Essay outline is a part and parcel of essay writing process. It helps a writer to understand the idea, summarize and organize the content needed, or find the information if the writing is connected with a deep research. That is why outline writing is an important skill for students who want to succeed in the study. Moreover, some teachers ask students to submit their outline before paper submission or even writing to find out if the student is on the right path. So it is essential to learn how to write a good outline for your essay paper and there are various methods available and it is very complex to choose among them. Of course, you can take a look at outline samples on TeacherVision for example to learn the structure, but when it comes to writing you may get stuck.That is why we have chosen an approach which will help you not only to create eye-catching and understandable essay outline, but also practice in writing before starting actual essay writing. The main con of this approach is that you will be ready for writing right after outline creation.
Six steps to prepare an outline for an essay:
Step 1. Assignment review
Before starting your research and writing you need to review and fully understand guidelines given by your teacher. Underline or write down important words, phrases you have found in these instructions. Check their meaning if they are specific terms or the meaning is not very clear to you. Make sure that you do understand what you have been asked to do before writing an outline. If you don’t understand something or something has confused you, ask for clarification and write down these additions in order not to forget them.
Step 2. Topic development
Academic paper outlining can help you to organize your ideas, however, before writing you may need to do several writing exercises. They may help you to generate numerous ideas for your paper and organize them, making your writing in future more effective. So here are several exercises which will help you to develop your topic and streamline your future essay writing:
- Free writing. This method is used by numerous professional writers and novelists and helps them to organize their ideas in an effective way. Try to write without stops for 10-15 minutes on your topic. Don’t edit, correct or proofread anything, just write what comes into your mind. When you have completed, review what you have done and underline the best ideas. You can do it several times, developing, correcting and expanding your ideas. Of course, you need to be focused on the topic of your essay.
- Listing. Try to list all your ideas. It doesn’t matter if they are bad or good, you will be able to choose the best later. After writing review lists and add or remove anything you like/dislike. This won’t take much time, but will help you to plan your essay. Lists are the parts of your outline and will help you to make the outline look professionally.
- Five Ws and one H tip. This method is also called questioning. Try to write down “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?” and leave space for writing after each question. After that answer each question with as much details as you can. This will help you to develop your idea and find out if you need to learn more on the subject. More information about this approach, you can find at JournalisticsBlog.
- Clustering. Take a piece of paper and write down the subject of your future essay at the centre of the paper. Circle it and draw three-four lines going from the circle. Draw new circles and add words and ideas, that corresponds to your subject. Expand your cluster with new ideas connected to the words in circles until you feel you are ready.
Step 3. Purpose identification
Try to think about the aim of your paper. Review your task again and figure out if the aim you have thought about corresponds with your paper. Do you need to change or add something? What are the keywords and phrases in your task? Remember the purpose of your paper should be the same as the purpose of the assignment. If you are not able to do so, ask your teacher or instructor for help.
Step 4. Audience
In order to choose a style, structure and other things associated with writing, you need to find out who is your target audience, or the people who will read your paper. It can be your teacher, instructor, other students, scientists, and your writing need to be understandable for them, engaging, interesting. You need to think how will they react and interact with your paper, how it can be useful for them and what information you need to share. You can list these people and characterize them, add things they might be interested in. Try to guess what parts of your paper will engage them, make them sad, angry or smiling.
Step 5. Thesis development
As soon as you have got ideas, defined audience and thought of the aim of the paper, you need to write a thesis statement. Thesis statements usually express the paper main focus and state arguable claim. The thesis should be one – two sentences length. You need to remember that your thesis should be arguable. So you shouldn’t state only the facts. Moreover, you need to provide enough detail in your thesis, so it will clarify what the paper will be about.
Step 6. Outline creation
Now you have everything you need to create an effective outline for your future essay, as well as to write it using words, ideas and style you have chosen. Any writing consists of several parts, so your outline is roughly is a plan of your future paper. In general, and as you have seen in outline samples, any paper consists of introduction, body, and conclusion and after performing your training using methods provided below you are able to spread your findings between these three logical parts of your paper.
After you have an outline in your hands and you really like what you have got you can go forward and write your paper, it will be simple and effective and you will get the quality result faster than before.
If you are not sure about your writing and need a little help with outline creation you may try to ask for the professional writing assistance, or search for the samples of outlines at the same area of study.