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How To Make An Essay Outline

March 20, 2017 How to Write
How To Make An Essay Outline

Everyone struggles during their academic years with their studies in one way or another. Sometimes we ask ourselves “What is an essay outline?” and despite our efforts, we can’t seem to come to a consensus. This article is designed to help students become comfortable with composing strong outlines for any type of paper. Do not be ashamed to read educationally oriented guides, no matter what level of study you are undergoing, as perfecting one's craft is never something bad. Bear in mind that, what you learn here should be adapted to the requirements of your particular task, since there is more than one way to structure the essay outline format.

Let us get started with some basics.

What Is An Outline And Why Do We Need It

Throughout academia one is often required to present and develop various essay outline templates into their final assignments as a part of the grading process. If you are in such a situation and don’t know how to write an essay outline for college, then you have come to the right place. The requirements behind each outline can be tackled easily by using one of the two main styles that will be described below. Nonetheless, it is important for everyone to understand the role of outlines in your general activities not just in school projects. An outline is tiered to be a summary or a plan of what the particular task at hand entails. Thus, it allows one to judge and explore a process in depth helping perfect each stage of it. By establishing the key components of your paper, you may begin considering whether a 5 paragraph essay outline example is something that can inspire you or diverge from the information needed.

Appreciating the value of each paper outline template will improve the overall writing skills in any field. It is important to create outlines as they will very often lead to becoming the first draft and are ultimately a major starting point for any assignment.

Getting Started On A Paper Outline Template

As we have discovered together so far these pieces of writing are tailored to help organize your content in a coherent manner that respects your given requirements. Therefore, let us examine a quick list of steps that should get you trekking down the right path.

  • Understand the prerequisites of the task itself. What is vital to establish in this first step is what kind of outline style is required, key elements that must be included as well as the degree of depth. If any part of your given instructions is confusing, we suggest taking up the issue with the lecturer.
  • Pick a topic and run with it. Firstly, understand what your topic is about and what makes it interesting, not just to you, but to us as your audience. Always organize your raw data in a way that supports the side of the argument that you have chosen. This will help one avoid getting repetitive or confuse the audience, which should also be enforced by respecting the chronology of your sources.
  • Create a sense of purpose. Explain to yourself what the end goal of this task is and see if it has done that. It does not matter whether the end goal is to entertain, educate, persuade or explore. Think about it, that is the reason many companies conduct in-depth product testing before releasing it for consumer use. By pairing your work with its intended sense of purpose, you may begin to judge whether or not it has managed to find a way to reach it.
  • Know your audience. This step is often overlooked as the author tends to assume the audience is just as educated on the topic at hand as he or she is. It is strongly advised to avoid doing that as it may ruin a great piece of work. The best thing to do is to assume that this is the first time any of them ever saw any informational content on the respective topic. If you have been instructed that this paper is to be designed for an experienced audience, then one should present their explanations accordingly. Always know your audience so you can establish your tone, vocabulary, depth of explanations as well as text structure organization.
  • Revisit your thesis. It is not something uncommon to change your thesis statement as you explore and develop your college essay outline. Thus, you should not be surprised if you get various ideas on how to improve the initial thesis statement after sorting out the importance and validity of your chosen sources and side of the argument.
  • Consult examples on your topic. Not everybody learns or gains knowledge in the same way. Therefore, what we suggest to those who are better visual learners is to look at an example online or from a certified academic source. Listed below are the two most commonly used types of outlines.

The Two Main Types Of Outline Structure

To start it off we will begin by examining the key elements that should be included in a basic essay outline that is using the alphanumeric structure. It is best to get well acquainted with this format as it is the most common used format in the United States. The accepted formatting for this choice is as follows:

  • Subdivisions are acknowledged through the use of Roman Numerals, Capitalized Letters, Arabic Numerals and lastly lowercase letters. To be respected in that order.
  • If Roman Numerals are required such as I,II,III,IV, etc., then they are to be used in marking each respective major section heading. Normally, one will have at least three for each essay outline template as every assignment should constitute of an introduction, main body and a conclusion.
  • When using capitalized letters such as A,B,C,D,..X, Y, Z remember that they should be marking each of the main points within that particular section.
  • Arabic numerals such as 1, 2, ,3 ,4 ,5, etc as well as lowercase letters in the form of a, b, c, d, etc are used to provide further detail on the key concepts that need such an in-depth explanation.

However, if the requirements need you to make use of a decimal outline structure, then this is how one should go about it. Before worrying that it is something too complicated to handle, it is important to note that it is not that much different from the alphanumeric structure. What makes them different is that the decimal one makes use of only a series of numbers to help identify each of its subsections and main points. For quite a large number of students and individuals, this method feels a lot more logical and easier to use because it is so clear as to how everything has been sorted in your college essay outline.

But how do you actually start?

