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.

Essay Outliner

Easily Outline Your Essays In Seconds!

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.

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

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

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

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? 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.

Was This Blog Helpful?

Keep reading.

  • How to Write an Essay - A Complete Guide with Examples

Essay Outline

  • The Art of Effective Writing: Thesis Statements Examples and Tips

Essay Outline

  • Writing a 500 Word Essay - Easy Guide

Essay Outline

  • What is a Topic Sentence - An Easy Guide with Writing Steps & Examples

Essay Outline

  • 220 Best Transition Words for Essays

Essay Outline

  • Essay Format: Detailed Writing Tips & Examples

Essay Outline

  • How to Write a Conclusion - Examples & Tips

Essay Outline

  • Essay Topics: 100+ Best Essay Topics for your Guidance

Essay Outline

  • How to Title an Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide for Effective Titles

Essay Outline

  • How to Write a Perfect 1000 Word Essay

Essay Outline

  • How To Make An Essay Longer - Easy Guide For Beginners

Essay Outline

  • Learn How to Start an Essay Effectively with Easy Guidelines

Essay Outline

  • Types of Sentences With Examples

Essay Outline

  • Hook Examples: How to Start Your Essay Effectively

Essay Outline

  • Essay Writing Tips - Essential Do’s and Don’ts to Craft Better Essays

Essay Outline

  • How To Write A Thesis Statement - A Step by Step Guide

Essay Outline

  • Art Topics - 200+ Brilliant Ideas to Begin With

Essay Outline

  • Writing Conventions and Tips for College Students

Essay Outline

People Also Read

  • writing personal statement
  • how to title an essay
  • how to cite a research paper
  • compare and contrast essay examples
  • how to write a literature review

Burdened With Assignments?

Bottom Slider


  • Homework Services: Essay Topics Generator

© 2024 - All rights reserved

Facebook Social Icon

  • Try for free

How to Write an Essay Outline + Essay Outline Examples

Download for free, how to write an essay outline + essay outline examples .

Writing an essay can seem like a daunting task, but one of the best ways to tackle this challenge is to organize your ideas into a well-structured essay outline. This guide will walk you through the process of creating an essay outline, complete with essay outline examples, to ensure your next essay is a masterpiece.

We’ve compiled a variety of essay outline examples to help you understand how to structure your own essay. We'll cover persuasive essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, expository essays, and even provide a sample research paper outline. Each example will provide you with an idea of how to lay out the structure and details for each type of essay.

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

Why write an essay outline? 

An outline serves as the skeleton of your essay, giving you a clear and organized path to articulate your thoughts. Not only does it make writing an essay significantly easier, but it also allows you to present your arguments coherently and effectively.

An essay outline will help you organize your main ideas and determine the order in which you are going to write about them.

Student receives essay feedback A+ . Essay outline examples.

Types of essay outlines

Several types of essay outlines can be used when writing an essay. The two most common types are the alphanumeric outline and the decimal outline.

An alphanumeric outline typically uses Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters, in that order. Each level provides a different level of specificity. This structure is a 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.

Alternatively, a decimal outline uses only numbers, and each subsection is a decimal subdivision of the main section. This type of outline is often used in scientific papers.

Persuasive essay outline example 

In the following section, we'll explore a persuasive essay outline example on competitive swimming. The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince the reader of a particular point of view or idea, using compelling arguments and evidence.

In this case, the argument is that competitive swimming is an ideal sport for kids. The essay will present a series of arguments to support this view, demonstrating the various benefits of competitive swimming for children.

Competitive Swimming, an Ideal Sport for Kids


Start your argumentative essay outline by stating your point of view and/or presenting 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...

Narrative essay outline example

In the following section, we will examine a narrative essay outline example titled "How Losing a Swim Meet Made Me a Better Swimmer." Narrative essays aim to tell a story, often about a personal experience, to engage the reader and convey a particular point or lesson.

In this case, the narrative revolves around the author's personal journey of improvement and self-discovery through swimming. The essay will illustrate how an initial setback served as a catalyst for significant improvement and personal growth.

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.

Descriptive essay outline example

We will now delve into a descriptive essay outline example. Descriptive essays aim to create a vivid and detailed description of a person, place, object, or event to paint a picture for the reader. The intention is to immerse the reader in the subject matter fully.

In this case, the essay provides an in-depth description of a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The essay will use sensory and descriptive details to create a vivid and memorable experience for the reader.

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.

Expository essay outline example

In the following section, we will explore an example of an expository essay. An expository essay aims to explain or describe a topic using logic. It presents a balanced analysis of a topic based on facts—with no references to the writer’s opinions or emotions.

For this example, the topic is "Why The School Year Should be Shorter". This essay will use logic and reason to demonstrate that a shorter school year could provide various benefits for students, teachers, and school districts.

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

Now let’s dive into a research paper outline. Unlike a typical essay, a research paper presents a thorough and detailed study on a specific topic. However, it shares the same foundation with an essay in terms of structuring the ideas logically and coherently. The outline for a research paper includes an introduction, a series of topic points that cover various aspects of the main topic, and a conclusion.

This research paper will explore the background of Mt. Everest, the major explorers who attempted its summit, and the impact of these expeditions on Mt. Everest and the local community.

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, 9th grade.

Happy writing!

Writing an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and coherent essay. Regardless of the type of essay - be it persuasive, narrative, descriptive, expository, or a research paper - an outline serves as a roadmap that organizes your thoughts and guides your writing process. The various essay outline examples provided above serve as a guide to help you structure your own essay. Remember, the key to a great essay lies not just in the content but in its organization and flow. Happy writing!

Featured High School Resources

Romeo and Juliet Teaching Unit Kit

Related Resources

sandbbox logo

essay outline sample

How to Write an Essay Outline with MLA and APA Styles

essay outline sample

Got a great essay idea, but feel like sorting out your thoughts is as tough as untying knotted headphones from your backpack? No worries! We've all felt that way.

Whether you're staring down a blank page or drowning in a sea of scattered thoughts, we've got your back. In this article, we're going to break down the writing process of an essay outline into simple, easy-to-follow steps. Plus, we'll cover specific formatting guidelines for both MLA and APA styles, making sure your essay looks polished and professional.

What Is an Outline?

Let's start from the basics. An essay outline helps you arrange your thoughts and plan your essay before you begin writing. It can be your strategy guide to beat writer's block. Instead of wandering around in your paragraphs, hoping everything falls into place, an outline gives your essay format a clear path.

Here's how it works: You write down your main ideas, arguments, and supporting details in a logical order. This keeps you focused and ensures your essay flows smoothly from start to finish. It also makes writing much easier.

Now, you might wonder, 'Why do I need essay outlines? Can't I just write and see where it goes?' Well, you could, but it's risky. Without a format plan, you might stray off-topic, get lost in unrelated ideas, or end up with a confusing mess that confuses your readers.

So, whether you're writing a persuasive essay, a personal story, or an APA or MLA research paper, a good outline is essential. It saves time and frustration and helps you create a well-organized and clear essay that gets your message across.

