First and foremost, what’s an essay outline?
Outline is a brief summary of your essay that structures the main cornerstones of your work and highlights them in a cohesive manner appealing to the reader.
It is known as a popular prewriting practice that organizes your thoughts and ideas so you don’t forget them or lose. Plus lecturers usually ask students to draw up and show outlines before an essay is written to demonstrate that the work is humming, and no one isshirking.
As far as information you embed in the outline goes, it depends upon what type of essay you have to complete:narrative, expository or argumentative. But first of all, let’s cover a standard outline structure that is similar forall essay types.
The basics of structuring your outline
Outline consists of a bullet-list with sections and subsections depicting the main ideas of your essay, each starting with Roman or Arabian numerals and letters (capitalized or lowercased). Most outlines have three levels of nesting. For example:
I. Level one
- Level two
- Level three
A classic outline usually consists of three parts: Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion. Note that each item of your list should be either a short phrase bearing the key idea or a smallsimple sentence. But items themselves should be no longer than one line of written text (approximately 10-12 words).
- Suggest general information about the topic, provide some background and peculiar facts, if applicable. Welcome the reader to the main body.
The Main Body. Develop your topic. Each section should depict one key notion regarding your research/topic, while each subsection should provide pieces of evidence supporting your point of view.
- Finalize the discussion you started in the Introduction. Re-arrange your thesis statement providing some extra facts. An unexpected twist is also suitable, if the scope of your topic allows it.
Keys to writing a narrative essay outline
Creative by defaults, narrative essays give you a spacious room of choice. No strict requirements are there to limit your flight of fancy. Introduction is designed to introduce the reader to the purpose of your narrative, highlight the setting and main characters if there are any. Foreshadowing the further plot is another useful hint you may use to engage with your audience.
The Main body is a chronologically presented order of events taking place in your narrative. In its turn, Conclusion tells the moral of your writing and gives your readers some good food for thoughts.
Drawing up expository essay outline essentials
An expository essay is all about researching a certain topic from various points of view. Introduction is important here because it deals with your thesis statement which in this type of essays must be catchy, thought-provoking and resonating with your readers. Depicting the background for the topic and providing a couple of relevant quotes is also preferable.
What about the Main Body? It’s a little bit different to the one of a narrative essay. It provides evidence and proof for the thesis given in the Introduction. Each piece of evidence should stand as a separate section in the outline.
Speaking about your Conclusion, it has to give a short summary of ideas given in the Introduction, suggest a short review for proof depicted in the Main Body and end up with a challenging question for your audience to think about the topic more on their own.
It’s all about controversy (writing an outline for an argumentative essay)
Argumentative or persuasive essays are rather peculiar by nature. Although you have to take one side in the argument, you still have to be aware of both points of view to have a well-rounded awareness in the topic.
In your Introduction, you need to depict the topic and tell why it’s so controversial in general. In your thesis statement, you have to tell which side of the argument you take.
In the Main Body, despite the side you take, you should highlight both your opinion and the one of “the other side”, the reader receives a complete overview of the topic under revision. Finally, in the Introduction you have to tell readers why YOUR point of view is right. You have to persuade them with accurate data, reasoning and conclusion-making.
As you can see, writing an outline is a complex task which requires a solid amount of efforts and free time on your behalf. It is not for nothing lecturers ask students to present outlines before the actual essay is even written because it is a crucial part of the work determining 30% of your final result for the assignment. So,pay extra attention to how good your outline is and most preferably start drawing it up in advance (and you already know how to do it right).