How to Make an Essay Outline: Types, Structure

make an essay outline

Writing an essay without making an outline first can result in a mess. After all, how are you going to organize all your ideas in a cohesive structure? Most high school teachers expect you to hand in an outline along with your essay. This ensures that you’ve followed all the formatting requirements given in the essay rubric, and thus created a proper academic essay. In university, however, as a geared writer, you are expected to already know how to structure an essay. For this reason, if a professor sees that your essay is lacking structure, expect to get points taken off. To avoid that, we will teach you how to make an essay outline. Or you can order essay and our essay writers will help you!

In this guide, you will learn:

  • What is an essay outline;
  • Why is it important;
  • How to create an outline;
  • Some examples of common essay outlines.

Check out another related guides: how to format an essay, how to choose an essay topic, how to write an essay or how to write an academic essay at EssayHub blog.

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What Is The Outline Of An Essay And Why Do We Need It?

In academia, most essays come with outlines to help the reader navigate the piece. That’s why it’s important to know how to write an outline for an essay and also how to read one. For instance, if you pick up a famous piece like The Origins of Species, you will find the outline at the beginning of the book, describing everything that will be talked about. Given that it’s a scientific piece, it answers the question of why you need an essay outline: it’s important for scholars studying the essay to be able to find information quickly without re-reading length passages. If you’ve written an essay before and used an academic source in the form of a library textbook, you’ve probably already been in the position of the given scholar.

Now for the practical application. Your essay outline is a guiding point for you, a template where you can place all the facts and statistics you’ve attained from research. Furthermore, it lets you organize your essay into a consistent structure with a logical flow of ideas. Research is usually done first, and then the researched material is then organized to outline essay parts and give them a structure.

If you know how to write an essay outline, or even have it on your hands, consider that 60% of the essay writing process is done. You can already see all your topic sentences, facts, and sources in order, and can even rearrange them as you see fit. By creating an outline, you’re enabling yourself to see your future essay in a multitude of ways. It’s a pre-meditative practice that helps you stay organized in the writing process, and helps your future reader better navigate your essay. So how to write an outline for an essay?


So what does an outline look like? Most outlines usually look similar to one another. They are separated into sections (Introduction, Body, Conclusion), which are then separated into sub-sections, and so on. The two most common ways to organize your essay are the alphanumeric essay outline format and the decimal format essay outline. Both of them are the standard outline format which you will see in all of the examples below.

The Most Popular Types Of Essay Outline

In almost every high school, there is a class for seniors called research paper writing. This is where they learn how to write essays, see outlines for essays, and dedicate the entire school year to mastering the craft. The first thing a student learns in that class is how to gather research, and then organize it into an essay outline. The teacher usually gives you an essay outline rubric which depicts the essay outline format. After learning how to write an essay in high school, students transition into college and find themselves tasked with different kinds of essays. Each of them has its own purpose, yet as you will find reading the following examples, outlines for essays stay true to the format you’ve learned and honed in high school.


Argumentative Outline

Is a type where you present your argument on a certain topic, and support it with evidence gathered from trusted sources.

Expository Outline

This type aims to illustrate and explain something to make it crystal clear for the reader. It’s a sort of investigation or evaluation of a subject, intending to familiarize the reader as much as possible with it. A common example of "exposition" is the dialogue in a Hollywood film which reveals crucial elements of the plot to the viewer, necessary to fully apprehend the story.


Narrative Outline

This type is rooted in storytelling. It follows all the structural elements of a story: a protagonist, a plot with conflict and resolution, and a display of growth or experience of the protagonist at the end of the story. Narrative essays are stories that are structured using the following essay outline example from our essay writing services.


Persuasive Outline

Is a type of writing where you persuade the readers of your point of view. Your persuasion is backed by evidence such as research, facts and statistics, examples, primary sources, and quotes.


Keys To Self Improving Any Outline

If you are big on self-improvement, especially when it comes to the cornerstone of the paper such as its outline, here are some general tips to keep in mind while trying to perfect it.

  • All outlines will usually still contain the general essay structure composed of thesis statement, introduction, main body, conclusion and bibliography.
  • Decide whether you will detail each of your sample paper outline steps and headings as catchy accurate phrases or full sentences.
  • Make sure to keep all your headings and subheadings related and organized accordingly as to keep the essay outline format looking sharp.
  • Avoid overcrowding your information by dividing it appropriately into logical segments. This part can get slightly confusing, which is why we have added examples in the section above.
  • Try presenting your outline to a classmate, friend or a family member. As many times as you might have heard this before, it is helpful in providing feedback whether the information is straightforward and concise in terms of the topic and structuring.
  • If you find yourself adding extra information while presenting it, then it means you should maybe add another subheading or rephrase a few.

We hope this has raised your understanding of the roles of outlines in academia as well as everyday life. Using the internet as an educational tool has become a part of our modern times. Hence it is why we place such a large emphasis on giving back to our community in the form of the free blog section. Whenever you find yourself wondering "How could I do this?" or any form of academic inquiry feel free to visit the EssayHub's how to section. Or you can choose the easiest option. Just buy essays online from our write my essay online service.

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