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Do You Want to Know How to Write an Essay Outline? Read On!

by Feb 23, 2017Writing

Writing an essay can be an arduous task for some students. Not all students are blessed with the art of creative writing. Fact of the matter is, at school and college level, essay writing can be treated as a science rather than as an art. One does not need to be a creative genius in order to write good essays. Before writing an essay, it is recommended to come up with a rough sketch or an outline for your essay. It goes a long way in helping one write an essay in a systematic manner.Let us take a look at the art of framing the outline of an essay.

Importance of outline

Many assignments require scholars to submit only the outline before they need to submit their actual essays. The outline defines the structure of an essay.

Let us look at the best practices to bear in mind while framing outline of an essay-

Avoid merely going through the motions

Writing an outline for your essay just because it is advisable to do so is a bad idea. Not only will it not help you with your essay but it can also eat away at precious time. The outline must be framed with utmost attention. An ill constructed outline will result in an ill constructed essay.

Read the topic over and over again

It is critical to make sure you understand the topic through and through. Unless the assignment is clear to you, there is no point in drafting its outline. Any and all queries must be raised and topic should be completely understood before starting with its outline. Sometimes the topic might carry a different meaning than what seems at first. Outlines also come in really handy while working with abstract topics.


Before you can begin with your outline, you need to formulate a writing plan. Since your outline will serve as the skeleton of your write-up, it should incorporate a gist of all points that you wish to put across.

  • Ask these basic questions- Why? Where? What? How? Who?

Answering these questions will put most of the details regarding the topic in perspective. Looking at the topic from various angles will assist you come up with more points.

  • Mind Maps

Mind maps are a very powerful visual aid. They bring all cortical skills to the fore. They help you come up with as many ideas as you can. A mind map is a diagrammatic representation in which central region represents the core idea (your essay topic) and outskirts are loaded with various sub ideas. Different ideas can belong to one of the below categories-

  1. Political
  2. Socio-economic
  3. Sports
  4. Religious
  5. Philosophical, etc
  • Free writing

‘Go into the zone’, as they say and write everything that comes to your mind. Do not judge the value or depth of the points you write. Write all points that you can think of, irrespective of whether you deem them good or bad. When you do not constrain your vision by trying to come up with only good ideas, you invariably come up with more ideas. You never know which idea may turn out to be your show stopper.

Aforementioned points will guide you in formulating the correct strategy while drafting your outline.

Identify the purpose and tone of your write-up

Every write-up has a purpose. The purpose may vary as per need. Once you identify requisite tone, you can draft an outline which is in sync with the same. The tone can be persuasive, informative, humorous, didactic, etc.

Identity your audience

The write up must be in sync with expectations of the reader. An essay for a magazine, for instance, is directed to entertain readers. Ergo, your outline should contain a list of fun facts and illustrations. An essay for a class assignment is written for the purpose of scoring good grades. Lucid language and real life examples go a long way in accomplishing this purpose.

Structure and formatting

Youroutline should have a well-defined structure that is consistent throughout the outline. The introduction part of the essay, main body and conclusion must be given respective weightage in your outline.Text should be formatted in a neat and standardized manner.

Highlight important points

All important points should be mentioned first and all relevant keywords should be included.

Review the outline

Your outline has to be neither too concise nor too elaborate. It is basically a summary of one’s essay. Once you are finished with your outline, it is important to review it. The outline of an essay is like an epilogue or preface. If you end up missing out on some key points in the outline, you might forget to include them in the essay as well.

Your outline can be termed as ‘Essay in a nut shell’. Awell-structured and well written outline helps in setting the tone for a worthy essay.