An essay outline is a crucial item for planning various academic assignments. This plan guides your writing efforts, helping you overcome conflicting ideas that could steer you off your argument. 

Unfortunately, many students overlook the importance of an outline, opting instead to freewheel their essay writing. Often, this approach results in challenges such as unobjective arguments and getting stuck in later writing stages. 

This article will analyse various tips and ideas for preparing an essay layout to help you easily go about your essay planning. We will also offer some simple essay outlines for various essay types to help you visualize your expected goal. 

What is the purpose of an outline?

The essay outline is designed to help you visualize the key arguments within your paper. This outline contains all the key ideas yielded from the research stage and thus gives you a clear image of your discussion. 

The outline also identifies gaps that require further investigation, reducing the challenges faced down your essay writing path. Additionally, your essay plan shows the relationship between various ideas in your content, allowing you to yield flow in your paper. 

After preparing your outline, you can easily go about writing your essay without veering off your topic in pursuit of irrelevant claims. This tool thus ensures an objective analysis of a subject, ensuring a good score and a quality paper. 

How long should an outline be?

An outline is a concise piece of writing that often comprises condensed sentences, outlining the key arguments within various sections of your paper. Owing to this, the outline is always shorter than the real essay, with a five-paragraph essay fitting within a one-page outline. 

However, there is no limit to the ideal length recommended for your outline. The outline should be as long as necessary to exhaust your topic and highlight the connection between various ideas within your paper. 

Structure of an essay outline

The outline draft should be chunked according to the sections and structure of your paper. A standard essay outline might thus have an introduction section, a body section, and a conclusion.

Within the introduction, you should highlight the key idea for your hook, the background information, and your thesis statement. Next, outline each body paragraph and indicate your topic sentence idea, the main points of support, and the relevant evidence. 

Where possible, close each paragraph with a point that sets the ground for the next paragraph. Also, indicate the transition words you will use as you shift from one idea to the next. 

Finally, indicate the key information you intend to reiterate in your conclusion and the recommendation regarding the subject matter. 

Note: advanced academic tasks may call for a detailed outline for various sections within your paper. This will allow you to gauge the completeness of each chapter and help you gauge the relationship between ideas in various sections of your thesis/dissertation. 

How to create an essay outline

Some of the steps to ensure a quality outline include:

  1. Select a topic

Your initial step in essay writing should be to select a topic that is relevant to the prompt provided by your tutor. For this, determine a specific idea that you can exhaust with the available resources and time frame. 

You could start by searching your key phrase on search engines and checking various ideas and emerging issues within your field. 

  1. Brainstorm ideas

Next, think about relevant ideas that you could present on a topic and jot down this information as questions. These questions will guide your research efforts, serving as the initial perspectives for your arguments. 

  1. Conduct research on the topic

After establishing your interests in a particular topic, research the angles that you have identified. Your research will expose more questions regarding your topic and broaden your understanding of the subject. 

Jot down various ideas you get from your research and indicate the sources for easier recording within your references. 

  1. Group your ideas

Finally, sort the ideas from your brainstorming and research stages into sections and paragraphs. Organize the ideas to ensure a smooth flow in your arguments and to achieve a smooth transition in various elements within your essay. 

Argumentative Essay Outline

Title: Is too much homework effective in improving a student’s performance?


  • Hook: elementary students handle roughly six hours of assignments in a day (Kepler, 2016)
  • Background: homework has shown positive results if assigned in small amounts. Some states have researched this phenomenon and limited the hours of homework allowable at various levels (ref 2)
  • Thesis: too much homework is detrimental to a learners recall and comprehension capacity


Paragraph one:

  • Topic sentence: too much homework limits time for extracurricular activity
  • Argument: promotes mental exhaustion due to huge durations of time spent on study
  • Evidence: students who did too much study without breaks suffered a decline over time (ref 3)
  • Conclusion: too much time on study is counterintuitive way of improving a learner’s performance


Paragraph two:

