How to Write an Essay Outline with Step-by-Step Instructions

make an essay outline

An essay outline is like a plan for your writing before you start putting words on paper. It helps you organize your thoughts by summarizing the main points for each paragraph. This way, you can see how your argument will unfold.

Sometimes, your assignment might specifically ask for an outline before you begin writing. But even if it's not required, making an outline is a good practice. It helps you structure your ideas and gives you a clear roadmap for your writing process.

By breaking down each paragraph into brief summaries of the points you want to cover, you ensure that your essay will have a logical flow. This makes it easier for your readers to follow your argument. Additionally, creating an outline allows you to assess the coherence and relevance of each point, helping you identify and address any weak spots in your argument early on.

In essence, think of writing an essay outline as a practical tool for better organization and refining your ideas. It's a useful step that can make your writing process smoother and your final essay more compelling.

How to Organize an Essay Outline in 2 Steps

Writing a college essay outline effectively is like creating a roadmap for your thoughts. It not only helps you stay on track but also ensures your ideas unfold in a logical and coherent manner. According to our online essay writing service, two crucial steps in this process are establishing classifications and arranging data.

essay outline

Establishing Classifications

When considering how to make a topic outline, begin by categorizing your primary ideas into distinct classifications. This categorization serves as the structural backbone of your essay, allowing you to identify common themes or topics that naturally align. For instance, imagine you're writing about the benefits of technology in education. Your classifications could include categories such as improved accessibility, enhanced collaboration, and personalized learning. By doing this, you create a roadmap that guides your discussion and helps maintain a clear focus for each section.

Consider, too, the diverse landscape of essay formats. Depending on the type of essay you're crafting, whether it's persuasive, informative, or analytical, the format can influence how you structure your outline. Recognizing the nuances of various essay formats ensures that your outline aligns seamlessly with the requirements of your chosen genre, enhancing the overall coherence and effectiveness of your writing.

Furthermore, seeking essay outline help can be valuable at this stage. Whether it's from a teacher, tutor, or online resources, getting assistance in organizing your thoughts and refining your outline can provide valuable insights.

Arrangement of Data

Once your classifications are in place, the next step is to carefully arrange the supporting details within each category. Picture this as assembling the pieces of a puzzle to form a cohesive picture. Consider the logical flow of information – arrange your details in a way that makes the most sense for your reader to grasp your argument. Going back to our technology in education example, under the classification of improved accessibility, you might discuss the impact of online resources, digital textbooks, and e-learning platforms. This deliberate arrangement ensures a smooth transition from one idea to the next, guiding your reader through your essay seamlessly and mastering the art of how to write an academic essay.

Let me do your task for you!
Hire an expert

Essay Structure Outline

In this section, we'll look at the five paragraph essay outline and how each paragraph centers around one idea supporting your main topic. You'll use evidence or analysis to expand on each point.

The typical outline format will present these points in short, numbered sentences or phrases, with the option to add sub-points for more detail. See the template below for a straightforward structure suited for a five paragraph essay outline example.

essay structure outline

I. Introduction

  • Hook/Opening statement
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

II. Body Paragraphs

  • Paragraph 1:
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting detail 1
  • Supporting detail 2
  • Transition to the next paragraph
  • Paragraph 2:
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting detail 1
  • Supporting detail 2
  • Transition to the next paragraph
  • Continue this pattern for additional paragraphs

III. Counterargument/Refutation (if applicable)

  • Counterargument
  • Refutation
  • Transition to the next section

IV. Conclusion

  • Summary of main points
  • Restate thesis
  • Closing remarks or call to action

V. References/Bibliography (if required)

Essay Outline Examples

In the following sections, we'll explore practical examples of outlines to guide you through the structuring process. Let's delve into each to understand their distinct structures and purposes.

Argumentative Essay Outline

This outline is designed for essays where you aim to persuade your audience to adopt a specific stance or viewpoint. It typically comprises:


  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs:

  • Each paragraph presents a distinct supporting argument.
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting evidence or analysis
  • Counterargument and refutation (if applicable)


  • Recap of main points
  • Restatement of thesis
  • Closing remarks or call to action

Expository Essay Outline

This outline is suitable for essays that aim to inform or explain a particular topic. It generally follows this structure:

expository essay outline


  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs:

  • Each paragraph explores a specific aspect or subtopic.
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting evidence or examples
  • Transition to the next paragraph


  • Summary of main points
  • Restatement of thesis
  • Final thoughts or implications

College Admissions Essay Outline

Crafting a compelling college admissions essay requires a thoughtful approach to showcase your unique qualities and experiences. Here's a comprehensive outline tailored for this specific essay type:


  • Personal Hook: Capture the reader's attention with a personal anecdote, quote, or question.
  • Background Information: Provide context about your educational goals, aspirations, or experiences.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the overarching theme or message you aim to convey.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1 - Academic Achievements and Goals:
  • Highlight key academic accomplishments.
  • Discuss your academic aspirations and how the college aligns with them.
  • Paragraph 2 - Extracurricular Involvement:
  • Detail significant extracurricular activities, showcasing leadership and impact.
  • Connect your extracurricular experiences to your personal growth.
  • Paragraph 3 - Personal Challenges and Growth:
  • Share personal challenges you've overcome.
  • Emphasize lessons learned and personal growth.
  • Paragraph 4 - Unique Qualities and Perspectives:
  • Showcase your unique qualities, skills, or perspectives.
  • Explain how these contribute to the college community.


