing, using a thesis statement and context.

Thesis: The school year is too long, and should be shortened to benefit students and teachers, save districts money, and improve test scores and academic results. Other countries have shorter school years, and achieve better results.

Describe the primary argument and provide supporting details and evidence.

Topic Sentence:   A shorter school year would benefit students and teachers by giving them more time off.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Students and teachers would be able to spend more time with their families.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Teachers would be refreshed and rejuvenated and able to teach more effectively.

Provide additional supporting details and evidence, as in this essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:  A shorter school year would save school districts millions of dollars per year.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Districts could save money on energy costs by keeping schools closed longer.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  A shorter school year means much lower supply and transportation costs.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  Well-rested and happy students would help improve test scores.

Provide additional or supplemental supporting details, evidence, and analysis, as in the essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:   Shortening the school year would also provide many benefits for parents and caregivers.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   A shorter school year would mean less stress and running around for parents.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Caregivers would have more balance in their lives with fewer days in the school year.

Conclude the essay with an overview of the main argument, and highlight the importance of your evidence and conclusion.

Concluding Sentence:   Shortening the school year would be a great way to improve the quality of life for students, teachers, and parents while saving money for districts and improving academic results.

Sample Research Paper Outline

The Conquest of Mt. Everest

  • Location of Mt. Everest
  • Geography of the Surrounding Area
  • Height of the mountain
  • Jomolungma (Tibetan name)
  • Sagarmatha (Nepalese name)
  • The number of people who have climbed Everest to date
  • First to reach the summit (1953)
  • Led a team of experienced mountain climbers who worked together
  • Norgay was an experienced climber and guide who accompanied Hillary
  • Sherpas still used to guide expeditions
  • Leader of the failed 1996 expedition
  • Led group of (mainly) tourists with little mountain climbing experience
  • Loss of trees due to high demand for wood for cooking and heating for tourists.
  • Piles of trash left by climbing expeditions
  • Expedition fees provide income for the country
  • Expeditions provide work for the Sherpas, contributing to the local economy.
  • Introduction of motor vehicles
  • Introduction of electricity

The Everest essay outline template is based on a research paper submitted by Alexandra Ferber, grade 9.

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Essay Outline: How to Write It & Templates for Different Types

Essay outline

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An essay outline is a plan  that helps you organize your thoughts and ideas before you begin writing your essay. A well-constructed outline can help you ensure that your essay is structured logically and includes all of the necessary information.

Today, we will learn everything about essay outlines. Academic writing is challenging enough. So we would really want to ease the overall process and ensure that you’re prepared to write the best essay possible. Are you confused about how to structure your paper? Do you not understand the difference between different types of articles? The answers to all of those questions and even more points will be covered here. So stick around and get all the information you can possibly need!

What Is an Outline for an Essay?

What is an essay outline? It is a good question, and we are excited to answer it. In simple terms, it is how your essay will be structured and what things it might feature. You can include the following items in your structure:

  • Your general topic
  • Thesis statement
  • A number of paragraphs
  • Topic and concluding sentences for each paragraph
  • Resources or evidence used in your body paragraphs.

Trust us, following this list and ideas will save you a lot of time and help you in crafting a very good article.

Why Do You Need an Outline of an Essay?

Outline for an essay is crucial for several reasons. So here’s a quick list of why you’re writing and why research requires a good  essay structure example . It helps you:  

  • Develop a logical and well-thought-out piece.
  • Convince your readers that you’re making a valid point.
  • Save some time.
  • Don’t get lost in all the evidence and ideas you have for your paper.
  • Consider purchasing a college essay for sale in case this is too difficult.

Basic Outline for an Essay: Template

For starters, we wanted to give you an essay outline template. It is an effective way to make sure you have all the required points of a good article. By keeping everything organized, you will get our highest mark and develop a believable  argument . But, of course, here is the template and enumeration of all the sections you need:  

  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence
  • Summary or so-called synthesis
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement

How to Write an Essay Outline

How to write an outline for an essay? That's a $1 million question that we will answer today. You should understand from the very beginning that writing or mapping out your structure will take some time. But don't let this fact discourage you because it will be worth it in the end. However, we have also prepared several tips for you in order to ease the process even more:

  • Research a topic before you actually start writing.
  • Consider a type of article you're writing and pick an appropriate structure.
  • Start outlining from the very beginning.
  • Write down your thesis and make sure it is bulletproof.
  • Provide some evidence you will use to support your argument.

Essay Outline Template

Our outline for the essay template will differ depending on the type of essay you will be writing. Interestingly enough, there are many types of academic essays you can consider. You can write an argumentative, persuasive one or a common narrative, or even an expository essay. As a result, choosing a relevant outline and structure will help you to distinguish our mentioned types and nail the one you’ve picked. Professional essay writers at StudyCrumb might help you with that.  

Persuasive Essay Outline

We will start with how to write a  persuasive essay outline  and the similar one is an  argumentative essay outline . You can find the structure itself down below. But we wanted to remind you of several things. Students often forget to cite their sources. So it is rather a good idea to include not only the evidence but citations and sources when outlining.  

  • Catchy hook to engage your reader
  • Background information  on your topic
  • Thesis statement (mention all points that will be discussed in body paragraphs)
  • Paragraph 1 with supporting evidence proving your point (+Topic Sentence)
  • Paragraph 2 with evidence proving your point (+Topic Sentence)
  • Paragraph 3 with evidence proving your point (+Topic Sentence)
  • Rephrase a thesis statement
  • Conclude all points leaving a final impression

Narrative Essay Outline

We also know how to write a narrative essay outline . This type of article tries to tell a story, and that is why it is called narrative. Our best stories will have a rising action, climax, and a falling action. But to time everything perfectly and make sure your readers are at the address of the receipt, outlining is your best friend. Besides, not to forget the information you wanted to include, our structure below will help you write a very good narrative article.

  • Scene setting
  • Mentioning your purpose of writing
  • Rising action
  • Climax (some epic event)
  • Falling action (conflict resolution)
  • Moral of your story or possible lessons

Expository Essay Outline

An expository essay outline is very close to our previous options. It includes the same points. So you also start with an introduction, follow with three body paragraphs and finalize everything with a conclusion. Trust us: the process of writing will be much easier with such structure. Hence, our key for a good essay is right here:  

  • Topic background
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting explanation
  • Supporting example that backs up your topic sentence and explanation
  • Summarizing or concluding statement
  • Rephrase your thesis
  • Summarize and connect your key points
  • Leave a final impression with recommendations

Informative Essay Outline

Outline for an informative essay follows an already well-known structure. Don’t forget that your body paragraphs should have lots of details and relevant information. Each claim must be supported. Therefore, every article has a specific order that cannot be broken. If you don’t follow the structure, your argument may not be as strong as the ones following the given order.

  • Topic background (general information)
  • Supporting pieces of evidence
  • Transition and concluding statement
  • Leave a final impression with recommendations or future developments

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

Compare and contrast essay outline  will definitely be useful. A lot of colleges and schools like this type of essay because this is a good practice of analytical skills. It is natural because you have a lot of information and evidence. Besides, you're comparing different items, and tracking them might be a challenge for everyone. Out of all essays, this one, above all, needs a good structure. So make sure you understand the difference between your subjects, include evidence, and focus on your thesis statement:  

  • Topic sentence 1
  • Subject 1: Detail 1
  • Subject 2: Detail 1

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Your rhetorical analysis essay outline is our last one, so we hope you’re happy. Just like you always do, include evidence to support your argument and do research before the actual writing. In our rhetorical analysis, you have to highlight the strategies and approaches the author used in their text. Therefore, the good idea is to use quotations from the text.

  • General information
  • Used rhetorical strategies
  • How well the strategy works in this example? Provide quotes from the text
  • Reasons behind picking these approaches and not any other

Outline Example for Essay

So far, we have told you about the stages you should follow to make up a plan for your future essay. It is more convenient to have an outline essay example in front. This will help to create an effective plan and then compile a really good writing piece based on it. The main thing is to include as much information as possible into your plan; our outline template for essay will help you with this task. Don't forget to  buy essay now if you're still not sure whether you'll be doing this task. 

