Writing an essay can seem like an overwhelming task, and planning beforehand is essential to success. An essay outline will help you to structure and organize your essay so that it flows coherently. Essay outlines work for all kinds of essays and will save you time and stress.

There are various different ways to structure an essay, and using an essay outline template allows you to decide on the best structure for your essay. Whether you want a balanced argument, or if you’re trying to persuade someone of your idea, then there will be an essay outline that works for you.

You can download and print one of our free essay outline templates to help you plan the perfect essay.

Essay Outline Templates

What is an Essay Outline Template?

An essay outline template is essentially the essay plan. It provides students with a clear structure before they write their essay, including all of the main points that are necessary for their writing.

Planning an essay outline beforehand makes the process of essay writing a lot less daunting, providing students with a guideline to follow whilst writing their essays in detail. In the world of academic writing, an essay outline serves as a tool to organize and structure thoughts before delving into the actual writing process. Many students underestimate the significance of creating an essay outline, often resulting in disorganized and incomprehensible essays.

Essay Outline Examples

What Different Types of Essay Outline Templates Are Available?

Essay outlines can be used for any college essay, research papers, a contrast essay, speech writing, or an expository essay. There are a range of essay outline templates to use, and they vary depending on the style of essay you are writing. These include:

Depending on the purpose of your essay, there will be a different structure to suit your writing and your writing process. For example, an argumentative essay outline may follow a more traditional five-paragraph essay outline, while a literary analysis essay may follow a more detailed essay outline template.

Why are Essay Outlines important?

Of course, you can write an essay without planning. However, it will likely read as unstructured and lacking in coherence. Essays that follow an essay outline template present as more well-researched, clearer, and with a thoughtful structure throughout.

  • Planning makes perfect
    If you are writing to argue a point or explore a range of viewpoints, essay outlines are crucial to prepare before you begin writing in detail. Writing should not be an immediate, quick process; the best essays are drafted, re-drafted, edited, and finalized. If you use an essay outline, this will be reflected in the quality of your work. As a teacher, it is clear to me when students have not taken the time to plan their work. Their writing seems messy and rushed. Essay outlines provide structure and balance to any long piece of writing.
  • Save time during the writing process
    Planning is the hard part of essay writing. During the planning process, you will be brainstorming your ideas and cultivating your overall viewpoint or argument. This means that when you come to write the essay, those ideas are already there. All you need to do is formulate them into sentences and paragraphs.
    An essay outline makes the process of writing the essay itself so much simpler. With the essay outline template, you will have the bulk of your ideas and the structure of your essay there to follow. It will save you time when it comes to writing the essay out in full.

How Do You Structure an Outline for an Essay?

Depending on the assignment, essays can follow a range of structures, and there are many different ways to structure an essay outline.

Before you begin to structure your essay outline, there are a few things to consider:

  • Check your assignment guidelines. Your teacher or professor may have specified a certain number of words or pages for the essay, which can affect how you structure it.
  • Consider the purpose of the essay. Is it to argue, is it a persuasive essay, or is it to reflect upon something? This will greatly help you to form and structure your essay, as you may need to compare and contrast ideas throughout your writing.
  • Who is your audience? If this essay is purely for academic purposes, then your essay may follow a more traditional structure. However, if your essay is for a speech or a college application, then the structure may be more unconventional and include more of your own thoughts and experiences.

While there may be variations in essay outline structures depending on the specific requirements of the assignment, some general guidelines can be followed. You should edit and adjust your essay structure depending on the tone, audience, and purpose of your essay.

Typically, an effective essay outline comprises three primary sections: the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. Each of these sections serves a unique purpose and contributes to the overall coherence of the essay.

  • Introduction
    The introduction section of an essay outline introduces the topic and provides relevant background information to engage the reader. It also includes the thesis statement, which presents the main argument or claim of the essay. To structure the introduction in the outline effectively, writers can utilize a hook to grab the reader’s attention, provide context, and end with a strong thesis statement.
  • Body Paragraphs
    The body paragraphs section of the essay outline supports the thesis statement with relevant evidence and arguments. The number of body paragraphs may vary depending on the required length of the essay.
    However, it is common to have three body paragraphs, each focused on a specific supporting point. In the outline, writers can include subpoints, evidence, and examples for each body paragraph to ensure a coherent and logical flow of ideas.
  • Conclusion
    The conclusion section of the essay outline summarises the main points discussed in the body paragraphs and restates the thesis statement. The conclusion should not be an afterthought in the essay writing process. This part of the essay helps to tie all of your ideas together and is reflective of a well-structured essay.
    It is crucial to end the essay on a strong note, leaving a lasting impression on the reader. To structure the conclusion in the outline, writers can briefly restate the thesis, review the main points, and provide a final thought or call to action.