Wanting a Perfectly Polished Essay?

Let’s breeze through your writing assignments with ease!

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Simple Steps

Now, before you start outlining, let our coursework writing service give you some extra help to begin. Just follow these four steps to create an outline format that makes the rest of your writing easy. These steps break down the process into simple parts, making it easier for you to understand and follow along.

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Simple Steps

Set Your Goal Clearly

When setting your goal, ask yourself: What do I want to achieve with this essay? Is it to convince the reader of a certain viewpoint, educate them on a topic, or perhaps entertain them with a captivating story? Clarifying your goal helps you stay focused throughout the writing process and ensures that every part of your essay works towards achieving that goal.

It's also important to consider your audience and what you aim for them to grasp from reading your essay. For example, if you're working on the Divine Comedy summary , think about whether your audience is familiar with the text or if they're approaching it for the first time. Consider their interests—are they more interested in literary analysis, historical context, or thematic exploration? Additionally, be mindful of any potential biases they might have based on their background or prior knowledge.

Remove Unnecessary Details

In this step, it's time to prioritize and trim down your ideas. Take a close look at all the points you've brainstormed and ask yourself: Which ones are absolutely crucial for supporting my main argument or thesis statement? Anything that doesn't directly contribute to your goal should be cut. This streamlines your essay, keeping it focused and concise. Remember, clarity is key. Readers shouldn't have to sift through irrelevant information to understand your main points. So, be ruthless in eliminating anything that doesn't serve your purpose.

List the Main Ideas for Each Paragraph

Here, you're breaking down your essay format into manageable chunks. For each paragraph, identify the main idea or point you want to convey. These main ideas serve as the backbone of your essay, guiding the flow of your argument and ensuring that each paragraph contributes meaningfully to the overall narrative.

Consider how each point relates to your thesis statement and supports your overall goal. By clearly listing the main points of each paragraph in your essay outline, you'll create a roadmap for your writing that makes it easier for both you and your readers to follow along.

Organize Your Outline with a Simple Template

Now that you have identified your main ideas, it's time to put everything together in a structured format. Use a simple template by our business essay writing services to organize your outline in a way that flows logically from start to finish.

Begin with an introduction to set the stage and grab the reader's attention. Then, outline your body paragraphs to present your arguments or ideas in a clear and organized manner. Each paragraph should focus on one main point, supported by evidence or examples. Finally, conclude your format with a summary that wraps everything up neatly and reinforces your main thesis.

By organizing your format in this way, you'll create a roadmap for your essay that makes it easier to write and ensures that your ideas are presented cohesively.

MLA Outline Format

The MLA format essay outline serves as the skeleton upon which your ideas will flesh out into a cohesive narrative. Here's a breakdown of the key components and formatting rules to keep in mind:

  • Paper Specifications : Your MLA paper should be standard letter size (8.5x11 inches), with one-inch margins around the entire page. The running head, if included, should be within the margin. This ensures uniformity and readability across different platforms.
  • Indentation and Spacing : Start each sentence with an indentation that's half an inch from the left margin. Maintaining double spacing throughout your MLA outline enhances readability and leaves ample space for annotations and revisions. The recommended font size is 12-point, though 11-point or 11.5-point is acceptable. Consistency is key here.
  • Securing Your Outline : While it might seem trivial, ensuring your MLA outline is securely fastened in the upper left corner—be it with a stapler, paper clip, or binder clip—helps maintain professionalism and organization.
  • Title and Thesis Statement : Center the title of your MLA paper at the top of the outline. Directly below, write your thesis statement, setting it apart by capitalizing the first letter of each word and ending with a colon. This establishes the overarching argument or main point of your essay.
  • Headings and Subheadings : Use a hierarchical system for headings and subheadings to denote the structure of your MLA essay. Major sections are indicated with Roman numerals (I, II, III), while subcategories are marked with uppercase letters (A, B, C). Further subdivisions follow a pattern of Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) and lowercase letters (a, b, c), each ending with a period for clarity.

APA Outline Format

Understanding the structure of the APA outline format is key to organizing your ideas effectively. Here's a closer look at the various formats:

Basic APA Format :

  • Roman numerals denote main headings.
  • Capital letters signify first-level subheadings.
  • Arabic numerals (1-9) are used within those subheadings.
  • Lowercase letters are utilized beneath Arabic numeral subheadings.
  • Arabic numerals within parentheses further delineate sub-points.

The full sentence outline mirrors this structure, replacing sentence fragments with complete sentences at each level.

APA Decimal Outline :

  • This APA format is simpler, breaking headings into paragraphs and numbering them with Arabic numerals.
  • Each heading is numbered sequentially, starting with 1.0.
  • Paragraphs within headings are indicated by a decimal followed by a sequential number (e.g., 1.1, 1.2).
  • Points or sentences within paragraphs are further delineated by additional decimals (e.g., 1.1.1, 1.1.2).

For instance, under the first heading, the first paragraph's first sentence would be numbered 1.1.1, with subsequent sentences following suit.

Outline Examples

Below are the sample outlines for both formatting styles. You'll notice that the MLA outline has a more narrative style, while the APA outline follows a structured format with distinct headings and subheadings.

In MLA, main sections are marked with Roman numerals and subsections with capital letters, whereas APA uses numbers and letters for different heading levels. Additionally, APA includes sections for methods and results, which are typical in scientific research papers, while MLA format typically omits these sections.

Meanwhile, if you're tempted to pay someone to write my paper , remember we're here to whip up stellar samples in any format you desire!

MLA Outline Example

Apa outline example, final recap.

That's all there is to it! We hope you now have a solid grasp of APA and MLA format outlines. Despite their apparent similarities, there are some notable differences between the two. Now that you're armed with this knowledge, go ahead and tackle your outline assignments like a pro!

Struggling to Wrangle Your Thoughts into a Coherent Essay?

Let us do the heavy lifting for you! 

Related Articles

How to Write a Summary of a Book with an Example

Trying to devise a structure for your essay can be one of the most difficult parts of the writing process. Making a detailed outline before you begin writing is a good way to make sure your ideas come across in a clear and logical order. A good outline will also save you time in the revision process, reducing the possibility that your ideas will need to be rearranged once you've written them.

The First Steps

Before you can begin outlining, you need to have a sense of what you will argue in the essay. From your analysis and close readings of primary and/or secondary sources you should have notes, ideas, and possible quotes to cite as evidence. Let's say you are writing about the 1999 Republican Primary and you want to prove that each candidate's financial resources were the most important element in the race. At this point, your notes probably lack much coherent order. Most likely, your ideas are still in the order in which they occurred to you; your notes and possible quotes probably still adhere to the chronology of the sources you've examined. Your goal is to rearrange your ideas, notes, and quotes—the raw material of your essay—into an order that best supports your argument, not the arguments you've read in other people's works. To do this, you have to group your notes into categories and then arrange these categories in a logical order.