Example of essay outline

Final Thoughts on Writing an Essay Outline

Awesome job because now you know  how to quickly write an essay outline. A quick reminder before we wrap this up. You create an outline or write down the structure to keep track of all the information. Don’t forget that different types of academic papers and articles require their respective structures. So save this guide in order not to lose them.  


You can always rely on our essay writing service. Backed by unrivalled experience, our writer will be happy to provide you with the fantastic result in a timely manner.  

FAQ About Outline for Essay

1. what is the topic outline.

An essay topic outline is a process of arranging your ideas. This structure can show you the higher key or gradation of your main points. Therefore, you have your main point or argument and several sub-points. It is up to you to arrange them in order of importance and highlight the most crucial ones.

2. How long is an outline for an essay?

An outline for the essay doesn’t really have a fixed length. In many cases, you’ll be the only one who sees the structure. But if your research paper is around 15 or 20 pages, then your structure should be no longer than several pages. Normally, one or two pages are quite enough to include everything you need.

3. What are the disadvantages of outlining methods?

Outlining method for essays definitely has some disadvantages. So here’s a quick list for you to remember:

  • It takes time to write down and organize your structure.
  • It requires more thought and accuracy than common outlining.
  • It is challenging to find a format that will show all your details, including the relationships between your variables and points.

4. How do you capitalize an outline?

An essay outline also has its own format. In case you’re using a topic outline, you should capitalize only the first letter of the word that opens your heading. Of course, proper nouns are also capitalized. Finally, we don’t use complete sentences, so end punctuation is unnecessary.


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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Writing essays can be a daunting task for many students, causing stress and anxiety.

The pressure to produce clear, well-structured, and coherent essays often leaves students overwhelmed, especially when they lack effective strategies.

The essay outline plays a critical role in shaping the entire content of the essay.

In this easy-to-follow guide, we'll break down essay outlining step by step so you can write with confidence and get better grades. 

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What is an Essay Outline? 

An essay outline is a short plan of your essay where you list down all the ideas you need to cover in your essay. 

Planning your ideas and arguments before you start essay writing will help you to ensure that you cover all the important points.

An essay outline typically includes:

  • Introduction: This is where you introduce your topic and provide some context. 
  • Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph focuses on one idea or point related to your topic.
  • Conclusion: Here, you summarize everything you've talked about and leave your reader with some final thoughts.

Once you create the outline, you won't miss any important information. It also helps you in:

  • Organizing your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understanding how the information flows.
  • Not skipping any crucial information or references.
  • Finishing your work more quickly.

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps?  

Writing an essay outline is like creating a roadmap for your essay. It helps you stay organized and ensures your essay flows smoothly. 

Here are four straightforward steps to get you started:

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

Before you begin outlining, you need a clear understanding of your essay's topic . 

Select a topic that interests you and aligns with your assignment's requirements. Once you have your topic, you're ready to move on.

Step 2: Identify the Main Points

Think about the key ideas or arguments you want to present in your essay. These will become the main points or sections of your outline. 

Jot them down in a logical order.

Step 3: Add Subpoints

Under each main point, add subpoints that support and expand upon your main ideas. These subpoints can be examples, evidence, or specific details related to your main points.

Step 4: Organize and Structure

Now, arrange your main points and subpoints in a logical order. Typically, essays follow a three-part structure: Introduction, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusion. 

Your outline should reflect this structure, with each main point corresponding to a section of your essay.

Key Parts of An Essay Outline 

Crafting a well-structured essay begins with a solid outline. 

Understanding its key components is your first step toward essay-writing success. It will include the following elements:


An essay introduction contains:

  • Hook: An engaging opening sentence or two that captures the reader's attention.
  • Thesis Statement : A clear and concise statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.

Body Paragraphs

A body paragraph of an essay consists of:

  • Topic Sentence : The main idea of the paragraph, usually the first sentence.
  • Supporting Details: Evidence, examples, facts, or quotations that support the topic sentence.
  • Analysis: Your interpretation and analysis of the supporting details, explaining how they relate to the thesis.
  • Transition Words and Sentences: Words and Sentences that connect one paragraph to the next and maintain the flow of the essay.

An essay conclusion summarizes the main points consisting of:

  • Restate Thesis: Restate the thesis statement, but in different words.
  • Summarize Main Points: Briefly summarize the key points from the body paragraphs.
  • Closing Statement: Provide a closing thought or reflection that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Essay Outline Format 

There's no one-size-fits-all approach, and that's why we'll explore various types of essay outlines to suit different essay formats and purposes.

General Essay Outline 

The general essay outline structure uses the linear style.

All the points are numbered in order of their importance, from major to minor roles. In order to rank, assign numbers to your ideas. 

Here’s a general essay template for all essays that you can refer to structure your main ideas. 

Alphanumeric Essay Outline 

For most papers, it is always advisable to choose an alphanumeric outline format. 

In an alphanumeric structure, major sections are shown in Roman numbers, then comes the capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters. 

Decimal Essay Outline 

You can also use the decimal essay outline format. It is a less common way of outlining an essay or a paper.

Different Essay Outline Templates

Different templates can help you get a better idea of essay outlining. Here are some essay outline examples for you to get a general idea for writing your outlines. 

Informative Essay Outline

An  informative essay  writing is all about conveying information or educating readers about a particular topic.

Below, you can find what an outline for an informative essay should consist of.

Narrative Essay Outline

A  narrative essay  is a type of paper in which you tell a story from your own perspective or personal experience. It provides specific details to get the readers involved in your story and understand your viewpoint.

Below is the  narrative essay outline that you can refer to for better understanding.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An  argumentative essay  is quite similar to a comparative essay in terms of developing arguments to support the claim. In this type of essay writing, you should provide solid arguments on both sides of the issue.

To achieve that, follow an  argumentative essay outline  to compose a great argumentative paper and score high grades.

The following is the argumentative essay outline template for your help.

Persuasive Essay Outline

In a  persuasive essay , the author uses logic and solid arguments to convince the readers of a particular point of view.

To create an outline for a persuasive essay , consider the following template.

Analytical Essay Outline

An analytical essay is usually written to analyze a text. It concentrates on how something is done. Writing an  analytical essay  involves breaking down the concept into parts to understand its meaning and what message it conveys.

Below is what the  outline for an analytical essay  should look like.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A descriptive essay is a type of paper in which the writer describes an object, person, process, or event. The main goal of writing a  descriptive essay  is to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Following is a perfect descriptive essay outline  that you can follow for a well-structured descriptive paper.

Compare And Contrast Essay Outline

A compare and contrast essay highlights the way in which two things are different and similar to each other. 

Below, you can find the outline for compare and contrast essay .

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A  rhetorical analysis essay  analyzes a piece of work in terms of rhetoric.

The rhetorical analysis essay outline will help you examine the work and explain how its different parts come together.

Expository Essay Outline

An expository essay presents a balanced analysis of a subject solely based on facts. 

The expository essay outline gives you a better idea of creating a well-written outline for your essay. 

Synthesis Essay Outline

A  synthesis essay involves taking a unique viewpoint of a central idea and backing it up with different sources. 

Need to submit a synthesis essay soon? Here is a  synthesis essay outline  template to specify all the main points first.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A  literary analysis essay?  is an important academic assignment that examines and evaluates a piece of literature work.

If you have no idea how to structure this type of essay, here is a  literary analysis essay outline  for your help.

Reflective Essay Outline

In a  reflective essay , you write about your own experience or thoughts regarding a specific topic. 

Get to know about this type of essay from the following  reflective essay outline .

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A cause and effect essay identifies the reasons for something and then discusses the results. 

The following  cause and effect essay outline  can help students understand and get into the writing process.

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Scholarship Essay Outline

A  scholarship essay  is an important part of the scholarship application process. This essay helps students to stand out and get the scholarship.

Here is an outline to help you understand how scholarship essays are different from other essay types.

Problem Solution Essay Outline

A  problem-solution essay  identifies a problem and provides one or more solutions to it. It usually consists of three parts: introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion.

Learn more about the structure of a problem-solution essay with this outline.

