An essay outline is a useful tool that can considerably speed up the process of writing an essay, increase the quality of the resulting product, and serve as a safeguard from mistakes that may otherwise cause you to rewrite large chunks of your essay (or even start from scratch). Even if the essay you write is a small one, it still pays to prepare an outline before you get started – it won’t take much time but comes as a great help in organizing your thoughts.
In a nutshell, an outline is a short plan of your essay and should be written according to the same template the essay per se is written. Most essays consist of an introduction, three supporting ideas and a conclusion – and that is how you are supposed to be outlining your assignment.
What is the general topic of your essay? What is the most important idea you want to make clear in your essay? Outlines usually begin with the declaration of what you are going to talk about – for example, you may write that your topic is the healthcare reform in the United States, and the main point you want to make is that it isn’t as effective as advertised. Also mark what a “hook” you are going to use to grasp the reader’s attention.
Main Part, Body Paragraphs
Most techniques for writing essays require you to write at least three body paragraphs, each covering roughly one idea supporting your main point. At this stage of writing, your outline sample you should select these three ideas and write each of them up separately: what data you introduce, what your argument is, what facts you mention, what examples you describe. A useful technique is to use at least three points to support each of the three ideas – this will help you keep your essay balanced.
Don’t forget that the three (or more) supporting ideas of your essay should be connected to each other by logical transitions. You shouldn’t simply stop discussing one point and get to another, completely unrelated one. Use expressions like in addition to that, also, however and so on.
Conclusion is a final stage of your essay – it should serve as its logical ending, wrapping up everything you’ve discussed in the body paragraphs without introducing any new information. A good rule of a thumb is to start it with a sentence serving as a kind of throwback to your introduction, provide a summary of all the points covered in essay’s body, and complete it with a general conclusion: whether your thesis statement was right or wrong, whether you’ve changed your opinion on the topic after studying it, etc. – it all depends on what kind of essay you are writing.
Oftentimes students forgo preparing an essay outline, thinking that so much preparatory work is not necessary for such seemingly small task. However, practice shows that time spent on writing an outline is negligible when you take into account all the benefits of doing so. Which means that next time you write an essay, try preparing an outline – and we are sure you will see the difference!