How to Write an Essay Outline Like Expert Writers

essay outline

Creating an outline is the secret to writing a great essay on time. Without one, you will never be able to write an essay perfectly.

A great essay outline will provide you with a platform on which to build your own thoughts and come up with something unique.

Do you want to know how to write it and its proper format? Then, continue reading this blog and create a well-written outline for your essay.

What is an Essay Outline?

An effective outline is like a map for an essay. It is a great way to organize your ideas and make sure you do not miss anything while writing an essay. You may be able to write an essay without an outline, but it will be difficult for you to follow all of your ideas and remember important information.

The main purpose of creating an essay outline is to:

  • Make a flow between paragraphs
  • Organize your information
  • Make your writing process better and faster

Moreover, with the help of an essay outline, it's easy to know what you want to write in an essay. For example, suppose your essay topic is simple but becomes more complicated with thoughts on how best to present them in detail before deciding exactly where each point should go into the text. In that case, the outline will help clarify everything from start to end.

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How to Write an Essay Outline?

The outline structure should summarize the content of your essay and organize it in a coherent manner. Knowing how to write an effective one for your essay is important since some teachers require that students submit outlines before submitting essays.

For your help, we collected some steps that will help you write a perfect essay outline.

  1. 1. Read the Assignment Guidelines Carefully
  2. Make sure that you fully understand what the instructor asks before beginning your outline. Highlight or underline important words and phrases to make it easier for yourself and anyone else trying to read over it.

  3. 2. Develop a Topic
  4. Outlining an essay before you write it can be useful in developing and organizing ideas, but sometimes other prewriting exercises are needed.

    Here are some prewriting techniques that will help you generate ideas for your essay.

    • FreeWriting
    • Clustering
    • Questioning
  5. 3. Identify your Purpose
  6. Think about the purpose of your essay before you start writing. Is it to inform, entertain or persuade? Just make sure that this is aligned with what the assignment asks for and look up keywords from guidelines that might clarify where best to place an emphasis to achieve success.

  7. 4. Consider Your Audience
  8. Think about the people who will be reading your essay. Is it just for a class, or do you want to share it with other researchers as well? You must know your target audience.

  9. 5. Determine the Type of Essay
  10. The type of essay you will be writing in high school, or college vary depending on language and structure. For example, rhetorical analysis essays are different from argumentative essays since they have unique outline structures and language patterns.

  11. 6. Choose an Outline Structure
  12. To make your writing more interesting, try using an alphanumeric structure. It's the most common and recognizable type of outline because it contains Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.) for each subdivision, capitalized letters (A, B, C, etc.), Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.), and lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.).

    The decimal outline structure is another way to organize your essay. It is similar to an alphanumeric one but uses a series of numbers to identify each subsection. Some students prefer this type because it shows how every section contributes to the whole essay and makes things easier.

  13. 7. Organize Information
  14. An essay outline consists of three main parts where you can organize the information of your essay.

    • Introduction
    • The introduction of your essay should be interesting and engaging, with a clear focus. You can start by highlighting the most important points that will help keep readers engaged in what you have written.

      Also, state the thesis statement in the introduction, which covers an essay’s main purpose.

    • Main Body Paragraphs
    • The body of your essay should be the largest part because it will serve as a foundation for everything else. You can write all the relevant information here.

    • Conclusion
    • The essay conclusion usually summarizes what the writer hopes to achieve with their essay and any implications for future work. It may also include restating the thesis statement.

  15. 8. Check Your Work
  16. It's always a good idea to make sure that you are fulfilling all requirements for an assignment. Double-check your work, and be sure it completely satisfies the instructor’s expectations.

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Essay Outline Format

Here is an outline format for your ease.


  1. a) Start with a strong hook statement
  2. b) Introduce the topic
  3. c) State the thesis statement

First Body Paragraph

  1. a) Start with a topic sentence
  2. b) Provide supporting evidence
  3. c) Explain how they relate to your thesis statement

Second Body Paragraph

  1. a) Start with a topic sentence
  2. b) Provide supporting evidence
  3. c) Explain how they relate to your thesis statement

Third Body Paragraph

  1. a) Start with a topic sentence
  2. b) Provide supporting evidence
  3. c) Explain how they relate to your thesis statement


  1. a) Wrap up the entire essay
  2. b) Restate your thesis statement
  3. c) Add your point of view

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Essay Outline Examples

With the help of examples, you will easily write an outline. For your help, we gathered some examples that help you in your writing phase.

Essay Outline Template (PDF)

Essay Outline Template

Argumentative Essay Outline (PDF)

Argumentative Essay Outline

Expository Essay Outline (PDF)

Expository Essay Outline

Informative Essay Outline (PDF)

Informative Essay Outline

Persuasive Essay Outline (PDF)

Persuasive Essay Outline

You can also check other outlines to learn writing a persuasive essay outline

5-Paragraph Essay Outline (PDF)

5-Paragraph Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Cause and Effect Essay Outline (PDF)

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

Now, you get a complete guide on the essay outline; however, if you need professional, ‘write my essay’ assistance, consult

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Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a good outline?

Here are some tips that will help you to make a good outline.

  • Choose a good topic
  • Do in-depth research
  • Create a list of the main ideas

What are the two main types of outline?

The two main types of an outline are:

  • Topic outline
  • Sentence outline

What are the four characteristics of an outline?

The four characteristics of an outline are:

  • Parallelism
  • Coordination
  • Subordination
  • Division