Nova A.
Nova A.

Learn How to Create a Perfect Essay Outline

22 min read

Published on: Sep 28, 2017

Last updated on: Dec 30, 2023

Essay Outline

Writing essays can be a daunting task for many students, causing stress and anxiety.

The pressure to produce clear, well-structured, and coherent essays often leaves students overwhelmed, especially when they lack effective strategies.

The essay outline plays a critical role in shaping the entire content of the essay.

In this easy-to-follow guide, we'll break down essay outlining step by step so you can write with confidence and get better grades. 

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What is an Essay Outline? 

An essay outline is a short plan of your essay where you list down all the ideas you need to cover in your essay. 

Planning your ideas and arguments before you start essay writing will help you to ensure that you cover all the important points.

An essay outline typically includes:

  • Introduction: This is where you introduce your topic and provide some context. 
  • Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph focuses on one idea or point related to your topic.
  • Conclusion: Here, you summarize everything you've talked about and leave your reader with some final thoughts.

Once you create the outline, you won't miss any important information. It also helps you in:

  • Organizing your thoughts and ideas.
  • Understanding how the information flows.
  • Not skipping any crucial information or references.
  • Finishing your work more quickly.

How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps?  

Writing an essay outline is like creating a roadmap for your essay. It helps you stay organized and ensures your essay flows smoothly. 

Here are four straightforward steps to get you started:

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

Before you begin outlining, you need a clear understanding of your essay's topic

Select a topic that interests you and aligns with your assignment's requirements. Once you have your topic, you're ready to move on.

Step 2: Identify the Main Points

Think about the key ideas or arguments you want to present in your essay. These will become the main points or sections of your outline. 

Jot them down in a logical order.

Step 3: Add Subpoints

Under each main point, add subpoints that support and expand upon your main ideas. These subpoints can be examples, evidence, or specific details related to your main points.

Step 4: Organize and Structure

Now, arrange your main points and subpoints in a logical order. Typically, essays follow a three-part structure: Introduction, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusion. 

Your outline should reflect this structure, with each main point corresponding to a section of your essay.

Key Parts of An Essay Outline 

Crafting a well-structured essay begins with a solid outline. 

Understanding its key components is your first step toward essay-writing success. It will include the following elements:


An essay introduction contains:

  • Hook: An engaging opening sentence or two that captures the reader's attention.
  • Thesis Statement: A clear and concise statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.

Body Paragraphs

A body paragraph of an essay consists of:

  • Topic Sentence: The main idea of the paragraph, usually the first sentence.
  • Supporting Details: Evidence, examples, facts, or quotations that support the topic sentence.
  • Analysis: Your interpretation and analysis of the supporting details, explaining how they relate to the thesis.
  • Transition Words and Sentences: Words and Sentences that connect one paragraph to the next and maintain the flow of the essay.


An essay conclusion summarizes the main points consisting of:

  • Restate Thesis: Restate the thesis statement, but in different words.
  • Summarize Main Points: Briefly summarize the key points from the body paragraphs.
  • Closing Statement: Provide a closing thought or reflection that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Essay Outline Format 

There's no one-size-fits-all approach, and that's why we'll explore various types of essay outlines to suit different essay formats and purposes.

General Essay Outline 

The general essay outline structure uses the linear style.

All the points are numbered in order of their importance, from major to minor roles. In order to rank, assign numbers to your ideas. 

Here’s a general essay template for all essays that you can refer to structure your main ideas. 

Essay Outline Template

  1. Introduction
  • Hook
  • Background Information
  • Thesis Statement
  1. Body Paragraphs
  • Main Point 1: The first key idea or argument that supports your thesis.
  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Supporting Details
  3. Analysis
  • Main Point 2: The second key idea or argument, usually presented in a new paragraph.
  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Supporting Details
  3. Analysis
  • Main Point 3 (if applicable): Continue with additional key ideas or arguments as needed.

III. Counterargument (optional)

  • Counterpoint
  • Rebuttal
  1. Conclusion
  • Restate Thesis
  • Summarize Main Points
  • Closing Statement
  1. References or Works Cited (if required)

Sources in appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

Alphanumeric Essay Outline 

For most papers, it is always advisable to choose an alphanumeric outline format. 

In an alphanumeric structure, major sections are shown in Roman numbers, then comes the capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters. 

Alphanumeric Essay Outline Format


Body Section

A.1st Paragraph

B.2nd Paragraph

1. 1st Argument

a.1st Sub-argument

b.2nd Sub-argument

c.3rd Sub-argument

d.4th Sub-argument

2. 2nd Argument

C. 3rd Paragraph

III. Conclusion

Decimal Essay Outline 

You can also use the decimal essay outline format. It is a less common way of outlining an essay or a paper.