Evaluation Essay Outline

The purpose of writing an evaluation essay is to judge a particular topic according to certain criteria.

In order to write a perfect evaluation essay, refer to the following outline.

Definition Essay Outline

A  definition essay  explores a certain term and provides personal understanding of the term. This essay is more than a dictionary definition.

You can also check out the following definition essay outline for more help.

Essay Outline Examples

The essay outline can be a great way to organize your thoughts when writing an essay. The following examples are for the help that gives you an idea of creating a perfect outline.

Here are some more examples for your better understanding:

Essay Outline Sample

5-Paragraph Essay Outline

Essay Outline On Democracy

College Essay Outline Template

Research Essay Outline

Throughout this guide, we've explored the crucial role of essay outlines along with different formats and templates of outlines.

However, we understand that even with the best guidance, crafting an essay can be a daunting task. That's where MyPerfectWords.com comes in. 

Our professional essay writing service is here to offer expert assistance and deliver impeccable essays tailored to your needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of outlines.

Besides the alphanumeric and decimal essay outlines, the following are the 3 types of outlines.

  • Working outline
  • Full-sentence outline
  • Speaking outline

All of these are used for different purposes so be careful that you choose the right type of outline.

What is a topic outline?

A topic outline is a useful tool for organizing your thoughts while developing an argument and structuring the paper.

It helps in outlining the main ideas and arguments and presenting them in a coherent way. It also assists in building relationships between the entire assignment.

What is a full sentence outline?

The full sentence outline is a more detailed and structured way to create an essay. They are the same as the alphanumeric outlines.

These outlines use complete sentences at each level of the structure. This type of format can be used for any formal writing assignment where you need to provide detail about your thoughts.

It helps to write well-supported arguments or develop concrete ideas with evidence and outside sources.

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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Essay Writing Guide

Essay Outline

Last updated on: Jun 10, 2023

A Complete Essay Outline - Guidelines and Format

By: Nova A.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jan 15, 2019

Essay Outline

To write an effective essay, you need to create a clear and well-organized essay outline. An essay outline will shape the essay’s entire content and determine how successful the essay will be.

In this blog post, we'll be going over the basics of essay outlines and provide a template for you to follow. We will also include a few examples so that you can get an idea about how these outlines look when they are put into practice.

Essay writing is not easy, but it becomes much easier with time, practice, and a detailed essay writing guide. Once you have developed your outline, everything else will come together more smoothly.

The key to success in any area is preparation - take the time now to develop a solid outline and then write your essays!

So, let’s get started!

Essay Outline

On this Page

What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is your essay plan and a roadmap to essay writing. It is the structure of an essay you are about to write. It includes all the main points you have to discuss in each section along with the thesis statement.

Like every house has a map before it is constructed, the same is the importance of an essay outline. You can write an essay without crafting an outline, but you may miss essential information, and it is more time-consuming.

Once the outline is created, there is no chance of missing any important information. Also, it will help you to:

  • Organize your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understand the information flow.
  • Never miss any crucial information or reference.
  • Finish your work faster.

These are the reasons if someone asks you why an essay outline is needed. Now there are some points that must be kept in mind before proceeding to craft an essay outline.

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Prewriting Process of Essay Outline

Your teacher may ask you to submit your essay outline before your essay. Therefore, you must know the preliminary guidelines that are necessary before writing an essay outline.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You must go through your assignments’ guidelines carefully.
  • Understand the purpose of your assignment.
  • Know your audience.
  • Mark the important point while researching your topic data.
  • Select the structure of your essay outline; whether you are going to use a decimal point bullet or a simple one.

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How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

Creating an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and organized piece of writing. Follow these four simple steps to create an effective outline:

Step 1: Understand the Topic

To begin, thoroughly grasp the essence of your essay topic. 

Break it down into its key components and identify the main ideas you want to convey. This step ensures you have a clear direction and focus for your essay.

Step 2: Brainstorm and Gather Ideas

Let your creativity flow and brainstorm ideas related to your topic. 

Jot down key pieces of information, arguments, and supporting evidence that will strengthen your essay's overall message. Consider different perspectives and potential counterarguments to make your essay well-rounded.

Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

Now it's time to give structure to your ideas. 

Arrange your main points in a logical order, starting with an attention-grabbing introduction, followed by body paragraphs that present your arguments. 

Finally, tie everything together with a compelling conclusion. Remember to use transitional phrases to create smooth transitions between sections.

Step 4: Add Depth with Subpoints

To add depth and clarity to your essay, incorporate subpoints under each main point. 

These subpoints provide more specific details, evidence, or examples that support your main ideas. They help to further strengthen your arguments and make your essay more convincing.

By following these four steps - you'll be well on your way to creating a clear and compelling essay outline.

Essay Outline Format

It is an easy way for you to write your thoughts in an organized manner. It may seem unnecessary and unimportant, but it is not.

It is one of the most crucial steps for essay writing as it shapes your entire essay and aids the writing process.

An essay outline consists of three main parts:

1. Introduction

The introduction body of your essay should be attention-grabbing. It should be written in such a manner that it attracts the reader’s interest. It should also provide background information about the topic for the readers.

You can use a dramatic tone to grab readers’ attention, but it should connect the audience to your thesis statement.

Here are some points without which your introduction paragraph is incomplete.

To attract the reader with the first few opening lines, we use a hook statement. It helps engage the reader and motivates them to read further. There are different types of hook sentences ranging from quotes, rhetorical questions to anecdotes and statistics, and much more.

Are you struggling to come up with an interesting hook? View these hook examples to get inspired!

A thesis statement is stated at the end of your introduction. It is the most important statement of your entire essay. It summarizes the purpose of the essay in one sentence.

The thesis statement tells the readers about the main theme of the essay, and it must be strong and clear. It holds the entire crux of your essay.

Need help creating a strong thesis statement? Check out this guide on thesis statements and learn to write a statement that perfectly captures your main argument!

2. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of an essay are where all the details and evidence come into play. This is where you dive deep into the argument, providing explanations and supporting your ideas with solid evidence. 

If you're writing a persuasive essay, these paragraphs will be the powerhouse that convinces your readers. Similarly, in an argumentative essay, your body paragraphs will work their magic to sway your audience to your side.

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and no more than one idea. A topic sentence is the crux of the contents of your paragraph. It is essential to keep your reader interested in the essay.

The topic sentence is followed by the supporting points and opinions, which are then justified with strong evidence.

3. Conclusion

When it comes to wrapping up your essay, never underestimate the power of a strong conclusion. Just like the introduction and body paragraphs, the conclusion plays a vital role in providing a sense of closure to your topic. 

To craft an impactful conclusion, it's crucial to summarize the key points discussed in the introduction and body paragraphs. You want to remind your readers of the important information you shared earlier. But keep it concise and to the point. Short, powerful sentences will leave a lasting impression.

Remember, your conclusion shouldn't drag on. Instead, restate your thesis statement and the supporting points you mentioned earlier. And here's a pro tip: go the extra mile and suggest a course of action. It leaves your readers with something to ponder or reflect on.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Structure

An outline is an essential part of the writing as it helps the writer stay focused. A typical 5 paragraph essay outline example is shown here. This includes:

  • State the topic
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduction
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis
  • Summary of the essay
  • Restate the thesis statement

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Essay Outline Template

The outline of the essay is the skeleton that you will fill out with the content. Both outline and relevant content are important for a good essay. The content you will add to flesh out the outline should be credible, relevant, and interesting.

The outline structure for the essay is not complex or difficult. No matter which type of essay you write, you either use an alphanumeric structure or a decimal structure for the outline.

Below is an outline sample that you can easily follow for your essay.

Essay Outline Sample

Essay Outline Examples

An essay outline template should follow when you start writing the essay. Every writer should learn how to write an outline for every type of essay and research paper.

Essay outline 4th grade

Essay outline 5th grade

Essay outline high school

Essay outline college

Given below are essay outline examples for different types of essay writing.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An  argumentative essay  is a type of essay that shows both sides of the topic that you are exploring. The argument that presents the basis of the essay should be created by providing evidence and supporting details.

