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5 Excellent Guidelines for Developing an Effective Essay Outline

  • March 4, 2019
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It is common to find the process of writing an essay stressful, especially when you experience challenges at the very start. However, the solution lies in developing an outline. The following are useful tips that will assist you in creating a framework that captures the main and supporting concepts of a topic.

Selecting a Topic and Establishing a Purpose

If you choose a topic that you find thrilling, it is more likely that your writing process will be smoother and faster. It means that you will not waste a lot of time describing unknown things when handling an already researched theme. However, you should still put in effort when clarifying the purpose of your writing. Having a clearly defined topic is critical, but understanding the goal of an essay will assist you in setting limitations and guidelines on what suitable content is. Consequently, you will be able to create an effective outline as you will have determined what you want the reader to understand.

Creating a List of Main Points

You should jot down all the ideas that come to your mind and the sources of information that will support your argument. It is the brainstorming stage of your writing process; thus, you should ensure it only culminates in essential ideas for your essay.

The main points can be various arguments to answer your identified question, a list of sources with the relevant information that will meet the research purpose or instructions on how to complete a specified task. Regardless of the choice of topic, this step is critical as it provides you with a chance to bring out all your ideas and determine the scope of your writing.

Creating an Essay Framework

In this stage, you should wear your critical-thinking hat to enable you to organize the most convincing ideas for your essay. It will allow you to compile them and create a detailed essay structure.

By lining up the concepts into a specific order, you will be able to determine the best possible way of expressing them in writing. Therefore, you should rearrange the many ideas you had identified earlier on, and order them in a way that will make sense to you and the intended reader.

There are various ways of organizing these ideas; thus, you should identify the most appropriate strategy based on the essay type you are writing. After establishing the main ideas in a specific order, you can go ahead and develop the framework.

However, it is important to note that you do not have to capture all the points you had outlined at the beginning of the process. It is possible that you will enhance some ideas during writing by expanding, shrinking, or replacing some points.

Allocating the Main Ideas

It is important to separate the most important ideas from the secondary ones that have a rather auxiliary function. Subsequently, you will need to incorporate relevant content that will support the main points. Ideally, such content should be in the form of examples, theories, personal anecdotes, and statistics, which are related to your central argument. Therefore, you should expand on the original ideas so that you achieve the purpose of writing the essay by ensuring the reader understands the various points.

You should realize that this stage is quite tedious, but it will help you in the long run. You will save more time in later stages, and the writing will result in a more focused and well-structured essay. Besides, if you for one reason or another cannot complete it by yourself, the outline will be a good starting point to get custom paper services.

Review and Edit Your Outline

You may think that after completing the above steps, your outline is complete. However, that is not the case as writing always takes a while. To be a good writer, you must continually review and edit your drafts until you can achieve the best possible version.

In this vital and final stage, you will check your text to determine whether it contains any mistakes or misconceptions that may require adjustments. Since you will use your final outline as a roadmap to guide the writing, you should make sure you have captured all the best ideas and determined the connections between them.


It is crucial to develop an outline before working on the actual essay. In it, you should capture the main ideas in the manner you wish to present them. Your outline will ensure that an otherwise stressful situation remains focused and that you incorporate all the best ideas that will prove your position. The above tips will be valuable in creating a formal outline for any essay type that is required by your instructor.

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