• 5 Simple Steps for Composing an Essay Outline

    If you are writing an essay one of the most important preliminary steps to writing the actual paper is to draft the outline. The outline is where you can organize your thoughts on the paper. It is where you can list all of your ideas and the evidence that you have to support those ideas. An outline should be comprehensive enough that from it you should be able to appropriately draft your paper. You want the outline to show enough detail that you can look at just the outline and from it know exactly what direction you want to head with your paper. When writing an outline for any type of paper you can use a variety of formats.

    1. The bullet point format

      This format is quite simple. You use bullet points or numerals to list the headings and subheadings for your paper and beneath of the headings and subheadings you list the points you are going to present and the evidence you have. You could just note the author’s name or reference a note card number--so long as you know what the reference or note is meant to dictate. You can then refer to the note card and find the quote you wanted to include. You use this method to get the basic structure.

    2. You can of course move around some of the ideas or the evidence until you find a format that presents your argument or thesis in the best possible way.
    3. The sentence format

      This format is similar to the bullet point format in that you have headings and subheadings listed. The difference is that in lieu of placing short bullet points with fragmented notes or references you have everything listed in a full sentence format. So beneath your heading you list all of the arguments you are going to make in a complete sentence.

    4. If you have a quote you want to include you would write out the entire quote under the appropriate section rather than listing a reference to the author or the source.
    5. No format is better than the other. The key here is to find an outline format that you can use. If you want the bulk of your writing out of the way then the sentence format may be best. But if you just need to get some of your rudimentary thoughts on paper before you dive in then the bullet point might be best.

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