Persuasive Essay Outline

A  persuasive essay  is similar to an argumentative essay. Your job is to provide facts and details to create the argument. In a persuasive essay, you convince your readers of your point of view.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A  compare and contrast essay  explains the similarities and differences between two things. While comparing, you should focus on the differences between two seemingly similar objects. While contrasting, you should focus on the similarities between two different objects.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is written to share a story. Normally, a narrative essay is written from a personal point of view in an essay. The basic purpose of the narrative essay is to describe something creatively.

Expository Essay Outline

An  expository essay  is a type of essay that explains, analyzes, and illustrates something for the readers. An expository essay should be unbiased and entirely based on facts. Be sure to use academic resources for your research and cite your sources.

Analytical Essay Outline

An  analytical essay  is written to analyze the topic from a critical point of view. An analytical essay breaks down the content into different parts and explains the topic bit by bit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical essay is written to examine the writer or artist’s work and develop a great essay. It also includes the discussion.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A  cause and effect essay  describes why something happens and examines the consequences of an occurrence or phenomenon. It is also a type of expository essay.

Informative Essay Outline

An  informative essay  is written to inform the audience about different objects, concepts, people, issues, etc.

The main purpose is to respond to the question with a detailed explanation and inform the target audience about the topic.

Synthesis Essay Outline

A  synthesis essay  requires the writer to describe a certain unique viewpoint about the issue or topic. Create a claim about the topic and use different sources and information to prove it.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A  literary analysis essay  is written to analyze and examine a novel, book, play, or any other piece of literature. The writer analyzes the different devices such as the ideas, characters, plot, theme, tone, etc., to deliver his message.

Definition Essay Outline

A  definition essay  requires students to pick a particular concept, term, or idea and define it in their own words and according to their understanding.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A  descriptive essay  is a type of essay written to describe a person, place, object, or event. The writer must describe the topic so that the reader can visualize it using their five senses.

Evaluation Essay Outline

Problem Solution Essay Outline

In a problem-solution essay, you are given a problem as a topic and you have to suggest multiple solutions on it.

Scholarship Essay Outline

A  scholarship essay  is required at the time of admission when you are applying for a scholarship. Scholarship essays must be written in a way that should stand alone to help you get a scholarship.

Reflective Essay Outline

A reflective essay  is written to express your own thoughts and point of view regarding a specific topic.

Getting started on your essay? Give this comprehensive essay writing guide a read to make sure you write an effective essay!

With this complete guide, now you understand how to create an outline for your essay successfully. However, if you still can’t write an effective essay, then the best option is to consult a professional academic writing service.

Essay writing is a dull and boring task for some people. So why not get some help instead of wasting your time and effort?  5StarEssays.com is here to help you. All your  do my essay for me  requests are managed by professional essay writers.

Place your order now, and our team of expert academic writers will help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of outlines.

Here are the three types of essay outline;

  • Working outline
  • Speaking outline
  • Full-sentence outline

All three types are different from each other and are used for different purposes.

What does a full-sentence outline look like?

A full sentence outline contains full sentences at each level of the essay’s outline. It is similar to an alphanumeric outline and it is a commonly used essay outline.

What is a traditional outline format?

A traditional essay outline begins with writing down all the important points in one place and listing them down and adding sub-topics to them. Besides, it will also include evidence and proof that you will use to back your arguments.

What is the benefit of using a traditional outline format and an informal outline format?

A traditional outline format helps the students in listing down all the important details in one palace while an informal outline will help you coming up with new ideas and highlighting important points

Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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4 Essay Outline Templates That Will Simplify Your Writing Process


Have you ever put together a piece of furniture (or maybe stood by and watched someone else do it)? The task was made a lot easier thanks to the instructions that came in the box. The piece of furniture didn't exactly build itself just because it came with instructions, but without these instructions the task would be nearly impossible to complete.

You can think of an outline for your essay kind of like a set of instructions. Although you still have to put in quite a bit of effort while you're building/writing it, the instructions will help guide you through the entire process so that you don't have to go in there completely blind.

An essay outline is especially helpful for those who are novice writers, but even the old pros use outlines. The prolific William Faulkner was known to use an outline, and he wrote a timeline out for his novel A Fable on his office walls , which can be still seen on display at his home Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi. Now we're not advocating for anyone to write on their walls (sorry to all the moms out there!), but his method was effective because he was able to visualize his timeline and organize his writing around it.

When you are assigned an essay, you might be tempted to wait until the last minute and just write something out really quickly. But without a concrete plan or knowing what it is that you're going to say, you might find yourself hovering over a computer with a blank page and a blinking cursor in the middle of the night. Nobody wants to be in that position, so let's aim to plan ahead, shall we?

Why you should use an outline for everything you write

Have you ever heard the phrase "great ideas take time"? No amazing writer in the history of the universe just started typing one day and then had his or her writing magically turned into a book. Great writing requires great planning. Even if a writer didn't physically write down her timeline, she had a general idea of what she was going to write about before she started typing. Of course, there is such a thing as being inspired and acting on that inspiration (but let's be honest, your history essay isn't probably going to spark that kind of creativity in you).

So, because we are writing a very structured piece with a somewhat predictable layout, it's always best to use an outline. After you do your required research for your topic, an outline will help you to keep all of the points you want to make organized so that you don't skip any important pieces of information and so you can stay on track.

How do you write an outline?

The beauty of an outline is that no one will be seeing your outline — unless, of course, your teacher is making you turn it in beforehand so that he or she can review it before you turn in your paper. However, even if your teacher is reviewing the outline before you turn in your essay, it's doubtful that he or she will grade too harshly on how you organize your thoughts. The main idea is that your teacher wants to see that you're putting in some thought before you write the essay.

Because there's not as much pressure to make an outline sound "nice" and be grammatically correct, you can get out your thoughts quicker and easier. You can use a piece of scratch paper for an outline and just jot down a few points or you can get really intricate by creating a writing outline on the computer. Whatever way you want to write your outline is fine — just make sure you're doing it. Generally, in an outline you will need to have an idea of what your thesis statement will be, how your body paragraphs will support your thesis statement, and how you are going to wrap everything up in a conclusion at the end.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

Still a little unsure of how to start? We've provided some examples below of what an outline will look like for a few different types of essays. Remember that these outlines are just samples. They aren't necessarily something set in stone that you can't adapt for your particular assignment or idea.

The argumentative essay

The argumentative essay is as old as writing is. The idea of an argumentative is — you guessed it — to establish an argument and provide evidence of why your claim is correct . You will collect evidence in defense of your argument and evaluate it.

Here is a sample of what an argumentative essay outline might look like:

  • General background information about your topic
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting fact
  • Your response to this claim
  • Reiterate arguments made in thesis statement
  • Why this essay matters (ideas for future research, why it's especially relevant now, possible applications, etc.)

Expository essay outline

Expository essays often get confused with argumentative essays, but the main difference is that the writer's opinions and emotions are completely left out of an expository essay. The objective of an expository essay is to investigate a topic and present an argument in an unbiased way, but to still arrive at a conclusion. Because of this subtle difference, it's important to have a solid outline to get you started on your writing.

  • The presentation of the topic
  • Your thesis statement
  • Supporting evidence
  • Transition sentence
  • Reiterate the points with an overview of the main points you discussed throughout the paper.
  • Offer solutions, insight into why this topic matters, and what future topics could be expanded upon in a future paper.

Reflective essay outline

Reflective papers are a fun exercise where you get to write about a particular experience in your life and to discuss what lessons you learned from it. First-person essays are a really popular genre right now and are designed to make people from all different backgrounds reflect on a common human experience like receiving your first kiss, failing at something, or triumphing over obstacles. Because reflective essays are a little bit less rigid writing than a traditional classroom essay, the structure is definitely not set in stone. Feel free to play around with what makes sense for your particular story and experience.

  • A really great hook that will have the audience want to keep reading on (an example from the great writer David Sedaris , I always told myself that when I hit fifty I was going to discover opera, not just casually but full force: studying the composers, learning Italian, maybe even buying a cape.
  • A brief little tease of what the story is going to be about. You'll probably need one to two sentences tops.
  • What happened initially?
  • Who were the key players?
  • What obstacle did you have to overcome?
  • Describe the obstacle/problem in more detail
  • What role did the key players have?
  • What happened at the end?
  • Was everything tied up neatly or not?
  • Summary of the events
  • What lesson did you learn? Or, maybe, what was the lesson you learned much later on in life?

