An outline is a way to organize and structure your essay in a proper way. It's like a skeleton which should shortly summarize your content and organize it in a logical manner. Also, it will help you to have a better understanding of what you should write about. Keep reading our ultimate guide to create a winning academic paper and get yourself an A+!
What Is An Essay Outline
An Essay Outline is a structure, a bare bone view of upcoming work. It is one of the most useful preparatory tool, which allows you to organize main thoughts into single segments. To figure out the order in which information must be prepared. For example, usually, most academic essays are written in 5 paragraphs style, so it will contain 15-20 of the main points that will be addressed within your work. As a writer, you should use those points to construct a logical and coherent flow of ideas, from one to another and strengthen your overall argument.
The structure of an essay will vary depending on the type of article or academic work that is assigned. For example, a persuasive essay and a poetry analysis essay outline will have two very different segment pathways as well as overall text content. However, most academic tasks can be categorized within a simple essay structure that is not too time-consuming to craft. Generally speaking for most pieces of writing, the structure gives the main concept for 1-2 sentences per paragraph. So, if one was to create an introduction, their outline would look something like this:
- Introductory Statement About Essay (Hook Statement, Background History, Fun Fact)
- Briefly present the main arguments/topics of your body paragraph
- Introduce Body Paragraph 1
- Introduce Body Paragraph 2
- Introduce Body Paragraph 3
- Introduce Body Paragraph X
- Research Statement/Hypothesis Statement
If the writer were to continue this template into the body paragraph section of the text, they would most likely have more segments within each body paragraph as the depth of content is far greater. For example, the 3 body paragraph essay outline would look like this:
- Topic Sentence (State the main point of the entire paragraph and what will be discussed) [1 Sentence]
- Argument (The presentation of the inference or theory that has been created; keep it logical and compatible) [1-2 Sentences]
- Evidence (After presenting the argument, one needs to prove its validity. Present proof from outside sources and show how this information can eliminate opposing bias) [1-3 Sentences]
- Concluding Statement (Explain the significance of the main argument within the overall borders of the essay. In other words, how is this 1 of 3 key points that prove your thesis) [1 Sentence]
As visible from the text, the essay body structure will have more segments, and each segment will generally have more information, thus increasing the length of the text and amount of sentences. When performing the actual task, avoid writing out the entire sentence. Think of the general point you want to make, and write it in a few words. You will notice that in writing, it will be hard to make preset sentences flow well together.
Lastly, we have the outline of the concluding paragraph. This paragraph’s general goal is to recap the main points of the body as well as provide an assertive conclusion to a proven thesis statement. The outline of the conclusion should look something like this.
- Rephrase Thesis Statement (Place your argument in the beginning of the conclusion and revert the reader’s focus onto its importance) [1 Sentence]
- Restate main body paragraph points in conclusion (Express their overall significance in terms of the value that they add to the thesis) [1-3] Sentences
- Overall Concluding Statement (Express the value of your thesis in terms of real world application or its significance within your own existence) [1-2 Sentences]
If summed up, the introductory paragraph has 3 segments, the body has 12 (3 paragraphs x 4 segments) and the conclusion wraps up with 3 more, meaning that the entire outline consists of 18 main points. These 18 segments are enough to simplify the writing process and allow sentences to build up in a logical order and support one another.
Related: How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay
To give a practical application of how to structure an essay, we created a 5 paragraph outline example that will show you how it should looks like. This real world application is a compare and contrast essay outline of the pro’s and con’s of legalizing marijuana.
Learn more: How to Write an Essay: Topics, Outline, Sample
The Fragile Balance For Marijuana Legalization
- Marijuana's legalization controversy.
- Brief history of the plant and its impact on society.
- Thesis Statement Example: Research has proven that although there are many pro’s and con’s on the governmental control of this product, societies cost-benefit analysis leads to its legalization.
Body Paragraph 1
- Topic sentence that explains pros of legalizing marijuana.
- Medicinal use for Parkinson's Disease and Terminally Ill patients.
- Can reduce spending related to the war on drugs.
- Statistics from Article X prove that point 2 is an overall beneficial idea
- Statistics from Article Y show that point 3 has validity and will save “$100,000,000” (fictional number) towards border protection.
- Concluding statement about how some of the pros can bring positive draconian changes to many aspects of society.
Body Paragraph 2
- Topic sentence that explains cons of legalizing marijuana.
- Subconsciously promotes a culture of laziness towards youth because of “sloth-like stoner stereotype”
- Increase sense awareness risks such as DUI’s and Work-Related Disciplinary Actions
- Based on article X, over 70% of the adult population in the State of Pennsylvania believe that the legalization of marijuana will bring out lower work production from a large percentage of students.
- Article Z shows us DUI’s have increased 2x in states where marijuana is legalized.
- Concluding statement explaining the harmful side effects that occur from this drug's legalization.
Body Paragraph 3
- Topic sentence is expressing that the cost-benefit analysis brings about a result in favor of the drug’s legalization.
- Though DUI’s and Disciplinary actions may increase, A country's national security will be able to invest more into other more important internal issues such as violence and human trafficking.
- Present evidence for point 2: (Elimination of Gang Lords, Weed Related Crimes, etc.)
- Though the lazy stoner “vibe” is present, statistics presented from Article J show that marijuana intoxication boosted creativity and ideas that were revolutionary in today's society.
- Present Evidence for Point 4 (Research studies, correlation effect, etc.)
- Concluding Statement about how Pros outweigh Cons logically proving the overall point that legalization is a beneficial idea.
- Restatement of thesis: As shown through the evidence presented prior, Marijuana’s legalization will add to society’s success a lot more than to its failures.
- Restate Pro’s of marijuana legalization
- Restate Con’s of marijuana legalization
- Restate Cost-Benefit Analysis Result.
- The legalization will bring about many changes to society; some positive and some negative. Though this topic has been debated for a long time, overall research suggests that immediate governmental change is mandatory and to an overall healthier and happier society.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
When you have an incredibly small amount of time, take 3-5 minutes to jot down an outline. You should quickly draft your thesis: the three most important points of your argument (as described in the article) and then separate your thesis into the main points of your essay.
Once it's done, you can quickly add a few sub-points under the main topic of the paragraph that you’re willing to address. Write everything that comes to mind and while writing the essay, omit or add as needed. Now, this process should take you a maximum of five minutes, especially on an AP English exam, where you would want to begin writing as soon as possible. In an IB examination, or depending on how much time your professor gives you to do an in-class exam, you will want to keep your outlining process to a minimum.
Prof. Laura Cross, essay writer from EssayPro
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