Cathy A.
Cathy A.

How to Write an Essay Outline | Learn With Examples

8 min read

Published on: Dec 14, 2019

Last updated on: Apr 8, 2024

Essay Outline

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Writing an essay without an outline is difficult, but it can be done. However, if you want to write a compelling, well-written, and well-researched essay, you need an outline. 

It will be the blueprint of your essay and will help you throughout the writing process. 

In this blog, we will go into detail about:

  • Why an outline is important
  • Steps before creating an outline
  • How to write an essay outline

We will also provide you with examples that you will find helpful in your learning. What’s more, is that there is a checklist at the end that will help you determine if your outline is good.

So, let’s begin!

Why an Outline is Important?

When writing an essay, an outline serves as a blueprint for it. It helps you organize your thoughts and makes sure that your argument flows logically. 

Here are a few reasons why outlines are an important step of essay writing:

  • Clarity: An outline helps you clarify your ideas and creates a flow of information. It allows you to see the structure of your essay before you start writing. 
  • Focus: With an outline, you can focus on one section at a time. This helps maintain a clear and consistent argument throughout the essay.
  • Efficiency: Outlines can save you time in the long run. By having a clear plan, you avoid getting off-topic and can write more efficiently.
  • Research: An outline can help you with your research by identifying the areas where you need more information or evidence.

6 Steps Before Creating an Outline

Before creating an outline, it’s important to prepare. These steps will ensure that your outline and the essay are structured and effective:

  • Understand the Assignment: Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the essay requires. Identify the purpose, audience, and the key question your essay needs to address.
  • Choose a Topic: Select an essay topic that interests you and fits the assignment criteria. It should be neither too broad nor too narrow. 
  • Gather Information: Conduct prior research to get ideas, facts, and different viewpoints related to your topic. This will help you form a basis for your arguments and support them with evidence.
  • Thesis Statement: Develop a strong thesis statement that presents your main argument or perspective. This will guide the direction of your essay.
  • Create Categories: Sort the information into categories (based on common themes, ideas, or arguments) to help you organize your outline and make your essay easy to follow.
  • Order of Information: Consider the logical progression of your essay and arrange the outline accordingly. You can put them in order based on what makes the most sense or start with the most important point. 

How to Write an Essay Outline?

Here is how you can create an effective essay outline:


  • Hook: Start with a compelling hook to grab your reader’s interest. This could be a quote, a startling statistic, or a provocative question.
  • Background: Provide a brief background that gives context to your topic. This should inform the reader about the broader issues connected to your thesis.
  • Thesis Statement: End the introduction with a thesis statement that will inform the readers of the main argument or point of your essay.

Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should cover a single idea that supports your thesis. Start paragraphs with a topic sentence and use evidence and analysis to support your points.

  • Topic Sentence: Begin with a sentence that presents the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Evidence: Include facts, quotes, or data that back up your main point.
  • Analysis: Explain how the evidence supports your topic sentence and thesis.
  • Transitions: Use transition words or phrases to connect ideas within a paragraph and to bridge one paragraph to the next.


  • Restate Thesis: Start your conclusion by restating your thesis, but do not simply repeat it. Instead, rephrase it to reflect the development of your argument.
  • Summarize Main Points: Briefly summarize the main points of your body paragraphs. This reinforces your argument and reminds the reader of the evidence.
  • Closing Thought: End with a closing thought or call to action. This could be a reflection on the implications of your argument or a question that encourages further thought.

Essay Outline Examples

Examples are a great way to help us understand the structural flow and placement of certain sections in an essay. 

Here is an example of an essay outline template on artificial intelligence:

Title: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence: Impacts, Ethics, and Future Directions

I. Introduction

  • Definition of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Brief history of AI development
  • Thesis statement: The advancement of AI technology brings forth a myriad of opportunities and challenges, shaping the future of humanity.

II. The Impacts of Artificial Intelligence

1. Economic Impact

  • Automation of Jobs
  • Creation of New Job Opportunities

2. Social Impact

  • Ethical Concerns
  • Impact on Human Relationships

3. Environmental Impact

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Environmental Sustainability

III. Ethical Considerations in AI Development and Deployment

1. Bias in AI Algorithms

  • Examples of Bias in AI Systems
  • Implications of Bias in Decision-making

2. Privacy Concerns

  • Data Collection and Surveillance
  • Protection of Personal Information

3. Autonomous Weapons

  • Moral Implications
  • Need for Regulation and Control

IV. Future Directions of Artificial Intelligence

1. Technological Advancements

  • Deep Learning and Neural Networks
  • Quantum Computing

2. Human-AI Collaboration

  • Augmented Intelligence
  • Empowering Human Creativity

3. Ethical Frameworks and Regulations

  • Development of Ethical AI Guidelines
  • International Collaboration for AI Governance

V. Conclusion

  • Recap of the Impact of AI on Society
  • Call to Action: Responsible Development and Deployment of AI
  • Reflection on the Future of Humanity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Take a look at some more examples to get a clearer idea:

Essay Outline Examples for Different Essay Types 

Let's take a look at outline examples of different essay types:

Argumentative Essay:

An argumentative essay is a type of essay that presents arguments supporting a particular viewpoint and refutes opposing arguments. 

Here is an outline:

Persuasive Essay:

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader to accept a specific idea using persuasive techniques such as emotional appeals, logical reasoning, and credible evidence. 

Take a look at this outline for this type of essay:

Narrative Essay:

A narrative essay recounts a personal experience or story, often with a central theme or moral, and typically told in the first person narrative. 

Here is an essay outline example: 

Informative Essay:

An informative essay provides factual information about a topic, without expressing the author's opinion, to educate or inform the reader.

Take a look at the outline as an example:

Rhetorical Essay:

A rhetorical essay analyzes the rhetorical strategies used in a piece of writing or speech to persuade or inform an audience, focusing on elements such as ethos, pathos, and logos. 

Here is an outline for this essay:

Checklist for an Effective Essay Outline

Before finalizing your essay outline, go through this checklist to ensure it’s as effective as possible:

  • Thesis Statement: Is your thesis statement clear and concise?
  • Logical Order: Have you organized your main points and subpoints logically?
  • Evidence: Does each point have enough evidence and analysis?
  • Transitions: Have you included transition words to guide the reader?
  • Complete: Does your outline cover all the necessary parts of the essay?
  • Direct: Are the points in your outline directly related to the thesis?
  • Clarity: Can someone else understand your essay structure from the outline?

So there you have it!

Now, you understand how to create an outline that will help you create a compelling essay. 

We are confident that the examples we provided have given you an idea of how to structure your outline properly. 

Be sure to use the checklist at the end to make sure your outline fits the criteria of an effective outline. 

However, if you feel stuck, then get the experts in!

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Yes, it is that easy! So, what are you waiting for? Place your order today and say goodbye to your writing problems!

Cathy A.


Cathy A., Literature, Marketing

Cathy has been a trusted source of high-quality writing for more than five years. With her in-depth knowledge of mass communication from her Master's degree, she always produces work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about their craft.

Cathy has been a trusted source of high-quality writing for more than five years. With her in-depth knowledge of mass communication from her Master's degree, she always produces work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about their craft.

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