Creating an Outline
In a previous post I talked about the steps required to writing an essay. One of those steps was “Create an Outline.” On the surface, this is a simple step–but skipping it can cause you a lot of problems. Today, I delve more deeply into outline creation.
An outline for your essay is one of the first steps you MUST take right after you determine what the instructor is asking you to do. The outline should be your constant companion as you research, organize and create the first draft of your essay. Treat it as the frame of your paper. Without an outline your paper runs a high risk of being disorganized and incoherent.
The time you spend creating an outline will be the best assurance of a smooth, concise, and well-organized paper.
The following is an outline template I give my writing students. Depending on how many subtopics and points they have, the outline can be shortened or extended. Introduction and Conclusion paragraphs are mandatory.
Killer first sentence to get the reader’s attention.
Thesis: A statement which responds to what your instructor is asking you to do._____________________________________________________.
II. BODY PARAGRAPH 1: First Main Idea
Opening Sentence: Introducing the first main idea___________________________________________.
Detail 1: Supporting evidence for first main idea___________________________________________________.
Detail 2: Supporting evidence for first main idea___________________________________________________.
Detail 3: Supporting evidence for first main idea____________________________________________________.
III. BODY PARAGRAPH II: Second Main Idea
Transition/Opening Sentence: Introducing second main idea_________________________________.
Detail 1: Supporting evidence for second main idea ____________________.
Detail 2: Supporting evidence for second main idea __________________________.
Detail 3: Supporting evidence for second main idea____________________________________________________.
IV. BODY PARAGRAPH III: Third Main Idea
Transition/Opening Sentence: Introducing third main idea_________________________________.
Detail 1: Supporting evidence for third main idea _____________.
Detail 2: Supporting evidence for third main idea ____________________.
Detail 3: Supporting evidence for third main idea ___________________________________________________.
V. BODY PARAGRAPH IV: Fourth Main Idea
Transition/Opening Sentence: Introducing fourth main idea________________________________.
Detail 1: Supporting evidence for fourth main idea ___________.
Detail 2: Supporting evidence for fourth main idea __________________.
Detail 3: Supporting evidence for fourth main idea __________________.
Restatement of Thesis from paragraph one:______
Dynamite final sentence offering insight to end your essay___________________________________.
Here’s an example:
The instructor has asked you to compare and contrast three father figures in cartoons.
You know from his prompt that the essay is a compare and contrast.
The subjects are cartoon fathers.
You need to select THREE.
So you do some quick research and come up with possibilities:
Dennis the Menace’s father
Lil’ Abner’s father
Next, you select the THREE you wish to use and create your outline by deciding which THREE
OR FOUR fatherly characteristics you will compare and contrast.
These will form your three or four main ideas.
Lastly, you will write the beginning and concluding paragraphs.
Characteristics to compare and contrast might include:
Offers fatherly advice
Sets rules and is consistent about them
Communicates effectively with his children
Participates in activities with his kids
Enjoys the company of his children
Makes time to be involved in his kids’ school and extracurricular activities
Displays open affection toward his children…
Following your outline will allow you to see where you need to do some additional research.