How to Write an Essay Outline – Learn The Efficient Hacks

A properly written essay outline is a perfect canvas for an adequate paper. Read our detailed how to write an essay outline guide and create essays your teacher would appreciate. Get an essay outline template, working hacks, tips, knowledge about structuring formats, and more in our useful article.

how to write an essay outline

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What is an essay outline?

An essay outline, in other words, is a plan for the paper that contains shortened data on each section. The outline helps to structure and organize each paragraph. A vast outline with ideas and brief details may result in the first draft of an essay. An effective draft would economize your time sufficiently. Standard outline essay format requires three obligatory sections: an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. We would discuss each part in detail below.

The purposes of writing an essay outline

A good essay outline example serves several purposes:

  • Organizing an author’s thoughts that appear after evaluating a vast amount of data.
  • Reducing the missing data, as an outline contains all the central points to highlight in your essay.
  • Arranging the flow of information in a logical order and defining the main thesis.

Now when you do not have a question, why do you need to write a detailed essay outline? Let us proceed with learning how to write an essay outline.

Preparation stage

Before you proceed with writing an essay outline, you would require to complete the following steps:

1) Identify the type of essay and the number of pages or word count. These points are vital to understanding which outline essay format to choose from and how many sections the essay might have.
2) Define the purpose of your essay and develop the main thesis.
3) Identify the readership. Imagine people interested in reading your essay and try to understand how to expose the information to them appropriately.
4) Do the preliminary research on the essay’s topic. Use only respectable sources. While you research, take notes and pre-plan an outline.

Writing stage

Here is a detailed explanation of how to write an essay outline for college considering its critical points:


The introduction is a critical element of an outline that includes the main thesis and the topic. The thesis is a core idea that you initially present and support in each body paragraph. The introduction’s main purpose is to draw the audience’s attention and make them want to read further. An introduction works best when you enclose an epigraph, an anecdote, a proper quotation, etc.

The body

You need to include at least three sections in the body of a standard 5-paragraph essay. When you include each paragraph in the outline, you have to add at least one sentence related to the topic. It would help if you added for each section some supporting arguments and core facts. The goal is to support each paragraph with details.


It is time to highlight the main thesis once again. Recall the purpose of writing the essay and underline the significance of facts and arguments that support the main thesis. The goal at this stage would be to remind readers of the core points. It is crucial to avoid including new information in the final section of an essay.

How to Write an Essay Outline: Samples

Now let us present to you some samples of an outline in terms of four main essay types. Each essay outline example would be formatted in accordance with the particular essay type: argumentative, expository, descriptive, and narrative.

Argumentative essay outline example

Argumentative essays aim to persuade the audience that the ideas and thoughts of the author are supported with strong arguments. Such papers contain dates, facts, statistics, quotations, etc.
To make an effective argumentative essay, you can use the following essay outline template:

Topic: Why is eating healthy food vital for people?


Main thesis: Healthy food makes people stronger and energized.

1st body paragraph

Topic sentence: Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins.

Supportive sentence: The nutrition facts of healthy food are impressive.

2nd body paragraph

Topic sentence: Unhealthy food makes people sick.

Supportive sentence: Junk food makes people gain weight.

3rd body paragraph

Topic sentence: Healthy food makes people live longer.

Supportive sentence: There are many examples of people who switched to healthy food and lived until 90 or longer.


There are several reasons why eating healthy food is vital for people…

Expository essay outline example

Expository essays require evaluating the ideas by describing them from various sides and properties.

Here is an example of a compelling expository essay outline template:

Topic: Why is it important to encourage students to read more books?


Main thesis: Reading makes people erudite and helps to widen their vision of everyday things. Students who read a lot get better results in their studies.

1st body paragraph

Topic sentence: Reading makes people smarter.

Supportive sentence: Students who read a lot have better analytical skills.

2nd body paragraph

Topic sentence: Reading interesting books reduces the level of stress.

Supportive sentence: When students read books, they feel better mentally and communicate with people easily.

3rd body paragraph

Topic sentence: Reading improves cognitive functions.

Supportive sentence: Students who read various literature have better memory and can write essays more effectively.


Reading makes a positive impact on students’ lives…

Descriptive essay outline example

Descriptive essays require evaluating the ideas by describing them from various sides and properties.

Here is an example of a descriptive essay outline template to consider when writing:

Topic: My youngest sister.


Main thesis: My youngest sister is the kindest person I ever met.

1st body paragraph

Topic sentence: My sister is very easy-going

Supportive sentence: My sister and I are siblings; however, we rarely fight.

2nd body paragraph

Topic sentence: My sister supports animal shelters.

Supportive sentence: When my sister sees an animal in trouble, she takes it to the veterinarian.

3rd body paragraph

Topic sentence: My sister loves her family.

Supportive sentence: My sister always has time to talk to our parents or me about our lives.


I have never met a person who was kinder than my youngest sister….

Narrative essay outline example

Narrative essays aim to tell a story about an event or a subject. Many narrative essays expose the personal experience of the author.

To write a great narrative essay, use the following essay outline template:

Topic: How skydiving made my life better.


Main thesis: When I was depressed, I decided to try skydiving. I did my first tandem jump, and since that day, my life has changed.

1st body paragraph

Topic sentence: I had a personal crisis, and my friend suggested I should try skydiving. That day changed my life.

Supportive sentence: I tried to make my first tandem jump out of the plane and was hooked on that feeling.

2nd body paragraph

Topic sentence: After my first jump, I decided to learn how to skydive and started my course.

Supportive sentence: For a month, I attended the ground school and an accelerated freefall course with instructors. I did fifteen solo jumps.

3rd body paragraph

Topic sentence: I overcame my fears and have met many great people.

Supportive sentence: The skydiving community is a big global family. Now I am going to receive my skydiving license with the support of my new friends.


Skydiving changed my life and made it much better…

Our Ultimate Essay Outline Guide Is Not The Only Benefit You Can Get

We hope that our detailed how-to write an essay outline guide would navigate you through the particularities of writing. You can also read our article on how to write review essay to understand the essential hacks and the potential mistakes to avoid.

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