Creating an outline might seem like a tedious and time-consuming process, but it can be done in as little as five minutes – all it takes is a blank piece of paper and to follow four simple steps.
To make your essay as strong as possible, you’ll need to include several elements in the outline: main points, topic sentences for each paragraph, supporting details for each point, counterarguments (if any), and conclusions.
In this article, I will walk you through these steps to show you how.
Step One: Figure Out Your Main Points
The first thing that you should do when creating an outline is figuring out what your main points are going to be. There may be more than one for a larger essay, but there should be no more than three.
For example, if your essay is about why you want to go to college, your main points might be ‘I’m ready’, ‘I’ll get the opportunity I need’, and ‘It’s my dream’.
Step Two: Jot Down Each Point As A Topic Sentence
Once you’ve figured out exactly what each point will say, write a quick sentence that encapsulates it on a separate sheet of paper. If possible, include the word that best sums up your main point in this sentence.
For example, using our example from before, here are topic sentences for each point:
“I’m ready” – My future is very important to me and realize now how many opportunities it offers.
“I’ll get the opportunity I need” – I want to go to college because I believe that it will provide me with what I am looking for.
“It’s my dream” – College has been my dream since kindergarten and this is something that, more than anything else, I want to do.”
Step Three: Add Supporting Details For Each Point
Now that you’ve got your main points laid out in topic sentences, finish each sentence by adding some supporting details. These details should make readers understand why you feel the way about the subject as you do.
For example, our topic sentence on ‘college’ might now say “College has been my dream since kindergarten and this is something that, more than anything else, I want to do. I have filled my room with college paraphernalia and organized a scrapbook of all the letters that I have received from colleges over the years.”
Step Four: Counterarguments And Conclusions
Counterarguments refer to any reasons why your main points might not be valid or important. For example, if you are writing an essay about why you should go to college, one counterargument might be ‘College is too expensive’.
Include any potential counterarguments in this final step – which will also serve as the conclusion. If there is no counterargument for your position, then simply end with a summary of each point and a brief statement on why it is important.
Putting It All Together
Here’s an example of how the five steps could be used for a personal essay about why someone should go to college:
“One, college has been my dream since kindergarten and this is something that, more than anything else, I want to do. I have filled my room with college paraphernalia and organized a scrapbook of all the letters that I have received from colleges over the years.
“Two, I realize now how many opportunities having a degree will give me and I feel ready to take advantage of them. For example, it will allow me to achieve the career goals that I’ve had since childhood such as becoming an environmental lawyer or working in exchange programs abroad.
“Three, not going to college would like throwing away everything that’s led up to this point. Without a degree, I won’t be able to get into graduate school or pursue the career that I really want to go after.
Counterargument: College is too expensive, which is why many people don’t attend.”
End With: “In conclusion, college offers many opportunities for people to succeed both in their careers and in life. I believe that my future is very important to me and realize now how many opportunities it offers.”
Now you know how to outline your essay. Just make sure that you are using complete sentences when writing this outline because it will be the basis of your actual paper.
Thank you for reading!