Essay Outline Essentials: A Guide to Structuring Your Writing

Essay outline

An essay outline is a process of designing the structure of an essay before starting to write it. It visually represents an essay’s thesis and its primary supporting ideas.

An essay outline is crucial in assisting writers in organizing their thoughts before they begin to write. It also gives readers a quick summary of the essay and guides writers in arranging their supporting paragraphs coherently. When writing the essay, you might forget the initial ideas; that is where the outline comes in as a reference.

Steps of Writing an Essay Outline

  1. Arranging Your Material

This is the phase where ideas can be everywhere. In that case, first, know the topic of the essay and do some primary research to find various credible sources.

  1. Creating Categories

After conducting preliminary research, write down relevant ideas, quotes, or information that center around the primary argument of the essay. This will ease the process of coming up with a thesis statement. Now that you have a general idea of how your argument will unfold arrange the material that serves that claim.

Categorize your material in a way that addresses different facets of your argument. If you are working on a history essay, you can classify your ideas from various past events to contemporary fundamental trends. If you are writing a literary essay, you can group your points into rhetorical devices or themes.

As you write your outline, ensure all the points or ideas are relevant to the thesis statement. You should also cut out the information you find redundant or needs more evidence to support it and is inaccessible.

 Order of Information

Once you are done collecting information, you should focus on arranging it.

When writing an outline, you need to follow the basic structure of an essay, which is the introduction, body, and conclusion.

How you organize your body should be guided by the following questions:

  • Does the argument have an apparent opening idea?
  • Are there several points that interact with each other that could lead to a smooth transition?
  • Are there claims that need to be discussed before others for easy comprehension?

Presentation of the Outline

As you know, each paragraph should only discuss one idea correlated to the primary argument while using several facts and claims to support the idea.

When writing an outline, you can present your single idea in numbers and the supporting points in bullets. Although you can write long sentences or short phrases in your outline, ensure they are consistent. Don’t mix both short phrases and long sentences.

Below is an example of structuring an outline for a five-paragraph essay.


  1. Hook
  2. Background
  3. Thesis statement

Topic one

  1. First point
  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence

2. Second point

  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence

Topic two

  1. First point
  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence

2.  Second point

  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence

Topic three

  1. First point
  • First piece of evidence
  • second piece of evidence

2. Second point

  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence



2.Importance of topic

3. Strong closing statement

Argumentative Essay Outline Example

This outline is for a five-paragraph argumentative essay that discusses the influence of video games on children. It uses short phrases to indicate every point.

The body is divided into three paragraphs, each explaining how video games impact children’s lives.

Argumentative essay outline

A. Introduction

  1. Benefits of video games on children
  2. Fears about the influence of video games on children
  3. Thesis statement: The cons of video games for children outweigh the pros

B. The adverse effects of Video games on children

  1. Encourages violent behavior
  • Studies showing this influence
  • Insufficient evidence to link video games to criminal behavior

2. Promotes social isolation and anti-social behavior

  • Spend less time interacting with family and friends
  • Poor communication skills

C.  The merits of video games on children

  1. Enhance problem-solving skills
  • Children think critically to handle obstacles
  • Opportunities for self-expression

2. Improve children’s memory

  • Research shows that video games facilitate cognitive brain changes
  •  High performance in memory-related tasks.

D. Ways Parents Can Play a Part in reducing negative Impacts

  1. Limit videogames for children who are in preschool
  • Age matters
  • Engage them in other fun activities like play dates

2. review the games before purchasing

  • check the content, age limit, and the game’s ratings
  • play the video games to understand what they entail

E. Conclusion

  1. Summary of fundamental points
  2. The value of a trusting parent-child relationship concerning video games.
  3. Need to observe the child’s motivation behind playing video games.

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