How to Write An Essay Outline With Examples: An Amateur Approach

Do you find yourself getting lost in the middle of writing an essay? It is usual for students to lose track of their thoughts and go wayward when composing an essay. A common reason for this is that one simply cannot remember every thought. One cannot cram ideas into their mind and write them out logically. So, how does one overcome this? With the help of an outline, of course!

Having an outline before composing an essay can save you from getting lost in between and also logically organize your essay. 

Firstly, outlining is an arrangement employed to make writing easier. One can say that it is a step before the writing process. This step helps the writer organize their findings, thoughts, and opinions in one place. In other words, knowing how to write an outline assists in structuring your research findings and thoughts. 

If you are unsure about crafting an essay outline, go through this article as we touch upon the steps of composing an outline.

What Is An Outline Of An Essay?

An outline is a roadmap or blueprint that illustrates the hierarchy of the paragraph and the content included in every paragraph. It ties them together in a meaningful way. In short, it is a summary that demonstrates how your arguments will unfold in the essay. 

Composing an outline is an essential part of writing essays, guides, academic papers, articles, etc., The outline generally consists of three main parts – introduction, body, and conclusion. One can use two formats of outline – APA, and MLA.

How To Write An Essay Outline?

To write an essay outline, one must first understand the structure of an essay. Most essays usually have a 5 paragraph structure, where 1st paragraph is the introduction, the following three paragraphs are the body, and the 5th paragraph is the conclusion. Let’s see the vital elements of an outline and the steps to writing it.

Vital Elements Of An Essay

  • Notes: It is critical to locate and record reputable sources prior to beginning the writing task. To discover reliable references for academic work, check trustworthy websites in addition to academic database engines such as Google Scholar.
  • Thesis: Since the thesis statement provides a synopsis of the entire paper, you’ll have to think about the thesis before outlining. Moreover, the thesis can help you plan and write your essay.
  • Ideas: An outline must have your ideas and thoughts jotted down in a logical order. So, keep your ideas and key points ready to start your outline.
  • References: It is essential to make a note of your sources or references as they can prove beneficial later. 

Note: You can also check out the article “How to write a 5-paragraph essay“.

Step To Create An Essay Outline

Follow these four steps to creating an outline that will make your essay writing process a cakewalk. 

Determine Your Goal:

Consider your thesis statement first, as, at this point, you may not have a ready plan or phrases/words to sketch the essay. However, one must have a fundamental idea about their write-up to put up their arguments in the essay. Thus, once the goal is decided, it can help give a certain shape to the essay.  

Therefore, with a clear aim in mind, you can work over your brainstorming thoughts and create an outline that covers all of the required points to illustrate that goal.

Discard The Fluff:

It is given that during the brainstorming process, you would have considered all conceivable paths for your essay and every possible piece of material that could be included. So, once the goal is deduced, the second step is to go over your brainstorming notes. 

And as you go through, select the elements that will successfully highlight your essay’s purpose. Ask yourself, “How does this evidence or opinion prove my point?” for every bit of information you scribbled down. Add that question to your list of arguments you can present in your essay if you can address it properly and sensibly.

Determine The Points You Will Make In Each Section:

Determine the main arguments you’ll present in the essay by using a list of points you’ve made. Remember that these points are the parts of your body. For instance, take an argumentative essay where you discuss why your school needs an abundant supply of drinking water. The following points are some significant arguments that you can make in the course of your essay: 

  • Having more water taps on campus helps students save money.
  • It helps in decreasing plastic waste.
  • Heat exhaustion incidences can be reduced if water is readily available.

Make a list of the facts and statistics supporting each claim. For instance, in the section on how abundant water supply reduces plastic waste, you may make a note of the number of water bottles that get collected from campus in the previous year. These supporting ideas can be included in your essay outline.

Make An Outline Using A Common Template:

It’s time to write your outline now that you’ve defined your major subjects and supporting elements. Format your major points into a clear, orderly structure that you’ll expand with information when you compose your first draft, using a template for the style of essay you’re writing.

Essay Outline Format

In general, an essay outline should resemble something like the one given below:

I. Introduction

a) Introduce a topic

b) State a thesis

II. Body. Paragraph-1

a) Write a topic sentence (the argument for your thesis)

b) Support this argument: data, facts, examples

c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

III. Body. Paragraph-2

a) Write a topic sentence (another argument for your thesis)

b) Support this argument: data, facts, examples

c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

IV. Body. Paragraph-3

a) Write a topic sentence (another argument for your thesis or a counterargument)

b) Support this argument, or explain why the counterargument doesn’t work: data, facts, examples

c) Explain how they relate to your thesis

V. Conclusion

a) Summarize all main points

b) Restate your thesis

c) Add a call to action: what do you want your readers to do after reading your essay

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Essay Outline examples

We recognize that distinguishing between an MLA and an APA outline can be tough. The referencing styles determine both strategies. APA outline employs abstracts, whereas MLA employs sentence citations. A title page is not required in an MLA outline. Include it on the outline because the APA reference style necessitates it. To gain a better sense, check the outline sample below.

