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How to Write an Outline for an Essay: Complete Guide and Example

Creating essays for college takes time and requires a bit of knowledge. A critical skill for the student wishing to make an interesting and readable paper is knowing how to write an outline for an essay that will help organize the flow and propel the paper forward. There are various steps that students can take to help them produce great essays. One thing a student can do to help them to write a compelling and meaningful paper is to create a clear and robust structure. Depending on the essay type, students’ outlines can have different formats and lengths.

In our guide, you will find useful tips that will make your writing better and help you create well-structured papers that will impress your teacher. If you’re wondering: ‘How should I write my essays and how should I structure them?’ read this article to the end.

How to Make an Outline for an Essay: The Definitions

Let us begin with defining the central terminology of our guide. Before we start sharing how to make an outline for an essay and go through the stages of writing a compelling outline for an essay, we should clarify what an essay is and what an outline is.

An essay is a short, usually 1000–1500-word, paper that is typically written on a certain topic.It is often the product of the author’s research on a subject or a means for the author to express their thoughts on a subject or perhaps to persuade someone of something. A great essay  might express original ideas or compelling arguments that hold the reader’s attention. There are different types. Students often write the following types of essay in college or at some point in their academic career:

  • Persuasive essay
  • Explanatory essay
  • Compare & contrast essay
  • Admission essay
  • Narrative essay
  • Process essay
  • Analytical essay
  • Descriptive essay, etc.

What is an outline for an essay?

An outline for an essay is a plan for the upcoming paper. An effective outline can help one deal with the organization of one’s paper. 

A classic essay outline consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 

A tip for students: if you need to save time, combine the stages of drafting and outlining. A detailed outline with good ideas and core statements can  be the basis for a great essay.

The Goals of Writing an Outline for an Essay

Let us start by identifying the goals of outlining. Among them are:

  • Avoiding missing essential information and keeping the author’s core points in focus.
  • Arranging the statements, thoughts, and ideas.
  • Organizing the text logically helps readers to understand the thesis and track with the writer.

How to Write an Outline: Preparation Stage

The process of writing an outline for an essay consists of two main stages: preparation and writing. Let us discover the type of preparation in detail.

Read the instructions

The first task for the essay’s author is to identify the type of essay. The writer should also know the expected length of the paper. This can help the author to plan the number of paragraphs. Usually, one can easily find all the requirements and details in the instructions provided by the teacher. 

Finalize a topic

Understand the topic of the essay. If your teacher provided you with a selection of titles to choose from, pick the most exciting one. If you need to formulate a topic by yourself, take time to find one that inspires you. If needed, you can use an online topic-generation tool. Such tools can be found on websites where students can get a custom essay for sale created by professional authors.

Research on the subject

Now, when you are clear on the topic, gather information from the recommended sources. It is crucial to use only trusted websites, databases, etc. Diversify sources in the research. While sourcing, take notes and draft preliminary ideas for the essay structure.

Develop the main thesis

Now, when you are clear on the topic, generate the ideas that you’ll use in your essay pertaining to your topic. The thesis is the core thought the author wishes to deliver via the essay and is the uniting threat at the core of all parts of the essay. If you are having difficulty developing your main thesis, ask, ‘Please, do my assignment for me‘ at a professional online writing service.

Learn about the audience

The way you present your information in most cases depends on the readers. Knowing about your target audience will help ensure that the style and content of your paper is appropriate

How to Write an Outline for an Essay: Writing Process

Now, you are ready to create an effective structure for your paper. Let’s now explore how to create an outline for an essay section by section.

Start of writing an outline for an essay

Since we’ve explained the basic steps at the preparation stage, you are now ready to explore how to make an outline for an essay part by part. The average academic essay can be broken up into the following parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.


One of the most important stages of writing an outline for an essay is planning an effective introduction. This section presents the main topic of the essay. An author must catch the attention of their audience and do it in a manner that fits the content of the essay. An introduction might include a quote, a joke, an epigraph in the context of the topic, etc. In other words, a successful introduction will hook the reader by telling them about the interesting thing they’re going to be reading about in the essay.

The main body

The next component in our how to write an essay outline guide is the body. Here you can defend your ideas and provide arguments that support the thesis. For a standard 5-paragraph essay outline, one should create three body paragraphs. Make each paragraph dedicated to a particular thought. You can explain the idea in several sentences. 

Another aspect of writing the body is using cohesive words. Each paragraph should be connected to the next one. Cohesive words can be helpful in doing so, such as: therefore, in other words, as a result, that is, because, due to, furthermore, etc.


Our explanation of what an outline for an essay is would not be complete without a conclusion. This section serves to wrap up the paper and to restate the main idea. In a compelling conclusion, an author may repeat or reiterate ideas from the body but typically does not introduce new information. For some essays, the final section can be added with ideas and topics for other papers. A conclusion might contain a call to action for readers who agree with the author.

How to write an outline for an essay: example 

Now, you have a strong theoretical background on how to write an outline for an essay. To help you get the most out of our guide, here’s an example of an essay outline:

Topic: My eldest brother


Main thesis: My eldest brother dreams of becoming a professional athlete.

1st body paragraph

Topic sentence: My brother has been going in for sports since he was five years old.

Supportive sentence: My brother is a strong and fast runner.

2nd body paragraph 

Topic sentence: My brother knows a lot about sports.

Supportive sentence: When my brother has free time, he reads about sports or watches sports news.

3rd body paragraph

Topic sentence: My brother leads the lacrosse team in college.

Supportive sentence: My brother is respected by other athletes, and his team has already won many prizes at competitions.


I am sure that my eldest brother’s dream of becoming a professional athlete will come true.

We hope that now you know how to write an outline for an essay. This guide was created for you by professional authors who not only know how to write an outline for an essay but also who can create samples of all sorts of college papers and help you with your pay for essay cases. Getting an essay from us means getting an essay written by a talented professional writer. Reach out to us for more information!

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