Looking for some tips on how to write an outline for an essay

Crafting an outline before writing an essay is a sure-fire way to ensure that your essay will be well-written. Students who do not craft an outline before writing their essays often create essays that are unorganized and do not effectively make their point. Students are usually not taught formal outlining anymore so when they get to college, they have challenges with any form of outlining. Students are usually given templates in a variety of styles, but when those templates are no longer given, students still do not understand how to organize their essays. If you need some tips on writing an outline, here are a few to get you going:

  • Begin with a thesis. The most important sentence for your essay is the thesis statement. You should have a good idea about the main point of your essay before you begin working on any of the outline. You should also keep an open mind because you might find that your research requires a change to the thesis.

  • Organize the paragraphs. If you think of the topic of each paragraph as a heading, you will have a better time organizing. Write the topic of the paragraph and then list the support that you will use. Then you will want to write how you will explain the support. Keep each paragraph separate and highly focused.

  • Repeat the format for each paragraph. Many people will use a formal outline style, with Roman numerals. The capitalized Roman numeral is the main topic for the paragraph. This line should be flush with the left margin. Then, indent a tab and use a capital letter. That is the first supporting detail. The next indent, which uses lower case Roman numerals. This part should be the where the supporting details are explained. You should have at least two or three lower-case Roman numerals for every capital letter. You should also have at least three capital letters for every capitalized Roman numerals.

  • Do not write complete sentences in the outline. This is simply a waste of time because you will write complete sentences in your essay. The outline is a short-form of your essay, so use single words and short phrases instead. This should be enough to help you organize. Then, you can move the short phrases/words around instead of reorganizing whole sentences.

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