The first step is to look over each individual piece of information that you've written and assign it to a general category. Ask yourself, "If I were to file this in a database, what would I file it under?" If, using the example of the Republican Primary, you wrote down an observation about John McCain's views on health care, you might list it under the general category of  "Health care policy." As you go through your notes, try to reuse categories whenever possible. Your goal is to reduce your notes to no more than a page of category listings.

Now examine your category headings. Do any seem repetitive? Do any go together? "McCain's expenditure on ads" and "Bush's expenditure on ads," while not exactly repetitive, could easily combine into a more general category like "Candidates' expenditures on ads." Also, keep an eye out for categories that no longer seem to relate to your argument. Individual pieces of information that at first seemed important can begin to appear irrelevant when grouped into a general category.

Now it's time to generalize again. Examine all your categories and look for common themes. Go through each category and ask yourself, "If I were to place this piece of information in a file cabinet, what would I label that cabinet?" Again, try to reuse labels as often as possible: "Health Care," "Foreign Policy," and "Immigration" can all be contained under "Policy Initiatives." Make these larger categories as general as possible so that there are no more than three or four for a 7-10 page paper.

With your notes grouped into generalized categories, the process of ordering them should be easier. To begin, look at your most general categories. With your thesis in mind, try to find a way that the labels might be arranged in a sentence or two that supports your argument. Let's say your thesis is that financial resources played the most important role in the 1999 Republican Primary. Your four most general categories are "Policy Initiatives," "Financial Resources," "Voters' Concerns," and "Voters' Loyalty." You might come up with the following sentence: ÒAlthough McCain's policy initiatives were closest to the voters' concerns, Bush's financial resources won the voters' loyalty.Ó This sentence should reveal the order of your most general categories. You will begin with an examination of McCain's and Bush's views on important issues and compare them to the voters' top concerns. Then you'll look at both candidates' financial resources and show how Bush could win voters' loyalty through effective use of his resources, despite his less popular policy ideas.

With your most general categories in order, you now must order the smaller categories. To do so, arrange each smaller category into a sentence or two that will support the more general sentence you've just devised. Under the category of "Financial Resources," for instance, you might have the smaller categories of "Ad Expenditure," "Campaign Contributions" and "Fundraising." A sentence that supports your general argument might read: "Bush's early emphasis on fundraising led to greater campaign contributions, allowing him to have a greater ad expenditure than McCain."

The final step of the outlining process is to repeat this procedure on the smallest level, with the original notes that you took for your essay. To order what probably was an unwieldy and disorganized set of information at the beginning of this process, you need now only think of a sentence or two to support your general argument. Under the category "Fundraising," for example, you might have quotes about each candidate's estimation of its importance, statistics about the amount of time each candidate spent fundraising, and an idea about how the importance of fundraising never can be overestimated. Sentences to support your general argument might read: "No candidate has ever raised too much money [your idea]. While both McCain and Bush acknowledged the importance of fundraising [your quotes], the numbers clearly point to Bush as the superior fundraiser [your statistics]." The arrangement of your ideas, quotes, and statistics now should come naturally.

Putting It All Together

With these sentences, you have essentially constructed an outline for your essay. The most general ideas, which you organized in your first sentence, constitute the essay's sections. They follow the order in which you placed them in your sentence. The order of the smaller categories within each larger category (determined by your secondary sentences) indicates the order of the paragraphs within each section. Finally, your last set of sentences about your specific notes should show the order of the sentences within each paragraph. An outline for the essay about the 1999 Republican Primary (showing only the sections worked out here) would look something like this:




            A.  Fundraising

                        a.  Original Idea

                        b.  McCain Quote/Bush Quote

                        c.  McCain Statistics/Bush Statistics

            B.  Campaign Contributions

            C.  Ad Expenditure


Copyright 2000, David Kornhaber, for the Writing Center at Harvard University


  • Essay Guides
  • Basics of Essay Writing
  • Essay Outline: How to Write It & Templates for Different Types
  • Speech Topics
  • Essay Topics
  • Other Essays
  • Main Academic Essays
  • Research Paper Topics
  • Basics of Research Paper Writing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Chicago/ Turabian
  • Data & Statistics
  • Methodology
  • Admission Writing Tips
  • Admission Advice
  • Other Guides
  • Student Life
  • Studying Tips
  • Understanding Plagiarism
  • Academic Writing Tips
  • Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing


  • Research Paper Guides
  • Formatting Guides
  • Basics of Research Process
  • Admission Guides
  • Dissertation & Thesis Guides

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

Essay outline

Table of contents


Use our free Readability checker

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.


You may also like


Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Types of Outlines and Samples

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

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.

How to Write an Outline for an Essay 🤓| Studyfy

How to Write an Essay Outline

essay outline sample

Writing a comprehensive outline will save hours of writing and editing time, so it’s essential to master. Coming up with outlines is useful beyond just academics, any project you undertake will benefit from a well-structured outline. This article will cover everything you need to know about writing an essay outline and contains several handy templates!

What Is an Essay Outline?

Put simply, an essay outline is a brief plan of your paper. It lays out the structure of the essay, it includes all the main points, and it collects all your research and information. A good outline for essay writing helps you think about how the information will flow and makes sure that you have a plan moving forward. 

There can be many kinds of outlines depending on citation style and type of essay, but the key thing about all of them is that they help arrange and organize your main points to make the writing process easier.

How to Write an Outline For an Essay ?

Almost all forms of writing can benefit from an outline. An academic essay usually follows the classic 5 paragraph format of essay writing, so that’s a good way to start structuring your outline. This means you’ll have an introduction section, 3 body paragraph sections, and a conclusion section. 

An outline is just for you, so don’t worry too much about making it perfect, no one else is going to see it. Fill it with as much information as you need, but remember that outline essay writing is supposed to help you organize the final essay. In case you need to hand in your outline this article covers more structured outlining as well and has several templates for you to follow.

Outline Writing Tips 

Keep these things in mind when creating an outline of an essay

  • Collect all your information in one place and they see what fits into your outline. 
  • Your outline will go through many drafts, don’t feel pressure to make the first version perfect
  • Follow a template and fill in the blanks, this will make sure your outline has some flow. But make sure you spend time restructuring the information, no template is perfect and you may see better ways of organizing your essay.
  • Work on your thesis before you start outlining. This will help structure the outline and make sure you only include relevant information. 

Struggling with the Outline for your Essay Homework?

Get your assignments done by real pros. Save your precious time and boost your marks with ease.

General Essay Outline Format

If your outline needs to be submitted to your teacher then they may ask you to follow a specific outline format for the essay, these are discussed after this section. If you just need an outline for yourself, then this is a simple and short essay outline template to follow. Remember, this is YOUR outline, add things, skip sections, draw arrows, do whatever you need to to make it work for you.