  • Reiteration of Fit: Reinforce why you are an ideal fit for the college.
  • Reflection on Journey: Reflect on your academic and personal journey.
  • Closing Thoughts: End with a strong and memorable statement.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Analyzing a piece of literature requires a systematic approach to uncover its deeper meanings and literary elements. Here's a detailed outline:


  • Hook: Engage the reader with a captivating introduction related to the literary work.
  • Context: Provide necessary background information about the author, time period, or cultural context.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main point of your analysis, focusing on a specific aspect of the literary work.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1 - Introduction to Literary Elements:
  • Introduce and define the primary literary elements (such as theme, character, or setting) to be analyzed.
  • Provide brief examples or evidence from the text.
  • Paragraphs 2-4 - In-Depth Analysis of Literary Elements:
  • Dedicate each paragraph to a specific literary element.
  • Analyze how each element contributes to the overall meaning or theme.
  • Provide evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Paragraph 5 - Exploration of Symbolism or Imagery:
  • Discuss any symbolic elements or recurring imagery in the literary work.
  • Explore the deeper meanings behind these symbols.


  • Summarize Key Points: Recap the main findings from each body paragraph.
  • Restate Thesis: Reaffirm the main argument of your analysis.
  • Final Thoughts: Provide broader insights into the significance of your analysis and its implications.

Persuasive Essay Outline

In persuasive essays, the goal is to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint or to prompt action. Here's an effective outline for structuring this type of essay:

persuasive essay outline


  • Hook: Capture the reader's attention with a compelling statement, fact, or question.
  • Background Information: Provide context about the issue or topic.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state your stance and the main points supporting your argument.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1 - Strongest Argument:
  • Present your most compelling argument.
  • Support it with evidence, examples, or statistics.
  • Address potential counterarguments.
  • Paragraph 2 - Supporting Argument:
  • Introduce a secondary argument supporting your thesis.
  • Provide evidence and explain its relevance.
  • Discuss counterarguments and refute them.
  • Paragraph 3 - Additional Supporting Argument or Counterargument:
  • Introduce another supporting argument or address a counterargument.
  • Strengthen your position with evidence and reasoning.

Counterargument and Rebuttal:

  • Address Counterarguments:
  • Acknowledge opposing viewpoints.
  • Present counterarguments to anticipate and address objections.
  • Rebuttal:
  • Refute counterarguments with strong evidence or reasoning.
  • Reinforce the superiority of your position.


  • Summarize Main Points: Recap the key arguments presented in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate Thesis: Reaffirm your stance on the issue.
  • Call to Action or Closing Thoughts: Encourage the reader to take a specific action or leave them with a thought-provoking statement.

Personal Essay Outline

A personal essay provides a platform to express personal experiences, reflections, and insights. Here's an outline to help structure your personal essay:


  • Hook: Start with a captivating anecdote, quote, or personal reflection.
  • Background: Briefly introduce the central theme or topic of your personal essay.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the overarching message or lesson you want to convey.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1 - Starting Point or Background:
  • Share the initial circumstances or background of your narrative.
  • Set the stage for the unfolding story.
  • Paragraphs 2-4 - Key Moments or Reflections:
  • Dedicate each paragraph to a significant moment or reflection.
  • Describe events, emotions, and personal growth.
  • Connect each to the overarching theme.
  • Paragraph 5 - Resolution or Turning Point:
  • Describe the turning point or resolution of your narrative.
  • Reflect on how it impacted you or shaped your perspective.

Reflection and Insights:

  • Personal Growth: Reflect on how the experiences described influenced your personal growth.
  • Lessons Learned: Share insights or lessons learned from the narrative.
  • Connection to Thesis: Reinforce how your personal story aligns with the thesis statement.


  • Summarize Journey: Recap the main events or reflections discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate Thesis: Reaffirm the central message or lesson of your personal essay.
  • Closing Thoughts: End with a powerful statement, reflection, or call to action.

Do my paper


Can I Seek Special Essay Outline Help?

What Is the Standard Outline Format?

How Do You Write a College Essay Outline?

How Do I Write an Outline for an Essay?

What Is an Essay Outline?

At What Point Should I Develop an Outline Essay?

Place An Order Now And Get These Features For Free!
  • Plagiarism Report
  • Unlimited Revisions
  • 24/7 Support