Decimal Essay Outline Format

1.0. Introduction and Thesis Statement

2.0. Body Section

2.1. 1st Argument

2.2. 2nd Argument

2.3. 3rd Argument

2.3.1. 1st Sub-argument

2.3.2. 2nd Sub-argument

2.3.3. 3rd Sub-argument

3.0. Conclusion

Different Essay Outline Templates

Different templates can help you get a better idea of essay outlining. Here are some essay outline examples for you to get a general idea for writing your outlines. 

Informative Essay Outline

An informative essay writing is all about conveying information or educating readers about a particular topic.

Below, you can find what an outline for an informative essay should consist of.

Narrative Essay Outline

narrative essay is a type of paper in which you tell a story from your own perspective or personal experience. It provides specific details to get the readers involved in your story and understand your viewpoint.

Below is the narrative essay outline that you can refer to for better understanding.

Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay is quite similar to a comparative essay in terms of developing arguments to support the claim. In this type of essay writing, you should provide solid arguments on both sides of the issue.

To achieve that, follow an argumentative essay outline to compose a great argumentative paper and score high grades.

The following is the argumentative essay outline template for your help.

Persuasive Essay Outline

In a persuasive essay, the author uses logic and solid arguments to convince the readers of a particular point of view.

To create an outline for a persuasive essay, consider the following template.

Analytical Essay Outline

An analytical essay is usually written to analyze a text. It concentrates on how something is done. Writing an analytical essay involves breaking down the concept into parts to understand its meaning and what message it conveys.

Below is what the outline for an analytical essay should look like.

Descriptive Essay Outline

A descriptive essay is a type of paper in which the writer describes an object, person, process, or event. The main goal of writing a descriptive essay is to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Following is a perfect descriptive essay outline that you can follow for a well-structured descriptive paper.

Compare And Contrast Essay Outline

A compare and contrast essay highlights the way in which two things are different and similar to each other. 

Below, you can find the outline for compare and contrast essay.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

rhetorical analysis essay analyzes a piece of work in terms of rhetoric.

The rhetorical analysis essay outline will help you examine the work and explain how its different parts come together.

Expository Essay Outline

An expository essay presents a balanced analysis of a subject solely based on facts. 

The expository essay outline gives you a better idea of creating a well-written outline for your essay. 

Synthesis Essay Outline

synthesis essay involves taking a unique viewpoint of a central idea and backing it up with different sources. 

Need to submit a synthesis essay soon? Here is a synthesis essay outline template to specify all the main points first.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

literary analysis essay? is an important academic assignment that examines and evaluates a piece of literature work.

If you have no idea how to structure this type of essay, here is a literary analysis essay outline for your help.

Reflective Essay Outline

In a reflective essay, you write about your own experience or thoughts regarding a specific topic. 

Get to know about this type of essay from the following reflective essay outline.

Cause and Effect Essay Outline

A cause and effect essay identifies the reasons for something and then discusses the results. 

The following cause and effect essay outline can help students understand and get into the writing process.

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Scholarship Essay Outline

scholarship essay is an important part of the scholarship application process. This essay helps students to stand out and get the scholarship.

Here is an outline to help you understand how scholarship essays are different from other essay types.

Problem Solution Essay Outline

problem-solution essay identifies a problem and provides one or more solutions to it. It usually consists of three parts: introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion.

Learn more about the structure of a problem-solution essay with this outline.

Evaluation Essay Outline

The purpose of writing an evaluation essay is to judge a particular topic according to certain criteria.

In order to write a perfect evaluation essay, refer to the following outline.

Definition Essay Outline

definition essay explores a certain term and provides personal understanding of the term. This essay is more than a dictionary definition.

You can also check out the following definition essay outline for more help.

Essay Outline Examples

The essay outline can be a great way to organize your thoughts when writing an essay. The following examples are for the help that gives you an idea of creating a perfect outline.

Essay Outline On Artificial Intelligence

I. Introduction

Hook: Start with a thought-provoking question or statistic about AI.

Background Information: Briefly explain what AI is and its significance.

Thesis Statement: State your main argument or purpose for discussing AI.

II. What is Artificial Intelligence?

Definition: Define artificial intelligence and its objectives.

History: Provide a brief overview of AI's development over the years.

III. Types of Artificial Intelligence

Narrow AI (ANI): Explain how ANI is designed for specific tasks.

General AI (AGI): Describe AGI's ability to perform tasks like a human.

Superintelligent AI: Discuss the concept of AI surpassing human intelligence.

IV. Applications of Artificial Intelligence

In Healthcare: Explore how AI is used in medical diagnosis and treatment.

In Finance: Discuss AI's role in financial analysis and trading.

In Autonomous Vehicles: Explain how AI powers self-driving cars.

V. Benefits and Concerns

Benefits: Highlight the advantages of AI, such as efficiency and innovation.