  • The title of your essay
  • Your teacher’s name
  • The name of the course
  • Introduction
  • A catchy hook
  • Two sentence summary of the purpose of your paper
  • Your thesis statement
  • Transition sentence to the first body paragraph
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • First main point, argument, or piece of evidence
  • How it connects to your thesis
  • Transition sentence to the second body paragraph
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Second main point, argument, or piece of evidence
  • Transition sentence to the third body paragraph
  • Body Paragraph 3
  • Third main point, argument, or piece of evidence
  • Transition sentence to the conclusion
  • Summary of the main points of the paper
  • Your main conclusion
  • Reiterate your thesis statement
  • Works Cited/Bibliography

How to create an essay outline in MLA and APA styles

You’re probably familiar with the two main citation styles in use  - Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA). MLA is used for literature studies, philology, linguistics, etc. while APA is used for psychology, science, education studies, etc. 

In general, there are 2 types of outlines, a basic outline, and full sentence outline. The only difference between them is that a full sentence outline requires the use of full sentences in headings and a basic outline doesn’t. Ask your teacher which one is preferred if they want you to hand in an outline and they haven’t specified. In the next sections you’ll find an essay outline example in MLA and APA styles.

MLA Essay Outline Template

Though there is no specific format for an MLA outline, you should follow the general MLA format (double-spaced and Times New Roman 12 pt. font). Use an alphanumeric outline structure:

  • Headings in Roman numerals (I, II, III), 
  • Subheadings in uppercase letters (A, B, C); 
  • Then numbers (1, 2, 3) 
  • And finally lowercase letters (a, b, c). 
  • Make sure to add a period to each one. 
Here’s a sample basic outline for an essay in MLA style to make things clear. 
  • Introduction - Why the pyramids were confusing to Europeans
  • Summary - Europeans had misconceptions about Africa
  • Thesis statement - A lack of information, eurocentric pride, and disdain for Africa led to doubts about the origins of the pyramids
  • Body paragraph 1 - Age of the pyramids
  • First point - How they were discovered
  • Explanation - Why the pyramids seemed impossible
  • Subpoin - Tool use and geometry 
  • Transition - European discovery
  • Body paragraph 2 - Discovered by Europeans in the 1800s
  • First point - Colonial mindset
  • Explanation - Misconceptions about ancient Africa
  • Transition - Modern findings
  • Body paragraph 3 - The evidence
  • First point - New analysis of ancient building techniques
  • Explanation - Could have been done with hard work and dedication
  • Transition - Not aliens
  • Conclusion - An example of prejudiced thinking
  • Summary - The story of how pyramids were understood
  • Thesis - The past was strange
  • Conclusion - We know better now

APA Essay Outline Template

APA has a specified format for outlines. The headings format is alphanumeric like for MLA outlines, but there are 3 types of APA outlines - APA basic format, full sentence format, and decimal format. ‍

APA basic format and full sentence format use the following heading structure:
  • Main Heading use Roman Numerals
  • The first level of subheadings use capital letters
  • Further subheadings use numbers 
  • Further subheadings use lower-case letters.
  • Further subheadings use numbers in parentheses

The only difference between APA basic format and full sentence format is that you write a full sentence rather than just a fragment for each point. 

The only difference between the decimal format and the other two is that it uses a different numbering system.

Decimal format example:
  • First heading is 1.0.
  • First paragraph in the first heading is 1.1.
  • First point of your first paragraph is 1.1.1.
  • Second sentence of your first paragraph is 1.1.2.
  • Third sentence of your second paragraph is 1.2.3.
  • Second heading is 2.0.
  • Third sentence in the second paragraph under the second heading is 2.2.3.

If that seems complicated, don’t worry! It’s very rarely asked for and it’s very simple to get used to. 

Here’s a full sentence APA template to go over.
  • Introduction - The pyramids have been fascinating to people since they were first constructed over 6000 years ago, but when they were re-discovered by Europeans some absurd theories came into existence.
  • Summary - European misconceptions about ancient tools and building techniques as well as African history led to many misconceptions.
  • Thesis statement - A lack of information, eurocentric pride, and disdain for Africa led to doubts about the origins of the pyramids.
  • Body paragraph 1 - It’s staggering to think that the ancient Egyptians were as old to the ancient Romans as the ancient Romans are to us now.
  • First point - The pyramids have been visible and famous since they were constructed, but Europeans visiting Egypt in the middle ages claim to have rediscovered them and did not believe in their African origins.
  • Explanation - The massive size and fine construction of the pyramids made it seem impossible.
  • Subpoin - Knowledge of what building tools and methods were available in ancient Egypt were not available.
  • Subpoin - The size and precision cutting of the stones stumped scientists.
  • Transition - The enlightenment and age of science helped solve some of these mysteries.
  • Body paragraph 2 - It wasn’t till Napoleon in the 18th century that European scientists started analyzing ancient Egyptian culture.
  • First point - Till then, the prevailing colonial mindset was just to loot and plunder as much as possible.
  • Explanation - Europe had a dogma of “civilizing the savages”.
  • Transition - These new scientific studies started unearthing clues to how the pyramids were constructed.
  • Body paragraph 3 - After 1940 many expeditions and excavations took place and since the 1980s many questions have been answered.
  • First point - The discovery of the village of workers made it clear that the pyramids were of African Origin.
  • Explanation - A greater understanding of ancient Egyptian culture based on scientific data gave more evidence.
  • Transition - Finally people could confidently answer that it wasn’t aliens!
  • Conclusion - This was a glaring example of prejudiced thinking during the middle ages.
  • Summary - The story of how pyramids were understood is connected to the discovery of how ancient Egypt used to be.
  • Conclusion - We can learn not to judge before we have reliable data and evidence.

Did you like our inspiring Essay Outline Writing Guide?

For more help, tap into our pool of professional writers and get expert essay editing services!

Find your essay outline template by your essay type

Different types of essays need different kinds of information and some have unique structures of their own. In this section you’ll find simple essay outline templates for 5 common essay types.

Argumentative essay outline example

An argumentative essay uses evidence and logic to convince the reader that your point of view on an issue is correct. An outline is especially useful for this type of essay since it helps organize your arguments. Take a look at this outline example for essay template. 

  • Background information
  • First argument
  • Second argument
  • Opposing argument 1
  • Your counterclaim with the evidence
  • Opposing argument 2
  • Summary of your main arguments
  • Importance of your viewpoint

Expository essay outline example

An expository essay presents facts from both sides of an issue and makes an unbiased observation at the end. Keep your own opinions and emotions out of this type of essay. An outline can help arrange the various perspectives as well as make sure you don’t accidentally show bias. Here’s a template for you to follow.

  • Present your topic
  • First topic sentence
  • Evidence 
  • Analysis 
  • Transition 
  • Second topic Sentence
  • Third topic Sentence
  • Summary of the main points
  • Importance of the topic 
  • Possible further research

Reflective essay outline example

Reflective essays are one of the most fun essays to write. They ask you to write about an experience in your life and analyze how it impacted you. These are less formal than typical academic essays and are usually written in the first person (so use personal pronouns like “I”). These types of essays offer a lot of freedom so there is no particular way to write them, still, an outline can help organize your thoughts and clarify which emotions, feelings, and sensations you want to write about.

