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Academic Writing For Dummies: How To Make An Essay Outline


Step by step instructions for writing an essay with an outline.

Step 1: Do Some Brainstorming and Preliminary Research


Before you can write your outline it is a good idea to sit down and do a bit of brainstorming to figure out what you want to write about. The best way to do this is to write down several plausible essay ideas and then narrow it down. Once you have your essay concepts narrowed down to two or three, do a bit of preliminary research on the Internet. Select the topic that has the most interesting information and examples that can be used to write your essay.

Step 2: Compose A Draft Of Your Thesis


To save yourself time and energy it is a good idea to write a rough draft of your thesis. This will help you know what to look for while investigating points and examples for your outline.

Step 3: Draw Up An Outline Template


Next, you will want to write out an essay template leaving space to put down your ideas as you research them. A basic 5-paragraph essay structure looks like this: introduction, 3 supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Step 4: Begin Researching


After you have draw up your outline template, the next thing you do is begin filling it out. First you need to identify your main supporting points (these should reflect back to the thesis) then you need to find 3 or more examples to back these up.

As you work write your notes directly into the outline template. Use full sentences instead of point form. Rewrite each main point in your own words to avoid plagiarizing.

Step 5: Compose Your Introduction and Conclusion


Now that you have your main points laid out you can go back and concrete your thesis so that it is more precise. You should also prepare your introduction and conclusion by summarizing your main points.

Step 6: Write Your Essay


Once your outline template is completely filled out, most of the hard work is complete. Now, all you have left to do is the actual essay writing. However, this part should now be easy because you have already laid everything out. Simply go through each part, introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion and compose sentences that tie everything together. If you were smart and filled in your outline properly you should not have to do any additional work.