Developing an Essay Outline

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What is an Essay Outline?

A key expectation of students in college is to develop well-researched and detailed essays. The students will take a particular topic, conduct research, and write a coherent and rich essay. Developing such an essay requires adequate planning. The planning will help the student determine what to write and how to present it to the audience in a coherent and easily understandable way. Due to that, a student needs to create an essay outline to help with the planning process. An essay outline offers direction on what the student will include in an essay and how to present it. When students develop an essay outline, they will not reach the middle of their paper and lack an idea of how to finish it. Developing an essay outline requires a student to have experience. Without that, the student will develop a poor essay outline, resulting in an inaccurate and incoherent final essay.

Steps of Developing an Essay Outline

Developing a coherent essay outline will involve several steps. The first step is reading the instructions of the assigned essay. When reading, the students should highlight the keywords and phrases. That helps the student to understand the essence of the essay and develop an outline that is relevant to the issue of interest. The student should seek clarification for anything they find confusing in the instructions. Secondly, students should create a topic based on the insight gained from reading the instructions. A student can list as many ideas as possible from the insight they gained from reading the instructions. After that, the student will list the ideas in order of priority and determine the best ideas. The idea ranked highly will become the essay topic. The third step is identifying the purpose of the essay, for example, what does the essay hope to attain? Identification of purpose aids in informing the tone of the essay outline. The fourth step is identifying the audience of the essay outline. For instance, if the essay is addressing students, the outline will use a different tone than when addressing professionals.

Developing an essay outline

The fourth step is developing a thesis that offers insight into the ideas presented in the essay outline. A person should be able to read the thesis and determine what the essay outline will address. In other words, an effective thesis offers insight into the focus of the essay outline. There are different factors a student should consider when developing a thesis. For instance, the thesis statement should be arguable. Also, the thesis should be detailed, meaning students should offer support for their position. The fifth step is selecting a preferable alphanumeric structure to number the essay outline. Numbering the essay outline aids in improving the presentation. A student can present key points in an understandable and visually appealing way. The presentation effort ensures that the audience of the essay outline does not struggle to understand how the students are tackling the topic of interest.

Importance/advantages of Developing an Essay Outline

There exist different advantages associated with developing an essay outline. The first advantage is that the student will develop a structured argument, which enables the reader to follow through. A reader reading a well-structured essay outline will not struggle to follow through with key arguments. When a reader follows through an essay outline, they can decide to support or oppose the writer’s position. The second advantage of developing an essay outline is that the student does not forget critical information that should be included in the final essay. An essay outline ascertains the student integrates every piece of information needed to make the final essay exceptional. After an instructor reviews the submitted essay outline, they will offer feedback. The student will use the feedback to improve the essay outline and make it more detailed and relevant. Thirdly, developing an essay outline ascertains that the final essay has clarity and logic. A student who uses an essay outline as a guide will avoid repeating arguments or using language that is not easily understandable. Clarity and logic increase reader engagement.

The fourth advantage is that an essay outline saves a student time when developing the final essay. The student will not have to conduct research on the ideas to include in the final essay. Also, the student will not have to select sources to support the ideas presented in the final essay. Since instructors will assign students essays with time limits, developing an essay outline ensures that the student completes the final essay on time. A student who develops an essay outline will not have to worry about their essays being rejected due to late submission. Fifthly, an essay outline will ascertain a logical flow of ideas, and each argument transitions to the next. Such transition ascertains the reader of the final essay is not confused.

Types of Essay Outlines

Students can be instructed to write outlines for different types of essays. Firstly, a student can write an argumentative essay outline. Such an essay has sections such as making a claim, offering arguments that support the claim, and exploring counterarguments to the claim. Developing an essay outline will help a student develop a coherent essay. The second type of essay outline is a reflective essay outline. A reflective essay delves into an analysis of an event that happened in the past. The outline of a reflective essay is typically subjective since people will have varying life experiences. Thirdly, an expository essay outline explores an idea, the existing evidence, and develops an argument from the idea. A key consideration of an expository essay is being clear and concise. An essay outline will help a student put forth critical arguments in an expository essay and develop a detailed and logical essay.

Writing Formats, Plagiarism, and Essay Outlines

Essay outlines  need to follow specific formats. An instructor might require a student  developing an essay outline to follow the APA or MLA format. A student needs to be conversant with different writing formats to develop an exceptional essay. In addition, the students are required to address plagiarism when developing essay outlines. The student should use APA or MLA formats to cite information borrowed from other authors. Including citations will help to address plagiarism.