  • The first decimal we meet and take is always going to be 1. Nonetheless, when conducting this kind of outline we begin annotating from 1.0 then 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc. for all the main sections of the assignment.
  • If the main point requires further emphasis, then you must create a subsection numbered accordingly. For example, if you are in your second section and you have used already two sub-points then your third subpoint will read 2.3 Why you should never add salt early in the cooking process.
  • In the chance that even more sub sections are required then the format will expand into 2.3.1 The chemical reaction when salt is heated for example.

Check Out This Sample, If You Are Still Feeling Confused

For those of you that are highly gifted, visual learners have a look below at this sample essay outline about Amazon.com. Do not hesitate to skim through it simply to satisfy your curiosity and see what these outlines would look like. We strongly encourage the readers of our blog section to take this solely as an example and not try to use it in their actual work as it will result in plagiarism. Nowadays, most versions of Microsoft Word even give you these templates automatically, but they do not describe the process and idea behind creating an essay outline template. So let’s get to it!

Alphanumeric Outline Structure

I. Amazon.com Pricing Initiatives
II. Public Concerns Regarding Price Initiatives
III. Resources Needed for Successful Initiative
A. Distribution Network
1. Production Facilities in China
2. Safe transport from facilities to warehouses in the US and UK.
3. Statistics for transport options
a) Price and Duration of Journey
b) Air, Land or Water?
B. External Factors
1. Political Situation in China
2. Taxes and Tariffs
C. Advertising to the local workforce
IV. Securing Customer Loyalty Without Amazon Prime
V. Etc...

Decimal Outline Structure

  1. Amazon.com Pricing Initiatives
  2. Public Concerns Regarding Price Initiatives
  3. Resources Needed for Successful Initiative
    3.1. Distribution Network
    3.1.1. Production Facilities in China
    3.1.2. Safe transport from facilities to warehouses in the US and UK
    3.1.3. Statistics for transport options
    3.1.3.1. Price and Duration of Journey
    3.1.3.2. Air, Land or Water?
    3.2. External Factors
    3.2.1. Political Situation in China
    3.2.2. Taxes and Tariffs
    3.3. Advertising to the local workforce
  4. Securing Customer Loyalty without Amazon Prime
  5. Etc...

Most Encountered Types Of Essay Outline Guides

All this information should help one grasp the required knowledge and understanding about how to make an essay outline. But if you are looking to take your comprehension to the next level, here are some of the most commonly encountered types of essay outline templates. It is recommended to examine this section after having read the previous ones as this will allow one to follow the ideas in a smooth manner logically.

The following list ranks in the order of importance dictated by our collected statistics:

Argumentative Outline

The general purpose of any argumentative essay outline is defend and persuade the audience with regards to a particular standpoint. The side chosen is controversial as to allow thorough discussion. It is not a bad idea to take a difficult position to defend, however, avoid taking a standpoint that is impossible to defend.

Compare and Contrast Outline

Compare and contrast essay outlines are quite self-explanatory and seek to assess two different entities through the use of comparisons, differentiations or both depending on what is required in the assignment. However, as self-explanatory as it is the end goal here is not to state the obvious but to illustrate specific differences or similarities and why these have come to occur between the two.

Informative Outline

The informative essay outline carries a very simple yet noble purpose being that of educating its audience on a particular topic. Thus, they must be objective and to the point, leaving out one's personal opinion or any attempts at swaying the audience's opinion. Bear in mind that in some academic institutions the informative essay is also referred to as an Expository Essay.

Narrative Outline

Some of us dislike such personal assignments, but some of us also enjoy them. The nature and purpose of narrative essay outlines are to build up your communication skill in describing a personal life experience. At first, it seems quite redundant since we discuss these events with our friends. Nonetheless, such exercises allow one to structure their narratives logically. For example, prosecutors and defense attorneys rely on narrating various information regarding their cases in order to sway the judge and the jury throughout their discussions.

Persuasive Outline

These type of assignments are often compared to running an advertising campaign. And to a large degree that is quite true. When faced with writing a persuasive essay outline keep in mind that it is not only logic that can persuade the audience to see your side of the story as being the correct one. Make use of human emotions alongside other factors in order to fully convince the readers.

Cause and Effect Outline

As for the cause and effect essay outline, it is quite straightforward, since it is our most common method as people of structuring and presenting our ideas. Before getting too deep into your topic and research be clear on the end purpose of your assignment being that of either persuading your audience or informing them. It will be a slightly repetitive assignment in terms of the thought process as the information will always be presented as why something happened and then what happened after as a result.

Critical Lens Outline

The critical lens essay outline is based on examining a given quotation from a particular piece of literature. Your requirements will involve using literary devices to prove or disprove that the quotation is valid or that it creates a specific effect within the text. Keep in mind that the end requirements might differ depending on the level of the course you are undertaking.

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.


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