  • Teaser for the full story
  • Introduce the story
  • Antagonist/conflict
  • The build-up
  • Details about the conflict
  • Role of characters 
  • The resolution of the climax
  • The conclusion of the story 
  • Summary of the events
  • What you learned
  • How it impacted you

Compare and contrast essay outline example

Compare and contrast essays ask you to analyze two things and examine any connections. This type of essay isn’t as formal or structured as expository essays so you don’t have to follow a specific structure. An outline is helpful to collect all the information and to help draw conclusions though, so here’s an example outline.

  • Background information about the 2 points
  • Connect point 1 and point 2
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Comparisons
  • Conclusions from analysis
  • Other points to compare against
  • Further research

Research essay outline example

A research essay requires finding reputable sources, analyzing and synthesizing information, and presenting your conclusion backed by evidence. These are popular assignments because they require critical thinking skills as well as research skills. Always use an outline if you’re assigned a research essay, it will help organize information and shorten writing time.

  • First research finding
  • Second research finding
  • Analysis of research
  • What you agree with and why with the evidence
  • What you disagree with and why with the evidence
  • Summary of research
  • Importance of research

Quick Wrap Up

There is no denying that an outline helps with the writing process. Famous authors, YouTube scripts, speechwriters, everyone uses outlines to help organize their thoughts and present information effectively. Make sure you master this skill because it’s going to be useful throughout your life. 

If an outline is just for you (it’s not going to be given to a teacher) then follow a template, but there’s no reason to stick to it exactly. Draw on it, add sections, delete sections, do whatever you need to do to make the information you have to make the most sense to you. On the other hand, if it’s supposed to be handed in, check what format it’s supposed to be in and follow the format. 

The specific templates in this article are a good starting point, but you may need to add body paragraphs or make other minor changes here and there. After all, a template is just a guide.  

Hopefully, this article has given you tips, outlines, and a bunch of other helpful information, but if you need any help essay writer service or custom essay writing ,  Studyfy also offers custom essay writing services , " write my admission essay " service and coursework writing service help. If you need a top-quality paper that meets all your requirements, just say, write my paper for me , and our essay writers online will take care of the rest. Our custom essay writing services are designed to help you achieve academic success and get good grades. Trust us to provide you with the best possible outcome and reach out to us today to learn more about our services.

Featured Posts

How to write a term paper.

essay outline sample

How To Make An Essay Longer

essay outline sample

How to Write a Dissertation

essay outline sample

How to Write an Essay

essay outline sample

How to Write a Research Paper

essay outline sample

How to Write a Discussion Post

essay outline sample

How to Write an Essay Outline?

28 August, 2020

8 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

Now that the school year has begun, you will start to receive many essay assignments. One way to organize your thoughts before writing is to create an essay outline. What is an essay outline? It's a tool that helps you organize your ideas and write a better essay. In this article, we will discuss why writing an outline for your essay is helpful, how it will improve your writing, and how to go about creating one.

Essay Outline

What is an Essay Outline?

An outline is a tool that you can use for organizing your ideas and structuring your essay in a proper manner. It should summarize your essay and help you organize your content in a logical order. An outline can guide you throughout the writing process and remind you of what you should be writing about. Most commonly, an essay is written following a 5-paragraph structure, addressing the key points that you have laid out in the outline. Below, you will find more about the proper structure of your essay outline and what these 5 paragraphs should include.

Why Do You Need It?

Sitting down to write an essay can be overwhelming. Writing an outline helps alleviate some of that frustration. Furthermore, it will help you organize thoughts, present ideas logically and with a natural flow, as well as clarify your thesis and conclusion.

Find out the basic essay information with this article: What is an Essay?

Overall, an outline will help you communicate your point in a clear and organized format. The structure of your essay will rely on the outline you compose.

Preparing Your Outline

Before you begin writing an outline for the essay, make sure you understand the assignment. Namely, what exactly is the instructor looking for? Our  essay writer  recommends you to follow these simple steps:

Writing an Essay Outline

1. Develop a Topic

The first step in your outline is to identify your topic. Once you have a clear understanding of the instructor’s expectations, begin brainstorming topics that fit within the assignment. Make a list of ideas and pick the ones that are of your interest. If you are stuck between a few ideas, begin free writing. Give yourself 5 minutes for each idea and just write everything that first comes to mind without editing or stopping. The idea that inspires you the most may just be the perfect essay topic for this assignment. In fact, essays are easier to write and read if the author is passionate about what he/she is writing.

Related Posts: Argumentative essay topics | Compare&Contrast essay topics

2. Identify the purpose, audience, and argument/ideas

Once you have developed a topic, you will need to define the purpose (or the reason) for writing this essay as well as who you are writing for. By having a clear understanding of the purpose, the audience, and the necessary arguments/ideas that need to be addressed, you will be better prepared to write an influential essay.

Purpose, audience, argument of an essay

Take a second to look back over the instructions for the assignment and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What are the objectives of the assignment?
  • Are there keywords that stand out in the instructions?
  • Are you being asked to persuade, entertain, enlighten, or educate your audience?
  • Who is your audience? Is it the teacher, the other students, or someone else?
  • What arguments or counter ideas might the audience have for your topic/idea?
  • What emotions might these ideas bring up and how can you counterbalance them with facts?

3. Develop a thesis statement

Now that you know your topic, purpose, audience and have developed your main arguments/ideas – it is time to write your thesis statement . A thesis is only one to two sentences long and highlights the question your essay will be answering. It does not state your opinion or list facts though, but rather identifies what you will be arguing for or against within the body of your essay. Keep in mind that thesis statements must be accurate, clear, and relevant to the topic.

Structuring Your Outline

Now that you have read the above information, the question is:  how to write an essay outline?

First, decide on what structure to use. There are two main essay outline formats to choose from:   alphanumeric and decimal .

The alphanumeric format uses Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, etc), capital letters (A, B, C, D, etc.), Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), and lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, etc.).  This one is more common than the other.

On the contrary, the decimal format only uses numbers. It begins with 1.0. Subsections add a decimal. The most important points under 1.0 would be 1.1, 1.2, etc. The subsections beneath 1.1 would be 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, etc. For a visual example of an essay outline scroll to the bottom of this article.

For the visual examples of the stated outline formats, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

Apply sub-section structure. The more detailed content of your essay will be found within the sub-sections, while the main sections are your fundamental ideas and arguments. Therefore, the sub-sections are the facts that support main sections. Think of the section title as the topic sentence for your paragraph and the sub-section as the tiny details that explain the idea of the topic. Notably, your sub-sections need to flow naturally from one to another.

Essay outline structure

Integrate paragraphs into your outline. Start fleshing out your section and subsection notes. Your introduction will need to include your topic and thesis statement. For a short essay, this only needs to be one paragraph long. Then, refer to your assignment instructions to clarify the length. Next is the body part – a ‘skeleton’ on which the entire essay is based. This section will consist of several paragraphs, each playing a supportive role in the filling of your thesis. The final section of your outline is the conclusion. This is a summary of everything you have stated in your essay. In this part, paraphrase your thesis statement and highlight the arguments made within the essay to support it. Remember that presenting new ideas and concepts in the concluding sentences is a big academic mistake. Rather, your final words should only emphasize the points you’ve indicated earlier and focus on the already-highlighted ideas.

