Imagine you were assigned an essay on some disputable topic. You have lots of ideas in mind fighting each other and making you confused. If you don’t organize them, the whole essay will look messy. You need some plan to stick and keep your thoughts flowing in a right direction. This is where outlining is a great technique to help you along this path.
Writing an outline for an essay is a common task often assigned as a part of a thesis or other complex papers with a multilevel structure. However, it can be an independent assignment that shows how well you can develop a logical structure for your future paper.
It’s also a great prewriting exercise that lets you simplify writing and come up with a well-presented and easy-to-read essay in the long run. There are lots of ways how to write an outline for an essay. Its size and structure may vary from several bullet points to some paragraphs.
Writing 5 paragraph essay outline
Before you start outlining your ideas mind that it is almost the same as writing an essay consisting of main paragraphs like introduction, body and conclusion. What’s the difference between essay and outline then? First, the outline doesn’t require details but rather general ideas that relate to particular essay part. It can be even an informal ideas presentation. However, if it is going to be evaluated, you should choose formal outline structure with headings and subheadings.
Consider the following points when writing five paragraph essay outline:
- Introduction. Think what ideas you will include in the opening paragraph. These should be something attention-grabbing and meaningful. Usually, introduction contains thesis statement, ideas representing the topic or central problem and some background information to introduce readers to the topic;
- Body. As far as we are dealing with 5 paragraph outline, let’s split its body into 3 Start each passage with a topic sentence. Then jolt down some ideas to exemplify it and finally add a few lines to explain the evidence.
- Conclusion. A closing part of your outline is of great importance. Here you need to summarize all main points or suggest a possible solution to the problem. Hence, be attentive not to miss any crucial evidence. List core ideas that sum up your essay and lead to a meaningful conclusion.
This kind of information presentation is most common for all paper types. Whether you are writing argument essay outline or narration, this an outline structure will perfectly highlight your ideas.
4 prewriting techniques for a winning essay outline example
So, we have made it clear as for the essay outline format. Now let’s focus on prewriting stage. What should you do before writing an outline? Naturally, you must do some research to dig up topic-relevant information and formulate clear and laconic statements. However, if you get stuck, the following techniques will help you get your ideas off the ground:
- Narrow down your topic. You may have lots of ideas that might contribute to your essay, but not all of them are worth mentioning in an outline. That’s why, try to select most interesting and thought-provoking. If you have difficulties, draw a mind map and try brainstorming to come up with essential data;
- Let ideas flow. Write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t pay attention to spelling or grammar. It is just the draft where you are trying to single out topic-related ideas. Then look what you’ve got. There is likely to be information you need;
- Consider listing ideas. Alternatively to mind mapping, you can create a list of ideas that you have for your essay. Simply sort them out according to their importance and informative value.
These are great ways to find facts for your topic and arrange them in a logical and consistent manner. The ideas you will come up serve a building material for your outline and essay.
How to write an essay outline if nothing works out
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