Outlines are an important part of the writing process. They help you organize your thoughts. They create the foundation for your essay. They act as a guide for your writing. If you get lost or confused in the middle of writing your essay you can simply look back at your outline to regain your focus.

Building an outline is like building any structure: start with a basic foundation and then expand upon it, increasing the complexity as you go.

Lay a Foundation

Your foundation is the simplest level of organization. These are your meta-categories. Most essays have three main parts or sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

Breaking your essay into these three large chunks helps you think about the purpose of each section. At the very least you know you need to introduce your idea, present the meat of your argument, and then sum everything up.

Write a Topic Outline

Now that you have your basic structure, it’s time to go into more detail. A topic outline breaks your essay into a few big categories. These are the main points you’re going to address. Don’t use full sentences; short phrases of a few words each is what you’re looking for here.

Write a Sentence Outline

Now it’s time to add even more detail. Break down each large category into smaller categories. Typically you’ll want to think of at least three main points for each category. Generally this level of structure is best communicated using full sentences.

Expand Your Outline

Most people are ready to write after they’ve broken their essay down into subcategories, but you can always expand your outline even further if you feel the need. At this point you can begin to add your evidence, whether that be quotes or data, into the relevant sections. This will help you see if your structure fits your evidence or if you need to revise your outline. In the end, it’s always easier to revise an outline than to revise a finished paper.

Sample Outline:

  • 1. Introduction
    • Thesis
  • 2. Body
    • Category 1
      • Subcategory 1
      • Subcategory 2
      • Subcategory 3
    • Category 2
      • Subcategory 1
      • Subcategory 2
      • Subcategory 3
    • Category 3
      • Subcategory 1
      • Subcategory 2
      • Subcategory 3
  • 3. Conclusion
    • Brief summary of evidence
    • Verification of thesis

Essay Types

Once you know how to tell the difference between essay types, writing becomes much more easier.

Editing Rules

Never forget to check your assignment for mistakes. The most striking idea can be annihilated by stupid grammar lapses.

Essay Samples

Samples are convenient when It comes to learn the structure, format, and also as a source of information for your own writing.