Compare and contrast essay outline

We compare and contrast things all the time in "real" life. We analyze what kind of healthcare plan we want, what major to pick, what phone we want, what career we want to pursue, etc. Having the skills to analyze two (or more) items and discovering what the facts are about them so that you can make an educated decision on which to pick are pretty crucial.

A compare and contrast essay gives us the building blocks to understand how to make these decisions with real-life applications — and they can be pretty fun too. Although these compare and contrast essays don't have as complicated of a structure as an expository or an argumentative essay, it's still important to plan out how you're going to tackle this type of essay. Here's an idea of what a compare and contrast outline might look like:

  • A brief introduction to the topic and what Point A and Point B are
  • Your thesis statement (which will contain some sort of equivalence or dissonance between Point A and Point B)
  • Claim 1 about Point A
  • Claim 2 about Point A
  • Claim 3 about Point A
  • Claim 1 about Point B
  • Claim 2 about Point B
  • Claim 3 about Point B
  • What is similar between these two points?
  • What is dissimilar?
  • What comparisons can be made?
  • What conclusions can we draw about comparing these two points?
  • Any further research required or suggested for the future?
  • Is there a third thing that we should be comparing these two points to?

Need help with your outline?

If after reviewing these guidelines or examining these sample outlines you're still a little bit unsure about how to incorporate an outline into your particular essay, be sure to ask your instructor for more guidance.

And, if you need another pair of eyes to look over your paper after it's been written, be sure to check out the services of our professional editors. Our expert editors can help you to polish up your paper, ensure that all of your citations have been made according to the style guide, and give you direction if the essay needs to be revised or rearranged in any way.

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How to Write a Short Essay

short essay outline template

Writing a short essay as an assignment may prove to be a headache for many students compared to a more extended and lengthy essay. It is because, in a more extensive essay, you have room to explain your points. For a short essay, that room is limited; you have to be as brief as possible simultaneously. However, you have to ensure you deliver strong points.

A short essay is a brief publication that generally discusses one topic in detail. Shorter essays are also known as “short papers.” They are commonly used in schools, colleges, and universities to teach students how to write about a topic.

A unique idea helps you to deliver strong points. The unique idea is what separates your short essay from other essays on similar topics.

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It is necessary to go through a lot of samples of short essays. You can find them online, in your library or bookshop. Short essay examples give you a reference point to start from and this will help you come up with a unique idea that works for you.

In this step by step guide on how to write a short essay, we will discuss;

  • What is a short essay.
  • Short essay length.
  • Short essay format.
  • How to write a short essay.
  • Short essay examples.
  • Tips in writing a good short essay.

What is a short essay?

A short essay (also called a brief essay), can be defined as a type of academic essay where the writer expresses their argument on a particular topic in a brief way. It is short because it has a limited word count as compared to a normal formal essay . It requires one to be brief and exact. For relative sized essays, check out how to write a five paragraph essay .

Short Essay Length

A short essay usually focuses on one main idea per paragraph. However, you may explore more than one idea in the process of reaching the conclusion.

The argument is what makes an essay remain concise, hence it is important to note that for a short essay; minimal points are given due attention. There should not be too many points raised that are not required.

  • Learn : how to shorten an essay

How long should a short essay be?

A short essay should be between 300 and 400 words. It is usually advised that your word count does not exceed this limit. A shorter essay would also do just as well, but aiming for less than 300 words may seem unreasonably brief to the marker. With such a limited word count, it is important to keep in mind what you are going to include in your short essay. It is expected that a short essay would be well written and organized for the reader’s benefit.

Structure of a short essay – Format

A brief essay has the same form as any other essay; the only difference is the number of words used. It has three main parts; the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

A short essay has a simple structure because it allows for flow of ideas. The introduction should state the topic clearly and explain why you’re writing the essay. The main body helps clarify any questions raised by the thesis statement, plus explain how your argument will be made clear; this means there should be a number of supporting explanations yet it should be brief.

The conclusion reinforces the main ideas and thoughts presented in a simple way, this adds up to the credibility of the essay. It does not require any new information or data; therefore, if there is any data or sources used, make sure they are cited accordingly.

Let us discuss the components of a brief essay format:


It is the window through which the readers see what the essay entails but from afar. It creates the first impression, and as they say, ‘first impressions matter.’ The introduction is what sparks the interest of your readers. With the opening sentence, how you use it will determine if your readers continue reading your essay. The introduction is brief and precise, but catchy. Write down your thesis statement here. It should be the closing line of your introduction.

The body of the essay

The body of the essay expounds more on the thesis statement. In the body, the main ideas are discussed and supported by pieces of evidence. Divide the body into three paragraphs. The trick here is to use the most relevant and essential ideas. In the first paragraph, discuss the most crucial point and support it with evidence.

Here the writer summarizes everything from the thesis statement to the last paragraph of the body. Slightly mention each point. The writer should keep in mind not to start a new idea in conclusion. The aim is to conclude, so as a writer, choose a strong finishing remark.

How to write a short essay in 6 steps

Writing a short essay can be summarized into 5 simple steps that, if you follow them carefully, you won’t get lost and end up writing a mess. Keep in mind that the points I’m going to cover are general rules, but there might be certain cases when they don’t apply.

These steps include:

  • Editing and proofreading
  • Reference your sources

Step 1: Research

Before you start writing, you should carry out some research on the topic that you’re going to work with. For example, if your topic is “the best solution for sustainable tourism”, it might be interesting to first see what other people think about it and how they try to solve this problem. Carrying out research can take a significant amount of time, but it will make the writing process much easier. Instead of starting from scratch and thinking about what to write, you already have some ideas which you can work with.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Now that your research is done, you can start brainstorming. Brainstorming is basically making a list of all the interesting things that you can think of related to your topic. You shouldn’t worry about the structure or the order, you should just make a list with all your ideas in any way that they come to mind. Make sure you write them down, because having too many ideas will help you find more angles and approaches for your essay.

Step 3: Outline

Now that you have the list of all the ideas related to your topic, it’s time to make an outline . An outline can be summarized into making a plan and deciding on how to structure your essay . Don’t worry if you don’t know what information should go where or what angle would suit your essay more; everybody struggles with this when they first start writing. Just remember to follow the list of ideas that you have, and your essay will be fine.

Step 4: Write

Finally, you can start with the main part of your brief paper: writing it! Of course, this isn’t very specific advice, because every type of essay is different and has a different set of rules. However, there are some general tips that might help.

When you first start writing, don’t spend too much time trying to find the perfect words or making sure that every sentence is grammatically correct. Write whatever comes to mind first, then go back and try to improve it with different words or phrases if needed. Remember not to focus too much on the structure or the presentation, because it can be fixed later.

Don’t go too far with this step. Write the general idea of your essay first, so you know what you’re going to write about and how it’s structured. Then start writing if necessary.

Editing is probably the most important step in this list, so don’t forget about it! Decide if you want to do the editing yourself or have somebody else do it for you, but make sure that your essay is good enough before submitting it.

Step 5: Editing and proofreading

If you’re doing the editing process yourself, there are a few things that you should keep in mind while writing your essay. One of the most important parts is to find somebody reliable who can check your essay for mistakes and give you suggestions on how to improve it. It’s also a good idea to read your work out loud: this way, you’ll be able to hear what words or phrases sound awkward and fix them easily.

If you want somebody else to edit your work, make sure that you find somebody who knows what they’re doing. It’s definitely not the same thing to have your teacher look through your essay or a friend of yours check it out. You can even ask an author if they wouldn’t mind editing your paper for you, although this option is only available in some cases.

Step 6: Reference your sources

Once you’re done with your essay, don’t forget to include the reference section. This is usually one of the last steps because you have to find all the sources that you used for this essay and write them down properly. Depending on what type of work it is, there are different rules about how to cite your sources accordingly, so check with your teacher or professor if you’re not sure.

