Guidelines For Preparing Essay Outlines


Several times during your academic career, you will be asked to write essays on a plethora of topics. Writing a coherent and informative essay takes considerable efforton the part of the writer. But there are certain measures which make the writing process more systematic and time efficient. One such measure is to prepare a comprehensive outline before you start writing the essay.

How to write a good outline for your essay

Outlines serve as a map to the essay writing process and aid you in channeling yourenergy as well as thoughts in the required directions. They also help avoid wastage of time and greatly enhance your focus and clarity of thought. Preparing an outline is a guaranteed way to ensure that each section of the essay is adequately planned out prior to the writing process. A few Creative Writing Guidelines to preparing outlines for essays have been mentioned below.

Do not skimp on research

In order to prepare a proper outline for your essay, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject it addresses. You should spend adequate time on research using all resources available to you, such as the internet, libraries, etc. until you are able to interpret the data and draw your own conclusions. It is in your best interests to gather and analyze your primary and secondary materials before preparing the outline. It is also important to ensure that these supporting materials are readily available to you so that you can use them easily for reference during the process.

Give adequate thought to the gist of your article

Before you start preparing your outline, decide what the overall tone of your essay will be, and also what your central arguments are. The thesis of the essay should be decided upon much before the start of the actual writing process. Ample time should be spent on choosing the arguments you want to make and deciding how you will go about making these arguments. Your methods and methodologies should also be determined prior to this process.

Develop a list of the main points

Several writers get stuck after they start the essay writing process as they cannot decide on what points they want to make at a specific juncture. A very important step of outline preparation is making a list of all the points you deem relevant to your topic of discussion. This process is akin to a brainstorming session and encourages creativity and greater contemplation on the topic. It also helps avoid writers' block and aids the flow of the writing process.

Identify categories and sub-categories for the points

In the next step, you should decide upon how the different sections of your essay will be arranged. Note down their order and the points you want to make in each section. An effective way of ordering your points is to categorize them thematically. Find broad thematic categories based on your topic, and arrange each point under an appropriate category. You can also add sub-categories so that your ideas are organized in the right order.

Include a brief description of each point

During the brainstorming session prior to writing, you may come up with several points relevant to the topic. However, during the actual writing process, you may forget how they fit into your essay. In order to avoid this, write a brief and concise description for each main point in your outline. Mention how it is relevant to the topic of discussion, and how you want to utilize it in your essay.

Revise your points

Go through your entire outline and ensure that it is error-free. An error-free outline helps you write an error-free essay. Ensure that the points mentioned in your outline are consistent with the central arguments of your essay. At this point, it is also important to remove all points that are irrelevant or don't fit into the categories and sub-categories you identified.

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