Barbara P.
Barbara P.

Essay Outline – An Ultimate Format Guide & Example

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Published on: Sep 16, 2019

Last updated on: May 26, 2023

Essay Outline

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A well-structured essay outline is needed to write an exceptional essay as it helps to shape the entire content.

Students often get worried when being assigned to draft an essay outline.

It is considered to be a challenging and complicated task but not an impossible one. So don't worry. Learning how to create an essay outline won't take much time.

Keep on reading this blog to learn more about the complete format guide of an essay outline.

What is an Essay Outline?

It is an organizational tool mainly used in academic and professional writing. It is the foundation or a roadmap of your research paper that is produced by structuring major ideas.

Though, it is not mandatory to draft an outline structure. However, it gives an impressive and professional outlook to the assignment. Even professors and readers appreciate a well-detailed structure of contents. A writer can prepare headings in the outline for the future paragraphs of the essay.

It can be helpful in the following ways:

  • When there is vast data, an outline can help you identify that piece of information you need
  • You will get a better understanding of the subject
  • It becomes easier to explain it to the audience

How to Write an Essay Outline?

If you want to spend less time on the writing process, you should first learn how to write an outline. There are different ways of writing an outline. However, the basic essay outline structure applies to all the essay types.

Furthermore, a short essay consists of five body paragraphs. Nevertheless, it may differ for longer essays.

Here is the complete format guide to assist you in writing your college essays and academic papers.

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1. Introduction

The introduction section should be compelling enough to attract the reader’s interest. It should provide a general idea of the background information about the topic. Avoid using lengthy and irrelevant details. It can further be spiced up with a thesis statement.

A writer can also use a dramatic tone and a hook sentence to grab the reader's attention. A hook sentence engages the writer and motivates them to read your content more.

There are various forms of essay hooks that work for your introductory paragraphs. They include quotations, stories, jokes, phrases, facts, and historical dates.

Pointless and boring essays can make readers lose their interest in the beginning. Therefore, revise your sentences until you get a desired catchy hook.

Continue reading our blog to learn more about how to write an essay introduction.

  • Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a sentence that expresses the main idea of an essay. It is considered to be the most crucial sentence in your essay.

The thesis statement is usually stated at the end of your introduction. It often makes a claim that directly answers your research question.

A writer has to be very specific while writing a strong and clear thesis statement. It summarizes the central theme of your essay in one sentence. Moreover, such an argument should present the hypothesis clearly that will be directly supported by evidence.

2. Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are the linking paragraphs between the introduction and conclusion. It includes all the content of your essay. Each paragraph should contain a topic sentence and a single idea. Do not use opposing ideas as it will minimize the effectiveness of your essay.

Apart from this, your body paragraphs should serve the actual purpose of your essay. For example, while writing a persuasive essay, the content should be designed in a way to persuade the audience. Similarly, an argumentative essay should convince the audience towards your point of view.

Also, use transition words to lead the reader from one idea to another. In between, for example, in addition, moreover, furthermore, nevertheless, etc., are examples of such transition words.

3. Conclusion

Always end your essay with a strong essay conclusion. It is the last section of your paper writing that summarizes the purpose along with the findings. Moreover, it should also restate the thesis statement and the supporting points.

Similarly, this section should be kept short and precise but powerful. The presented facts should be in the present tense with proper vocabulary.

Therefore, your concluding statement should be influencing enough to leave an impact on the reader's mind.

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Essay Outline Example

A typical outline consists of five paragraphs. The basic essay outline format is given below.

Essay Outline Structure Types

The following are the two types of essay outline structure.

Alphanumeric Structure Style

The most frequently used style is the alphanumeric outline structure. The subdivisions in this structure are described as:

  • Roman numbers (I, II, III, etc.) - mainly used to identify the major section while writing your outlines.
  • Capital letters (A, B, C, etc.) - used to show substantial points.
  • Arabic numbers (1,2,3, etc.) - used to highlight the important details.
  • Lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) - used for classifying general details.

Decimal Structure Style

The writers mainly prefer this structure as it may seem easier to display. It only consists of numerals. The outline for every section usually begins with 1.0 and continues with 2.0, 3.0, etc.

Similarly, more decimals will be used when we add new information. It will look like 3.1, 3.2, etc.

Apart from this, any further details will be presented in the form of 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.1.3. etc.

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Essay Outline Template

A typical essay outline template is followed for all types of essays. Have a look at the below samples to learn how to write an outline for a perfect essay.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay presents both sides of argument. However, your side of the argument should be proved by some strong evidence and supporting details.

Persuasive Essay Outline

It is similar to the argumentative essay. But the only difference is that the author has to convince readers about his point of view.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

This type of essay identifies the similarities and differences between the two objects. A writer should focus on the difference while comparing. While contrasting, he should focus on the similarities.

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a kind of story writing. The primary purpose is to describe an object creatively.

Expository Essay Outline

It is an essay style that describes an object and analyzes it. It should be unbiased and based entirely on the evidence.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

It is a form of writing where the writer analyzes a topic in detail to prove a particular point of view. It is one of the types of writing which appears in the AP English exam.

Synthesis Essay Outline

A synthesis essay is about taking ideas from other sources and making them into one.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

A literary analysis essay examines a literary piece of work. This essay proves that you have examined and evaluated literature work from different aspects.

Informative Essay Outline

The main aim of writing an informative essay is to educate your readers on a certain topic.

Essay Outline on Poverty

In this essay type, the writer discusses the top reasons for poverty like bribes, corruption, injustice, lawlessness, etc.

Writing a 5 paragraph essay outline is a challenging task for most of the students. It requires a lot of skill and effort to grab the reader’s attention.

The process mentioned above made it clear how to write a well-organized outline. However, in case if you still need any help, you can always rely on professional essay writers. is a top academic writing service where you can hire a professional essay writer for your essay.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the five parts of an essay?

Following are the five parts of an essay:

  • 1 introduction paragraph
  • 3 body paragraphs
  • 1 conclusion paragraph

What does an outline consist of?

An outline is a list of main points that your essay will talk about. Outlining helps you to figure out what your essay will be about and organize it.

What are the three types of outlines?

Following are the three types of outlines:

1. working outline
2. full-sentence outline
3. speaking outline

What is the purpose of an essay outline?

An outline aims to organize the most important ideas of an essay, book, or chapter in numbered form. The bigger and more important ideas are given Roman Numerals. In comparison, the smaller and less important ones are labeled with Arabic Numerals.

Barbara P.


Barbara P. (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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