MLA Outline Examples


Introduction: Stonehenge is a tremendous repository of ancient history.

Connecting Sentence to Thesis: It is one of the oldest constructions in the UK, at 13 feet tall.


Description: The text outlines the construction of Stonehenge as well as its function.

First argument: Stonehenge was created in 3001 BC.

Second Argument: Stonehenge is well-known as a site of religious worship.

Third Argument: Other Stonehenge-like monuments can be found throughout Europe.

Body Paragraph 1:

Reference: According to investigations, the circulation ditch around Stonehenge was built about the year 3000BC.

Explanation: Pagans gathered near the end of the Stone Age and constructed the first phase of what is now known as Stonehenge.

Connecting sentence: This takes us to the question of belief.

Body Paragraph 2:

Reference: Most people believed that ancient Britons erected the stones for the sole purpose of religious practice during the late Tudor era.

Explanation: From the late second millennium AD to the present day, the practice of Paganism is the most often accepted explanation for why Stonehenge was created.

Connecting sentence: More evidence concerning the mystery construction surfaces.

Body Paragraph 3:

Reference: Stonehenge-like stones first appeared around 1100 BC.

Explanation: The structure is thought to have been constructed by migrants.


Summary: Throughout human history, ancient stones have piqued people’s interest through science and supposition.

Conclusive sentence: No one knows for certain how they were constructed.


Why Was Stonehenge Built?”

APA Outline Example


Introduction: Mobile phones have had the most negative impact on our daily lives.

Connecting Sentence to Thesis: The widespread usage of mobile technologies has gotten out of hand.


Description: The report describes the common hazards and destructive impacts of cell phone usage on humans. The ordeal can be life-threatening or simply deprived socially.

First argument: The first point is that excessive cell phone use is harmful to one’s health.

Second Argument: Cell phone use harms human contact.

Third Argument: Texting and driving are worse than drinking and driving.

Body Paragraph 1: Cell-Phone-Related Health Risks

Reference: “Radiofrequency (RF) radiation is used by mobile phones to communicate with base stations.” When the intensity of RF radiation is strong enough, it has a ‘thermal’ impact, which means it elevates body temperature. There is some fear that the low quantities of RF radiation released by mobile phones may create health issues such as migraines or brain tumors.” (“Your Health and Mobile Phones”)

Explanation: After prolonged use, phone radiation contains carcinogenic components. In other words, prolonged cell phone use can put a person in danger of terminal sickness or worse. Because mobile phones have only been around for a short time, there is currently a lack of evidence to back up this assertion.

Connecting sentence: This takes us to the topic of how cell phones are ruining human interaction.

Body Paragraph 2: Cell Phones Are Ruining Human Interaction

Reference: “Sherry Turkle contends that using cell phones in social circumstances degrades the quality of human interaction.” According to Turkle, it makes people less open and honest in communication. She also claims that it reduces empathy. She gives a classroom of children as an example, noting that the students “do not appear to understand or express empathy toward one another.” (“Human Interaction and Cell Phones.”)

Explanation: Humans are no longer communicating due to the widespread use of mobile phones. Due to their addiction to cell phones, families go out to restaurants, cafes, and parks without engaging with one another. Humans have also shown significantly less empathy than they did 15 years before, owing to the lack of interaction that could have occurred during this time period. This is more noticeable in schoolchildren who were born into this way of life.

Connecting sentence: Aside from that, using a cell phone while driving poses a life-threatening risk.

Body Paragraph 3:

Reference: “The Transport Investigation Laboratory discovered that motorists who use their mobile phone to send text messages (…) the research discovered, with steering control by texters 91 percent weaker than that of drivers giving their complete concentration to the road.” (“Driving while texting is riskier than drinking and driving.”)

Explanation: Using a mobile device while driving a motor vehicle has a more significant impact than drinking and driving. More people have died as a result of texting and driving than from drunk driving.

Connecting sentence: Humans have become utterly addicted to mobile phones, to the point of risky driving, health hazards, and a lack of interaction.


Summary: Restate the thesis in a summary of the entire paper.

Conclusive sentence: The continued excessive use of mobile phones is becoming a massive threat to humanity in every way.


“Cell Phones and Human Interaction.”


Regardless of writing style, the basic essay format can assist any author in various ways. By having all thoughts and references on a writing plan, people writing their daily college papers or dissertation can significantly benefit from knowing the overall plan of an essay.

A persuasive essay outline, for example, is not distinguishable from a research paper outline. As a result, understanding the general outline format can make composing academic papers easier by streamlining the entire writing process.

Also, check out our essay examples if necessary for reference.

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