Have you ever told a joke and just before coming to the punch line, remembered the part in the middle that makes the punch line funny? Using an essay outline helps you organize your thoughts so that you don’t make that mistake. In addition, you’ll find the more structured your outline is, the better organized and easier to write your essay will be. A well-structured essay outline helps you travel from point to point in your composition, creating a natural flow for the reader until you bring the “punch line” home in the summary or conclusion.
Title (Centered or left-aligned)
Begin your outline by deciding whether to use the more traditional I, II, III, and IV outline markers, use headings w/o any markers or a combination of both. The title should be at the top of your paper and everything else will fall below it.
I. The Introduction — why you chose this topic or your premise /thesis and/or the conclusion you hope to prove in the body (A). Enter the points you will cover (B).
II. The Body — Use the points as subheadings. (A, B, C, etc.) Under each point, list the information that supports or elaborates on each point (1, 2). This information will make up your essay body.
III. The Conclusion — The summary of your supporting information (A) should show how you reached your (B) conclusion.
IV. Citations — List your citations. (If you used outside sources of information)
In addition to helping you organize your thoughts, an essay outline also helps you plan the length of your paper. In fact, a good outline can make writing an essay as simple as filling in the blanks.
An essay outline can even help you determine the length of each paragraph. Especially in cases where you are limited to a number of pages or assigned a word count, you can use an essay outline to break the structure into percentages or words.
Writing an essay outline can be as easy as you want to make it. Using an essay outline helps you organize your thoughts from beginning to end and makes sure you don’t leave any important parts out of the middle!
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