Write an Essay More Easily by Using an Outline
“Words can only hurt you if you try to read them. Don’t play their game….”—Zoolander (2001)

It’s true that there are not many people alive (or dead) that enjoy writing essays. Although it won’t be as exhilarating as rappelling down Mount Vesuvius, if you implement an outline, your essay shouldn’t be as time consuming and should be more focused.

Professors require different types of essays, we all know this. Whether it’s a three-page narrative or a fifteen-page research project, the way you devise an outline will be the key to an effective essay.

What to Do, Where to Start

First and foremost, nail down what the professor is asking you to write about. If you have more than one option to choose from, select the theme that you feel will be easiest to come up with the required amount of pages.

Next, formulate a thesis statement (something you’re trying to prove or answer). This step is crucial, as it is the pathway for your entire essay. Now, there isn’t a concrete “right” or “wrong” as long as you can back up your argument with facts, researched evidence, and/or logic. As always, your professor is the ultimate judge of the aforementioned sentiment, so keep that in mind as you write.

The Outline

Subsequently, draft out your entire essay which should include the introduction/thesis statement, the body with elaborative points, and the conclusion. I find using Roman numerals to allocate sections works best.

I. Introduction/Thesis Statement

i. What are the themes/arguments?
ii. Purpose of the paper?
iii. What do you hope to accomplish?

II. Theme/Argument Number One

i. Explain why this point is relevant to your thesis.
ii. Use examples from books (or other credible sources).
iii. Use notes from class discussions for extra ideas.
iv. How does this support your thesis statement?

III. Theme/Argument Number Two

i. Explain why this point is relevant and corresponds to “number one.”
ii. Use examples from books (or other credible sources).
iii. Use notes from class discussions for extra ideas.
iv. How does this support your thesis statement?

IV. Theme/Argument Number Three

i. Explain why this point is relevant and corresponds to “number one” and “two.”
ii. Use examples from books (or other credible sources).
iii. Use notes from class discussions for extra ideas.
iv. How does this support your thesis statement?

V. Conclusion

i. Reiterate thesis statement in a non-repetitive fashion.
ii. Review your main points for (or against) the theme/argument.
iii. Acknowledge two (or more) sides for the theme.
iv. Add personal insight as to why you chose a particular side.
v. Close argument/essay with a definitive point.

More to It

What I outlined is not meant to be the only way to construct an essay. But, for those that don’t know where to begin, it is an excellent way to have something to work with as you flesh out your project.

This outline can also be tweaked and amended to fit your particular essay requirements. For instance, you might need to write for two separate arguments or need five “body” paragraphs to explain your point and meet page demands. As long as your essay has the main, basic components, you should be fine as you write.

Additional Points to Remember

Here are some items that I found helpful while I was writing essay after essay during my college days.

  • Use multiple, credible sources to substantiate your arguments.
  • Sometimes it’s better to say “I feel that…” than making a general, universal statement.
  • Ensure that you’re using the professor’s desired writing format (i.e., MLA, APA, etc.).
  • If you’re after a high grade, perhaps you might have to write what the professor wants to read (I’ve sold out once or twice and I feel spectacular!).
  • Reuse ideas or previously written essays* if they are comparable to your current project.
  • After you finish writing, take a 24-hour break and then review your essay.
  • Before you turn in your essay, double-check it, read it out loud, have a friend read it, go to the writing lab, enlist a copy editing service, do something that will catch the little mistakes that make professors cringe.

*Personal anecdote: I had a professor that told me and my classmates that if we reused the same essay twice (for the beginning and ending class projects), he probably wouldn’t notice. I thought to myself, “Hmmm….”

I wrote a decent essay for the beginning of the semester (received something like a B+ on it). Then, towards the end of the semester, I handed in the same exact essay (only changing the date).

Did he find out? Did I get a bad grade? Was he just being sarcastic when he said that?

Oh, yeah. I received an A the second time. And the professor, to my knowledge, was none the wiser. Genius…pure genius.

Ghostwriting Service - Copy Editing ServiceLuis D. Bonilla
luis@wordszilla.com
Wordszilla, LLC

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.