  • Topic sentence: may result in compromised sleep schedules in a bid to complete assignments
  • Argument: limited sleep impairs focus and concentration in subsequent day, resulting in poor learning
  • Evidence: poor sleep patterns are a harbinger for adverse consequences
  • Conclusion: interference with sleep cycle is a negative effect triggered by the copious amounts of assignments

Paragraph three:

  • Topic sentence: Limits learner from approaching other study approaches
  • Argument: homework might limit a learners approach to study
  • Evidence: various learners learn best through different approaches. Visual learners, auditory learners may need free time to supplement study with other sources
  • Conclusion: homework should accommodate diverse learning styles


  • Summary: too much homework is not beneficial for students. compromises sleep cycle, ability to focus and also exerts mental exhaustion on learners
  • Recommendations: design homework to allow for learners study approach and put free time into account before assigning homework

High School Essay Outline

Title: Are school uniforms beneficial?


  • Hook: after introduction, there was a 25% increase in the adoption of uniforms across public schools
  • Background info: Uniforms are standard across all schools across globe. Emerging issue contest role of uniform in school
  • Thesis: uniforms are essential in school setting


Paragraph 1

  • Topic sentence: uniforms bring uniformity bridging the social class gap
  • Supporting evidence: lack of uniform could promote segregation based on class and inspire bullying and trolling
  • Additional information: students from various economic backgrounds can fit into the school setting and interact on level grounds

Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence: reduces financial burden on parent
  • Supporting evidence: changing trends would call for constant change of apparel to keep up with trends
  • Additional information: failure to stay at per with trends would result in discomfort for children in school

Paragraph 3

  • Topic sentence/ counterargument: uniform does not affect a learners cognitive capacity
  • Supporting evidence: may serve as distraction within school setting
  • Additional information: students from poor economic backgrounds may be ridiculed and over time fail to participate in class


Uniformity is crucial for an inviting environment to all learners.

Personal Essay Outline Template

Topic: The moment I should have made a better choice


  • Hook: narrate climax. Being loaded to cop car after arrest
  • Thesis: following the crowd is bound to result in repercussions


Paragraph one:

  • Meeting long-time friend in college class.
  • Getting teased on how i was leashed and thus did not experience life.
  • Agrees to a party plan to impress my mates.
  • Feels great to identify with a group

Paragraph two:

  • We meet in the evening to collect supplies for party.
  • Indulges in marijuana.
  • Impresses ladies in class.
  • Gets praise from peers.

Paragraph three:

  • House party gets noisy.
  • We get arrested.
  • Berated by parents for being irresponsible.
  • Feel embarrassed for indulging in party.


Decision-making should not be based on impressing your peers.

Persuasive Essay Outline Sample

Topic: Homework should be abolished from schools


Hook: in study by Reagan (year) students assigned too much assignment load registered a negative deviation in performance

Thesis statement: homework is detrimental when assigned in huge amounts

  • Argument 1: Homework limits time for extra-curricular activity
  • Argument 2: Homework interrupts with sleep cycle
  • Argument 3: Homework kills child’s morale to study

Paragraph 1

      Argument: Homework limits time for extra-curricular activity

  • Example #1 interrupts daily schedule
  • Example #2 child prioritizes study over their play thus exerting too much pressure on brain
  • Example #3 too much study time results in mental exhaustion
  • Transition: limited time for study may push student to make more room to accommodate assignments

Paragraph 2

     Argument: Homework interrupts with sleep cycle

  • Example #1 work at night to catch up with assignments
  • Example #2 students may study till morning and subsist on coffee on the next day
  • Example #3 limited sleep causes poor focus and concentration
  • Transition: limited sleep may cause negative mentality toward study

Paragraph 3

     Argument: Homework kills child’s morale to study

  • Example #1: Aversion towards homework may make students to wing on the assignment
  • Example #2: negative mentality to teacher and subject over time reduces learners interest toward studying the subject
  • Example #3 Lack of interest results in deteriorating scores.


Restate thesis: too much homework is detrimental for students

Take away: homework should be abolished/ controlled