Home Blog An Ultimate Essay Writing Guide for Students Learn How To Create A Perfect Essay Outline

Learn How To Create A Perfect Essay Outline

Learn How To Write A Perfect Essay Outline

For an A+ grade paper, you need to create an outline and organize all your ideas first.

Effective essay writing needs organized ideas that can lead to a well-structured and impressive piece of writing. This includes making an essay outline.

The purpose of creating an essay outline is to give your essay a perspective. So that the reader can easily comprehend the main idea of the essay.

Lucky for you, you can learn everything in this blog.

  • Understand what is an essay outline?
  • Learn how to write an essay outline?
  • Get different downloadable sample templates for your own use

Refer to the following guide and create an awesome outline for your essay.

What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is a short plan of your essay or any kind of other research paper. Here you list down all the ideas that you need to cover in your essay. Structuring all the ideas and arguments from the start will make sure you cover all the things while writing.

You can write an essay without an outline. But it will be very challenging for you to come across all your ideas effectively. Chances are you might miss any important information, or your paper does not follow the smooth flow of information.

Resulting in difficulty for the reader to comprehend the main idea of the essay. So, it is always advisable to create an outline for writing a good essay.

‘Why do I need an outline for my essay?’

The following are the benefits of creating an essay outline:

  • It will organize your ideas.
  • It will help you understand the information flow.
  • It will help you structure your information in an appropriate way.
  • It will help you not to miss any important information while writing.
  • It will help you know where to find that piece of information you might need when presenting your ideas.
  • An outline will let you finish your work faster.

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Essay Outline - The Prewriting Process

Before creating the outline, it is important to know about the prewriting process of making one. Sometimes, teachers ask the students to submit the outline prior to writing the essay.

This process will help you do it, in case your teacher also demands any such thing.

  • 1. Read the Assignment Guidelines Carefully

    Before beginning with the essay outline, read the guidelines and details carefully. Understand the kind of essay that you need to write. All essays are different and the topic will determine the kind of essay you will write.

    Decide about the number of arguments and word count of your essay.

  • 2. Understand the Purpose of Your Essay

    Why are you writing the essay? Understand the purpose of writing the blog before you start. It could be to inform, persuade, or entertain the audience. Whatever it is, you must be fully aware of it before creating the outline.

  • 3. Identify your Audience

    Sure, at this time, your audience is your teacher but you must identify the intended audience of your essay. Other things to consider about them include their level of knowledge, their level of interest, and their thoughts about the topic.

    This will help you in formulating the arguments and add relevant and strong content to your essay.

  • 4. Note Down Important Details

    Check scholarly resources and databases to collect data. Take notes of important details and use them in your outline.

  • 5. Choose the Structure of Your Outline

    There are two ways through which you can structure your outline. One is the alphanumeric format and the other is the decimal format. Choose the one that works better for you.

    Following these prewriting steps will make the process of making the essay outline easier and less time-consuming.

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How to Write an Essay Outline?

Refer to the following section to find a detailed description of each step in writing an essay outline.

  1. 1. Pick a Topic

    Before you formally start writing on your topic. On a piece of paper, write ideas that you want to write your essay on. And then pick a most interesting topic to base your essay upon.

    Related: 200+ Interesting Essay Topics To Ensure A Better Grade

  2. 2. Research

    The topic of your essay defines the type of research, primary or secondary, that you will be using. The research identifies the gaps and the differences, which help in developing the outline. Similar to a research paper, performing in-depth research is part of the writing process.

  3. 3. Audience

    The intended audience for the essay shall be kept in mind while you write an outline. For instance, you may use slang and informal language while drafting an outline for blogs, newspapers, and articles. A high level of subjective language is required for an academic audience.

  4. 4. Determine the Type of Essay

    Different types of essays have different language and structures. The narrative essay outline may differ from that of a comparative essay.

    Therefore it is important to determine the type of high school or college essay before constructing an outline for it.

  5. 5. Group Your Ideas

    You will compile your ideas, and reflect upon the important ideas. Dismiss the irrelevant details and add significant and relevant details and data only.

    The outline of the essay forms and groups ideas into different paragraphs. These paragraphs determine how many ideas will be discussed in an essay.

  6. 6. Develop a Broader Spectrum for Your Idea

    The central idea is supported by the details that are specific to the theme. They are all associated with one another. It is important that you develop two to three main ideas and then associate details with them accordingly.

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Key Elements of An Essay Outline

The most common essay format is the 5 paragraph essay outline. It will include the following elements:


The introduction is the first paragraph of an essay. It provides background information for the essay. It also contains a thesis statement that defines the basic argument and the approach to your essay.

Related: Essay Introduction - Easy Guide Writing with Examples

Body Paragraphs

This section contains a minimum of three paragraphs and each paragraph starts with a topic sentence that relates to your thesis.

Moving from one paragraph to another is difficult. Therefore, it is essential that transitional words and phrases are used to improve the quality of the essay.

Essay Conclusion

In this part of the writing process, restate your thesis statement and summarize the essay for the reader. For writing a conclusion, discuss the significance of solutions or bring other aspects that can relate to the thesis.

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Standard Essay Outline Structure

The general essay outline structure uses the linear style. All the points are numbered in order of their importance from major to minor role to play. In order to rank, assign numbers to your ideas.

For most papers, it is always advisable to choose an alphanumeric outline. In an alphanumeric structure, major sections are shown in roman numbers, then comes the capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters.

Here’s a general essay template for all essays that you can refer to structure your main ideas.