Essay Outline Samples

What is the Format of a Five-Paragraph Essay Outline? 

A five-paragraph essay outline is a common essay structure used for academic essays. It is particularly useful for shorter essays or beginners who are just starting to develop their writing skills. Many high school students or first-year college students benefit from following this structure.

The format consists of five paragraphs, as the name suggests – an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  1. Introduction
    In the introduction of a five-paragraph essay outline, writers should begin with an attention-grabbing hook to capture the reader’s interest. This can be achieved through a relevant anecdote, a rhetorical question, or a shocking statistic. This helps to immediately capture the reader’s attention and begin the essay strong.
    Next, provide some background information on the topic and end the introduction with a clear thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument of the essay.
  2. Body Paragraphs
    The three body paragraphs of a five-paragraph essay outline each focus on a specific supporting point, which aids in the development of the thesis statement. Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph. Following the topic sentence, writers should provide evidence, examples, or arguments to support the main point.
    It is essential to ensure a logical flow between paragraphs and maintain coherence throughout the essay. This can be done through the use of connectives at the start of each body paragraph, such as ‘Firstly,’ ‘Secondly,’ and ‘Furthermore.’
  3. Conclusion
    The conclusion of a five-paragraph essay outline restates the thesis statement and summarizes the main points discussed in the body paragraphs. However, it is vital to avoid introducing new information in the conclusion. Instead, writers should provide a thought-provoking final statement or reinforce the significance of the essay topic.

How to Write an Effective Essay Outline

Each writer will have their own unique approach to essay writing, but preparing an essay outline does not require you to reinvent the wheel. You can follow these simple steps to craft an effective, useful, solid outline.

  1. Read and Understand the Assignment
    Before beginning the outline, thoroughly read and understand the essay assignment, including any specific guidelines or requirements from the instructor. This will help in determining the length, topic, and structure of the essay.
    Understanding the assignment in detail also enables you to plan how you will carry out your preliminary research for the essay. Adaquete reading and preparation also helps you to establish the purpose of your essay, which will determine which essay outline template will work best for you.
  2. Brainstorm and Organize Ideas
    Start with brainstorming ideas related to the topic. Here, you should establish the key points of the essay based on your research.
    Once ideas are generated, you can organize them into meaningful categories or subtopics. In an argumentative essay outline, for example, you will need to compare and contrast ideas. By placing all the main points into categories in an organized manner, you can create a logical flow within the essay, making it more engaging for the reader.
  3. Choose an Appropriate Outline Format
    Decide on the outline format that best suits the specific essay requirements. Depending on the complexity of the topic, your essay may be formatted differently. An expository essay will differ from a research paper, for example, so be clear on which outline will work for you.
    It is also essential to decide on the number of main points to be included based on the required length of the essay. Sometimes it is best to discuss fewer points in greater detail, particularly for a literary analysis or narrative essay.
  4. Develop Thesis Statement and Main Arguments
    Craft a strong and clear thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument or claim of the essay. Then, determine the main arguments or supporting points that will be discussed in the body paragraphs.
  5. Organize Supporting Points and Supporting Evidence
    Arrange the main arguments in a logical order, keeping in mind the flow of ideas. Ensure that each supporting point is backed up by sufficient evidence or reasoning to strengthen the overall argument. This will also help you to write a strong conclusion to complete your essay.
  6. Review and Revise
    After creating the initial essay outline, review and revise it to ensure coherence, logical flow, and adherence to the assignment requirements. Make necessary adjustments and rearrange the outline if needed. Then, you can start writing your essay by following the outline.

Free Essay Outlines

Create an Effective Outline Using an Essay Outline Template

Creating an essay outline is a crucial step in the writing process that should not be overlooked. Whether it’s an argumentative essay outline, a literary analysis essay outline, or a persuasive essay outline, an essay outline template can help you to structure and organize your points in a thoughtful and clear way.

By structuring an essay outline effectively, using the appropriate format for a five-paragraph essay, and following the steps to write an essay outline, writers can ensure a well-organized, coherent, and compelling essay. Utilizing an essay outline template not only enhances the writing quality but also saves time and effort in the long run.

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Tagged:EducationEssayEssay OutlinePersonalTeachingWriting
TemplateLab August 7th, 2023
Eleanor Griffiths
Eleanor Griffiths