The Significance of an Essay Outline

When navigating uncharted territory, it’s easy to get lost without a guide of some sort. The same can be said for each new essay you set out to write. Whether presenting a factually based argument, interpreting a literary piece or taking a position on a subject it’s essential to clearly and articulately present your writing to the reader. The surefire way to do this consistently is by mastering quick and simple outline writing. The following pages will teach you how!

In its simplest form, an outline:

  • is an essay (expansion of the thesis) in point form should take less than 5 minutes to jot down
  • is the basic structure or backbone of an essay
  • keeps the writer focused on the specific task the essay sets out to complete

Once you’ve established your thesis for your essay, the outline is a basic evolution from there. Simply take your thesis (the essay’s claim) and accompanying reasoning (usually your three supporting topics) and start to expand on them. Like this . . .

  1. State your thesis and jot down key words that will be the start of your hook sentence.
  2. List your supporting subtopics, some evidence or examples to support each subtopic and some key words that will jumpstart your discussion of that subtopic when you write your essay.
  3. Restate your thesis, supporting subtopics, and jot down key words that will be the start of your impacting clincher or concluding statement.

Basic Outline Form

Below is a more detailed expansion on the basic breakdown of the outline on the previous page. When reading through this template remember, each point is just that: a point form prompt. When writing out your own outlines, be sure they are point form prompts you can easily refer to and work from when writing your essays.

The Classic Five Paragraph Outline

I. Introduction
A. Hooks the reader’s attention.
B. Tells the reader what to expect in the essay.
C. Contains a reference to the main topics to be discussed.
D. Thesis

II. Body Paragraph 1
A. Begins with a topic sentence that refers to the 1st point of the thesis.
B. Discusses 1st of three or more major points about the topic.
C. Contains evidence or examples to support point.
D. Is linked to the following paragraph.

III. Body Paragraph 2
A. Begins with a topic sentence that refers to the 2nd point of the thesis.
B. Discusses 2nd of three or more major points about the topic.
C. Contains evidence or examples to support point.
D. Is linked to the following paragraph.

IV. Body Paragraph 3
A. Begins with a topic sentence that refers to the 3rd point of the thesis.
B. Discusses 3rd of three or more major points about the topic.
C. Contains evidence or examples to support point.
D. Is linked to the following paragraph.

V. Conclusion
A. Reiterate thesis.
B. Reiterate the three main points.
C. End with an impacting statement (clincher) that demonstrates the topic has been thoroughly discussed and concluded.