  • Topic- Define
  • Background

Thesis statement

  • Define the approach towards the topic

Body Paragraph 1

  • Define Idea-1
  • Supporting evidence
  • Relevance to the main topic

Body Paragraph 2

  • Define Idea-2
  • Supporting evidence
  • Relevance to the main topic

Body Paragraph 3

  • Define Idea-3
  • Supporting evidence
  • Relevance to the main topic


  • Reaffirming the thesis
  • Concluding statement

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Essay Outline Sample Templates

Different templates can help you get a better idea of essay outlining. An outline is a great way to organize thoughts and decide on the order in which you will present your ideas. So, it is better to create sections and fill them with appropriate information depending on your essay type.

Here are some essay outline examples for you to get a general idea for writing your outlines.

Informative Essay Outline

An informative essay writing is all about conveying information or educating readers about a particular topic.

Below you can find an informative essay outline template to brainstorm your own ideas.

Informative Essay Outline (PDF)

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a type of paper in which you tell a story from your own perspective or personal experience. It provides specific details to get the readers involved in your story and understand your viewpoint.

Below is the narrative essay outline pdf that you can refer to for better understanding.

Narrative Essay Outline (PDF)

Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay is quite similar to a comparative essay in terms of developing arguments to support the claim. In this type of essay writing, you should provide solid arguments on both sides of the issue.

To achieve that, follow an argumentative essay outline to compose a great argumentative paper and score high grades.

The following is the argumentative essay outline template for your help.

Argumentative Essay Outline (PDF)

Persuasive Essay Outline

In a persuasive essay, the author uses logic and solid arguments to convince the readers to a particular point of view.

To create an outline for a persuasive essay, consider the following template.

Persuasive Essay Outline (PDF)

Analytical Essay Outline

An analytical essay is usually written to analyze a text. It concentrates on how something is done. Writing an analytical essay involves breaking down the concept into parts to understand its meaning and what message it conveys.

Below is what the outline for an analytical essay should look like.

Analytical Essay Outline (PDF)

Descriptive Essay Outline

A descriptive essay is a type of paper in which the writer describes an object, person, process, or event. The main goal of writing a descriptive essay is to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

For a perfect descriptive essay, remember that a well-structured outline is all you need. In this way, you can organize your thoughts and ideas to make the flow of information better.

The following is a perfect descriptive essay outline that you can follow for a well structured descriptive paper.

Descriptive Essay Outline (PDF)

Compare And Contrast Essay Outline

A compare and contrast essay highlights the way in which two things are different and similar to each other. Writing a compare and contrast essay is a difficult task as it involves your critical thinking to come up with an interesting analysis.

Below you can find the outline for writing a perfect compare and contrast essay.

Compare And Contrast Essay Outline (PDF)

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of writing where the author convinces others, the readers, of his viewpoint.

If you are working on your rhetorical analysis essay assignment, the following outline will help you organize all the ideas.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)

Expository Essay Outline

Expository essays are written to uncover something in a clear and straightforward manner. This type of essay presents a balanced analysis of a subject solely based on facts.

The following is an outline for an expository essay that you can refer to.

Expository Essay Outline (PDF)

Synthesis Essay Outline

A synthesis essay involves taking a unique viewpoint of a central idea and backing it up with different sources. Synthesis essay writing requires you to examine a variety of sources and identify their relationship to your thesis.

Need to submit a synthesis essay soon? Here is a synthesis essay outline template to specify all the main points first.

Synthesis Essay Outline (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A literary analysis essay is an important academic assignment that examines and evaluates a piece of literature work. If you have no idea how to structure this type of essay, here is an outline for your help.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)

Reflective Essay Outline

In a reflective essay, you write about your own experience or thoughts regarding a specific topic. In this type of essay, a writer is required to analyze a past event from the present.

Get to know about an expository essay from the following outline.

Reflective Essay Outline (PDF)

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

Cause and effect essays identify the reasons for something and then discuss the results. Writing a perfect cause and effect essay is not that difficult if you plan ahead and follow a proper structure.

The following outline can help you get into the writing process.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline (PDF)

Scholarship Essay Outline

A scholarship essay is an important part of the scholarship application process. This essay helps students to stand out and get the scholarship.

Here is an outline to help you understand how scholarship essays are different from other essay types.

Scholarship Essay Outline (PDF)

Problem Solution Essay Outline

A problem-solution essay identifies a problem and provides one or more solution to it. It usually consists of three parts: introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion.

Learn more about the structure of a problem-solution essay with this outline.

Problem Solution Essay Outline (PDF)

Evaluation Essay Outline

The purpose of writing an evaluation essay is to judge a particular topic according to certain criteria.

In order to write a perfect evaluation essay, refer to the following outline.

Evaluation Essay Outline (PDF)

Definition Essay Outline

A definition essay explores a certain term and provides personal understanding of the term. This essay is more than a dictionary definition.

You can also check out the following outline for more help.

Definition Essay Outline (PDF)

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of outlines?

Besides the alphanumeric and decimal essay outlines, the Following are the 3 types of outlines.

  • Working outline
  • Full-sentence outline
  • Speaking outline

All of these are used for different purposes so be careful that you choose the right type of outline.

What is a topic outline?

A topic outline is a useful tool for organizing your thoughts while developing an argument and structuring the paper.

It helps in outlining the main ideas and arguments. And presenting them in a coherent way. It also helps in building relationships between the entire assignment.

What is a full sentence outline?

The full sentence outline is a more detailed and structured way to create an essay. They are the same as the alphanumeric outlines.

These outlines use complete sentences at each level of the structure. This type of format can be used for any formal writing assignment where you need to provide detail about your thoughts.

It helps to write well-supported arguments or develop concrete ideas with evidence and outside sources.

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