Submit and review

Finally, after all the time you’ve spent working on it, it’s time to submit your essay! It may take a while for somebody else to look at it, but in the meantime make sure that nobody can recognize it as yours by changing the name or some other details.

Once your work is reviewed, make sure to ask for comments and suggestions before you decide to edit it again! The best way to do this in the comment section of the post, in case you have any doubts.

Short essay examples

Here is an example of a short essay:

Brief Essay Example: Is it better to live in the city or the country?

People have been debating this question for hundreds of years. However, it is my argument that rural living is better than the urban lifestyle.

To start with, rural living has beautiful scenery that one can enjoy at their leisure, whilst city living is often times polluted and the environment not so friendly. Secondly, people living in rural areas have access to fresh and healthy food while city life results in unhealthy eating habits that lead to obesity and malnutrition. Lastly, there is a sense of community that you can experience when one lives in a small town which cannot be experienced on such a scale in cities.

As you can see, rural living has a number of benefits over the city life. Therefore, it is to everyone’s benefit to live in a quiet and safe environment away from the hassle and stress of city life. For this reason, I maintain that rural living is better than the urban lifestyle.

Short essay structure example:


  • Introduce the topic – Start your essay and include a good thesis statement .

Body paragraphs:

  • Rural living is better than city life.
  • There are benefits to rural living over the urban lifestyle.
  • People living in rural areas have access to fresh and healthy food; this contributes positively to their well-being
  • Living in a small town creates a sense of community that cannot be experienced on the same scale in cities.


Conclusion restates the main ideas of the essay, this is done briefly. It does not contain any new information or data to present, it simply summarises what has been argued previously.

Remember that a short essay should be brief. Therefore, avoid over-elaborating with unnecessary points. If there is data or sources used, make sure they are cited accordingly. Try to use simple language in your essay with correct grammar and punctuation.

Tips in writing a good short essay

When writing a short essay, you should keep in mind the following expert tips:

  • The length. Remember, it is an easy essay; therefore, the number of words to be used is limited. If you have 6 points, compress them into 3.
  • Have a thesis statement . It is the main idea of the essay. Having one helps you revolve around the essay around a central point. Your thesis statements can be either explanatory or argumentative .
  • Have sections and all the parts that make up an essay. The essay should have an introduction , body paragraphs , and conclusion. Both the introduction and conclusion are one paragraph each.
  • Have a topic for the essay and from the topic form your thesis statement.
  • Use a few words for the essay since it is short. Alternatively, you can do the whole essay in long-form the high light to use in the short essay.
  • Have credible sources of information to use as support.
  • Use catchy but straightforward words. Have transitional words to connect the dots of your essay.
  • Use an active voice and avoid the use of passive voice.


  • Short Essay Samples | Writing Personal Statements Online
  • Basic Essay Format – De Anza College
  • The Basics of Essay Writing | UNSW Current Students
  • SHORT-ESSAY GUIDELINES (short-version) – Cuyamaca …
  • A Short Essay on Critics
  • How to write an academic essay
  • Basic Essay Format – Canada College

Final Thoughts

Writing a short essay has never been so easy with the guidelines given above. It is a few steps that anyone can follow to ensure they write down their thoughts and ideas in an organised manner.

In writing a short essay , the writer should ensure that they follow the required length. Writing down the whole essay and then cutting it down is one way to write your essay. Even though it is easy, ensure you provide enough details for your points. Write in full sentences because, after all, it is an essay. The amount of data or information to be used is limited in a short essay, thus it is best to use fewer details and avoid mentioning unnecessary facts.

What are your thoughts on short essay writing? Leave your comments below!

Need help writing a short essay? Get professional essay writing help from our experienced online essay writers .

Click here to ask for assistance – short essay writing help from experts.


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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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short essay outline template

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Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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short essay outline template

How to Write a Perfect Essay Outline


You can’t write an essay without outlining. Fine, you can do that if a low grade is okay for you to get. But those willing to craft a paper that’s worth A+ will need to create an essay outline and organize their research in one place before writing. So in this article we will look at outline examples and top tips to improve your essay.

This guide is here to help you:

  • understand what is a paper outline,
  • learn how to write an essay outline,
  • get outline examples and templates to use when crafting yours.

So, let’s a research essay outline journey begin!

Table of Contents:

  • What is an essay outline?
  • Key parts of an essay
  • Outline format
  • Persuasive essay outline example
  • Narrative essay outline example
  • Expository essay outline example
  • Research essay outline example
  • What to do before outlining
  • Choose an essay outline structure
  • Organize your outline
  • It’s a wrap!

What is an Essay Outline?

As you’ve already guessed it, an essay outline is a short plan of your research paper. Here you write down the main idea of your essay and structurize all arguments into paragraphs to make sure you won’t miss anything while writing.

Sure enough, you can write an essay without outlining it. But it will be challenging to do. Outlining is an essential part of the writing process, and all authors do it for their works to impress readers.

Here’s why you need an essay outline :

  • It will help you organize thoughts: when you research the data for your essay, you get tons of information that’s hard to remember.
  • You’ll understand the information flow and will be able to structurize it accordingly.
  • It will help you not to miss anything while writing your essay because you’ll have a ready manuscript of your paper.

That said, an outline will help you write academic works better and faster. And while our writers are always here to help to write my essay , it can’t hurt to learn how to write an outline for an essay by your own, right?

How to Write an Essay Outline

While college essay types are many, the common structure for most of them is five-paragraph. Each essay needs Introduction , Body (paragraphs with arguments), and Conclusion; so, a general format of your essay outline will include all these components.

Outlining your essay, keep write my term paper in mind so you wouldn’t miss any arguments, evidence, and examples while writing.

So, let’s do this!

Key Parts of an Essay

Put them all into your writing outline:

  • Introduction. Here you’ll mention the topic of your essay and its thesis. As you know, essays can’t live without a thesis; so, a thesis statement in your outline will help you support it in each paragraph of your essay body.
  • Body paragraphs. There will be a minimum three paragraphs in your essay’s body, so make sure to include each one in the outline. For each paragraph, write down a topic sentence with an argument relating to your thesis and mention all the support: data, facts, examples, and other evidence you’ll use to prove the topic sentence of this paragraph.
  • Conclusion. Wrap up your essay here. Restate your thesis and summarize the goal of your paper.

In general, your essay template will look like this:

Essay Outline: General

I. Introduction

a) Introduce a topic b) State a thesis

II. Body. Paragraph-1

a) Write a topic sentence (the argument for your thesis) b) Support this argument: data, facts, examples c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

III. Body. Paragraph-2

a) Write a topic sentence (another argument for your thesis) b) Support this argument: data, facts, examples c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

IV. Body. Paragraph-3

a) Write a topic sentence (another argument for your thesis, or a counterargument) b) Support this argument, or explain why the counterargument doesn’t work: data, facts, examples c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

V. Conclusion

a) Summarize all main points b) Restate your thesis c) Add a call to action: what you want readers to do after reading your essay

short essay outline template

Outline Format

As a rule, students use the linear style when formatting their writing outline. It means they rank arguments in order of their importance – from major to minor ones.

Remember: your research essay outline doesn’t have to include the complete sentences. It’s only an outline, so feel free to format arguments and evidence the way it seems most comfortable and understandable for you. Just make sure it’s visually clear and allows you to see if some sections are repetitive or redundant. It will help to avoid duplications in your essay maker .

Another point to consider:

While you are familiar with a given essay topic, it doesn’t mean your readers are. So format your outline accordingly: assume that some people know nothing about it when preparing arguments and arranging them in a logical order.

Essay Outline Template

Templates can help you get a better idea of essay outlining. It’s a great way to organize thoughts and determine the order in which you’ll represent them to readers. So, make a list of the sections in your paper and fill in the corresponding example, depending on your essay type.

Persuasive Essay Outline Example

To create an outline for such an essay, consider the following example:

short essay outline template

Taken from: TeacherVision.com

Narrative Essay Outline Example

For narrative essays, outlines like this one will work well:

short essay outline template

Expository Essay Outline Example

What about this example for your essay outline?

short essay outline template

Research Essay Outline Example

short essay outline template

Taken from: Austincc.edu

How to Make an Outline: the Process

As a rule, the only detail bothering those asking how to make an outline for an essay is the process itself. Students understand that an essay outline needs to specify all the main points and arguments of their future paper, but they still find it challenging to create.

