Brief guide to constructing a quality outline for an essay

During your time as a student, regardless of the level you are at, you are always going to have to write essays. The grades that you get for each essay will count towards your final mark; therefore, it is essential that your essays are written to the highest standard throughout the year. The best way to start writing an essay is to write an outline. This is something that is often overlooked by the majority of students and they just dive right in and start writing. You can greatly improve your essay writing skills if you know how to write a good outline for an essay. Here is a brief guide to constructing a quality outline for an essay.

  • What is your main goal?
    The main aim of your essay will be dependent upon the title. An essay can do one of three things, reflect on a personal experience you have had, convince your reader of your argument, or to educate the reader about a topic. You should select one of these goals to write about the topic you have been given.
  • Your supporting materials
    It is essential that you review your research material to help you plan your essay more effectively. Write down information such as related quotes, subtopics, ideas and statistics. This information will make up a major part of your outline. Make sure that you make a note of the page numbers that you found each piece of information so that you can easily go back to it.
  • Choosing your outline
    There is also a structure to writing an outline, and there are two different outlines that you can use:
    • A topic outline: If you are really not sure where to begin, a topic outline is a good place to start. This involves using a few words with short phrases to describe what you are going to write about.
    • A sentence outline: If you are writing a detailed essay, it is advised that you use a sentence outline. This involves using complete sentences to describe each point you intend on making.
  • Put your main subtopics in order
    All of your topics should flow into the next; arrange your arguments in chronological order. Make sure you start with the most important argument first and then make your way down to the least.
  • Your conclusion
    Before you write your conclusion, you need to make sure that you have enough evidence to support it. If you don’t, you will need to collect more research material.

Topics

Samples

Links