how to do an outline for an essay
With your notes grouped into generalized categories, the process of ordering them should be easier. To begin, look at your most general categories. With your thesis in mind, try to find a way that the labels might be arranged in a sentence or two that supports your argument. Let’s say your thesis is that financial resources played the most important role in the 1999 Republican Primary. Your four most general categories are “Policy Initiatives,” “Financial Resources,” “Voters’ Concerns,” and “Voters’ Loyalty.” You might come up with the following sentence: ÒAlthough McCain’s policy initiatives were closest to the voters’ concerns, Bush’s financial resources won the voters’ loyalty.Ó This sentence should reveal the order of your most general categories. You will begin with an examination of McCain’s and Bush’s views on important issues and compare them to the voters’ top concerns. Then you’ll look at both candidates’ financial resources and show how Bush could win voters’ loyalty through effective use of his resources, despite his less popular policy ideas.
The first step is to look over each individual piece of information that you’ve written and assign it to a general category. Ask yourself, “If I were to file this in a database, what would I file it under?” If, using the example of the Republican Primary, you wrote down an observation about John McCain’s views on health care, you might list it under the general category of “Health care policy.” As you go through your notes, try to reuse categories whenever possible. Your goal is to reduce your notes to no more than a page of category listings.
Now drop down to the conclusion. Is your essay long and/or complicated enough that you need to repeat your ideas? If not, skip IV-A. Think about what you might say for IV-B. For a basic essay, a one-sentence conclusion is often just fine.
That’s an intro (which you will write last), two paragraphs for the body of the paper, and a conclusion. Skip even outlining the intro for now. Look at the body. That’s where the paper really lives and works.
It should not be way too long. Usually, 3-4 sentences where you describe your topic (spice it up with a hook), intentions to writing this particular piece, and main foundation block of any essay or research paper – thesis statement. Mention the topic and thesis in your outline.
Here is how an outline can be helpful:
- Introduction. Here you’ll mention the topic of your essay and its thesis. As you know, essays can’t live without a thesis; so, a thesis statement in your outline will help you support it in each paragraph of your essay body.
- Body paragraphs. There will be a minimum three paragraphs in your essay’s body, so make sure to include each one in the outline. For each paragraph, write down a topic sentence with an argument relating to your thesis and mention all the support: data, facts, examples, and other evidence you’ll use to prove the topic sentence of this paragraph.
- Conclusion. Wrap up your essay here. Restate your thesis and summarize the goal of your paper.
- Detail Sentence 1: The Hall is located in downtown Toronto and is visited by 1 million people every year.
- Detail Sentence 2: You can see exhibits ranging from the early beginnings of the sport to the modern NHL and Olympics.
- Detail Sentence 1: Districts could save money on energy costs by keeping schools closed longer.
- Detail Sentence 2: A shorter school year means much lower supply and transportation costs.
- Detail Sentence 3: Well-rested and happy students would help improve test scores.