How to Outline an Essay


In this video I am going to be talking about how to outline an essay in a very simple and easy way.

Okay, so let's get into it- how to outline an essay. I like to use mind mapping and mind maps to outline everything I write because it's just such a simple way to think and freely express ideas, to put down what I know and to also be able to fill in the gaps.

So as you're making your outline, you will be able to easily see, "okay this is what I know about this particular topic but here is where I need to get more information as I do my research." So there are a few things that you need to be aware of first. Some preliminary info is what we are talking about here.

How to Outline an Essay: Preliminary Info.

First you need to know some things like how long the essay needs to be, how many words your essay needs, what audience you are writing to, what details of research you are expected to have and all of these things are going to boil down into the purpose of your assignment.

The reason I put detail of research and audience on here is because if you are in a beginning English class and you are writing an essay for it, you aren't going to be writing to many people.

You are going to be writing to your professor and that's your audience. And if it's a beginning English class they probably won't be as concerned about the details of your research as they are about your grammar, and your spelling, and things like that.

So, get these questions answered first

  • Who are you writing to?
  • How long is it suppose to be?
  • What detail of research is going to be expected of you?

After you have that, you are going to have to continue on with the actual outline. That's where you start. I'm assuming a five paragraph essay here just for illustration purposes, it might be longer, but you can just add in body paragraphs as you need to .

How to Outline an Essay: Opening Paragraph

So the first paragraph is the opening paragraph and what you want to do here is you want to start off with with a startling or attention grabbing fact or statistic. This immediately pulls your reader in and this is something that is interesting to them and that they may not know, however it is applicable to them and you will show them how through the entire essay. So it needs to grab their attention and draw them in.

Once you pull them in, you are going to state your problem or purpose in one sentence and then you are going to give some history about that problem or purpose.

How to Outline an Essay: Body Paragraph 1

After this, you are going to go to your first paragraph, and on this paragraph, body paragraph one, the first statement is going to be supporting statement. So that is going to be the very first sentence in the paragraph. So, you are going to have a supporting statement and this sentence supports the statement or problem from paragraph one, from the opening paragraph.

So this supporting statement drives home that there is a problem or there is something that needs changed, or something is occurring. It's supporting that first problem, okay?

And after you give that statement, you are going to need to give some facts and real world examples. Maybe some recent news, or an illustration like an allegory or relation to something else, showing that, yes, this really is a problem and it really needs dealt with.

How to Outline an Essay: Other Body Paragraphs

Next we are going to go to our second and third body paragraph and they are essentially the same thing as body paragraph one except you are going to be using different supporting statements. And you are going to be using different facts supporting the supporting statement.

So again, something to remember is that each of these supporting statements, this one here and this one here, in both paragraphs and also in paragraph one as well, these are supporting statements to the problem that you stated in the opening paragraph, that opening paragraph of the essay.

So keep that in mind. Also keep that in mind as you are researching for facts and examples, look for things to drive home your point.

After you have those paragraphs done, you are going to go to your conclusion.

How to Outline an Essay: Conclusion

Now, in the conclusion you are going to restate the purpose or problem, so you are going to restate that first statement that you made in the opening paragraph and then you are going to give a solution. So this is what you propose will be the solution to fix that problem or the issue you are talking about in your essay.

Lastly, you are going to give a plan on how to implement the plan. You have the plan, you give the solution, you give the plan to fix it, and here is how you implement the plan.

I hope that this has helped you get an overview of how to outline an essay because it's not a hard process especially with mind mapping.

Outline an Essay Easily With Mindmapping

I especially like this kind of software because as you are going along and as you have outlined your essay you can go back and if you say, "well, maybe this paragraph would work better before paragraph one or this can become paragraph one and this can be paragraph two", you can switch these around very easily and organize however you want to and you can do that as you go along.

It also tends to work well when you can start out by writing everything you know about the topic, so you have your mind map and then you can go back see where you need to include more information maybe go into a little bit more detail and those are the places where you will need to research.

You can immediately see what you know, see what you need to find out and write a logical, sensible, and well organized essay.

I hope that this helps you and I hope that you can use this to write other essays and outline other essays throughout your college and your career.

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