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Outlining an Essay tips

By ilelepape Apr 22, 2015 898 Words
Seattle University

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Outlining an Essay
A key to good writing is having a clear and logical organization so the reader can follow your argument. Creating an outline for your essay is one way to do this.

Tips for crafting an effective outline:

Make the organization of your ideas purposeful; think about what needs to come first, second, third, and so on.
The movement of ideas within each paragraph and in the essay as a whole should be from old information to new information.
Limit the number of major subjects in your outline; you don’t want it to become a laundry list.
Indenting indicates that ideas are becoming more specific; ideas that are equally specific should be at equal levels.
Be flexible! Don’t be afraid to change your outline as you write.

Sample Outline:
For a class about female leadership in Latin America, students were asked to write a four page paper addressing the factors that have the greatest impact on female leadership in Argentina. A student created the following outline in response to this assignment, drawing from the structure of the Basic American Essay.*

Gives background
information to
create context for
the argument.
Thesis includes a
mapping statement, indicating
how the author
will develop her

I. Introduction
A. Argentine women may be underreprested in the workforce, but they are overrepresented in civil society; nearly 60% of paid civil society staff is female. B. Therefore, it is important to understand the challenges women face C. Thesis: Though many sociologists believe gender has the greatest impact on leadership styles, for female civil society leaders in Argentina, social class has the greatest effect on leadership styles. While social class generally dictates leadership opportunities and political beliefs, it also unites women through the issues they address.

Continued on the back...

*if you have questions, check out our “A Basic American Essay Format” Handout.

First body paragraph

II. Social class affects women’s opportunities for leadership. A. Lower class women are forced into positions out of necessity. 1. They face marginalization, so they must take a stand to fix a problem. 2. Doña María: “I immediately began to be respected by my fellow workers, to be a sort of leader in my section. I don’t know why, God knows” (James 46) B. Upper class women consciously choose to become leaders.

1. They tend to be better educated, and “Education is a significant factor in incidences of women’s empowerment.” (Cosgrove 51)
3. They understand that they have control over their lives and have an awareness of how they can contribute.
4. Example: Charity Society (Cosgrove 50)
a. They accessed leadership opportunities through their status as upper class. III. Female leaders’ political beliefs are heavily influenced by their social class. A. Lower class women tended to be anarchists or Peronistas.

1. These women were “...double oppressed – by bourgeois society and by assertions form
men.” (Cosgrove 52)
paragraph topics.
2. Peronistas focused on workers’ rights only, not women’s rights. 3. Anarchists focused on workers’ rights first, then women’s rights. B. Middle class women tended to be socialists.
1. Socialists prioritized the fight for women’s rights
Uses textual
a. They “overturned law that classified women as minors” (qtd. Cosgrove 53) evidence to support
b. They created a new law as well: women could choose their professions and the argument.
didn’t have to give their wages to their husbands or fathers. (qtd. Cosgrove 53) IV. Despite the differences between lower and upper class female leaders’ opportunities for leadership and political beliefs, they generally unite around the issues they address. A. Working class women tend to address basic needs that affect their families 1. These issues affect quality of life, and working class women confront these issues on a daily basis.

a. Doña María needed higher wages so she could feed and clothe her family. B. Middle and upper class women also address the basic needs of marginalized women and families, but the methods they use to address the issues have changed. 1. The Eva Peron Society was made up of upper class women, and they worked to help Uses data to support

poor and marginalized families through charity
the argument.
a. The Foundation “employed 14,000 workers, distributed 400,000 pairs of shoes, 500,000 sewing machines, and 200,000 cooking pots” (qtd. Cosgrove 55). b. Built whole communities (houses, streets, furnishings, etc.) 2. However, today, the focus shifts from charity to community building a. Female leaders from the middle and upper class try to address the root causes of poverty, such as a lack of specialized training for a job. i. Victoria Matamoro teaches occupational therapy classes to low income women in a local university. (Cosgrove 108)

b. Alleviating poverty through community building rather than charity provides a more long-term solution.
Answers the “so
V. Conclusion
what?” question.
A. As the development of democracy continues, women are beginning to collaborate across class divisions to address issues of women’s rights.
1. The National Women’s Meeting does this.
B. When they transcend boundaries, they must know how their class affects their leadership.

After writing your first draft, it can be helpful to re-read and revise your outline. For another revision strategies, see out “After-the-Fact Outline” handout. *For more tips like these, check out the resources online: © Seattle University Writing Center | August 2011

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