Outlining an Essay
Why Outline? Just because you have composed a thesis statement1 doesn’t mean that you are ready to start writing your essay. Outlining your ideas will help you see the structure of your main points and sub-points clearly. Outlining will also help you check the logic and completeness of what you will be writing, revealing any gaps, repetition, or illogical steps in the development of your essay. Outlining your essay will also help you manage your time more efficiently – you can break down the outline into manageable sections – and then assign yourself reasonable time to write the first draft of each section. Remember, the introduction can be very time consuming – leave it until the end – it is much easier to write the introduction when you have finished the first draft. Before You Outline Planning / Outlining is Step #5 of The Writing Process1. This is the last step before you begin to write your essay. As you develop your outline, keep in mind the length of the assignment. How many words / pages do you have to produce for this writing assignment? Although you may have many great ideas, it is in your outline where you decide how many ideas you will develop in your essay and which ones will be a priority. For example, if you have been assigned a 1,000 word essay and you have decided upon 5 supporting arguments, this would mean approximately 150 words per argument. Ask yourself: Are 150 words enough to thoroughly develop each argument, ensuring I will be able to discuss all of the important points? Typically, your arguments should all be equally developed and of equal relevance to your topic. If you feel you can justify discussing one argument for 500 words and yet use only 100 words for another, you should probably reassess your outline and decide which argument could be cut from your outline. Are you ready? Here is what you need in order to ensure you are ready to write your outline: A topic A thesis statement Supporting arguments to...
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