Caleb S.
Caleb S.

How to Create a Reflective Essay Outline | Easy Guide with Examples

Read Time

9 min read

Reflective Essay Outline

Reflective writing serves as a powerful tool for self-expression, personal experience, and critical thinking. 

It encourages us to look into our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, gaining deeper understanding and insight. However, without a clear roadmap, writing a reflective essay can feel overwhelming. 

In this blog, we'll shed light on how to create a well-structured reflective essay outline with examples. We will also provide some tips to help you craft a good outline and make the writing process easy and efficient. 

So, let’s get started!

On This PageArrow Down

  • 1. What is a Reflective Essay Outline? 
  • 2. How to Write a Reflective Essay Outline?
  • 3. Reflective Essay Outline Template 
  • 4. Reflective Essay Format and Style
  • 5. Reflective Essay Outline Examples
  • 6. Reflective Essay Outline Writing Tips

What is a Reflective Essay Outline? 

A reflective essay outline is a layout of one’s thoughts and ideas in regard to a specific item.  This type of academic writing revolves around a specific response to a topic in the form of a personal reflection. 

In simple words, reflective writing is more like writing your diary, the only difference is your essay will be read by others so it has to be well-structured and coherent. 

Why Outline Your Reflective Essay?

Creating an outline is the first step to a well-written reflective paper. The outline helps you organize your thoughts clearly and ensures that your essay flows logically from one point to the next.

Outlining your reflection essay also helps you see the overall picture of your essay and stops you from getting off-topic or adding irrelevant info.

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

How to Write a Reflective Essay Outline?

As the purpose of writing a reflective essay is different from other types of essays, the organization of ideas will also be different. No matter what topic you pick, there are always certain rules you need to follow.

Here are the key components of a reflective essay outline and the steps to make one just right.

1. Reflective Essay Introduction 

As with any other type of writing, reflective essays also start with an introduction to the topic. You can find some good topic ideas on our reflective essay topics blog. The following are the three important parts that an introduction for a reflective essay should include:

  • The Hook

It is usually the first statement written to catch the reader’s attention from the beginning. It can be an anecdote, a rhetorical question, or an interesting fact.

For Example: 

Ever felt like you were drowning, figuratively speaking? This overwhelming sensation is exactly how I felt during my first public presentation in college. 

This hook uses a relatable metaphor to pique the reader's interest.

You can also go through our hook examples blog for exciting ways to start your essays.

  • Thesis Statement 

A thesis statement is a 1-2 sentence statement that describes what your essay is all about. Don’t give too much information in the reflective essay thesis statement, as you will expand on it later. 

For Example: 

Though initially crippled by stage fright, I discovered the power of preparation and self-compassion, ultimately transforming my public speaking experience into a valuable lesson in resilience. 

This thesis captures the central idea (overcoming stage fright), conveys the significance (resilience), and expresses the writer's perspective (preparation and self-compassion)

2. Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs 

Constructing the body section can be the difficult and most time-consuming part of outlining. Each body paragraph should consist of: 

  1. Topic Sentence: Start your body paragraph with a topic sentence to explain its main idea.
  2. Event Analysis: Provide a detailed description using sensory details, actions, and relevant dialogue. Examine causes and consequences and analyze your thoughts and feelings.
  3. Connect to Broader Themes: Elevate your reflection by drawing connections to universal concepts or lessons learned.

If you are describing an event, here is what each paragraph of your reflective essay should include. 

  • First Body Paragraph 

The first paragraph will be a description of the event. Don’t forget to answer the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ questions. Include the essential information to describe your experience. 

For describing an event, a good approach is to follow the chronological order and avoid jumping from one time to another. 

  • Second Body Paragraph 

In the second part, you need to point out the main issues related to the described event. You can also insert quotations and cite sources if the described points can be related to the literature. 

  • Third Body Paragraph 

The third part of your reflection essay will focus on the reflection of your thoughts about the event. This part describes what lessons you have learned as well as insights and ideas that evolved after experiencing the event. 

3. Reflective Essay Conclusion 

It is the last paragraph of your reflective essay where you need to provide a final touch to the whole writing together. 