More than that, professors may ask you to submit an essay outline for their review. That’s why the skills of planning your papers will come in handy anyway. To learn the secrets of effective outline writing, you’ll need to know what to do before outlining, what essay outline structure to choose for your work, and how to organize your outline so it would be as informative as possible.

Here’s how to outline an essay:

What to Do Before Outlining

First and foremost, read your writing assignment carefully. Make sure you understand what essay type you need to write, how many arguments to use (except as noted), and how long your essay needs to be.

Answer the question , “What’s the purpose of your essay?” Do you want to inform readers, persuade, or just entertain them? Depending on the goal, you’ll know what thesis to consider, what writing techniques to use, and how to visualize research in your paper.

Identify the audience. Yes, it’s a teacher who reads and evaluates your work; but whom do you want to read your essay ? Do you write for classmates? Strangers? What do they know about your topic? Would they agree with your thesis? How might they react to your information?

Depending on that, you’ll understand what arguments might work for your essay. It will also help you decide on resources to use for research and evidence to choose for your arguments. Consider credible sources such as Google Scholar or Oxford Academic to find references for your essay; take notes of them to use in your outline.

State your thesis so you could see what topic sentences to outline for your essay. A thesis needs to be arguable and provide enough details to hook readers so they would get them emotionally involved in your writing.

Once a thesis is ready, start structuring your essay outline.

Choose an Essay Outline Structure

From the above templates and examples, you’ve got a general idea of the basic structure for your essay outline. We used a standard alphanumeric structure there, but you can also use a decimal one for your outline to show how your ideas are related. Just compare:

Alphanumeric format:

short essay outline template

Decimal format:

short essay outline template

An alphanumeric outline is the most common one, but you are welcome to use a decimal outline structure if it seems clearer and more comfortable for you. Also, feel free to use complete sentences or just brief phrases for each section of your essay outline.

However, if you need to submit it to a professor for a review, use sentences. It will help him understand the arguments and evidence you are going to use in your essay.

Organize Your Outline

Now it’s time to fill in each section of your essay outline. For those lazy to read, here goes a short video:

For all others, start with outlining your introduction . Write a sentence about your topic and introduce your thesis. You can also mention an essay hook here – a sentence you’ll use to make the audience interested in reading your work.

Outline your essay body : write down a topic sentence for each paragraph, provide supporting evidence you’ll use when writing, and mention how they’ll relate to the topic and your thesis. The more details you outline, the easier it will be to organize all the thoughts while writing.

Also, you can write a transition sentence for each paragraph so it would be faster to structure and band all arguments.

Finally, outline your essay conclusion . Restate your thesis and write a concluding statement, aka a sentence addressing the importance of your thesis and proposing solutions to the problem you addressed in the essay.

It’s a Wrap!

Essays are many, and you need to write all of them in school and college. Persuasive, expository, narrative – their basic structure is the same but with tiny differences identifying their specifications and your knowledge of academic writing. Understanding those differences and outlining your writings accordingly is your chance to craft perfect works that get high grades.

An essay outline is what you need to organize the information and not miss anything while writing. When you know how to write an essay outline, you create papers better and faster. You keep in mind all essay components. You develop critical thinking. And you become a better writer.

Our Writing Guides

21 thoughts on “ how to write a perfect essay outline ”.

No doubt, the essay outline is one of the most important things. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you very much

Please help me answer this question. What is the thesis statement in this sentence.”the characters I do not appreciate about my teachers”

What if you do research on a lot of things but you have all the same facts about them? Like I am doing an essay on 23 constellations. Do I write down the name of every constellation in the outline and add the facts underneath each of the 23? Or do I just write “Constellation” and add each fact that I will have written for each individual constellation? Example: I. Introduction A. Thesis Statement B. Next explanatory paragraph C. Extra paragraph II. Constellation A. Name 1. Translation 2. Pronunciation 3. Background story B. Description C. Rank in size D. The astronomer who introduced it E. Location F. Significant stars or star clusters

Do I need to do the second part for all 23 constellations (only adding the name of each constellation beforehand.) I feel like that would be a waste of time since I would mostly just be copying and pasting but I am getting graded on the outline so if anybody could help me that would be rad. I know my question is pretty hard to understand but I did my best. Thank you!

Thanks for your question, AJ!

As far as you write an essay outline for yourself (to make the process of essay writing easier), feel free to organize it accordingly. If you are going to describe all 23 constellations in detail (like you introduced in your comment), feel free to add each to your essay outline. If you are going to write about all 23 in general, with no details to each, there will be no need to add all those A, B, C, D, F… for every constellation to your essay outline.

I hope you’ve got the point 🙂

Sincerely, Lesley

Thank you i think this will help me a lot

Helped me get through my essay correctly and lot faster!

I read your blog and got interesting facts about this topic, thank you!

This contained everything one needs to know when making an outline.

I find this really helpful Thanks 😊

Which of these outlines whould be the best for and SAT essay?

As far as the SAT essay is argumentative now and it asks you to analyze another essay (feel free to check our guide on SAT essays for more information), I think that the outline of a research essay could be the best option.

Cheers, Lesley

Thank you so much.I found this helpful.

Thank you for your helpful thought about how we can outline our essays.

thanks for sharing, with outlne everything will be easy to organize writing idea.

Thanks for sharing , I found this helpful. With the outline I learned how to organize writing idea.

I think these examples of essays outlines are good for students start to pay attention to because it will make essays easier. Your articles contain prompts and tips in writing essays and other kinds of papers, thanks!

That was a great outline that students should follow :))

how can I provide an outline to an argumentative essay (academic )for Tefl master (teaching English as a foreign language)?

Very enjoyable

First of all I would like to say that it’s a terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.

I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.

I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thanks!

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When You Write

How to Outline a Short Story [Template Included]

When most people decide to write a short story, they usually assume that it’s going to be duck soup.

They just grab a pen and paper or their laptop and get straight to it. 

No outline. No sketch. Nothing!

If you’re “most people,” you probably have a lot of unfinished short stories that you abandoned after getting completely stuck halfway.

Or you’re just an aspiring author who’s got no idea that an outline is like a treasure map that can lead you to that great short literary piece.

Why Should You Outline a Short Story?

Clichés, anyone? Alright, here we go!

“Failing to plan, is planning to?”

Outlining is both timesaving and enables you to have some sort of a road map—it gives you the freedom to unleash your artistic genius rather than focus on trivial crinkles of the story itself.

Although short story writing is narrower in terms of scope than a novel, it still includes many elements that wordsmiths input into a full-size novel.

It needs a multidimensional main character, a clear character arc, a comprehensive plot, and a gripping closing set of events. This somehow makes writing a short a bit laborious.

An outline can save a lot of the stress by helping you put together the jigsaw puzzle before the writing process really starts.

Outlining a short story

Key elements of a good short story outline.

As a writer’s roadmap, a short story outline is supposed to include details you can utilize to track character arcs, storylines, thematic content, and logical consistency.

Therefore, a good short story outline must address the following elements:

1. A Situation and Conflict: the state of affairs—the beginning of the story—that either changes for the better or takes a very bad turn (usually, it’s the latter). As the story progresses, it has to have a conflict. The conflict arises from the interaction between the protagonist (who has an objective) and the antagonist (who stands in the way of the protagonist and his objective).

2. The Solution to the Conflict: some creative writers like to start writing a story without knowing the ending themselves. Writing this way keeps the intrigue alive for the writer but having a predetermined solution to your story’s main conflict gives you a clear direction of the narrative.

3. Character Development: Characters are what bring the action in your story to life. When making notes for your story, make sure you define the protagonist and antagonist and give them more dimensions. Add backstories to the characters too, even though some of the backstories won’t make it to the final draft of the story—due to the limited scope of a short story.

4. Other Critical Points : The conflict and the solution that I have covered in (1) and (2) are some of the critical plot points that an outline has to cover. A story starts from an exposition; then the conflict arises; there’s rising action; then comes the climax; after that, is the falling action; and finally, the resolution concludes the tale.