Concerns: Address ethical and societal concerns related to AI, like job displacement and privacy.

VI. The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Advancements: Discuss potential future developments and breakthroughs in AI.

Ethical Considerations: Explore how society might navigate the ethical challenges posed by AI.

VII. Conclusion

Summary: Recap the key points discussed in the essay.

Final Thoughts: Offer some final thoughts on the present and future impact of artificial intelligence.

Essay Outline On Climate Change

I. Introduction

Hook: Begin with a striking fact or statistic related to climate change.

Background Information: Provide an overview of the issue of climate change and its global significance.

Thesis Statement: State your main argument or purpose for discussing climate change.

II. Causes of Climate Change

Greenhouse Gases: Explain how the increase in greenhouse gases contributes to global warming.

Human Activities: Discuss human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation that release greenhouse gases.

III. Effects of Climate Change

Environmental Impact: Describe how climate change affects ecosystems, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and habitat loss.

Social and Economic Impact: Discuss how climate change impacts communities, agriculture, and economies.

IV. Climate Change Mitigation

Renewable Energy: Explain the importance of transitioning to renewable energy sources.

Conservation: Discuss strategies for conserving resources and reducing emissions.

International Agreements: Highlight global efforts like the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

V. Adaptation to Climate Change

Resilience Strategies: Explore ways communities can adapt to changing climate conditions.

Technology: Discuss innovations and technologies that help mitigate the impact of climate change.

VI. The Role of Individuals

Individual Actions: Explain how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint through everyday choices.

Advocacy: Discuss the importance of public awareness and advocacy in addressing climate change.

VII. Challenges and Controversies

Skepticism: Address climate change skepticism and its impact on policy decisions.

Political and Economic Factors: Discuss the challenges associated with implementing climate policies.

VIII. Conclusion

Summary: Recap the key points discussed in the essay.

Call to Action: Encourage readers to take action, whether through personal lifestyle changes or advocacy efforts, to address climate change.

Essay Outline On Inflation

I. Introduction

Hook: Begin with a relevant quote or a surprising fact about inflation.

Background Information: Provide an overview of what inflation is and why it's an important economic concept.

Thesis Statement: State the main argument or purpose of discussing inflation.

II. Understanding Inflation

Definition: Define inflation and explain how it is measured, such as through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Types of Inflation: Discuss different types of inflation, including demand-pull, cost-push, and built-in inflation.

III. Causes of Inflation

Demand-Side Factors: Explore factors like increased consumer spending and government expenditures that drive demand-pull inflation.

Supply-Side Factors: Discuss factors like rising production costs or supply disruptions that contribute to cost-push inflation.

IV. Effects of Inflation

Purchasing Power: Explain how inflation erodes the purchasing power of money, affecting consumers' ability to buy goods and services.

Income Distribution: Discuss how inflation can impact income distribution, affecting different groups in society.

V. Inflationary Policies

Central Bank Actions: Explain how central banks use monetary policy to control inflation, including raising interest rates.

Fiscal Policy: Discuss government actions like taxation and spending as tools to combat inflation.

VI. Consequences of High Inflation

Hyperinflation: Define hyperinflation and provide examples of countries that have experienced it.

Economic Consequences: Discuss how high inflation can lead to economic instability and uncertainty.

VII. Managing and Controlling Inflation

Inflation Targeting: Explain the concept of inflation targeting and its role in monetary policy.

Global Cooperation: Discuss the importance of international cooperation in addressing inflation in a globalized economy.

VIII. Conclusion

Summary: Recap the main points discussed in the essay.

Implications: Discuss the importance of understanding inflation in economic decision-making.

Future Trends: Offer insights into future inflation trends and potential challenges in managing it.

Here are some more examples for your better understanding:

Throughout this guide, we've explored the crucial role of essay outlines along with different formats and templates of outlines.

However, we understand that even with the best guidance, crafting an essay can be a daunting task. That's where comes in. 

Our professional essay writing service is here to offer expert assistance and deliver impeccable essays tailored to your needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of outlines?

Besides the alphanumeric and decimal essay outlines, the following are the 3 types of outlines.

  • Working outline
  • Full-sentence outline
  • Speaking outline

All of these are used for different purposes so be careful that you choose the right type of outline.

What is a topic outline?

A topic outline is a useful tool for organizing your thoughts while developing an argument and structuring the paper.

It helps in outlining the main ideas and arguments and presenting them in a coherent way. It also assists in building relationships between the entire assignment.

What is a full sentence outline?

The full sentence outline is a more detailed and structured way to create an essay. They are the same as the alphanumeric outlines.

These outlines use complete sentences at each level of the structure. This type of format can be used for any formal writing assignment where you need to provide detail about your thoughts.

It helps to write well-supported arguments or develop concrete ideas with evidence and outside sources.

Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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