Essay Outline Examples

Now, it’s time to showcase the most common essay outline types. For you to get the right idea of what an outline actually is, we have transformed the content of the article you are currently reading into an outline.

Alphanumeric format essay outline sample:

Alphanumeric Outline template

Decimal format essay outline sample:

Decimal outline example

Drawing the Line

Now that you know how to use an essay outline, you are well on your way to writing clear, persuasive essays. This tool will help you improve your writing and earn a higher grade for your essay. Now it’s time for you to get started and make use of this tool.

In case you have any questions, you are free to skim through our essay writing guide where you can find helpful information on how to plan, structure and write different types of essays.

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

Due to human nature, we draw conclusions only when life gives us a lesson since the experience of others is not so effective and powerful. Therefore, when analyzing and sorting out common problems we face, we may trace a parallel with well-known book characters or real historical figures. Moreover, we often compare our situations with […]

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]

Art Research Paper Topics

Art Research Paper Topics

Students obtaining degrees in fine art and art & design programs most commonly need to write a paper on art topics. However, this subject is becoming more popular in educational institutions for expanding students’ horizons. Thus, both groups of receivers of education: those who are into arts and those who only get acquainted with art […]

How To Write An Essay Outline: Tips And Examples

  • What Is An Outline?
  • Why Are Outlines Helpful?
  • Parts Of An Outline

To outline or not to outline: that is the age-old question. For a lot of people, outlines are a way to organize thoughts and gather information before they start writing, which can often save valuable time later on. But some writers prefer to craft essays more loosely, adding material and shaping their supporting paragraphs as they go.

Whether you’re new to outlines (or writing, period) or you’re just looking to hone your skills at crafting the perfect essay outline, there are some important things to know about the process. Follow along as we break down the why and the how of writing an effective outline and provide a step-by-step guide that will make writing your next essay a total cinch.

What is an outline?

An outline is “a general sketch, account, or report, indicating only the main features, as of a book, subject, or project.” In other words, it’s like a brief summary of the topics you plan to cover in a longer piece of writing.

In writing an outline, you create the skeleton of your essay, which provides a supportive structure on which you can arrange and organize each of your paragraphs. This helps you clarify the points you intend to make in your writing and also gives you an opportunity to tailor your research, which can make the writing process much easier later on.

Why are outlines helpful?

If you aren’t typically an outline writer, you might be wondering if you really need to put in the extra work to create one. Ultimately, everyone has a different writing style, and only you know what’s going to work for you, but here are four major reasons why many people find the outlining process helpful:

1. Outlines are brief and concise.

Remember: an outline is not the same thing as a rough draft. In an outline, each section contains only a sentence or two, and each topic is distilled to a single main idea.

2. Outlines help you write more efficiently.

You don’t have to worry about rambling or repeating the same statistic several times. You decide exactly where information belongs before you start writing.

3. Outlines are easy to edit.

You can move facts, details, and even entire sentences around easily without needing to rewrite whole paragraphs.

4. Outlines ensure supporting details connect to the thesis.

Once you see all of your work laid out, you might realize that certain paragraphs can be combined or that your conclusion doesn’t actually tie back to your thesis. Isn’t it nice to notice these potential errors before you’ve finished a draft?

Writer’s block? It’s part of the process. Here are some tips to overcome it and get your words flowing again.

The parts of a standard essay outline

Now that you understand the “why” behind writing an essay outline, let’s talk about how to do it. Here are the main parts to include in any essay outline:


In an outline, your introduction consists of your thesis statement . This is a single sentence that states the subject, main idea, or main purpose of your essay.

When you write your essay, you will add a few sentences before and after your thesis statement to grab your reader’s interest and preview your essay’s main points. For the outline, you only need to narrow your point of view to a single, effective thesis that will inform the rest of the outline.

Body paragraphs

Body paragraphs are the parts of the essay in which you present information to back up your thesis. First, you’ll need to decide if you’re writing a three-paragraph essay or a five-paragraph essay . You may have anywhere from one to three body paragraphs, depending on what type you choose.

Each body paragraph in your outline should have:

  • A main idea that aligns with your thesis.
  • A topic sentence stating the main idea.
  • A bulleted list of relevant research, quotes, anecdotes, and/or statistics.

Much like the introduction, your outline’s conclusion is all about your thesis statement. Here, you should:

  • Restate your thesis
  • Summarize the main points that support your thesis.
  • Leave your reader with an impactful final thought or call to action.

Make Your Writing Shine!

  • By clicking "Sign Up", you are accepting Terms & Conditions and Privacy policies.
  • Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Example of a standard essay outline

Now that you know the parts of an essay outline, it might help to see them in action. Here’s an outline format you can use to plan your own essays, filled in with examples of a thesis statement, topic sentences for your body paragraphs, and the main parts of a strong conclusion.

  • Thesis statement: There’s a lot of debate about which food category hot dogs fit into, but it’s clear from the evidence that a hot dog is a type of sandwich.

Body paragraph #1

  • Topic sentence: To begin, hot dogs fit the dictionary definition of the word sandwich.
  • Supporting detail: Sandwich is defined as “two or more slices of bread with a layer of meat, fish, cheese, and whatever other filling you’d like between them.”
  • Supporting detail: A hot dog is a grilled or steamed sausage, usually made of pork or beef, which qualifies as a layer of meat.
  • Supporting detail: Hot dog buns are split rolls, similar to the ones used for deli sandwiches.

Body paragraph #2

  • Topic sentence: Secondly, hot dogs meet the legal definition of sandwiches in many places.
  • Supporting detail: Mark Wheeler, a food safety specialist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), says the organization defines a sandwich as “a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit.”
  • Supporting detail: In New York state, tax law lists “hot dogs and sausages on buns” as types of sandwiches.
  • Supporting detail: Additionally, tax law in California clearly includes “hot dog and hamburger sandwiches” served from “sandwich stands or booths.”

Body paragraph #3

  • Topic sentence: Finally, most Americans agree that hot dogs are sandwiches.
  • Supporting detail: In a poll of 1,000 people conducted by RTA Outdoor Living, 56.8% of respondents agreed a hot dog is a sandwich.
  • Supporting detail: Many fast food chains that serve primarily burgers and sandwiches, like Five Guys burgers and Shake Shack, also sell hot dogs.
  • Supporting detail: Lexicographers at have also declared that hot dogs officially meet the criteria to be included in the sandwich category. (Curious? Read the article here for this and other great food debates explained .)
  • Restatement of thesis: Hot dogs are a unique kind of food, but the evidence makes it clear that they are indeed a type of sandwich.

Now, get to planning that perfect essay! (But if you’re hungry for a snack first, we don’t blame you.)

Plan and write a five-paragraph essay that will earn your instructor's own five—high five, that is!

essay outline sample

Ways To Say

Synonym of the day

essay outline sample

Get Free Profile Evaluation

essay outline sample

How to Write an Essay Outline: Templates and Examples

essay outline sample

Looking for an outline for an essay to help you with an upcoming assignment? Don’t worry; we’ll give you everything you need to know about essay outlines!