The Short Story Outlining Process: Tips and Template

Now that we’ve seen some of the key elements of a short story, let’s take a look at the actual short story outlining process.

The process always starts with crafting your story’s premise and going all the way through to a full list of scenes.

One thing you ought to know about outlining methods is that there is no objectively correct or incorrect way of doing things. Most writers that I have encountered have personalized their outlining methods to a format that works for them.

If by chance this technique fails to do the job for you, you can adjust the process and find a method that works for you.

Having gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at the outlining method that has worked for me and a couple of other writers in my writing circles, starting with tips on how you can approach the outlining process to churn out top-notch outlines.

1. Start Simplistic

To give your short story outline a good structure, you have to start from the bones.

You can utilize a technique called the Snowflake Method. Using this method of writing, a wordsmith begins with a simplistic deep theme and gradually adds meat to the story, making it more complex over time.

What you actually do is begin with an arrow-shaped idea and build on it afterwards. It’s exactly like what I said, start from the bones and add meat until the sentence becomes a matured story.

2.Create a Quasi Outline

This quasi outline is like a draft outline—a freestyled guideline for the final outline. When you write this draft, focus on the general ideas and major plotline events: the inciting action, the climax, the resolution.

You may leave holes whilst you write the quasi outline. You’ll patch them later; for now, focus on completing the panoramic view of the whole of your short fiction.

3. Use Unpredictability and Conflict to Spice Up the Plot

If a reader is able to predict—more than once—a set of events before they happen, they’re likely going to be discouraged from reading your story any further.

A good story uses unanticipated twists and conflict to sustain the much-needed tension.

This technique is effective in every genre, whether it’s romance (break someone’s heart unexpectedly) or horror (slash a baby’s throat, out of the blue).

4. Utilize the Protagonist’s Internal Monologue

One of the attributes of a good story is its ability to suck the reader into its world or settings.

One way of achieving this is the main character’s thoughts and mumblings to make the reader understand the protagonist’s mind and empathize with them.

Craft natural persona, needs, and character arc to absorb the reader slowly. Of course, this is harder to achieve with the limited scope of a short story but, that’s why the outline is indispensable.

5. Use Software to Outline Your Story

Regular word processing software—MS Word and co.—come with features that writers can utilize to outline a short story or larger types of prose.

However, there is sophisticated and dedicated software that has been designed to help you build a clean and comprehensible outline.

One such software that I would recommend is Plottr —an easy-to-use visual outlining and book planning tool. With this software, you can take your story from a simple synopsis to a book series.

Once you start “creating a book,” you can create a timeline, a list of characters and character arcs, plots and subplots, construct chapters, and put scenes inside the chapters (tuck characters and locations in the scene cards), et cetera.

Software like Plottr are time savers and make the entire outlining process smoother. Authors have been using these tools for short stories and larger texts like Novels (which—I think—is the type of prose that people mostly associate the tools with).

Story Outline Template

Once more, I would like to stress that you can write your outline whichever way you deem suitable.

But if you are not sure about it, I have made a condensed and downloadable template for you. Download it here or just study the thorough step-by-step outline method below.

Feel free to add extra elements to the ones that I have come up with.

Step 1. Create the Premise: A premise is basically the idea from which your story springs. Make sure that your premise is well defined and more than the basic idea; add condiments to the idea to make it provide a satisfying story guidance.

Your outline needs to be introduced by a condensed but creamy premise sentence that carries insights into the following things:

Step 2. Describe Setting: in this part, describe the environment within which your story takes place. Before writing a complete outline, you need to have a firm idea of where your story is taking place.

Is it happening in a mars-bound spaceship? Is the story about a kid in the projects? Perhaps the setting is an apartment complex in the Cayman Islands?

In a play or a movie, I think they call this a mises en scène. It covers things like:

ü  Place/Location

ü  Atmosphere/aura/mood

Step 3. Come up with the Main Character: Who is the protagonist? Come up with the persona that is going to be your main character. You can also—optionally—decide on the antagonist. Since the antagonist is antipathetic to the MCs’ objectives, they’re easy to come up with if you’ve already created the MC—a writer just needs to feed off the polarity between the personas to create the adversary.

Cover all these questions (maybe more), then condense them into one or two sentences that unwraps the core of the whole story.

Step 4. Objective, conflict, and resolution: this part is where the story is given the meat—it’s where you develop the story. There are a couple of questions that your outline needs to answer in this sections, questions like:

i. What’s the protagonist’s goal or objective?

ii. What conflict arises as a result of the MCs’ quest to attain the goal?

iii. What scenarios and effects are going to get thrown in to tense up the conflict?

iv. What and how will the story’s climax be? Will the protagonist be successful? Will he fail to attain his goal?

v. How will the conflict end? What will the resolution be?

Step 5. Character Development: lastly, give each important character in your story a life. The next step involves bringing some of the characters to life—i.e., developing the protagonist’s persona, needs, and character arc.

There are crucial details that need to be added to your characters, whether or not they appear in the story. 

To do this, you need to ask yourself some questions or immerse yourself in the story and interview the characters.  

What led to the character’s current situation? What events happened in their past, and how can it affect the way they resolve the conflict? What other unsolved issues could affect the protagonist’s objective and conflict resolution?

You have to dig deep, where and how is a matter of personal preference.

You may choose to use a pre-set list of questions shared by numerous published authors, or you may tweak some details and ask your protagonist a series of questions to find out the heart and soul of your character.

Step 6. Sketch the Plotline and fill it with Scenes: With the premise polished up, you can now set about to develop your ideas for this story.

Before outlining, you usually have sketchy ideas about the story. Write down all those sketchy ideas you have about your story.

What you want to do is record all the details so that you don’t forget anything. Add even the scenes that you are not sure about. Most of the time, things just fall in place—organically—once the story starts going.

This is the part of your creative process that involves a ‘no holds barred’ mentality. During this writing stage, you must focus on emptying your ideas and letting your thoughts out without sweating about any of the tenets of the Queen’s language— punctuation, grammar, or spelling. You need to keep plucking your most creative ideas and thoughts and adding depth to your story’s potential.

One thing that sets a good storyline apart from the basic ones is unpredictability. If you think a scene feels too familiar or predictable for readers, reconstruct it or throw it away altogether.

How to Start a Short Story?

Of course, I’m not going to ramble about the whole process of writing a short story, but the least I can do is to give you some insights on how to start a captivating short story.

You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, I know how to outline a short story, right? But how do I start writing a scintillating story?”

The secret formula involves getting the reader’s attention quicker they expect and getting them settling into the story as it unfolds in its infancy.

To drive the point home, I’m going to borrow some of Anthony Ehler’s tips on how to start a short story:

Start as close to the action as possible . On this method, Ehler uses F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, Three Hours Between Planes, to demonstrate how the author scrapped the man’s arrival into his old town and immediately placed the man in a phone, looking up his old sweetheart’s number.

Set the tone of the story . For example, Ehler uses Ian Rankin’s spine-chilling crime story, Someone Got to Eddie , to demonstrate how a good short story starts—Rankin used a fictional character’s sequence of thoughts to instantly and crisply speak to the reader. With a well-constructed interior monologue, a good start immediately absorbs the reader into the main character’s mind.

Focus on your main character . Lastly, he uses Gina Berriault’s story, The Stone Boy , to back his point: a good story should immediately move the reader to identify with the main character. This makes the reader crave more and anticipate the story’s next event and twist—the reader plunks for the main character and is keen to see what will happen to the mc.

In Conclusion…

So, you’ve written your story, and you’re all set to start writing a future classic; always remember the golden rule of writing fiction—show, don’t tell.

The best part about outlining is that you won’t have to submit it to anyone. It’s for your own convenience.

That’s the easy part.

The hard part’s writing the story. When you start writing the story, you’ve got to put yourself in the reader’s mind and see if it sounds exciting or if it’s natural and convincing.

“If you think it’s boring, it probably is.”

Recommended Reading...

What is a premise in writing why should you write it first, how to write a good climax (narrative) – professional tips, how does the setting contribute to the story, what is a love square.

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