How to Write the Best Essay Outline

How to Write the Best Essay Outline

Guide on Writing a Comprehensive Essay Outline

The process of writing a good outline is an invaluable skill to any student and scholars in general. A good outline serves as a prerequisite for an excellent paper. The role that an outline plays in ensuring a research paper is comprehensive and coherent cannot be overemphasized.

An essay outline is the skeletal system of your essay. It defines the scope of your paper, ensures there is good flow and coherency. More so, a good outline serves to help you cross check on the paper content relative to your assignment’s rubric. In so doing, you will be confident you have covered all your assignment’s requirements.

If an essay outline is done right, the rest of the body falls into place easily. Nonetheless, writing a good outline might be challenging to most people. The following is a guide that you might follow to develop an excellent essay outline.

Creating an Outline for Your Essay

Foremost, it is essential to have your essay topic (check our article on selecting the best essay topic) and a thesis statement for the same. It would also be pertinent to understand the type of paper you will be working on. Despite having the same general structure, you might need to adjust the outline to fit the type of paper you are working on.

For instance, an argumentative essay might have a somewhat different structure from a poetry analysis or an article critique paper. The type of paper is often highlighted in your assignments instructions. You definitely have seen something like ‘write an article critique on…, write a research paper on… or such as write a personal statement on…’ Such statements are what you should look for in your essay instructions to understand the type of paper you are working on.

The second thing you might want to consider is the format of your essay outline. The choice of the outline format might be determined by various factors such as the instructor’s instructions, the purpose of the outline, the thesis statement or the audience of the essay. Check the guideline by Purdue on the various types of outlines and their examples.

It is commendable to develop a rough draft of the outline you intend to formulate after doing preliminary research. You can never go wrong with preliminary research for your essay outline. Preliminary research gives you ideas on your topic as well as a general overview of how to structure your paper. It helps create a visual picture of your outline’s structure.

Once you have a rough draft, do extensive research and perfect your essay outline by identifying major ideas and their supporting facts from previous literature. In general, your essay outline should look something similar to:


·        Attention catching sentence to the readers

·        Thesis statement


·        Topic sentence 1

Supporting evidence 1

Supporting evidence 2

·        Topic sentence 2

Supporting evidence 1

Supporting evidence 2


·        Restate the thesis statement

·        Highlighting major findings

·        Insightful sentence

It is important to note that the structure of your outline should be comprehensive and coherent. Ideas need to connect while writing the final essay paper. The outline also need to be structured in a manner that is relative to the page requirements for your paper. You do not want to end up with a shorter essay or longer essay all because you messed up while writing your outline!

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Published on: 15 Dec 2018