Female student writing in notebook in front of coomputer

Students take all kinds of classes throughout their academic careers. They learn about the basic principles of the world in science, how we got to where we are today in history, and how to dissect an Elizabethan-timed soliloquy reading Shakespeare in English.

While subjects differ drastically in the topics they teach, you can bet that they all rely on students interpreting material to analyze and reach a conclusion with. Non-quantitative subjects, like psychology, history, and English, often require students to format their arguments in various essays.

But how do you go about starting an essay? Well, a key area that students often neglect is looking into outline examples for essays. Having a scaffold to support your arguments and research means you’ll be able to focus on writing without getting distracted. Ideally, you’ll experience an extended writing flow state without any writer’s block.

If streamlining the writing process and making things easier for yourself sounds appealing, then keep reading for the outline tips you need!

What Is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is a brief snapshot into the structure of your essay. It’s often informal and mostly written without an intended audience other than the essay author. An outline will state the main points that are being established throughout your essay and how they’re being supported.

Essays rely on internal logic to be effective. Think of essay outlines as a method of laying out the flow of your essay, especially making note of how the arguments reinforce one another. A good outline will provide effective points that tie back to your thesis. 

You may also be requested by your teacher to make an outline so they can provide feedback. This is a good way to get advice when you’re starting out writing essays or writing about more complicated topics. That way, you’ll be able to start writing good essays in no time.

Typical Parts of an Essay

Although essay structure does vary depending on the kind of essay , there are a few universals across the writing format. Virtually all essays begin with an introduction and end with a conclusion. The body paragraphs that support the central theme vary in length, quantity, and structure.

Ideally, the introductory paragraph should give the reader a cursory overview of the arguments that support your thesis, which is the central theme unifying the text. A line to hook your audience can also make for a more compelling essay.

In the conclusion, you’ll want to briefly summarize the points you made throughout the body paragraphs. Furthermore, any closing thoughts you have or final ideas you’d like to leave the reader with can be discussed here.

Steps for Writing an Essay Outline

Writing an essay template doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. With the right steps and planning, you can not only save yourself a great deal of time but also write more persuasive content. The ins and outs of writing an essay outline follow multiple steps. Here are some things to think about:

Step One: Develop a Thesis

The first and most important step before beginning your essay outline is to try to determine a thesis that captures the core of what you’re arguing. Without a thesis, any arguments made in the body paragraphs don’t have a central theme to support. In this case, it can be easy to get off topic or even inadvertently argue against your thesis.

Step Two: Prioritize Research

You’ve no doubt come across a ton of ideas and thought of different arguments to make during your time planning for your essay (or checking out what SparkNotes had to say if it’s last minute). Regardless, a decision has to be made as to what the strongest arguments that support your thesis are.

An extra tip: don’t discard points that go against your thesis! These can be collected and used to dispel counter arguments in your essay. Articulating persuasive viewpoints means tackling objections head-on and giving a more compelling argument. Also, make sure you’re understanding everything you’re reading before writing about it.

Step Three: Structure Body Paragraphs

The exact structure and contents of the body paragraphs within an essay can change depending on the essay format. Generally, each body paragraph should focus on a supporting argument that defends your thesis. In a sense, each body paragraph comprises a mini-thesis that aligns with the overall goals of the essay as a whole.

One approach is to give one or two pieces of evidence that reinforce the body paragraph’s argument. These could come from research you had done on your topic beforehand or from a primary source that’s being discussed. Alternatively, you could include any counter arguments that directly go against the body paragraph’s stance.

Another common pitfall students make is including body paragraphs that are too similar to one another. In order to give the most compelling arguments, you should ideally be tackling your subject matter from all angles. Including a variety of opinions ensures that your essay encompasses many diverging views, making your thesis more compelling.

Student typing on laptop

Essay Outline Examples

A standard essay can be written in a five-paragraph structure. Certain essays, such as expository essays , work well with this outline. In this case, you’d want to include an introductory paragraph that clearly states your thesis. This is followed by three supporting body paragraphs. Finally, a conclusion is used to wrap everything up.

As with the steps for writing an essay outline, you’ll always want to include an introduction and conclusion, no matter what kind of essay you’re writing. To determine the structure of the body paragraphs, consider looking at what research you’ve done on the topic and what would make the most sense for the essay you’re writing.

Essay Outline Template

A rough outline template for an essay can include all the features from your outline. When dealing with five-paragraph essays, you can format a rough template with a few basic categories. A common template taught in college-level English looks something like this

  • Introduction paragraph
  • Body paragraph one
  • Body paragraph two
  • Body paragraph three
  • Conclusion paragraph 

Although this isn’t the only way to structure an essay, having some kind of template will make the writing process as easy as possible. When you have to interrupt your writing with research, you’ll find it makes it harder to write concisely, establish points, and transition between them.

Still have questions concerning essay outlines and templates? Check out our expert answers below for more insight!

1. How Can I Think of What to Write for My Essay?

A big sticking point for students is getting started with their essays. More often than not, students envision the writing process as a seamless block of time where academically studious peers complete their essays in a single session. This could not be further from the truth.

Writing is a responsive process more than anything. This means that without adequate research, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to have topics to write about or think of. That’s not to say essay writing is completely linear. You’ll likely need to go back and consult your research to revise arguments. However, a gradual progression is usually followed.

Don’t forget a non-linear process can actually help you generate ideas for your essay. Certain essay-writing tips , such as expanding on your thesis and using temporary subheadings, can help generate crucial concepts to communicate your arguments.

2. What’s the Point of Writing Essays?

Although it may seem like pointless homework, writing essays develops fundamental skills that enable you to function and excel in society. Sure, you may be wondering how writing about the whaling in Moby Dick is going to come in handy in life ten years from now. The real key is the linguistic and logical neural pathways being developed.

Essay writing is quite different from prose writing. There is a certain structure where sound logic matters. You can’t simply come up with a thesis and talk about irrelevant points that do no help defending it. The logic required to draw conclusions from research and literary works is a skill that needs to be practiced.

Being able to defend arguments in widely different settings requires critical thinking. Not everyone can come up with an essay on the spot. It takes time to develop the thinking process behind the writing in order to make logically consistent arguments. Fortunately, anyone can develop their talents with the right practice and determination to get better.

Final Thoughts

Writing essays is an involved process. If you’re just starting out and haven’t perfected your writing regimen, then doing a bit of planning can make all the difference in your final draft. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or experiencing writer’s block, it can be a good idea to go back and consult your outline for your essay.

There may be several different kinds of topics to write about. Almost all non-quantitative classes have written components, and essays make up a large bulk of that. What all effective essay writing has in common is clearly articulated thoughts, with the reader easily understanding what message is being conveyed.

No one starts out writing perfect essays with ease, but the more often you write, the better you’ll get at the process. The most important thing to take away from essay writing is to give yourself a bit of review, especially a few months later. Give it a read with fresh eyes and see how you can improve for next time.