Here are the key elements that you need to add for writing a great essay conclusion paragraph. 

  • Restate your thesis statement
  • Review the main ideas
  • Closing sentence

Reflective Essay Outline Template 

Below is an outline template you could follow for writing your essay:


  • Introduction
    - (Hook)
    - Thesis Statement
  • Body Paragraph 1 (Support Thesis Statement)
    - (Topic Sentence)
  • Body Paragraph 2 (Support Main Argument)
    - (Topic Sentence)
  • Body Paragraph 3 ( Share your thoughts or observations)
    (Topic Sentence)
  • Conclusion (Sum Up Your KeyPoints)


Reflective Essay Format and Style

When writing a reflective essay, you have various formats to choose from to structure your writing. The following are the three most common essay formats that you can use to arrange your reflective essay. 

For a reflection essay, it's usually around 400-700 words, but always confirm the specific length with your instructor. Here are some key guidelines for APA and MLA format:

Guidelines for APA Style

  • Use Time New Roman.
  • Font size 12 should be used.
  • One inch margin on all sides of the paper.
  • On top of every page, include a page header.
  • Add the page number on the right side of the paper.
  • The essay in APA should be divided into four parts: the title page, the abstract, the main body section, and references.

Guidelines for MLA Style

  • All text should be double-spaced.
  • Use Times New Roman.
  • Font size 12 should be used.
  • The one-inch margin on all sides of the paper.
  • Titles should be centered.
  • Include your name, your instructor’s name, course name, and date in the header.
  • The last page of your essay must include a work cited. 

Reflective Essay Outline Examples

 If you are working on your reflective essay assignment and need help with its outline, you can get help from the following examples to get started with your reflection paper. 

Reflective Essay Structure Template 

Have a look at the reflective essay template and use it to easily draft your essay outline.

Reflective Essay Outline Samples

Here are additional examples of reflective essay outlines available for free download.

Reflective Essay Outline Writing Tips

We have some expert tips for creating a perfect outline for your reflective piece of writing. Take a look: 

  • Capture Key Ideas Quickly: Write down your main ideas and key points in a quick and concise manner. Use phrases or short sentences to represent each idea in your outline.
  • Start with the Core: Begin your outline with the essential sections: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. This provides a structural foundation for your reflection.
  • Mind the Flow: Ensure that your outline has a logical flow from one section to the next. Each point or idea in the outline should naturally lead to the next one.
  • Chunk Similar Ideas: Group together similar ideas or related experiences in the same section. This simplifies the writing process and maintains coherence.
  • Focus on Key Details: Don't worry about including every detail in the outline. Instead, prioritize key details and examples that support your main points.
  • Use Symbols or Abbreviations: To save time and space, use symbols or abbreviations in your outline, like arrows (?) to indicate transitions or "ex." for examples.
  • Think in Questions: Use questions as prompts in your outline. For instance, "What did I learn from this experience?" can guide your reflection in a specific direction.
  • Reflective Prompts: Use reflective prompts as subheadings in your outline to guide your thought process. For example, "Why was this experience significant?"

Now, you know how to create an outline for writing a reflective essay. Refer to the above guide to craft a perfect reflective essay structure to achieve the results you need.

Reflective essay writing can be challenging for some, even with all the advice and tips. 

Our reflective essay writing service can take care of your reflective essay outline or even the whole writing if you struggle to implement your idea. Our professional writers are available 24/7 to provide you with top-quality paper writing help.

So, order now! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many paragraphs is a reflective essay?

FAQ Icon

A reflective essay typically consists of 3-5 paragraphs, including an introduction, body paragraphs for reflection, and a conclusion.

How to start a reflective essay example?

FAQ Icon

To start a reflective essay:

  1. Start with a captivating story or intriguing fact.
  2. Introduce the central topic of your reflection.
  3. Set the scene with relevant background details.
  4. Clearly state your main idea or purpose for writing.
AI Essay Bot

Write Essay Within 60 Seconds!

Use our AI tool to generate high quality essay
Try AI Essay Writer Free
Caleb S.


Caleb S.

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

Get Help

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Top-class writers are here!Get Help