Book Your Free Assessment Today

Quad Education logo


  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

6 Common Leadership Styles — and How to Decide Which to Use When

  • Rebecca Knight

essay outline sample

Being a great leader means recognizing that different circumstances call for different approaches.

Research suggests that the most effective leaders adapt their style to different circumstances — be it a change in setting, a shift in organizational dynamics, or a turn in the business cycle. But what if you feel like you’re not equipped to take on a new and different leadership style — let alone more than one? In this article, the author outlines the six leadership styles Daniel Goleman first introduced in his 2000 HBR article, “Leadership That Gets Results,” and explains when to use each one. The good news is that personality is not destiny. Even if you’re naturally introverted or you tend to be driven by data and analysis rather than emotion, you can still learn how to adapt different leadership styles to organize, motivate, and direct your team.

Much has been written about common leadership styles and how to identify the right style for you, whether it’s transactional or transformational, bureaucratic or laissez-faire. But according to Daniel Goleman, a psychologist best known for his work on emotional intelligence, “Being a great leader means recognizing that different circumstances may call for different approaches.”

essay outline sample

  • RK Rebecca Knight is a journalist who writes about all things related to the changing nature of careers and the workplace. Her essays and reported stories have been featured in The Boston Globe, Business Insider, The New York Times, BBC, and The Christian Science Monitor. She was shortlisted as a Reuters Institute Fellow at Oxford University in 2023. Earlier in her career, she spent a decade as an editor and reporter at the Financial Times in New York, London, and Boston.

Partner Center


  1. How to Write an Essay Outline [21 Examples

    essay outline sample

  2. 30+ Essay Outline Templates

    essay outline sample

  3. How to Write an Essay Outline: Complete Guide and Samples

    essay outline sample

  4. 9+ Essay outline templates

    essay outline sample

  5. How to Outline an Essay

    essay outline sample

  6. 37 Outstanding Essay Outline Templates (Argumentative, Narrative

    essay outline sample


  1. How to write an outline? CSS-PMS Essay-1

  2. How to attempt a literary essay for CSS||structure of Essay||Boys will be Boys outline

  3. How to Write Outline For English Essay

  4. Longman Academic Writing 4 Chapter 4 Paragraph to Essay

  5. How to write an outline for an essay or a literature review

  6. 10- Essay Outline'ı nasıl yazılır? / How to write an Essay Outline / Türkçe Anlatım


  1. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Learn how to plan the structure of your essay before you start writing with an essay outline. Find out how to organize your material, order your information and see examples of different types of outlines.

  2. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Learn how to write an essay outline in four steps: understand the topic, brainstorm ideas, organize thoughts and add subpoints. See a template and examples of essay outlines for different types of essays.

  3. PDF Essay Outline Template

    Offer some more specific background information (as needed). 3. Provide the title of the piece and the author's name if the essay is about a specific book/poem/article/passage. C. Thesis Statement 1. State your topic and position. Remember that a thesis = claim + reasons. 2. Outline your main points and ideas.

  4. How to Structure an Essay

    Learn how to organize your essay with different approaches: chronological, compare-and-contrast, or problems-methods-solutions. See templates and examples for each structure and signpost your argument with language.

  5. How to Write an Essay Outline + Essay Outline Examples

    Learn how to write an essay outline with clear and simple instructions and templates. See examples of persuasive, narrative, descriptive, and expository essays with thesis statements, topic sentences, and details.

  6. How to Write an Outline for an Essay (Examples and Template)

    Learn how to create a detailed outline for your essay using a standard alphanumeric or decimal format. Find out why outlining is important, how it saves time and improves grades, and what steps to follow.

  7. How to Write an Essay Outline: 5 Examples & Free Template

    Each of these essays serves a different purpose and is structured differently. Let's understand the purpose of each of these essay types with the help of relevant essay outline examples: 1. Narrative essay outline. A narrative essay outline is a highly personalized outline that reflects your unique experiences, feelings, and observations.

  8. How to Write an Essay Outline: MLA & APA Formats

    MLA Outline Format. The MLA format essay outline serves as the skeleton upon which your ideas will flesh out into a cohesive narrative. Here's a breakdown of the key components and formatting rules to keep in mind: Paper Specifications: Your MLA paper should be standard letter size (8.5x11 inches), with one-inch margins around the entire page ...

  9. Outlining

    Making a detailed outline before you begin writing is a good way to make sure your ideas come across in a clear and logical order. A good outline will also save you time in the revision process, reducing the possibility that your ideas will need to be rearranged once you've written them. The First Steps. Before you can begin outlining, you need ...

  10. How to Outline an Essay: Basic Essay Outline Template

    How to Outline an Essay: Basic Essay Outline Template. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Jun 7, 2021 • 3 min read. Essay outlines are excellent tools for organizing your writing. A strong outline can turn a meandering essay into a focused, persuasive piece of writing.

  11. The Writing Center

    Sample Outlines: As you can see in the outline below, the writer chose to separate the outline by topics, but could have utilized a different structure, organizing the outline by separate paragraphs, indicating what each paragraph will do or say. Example 1: Introduction A. Background information B. Thesis; Reason 1 A. Use quotes from x

  12. How to Create an Essay Outline: Template & Examples

    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.

  13. Types of Outlines and Samples

    Learn how to create different types of outlines for your essays, such as alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal. Download sample outlines for each type and see how they are formatted and structured.

  14. College Essay Format & Structure

    Learn how to plan and outline your college application essay to make it flow smoothly and logically. See two example outlines for different structures: vignettes with a common theme and narrative structure.

  15. How to Create a Clearly Structured Essay Outline

    An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. In just 3 minutes, this video will show you how to organize your ...

  16. How to Write an Outline for an Essay

    Use an alphanumeric outline structure: Headings in Roman numerals (I, II, III), Subheadings in uppercase letters (A, B, C); Then numbers (1, 2, 3) And finally lowercase letters (a, b, c). Make sure to add a period to each one. ‍. Here's a sample basic outline for an essay in MLA style to make things clear. ‍.

  17. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Essay Outline Examples. Now, it's time to showcase the most common essay outline types. For you to get the right idea of what an outline actually is, we have transformed the content of the article you are currently reading into an outline. Alphanumeric format essay outline sample: Decimal format essay outline sample: Drawing the Line

  18. How To Write An Essay Outline: Tips And Examples

    Organize your ideas and gather information for your essays by learning to write a proper essay outline. You'll save time and present a polished piece!

  19. How to Write an Essay Outline: Templates and Examples

    We explore the parts of an essay, steps for writing essay outlines, and provide examples and templates. Get in touch: 619-859-6550. Get in touch: 619-859-6550. SAT. SAT ACT. Subjects. Math Science English Language Algebra Geometry Pre Calculus Calculus Homework Help Study Skills Homeschool Support. Other Tests. SSAT ISEE HSPT AP IB. About Us ...

  20. 6 Common Leadership Styles

    Much has been written about common leadership styles and how to identify the right style for you, whether it's transactional or transformational, bureaucratic or laissez-faire. But according to ...