How to Write a Strong Outline for an Essay
An outline is written to prepare for constructing an essay, as it contains the key points and statements that will be addressed. Whether you are writing it for an aviation paper, or a history essay, it is equally important. Outlines allow you to organize your ideas clearly. The following tips from our professional essay writers will help you through the challenging process of creating an outline for your work.
Think of the topic
Choose what you are going to write about. It can be either a narrow question if you know precisely what you want to discuss, or a broad topic that can later be narrowed down to a more specific idea you might come up with while writing and analyzing
Choose the type of your outline
There are several types of outlines, i.e. alphanumeric or decimal outlines, full sentence or topic outlines. If your instructor requests a particular type, make sure you understand which characters you are allowed to use. If you can choose the type yourself, pick the one that looks best for you personally.
There is no significant difference between marking your outline with numbers or with letters. However, it is important to remember that full sentence outlines are more applicable to the types of essays where a process is described in stages, while phrase outlines are more appropriate when there is too much detail to be put in a header.
Maintain parallel structures
When writing headings, make sure they look similar in terms of grammar. For example, you may have noticed that all of the headings in this article have the imperative form of the verb at the beginning, and their length is more or less the same. Avoid using different sentence structure or very long and short subheadings at once. This will make your outline look messy and difficult to read and follow.
Make sure headings have the same significance
As you understand, outline consists of headings and subheading. The ideas covered in each heading should be equally important. For example:
- FRENCH CUISINE
- ITALIAN CUISINE
Apparently, this short sample cannot be used as a solid outline. However, it demonstrates that the headings cover about the same amount of information and are about equally precise. The same concerns the subheadings; both pizza and spaghetti are dishes, and the description of each would be equally important.
Divide each heading into subheadings
First of all, it helps you to organize your ideas more efficiently. It is easier to follow the idea if it is broken into several smaller parts that are little more accurate and therefore require less information put in just one paragraph. It leads us to the second benefit of division – smaller pieces of information are easier and more pleasant to read, the reader does not get tired of a large amount of information contained in one paragraph.
Narrow down from headings to subheadings
As you may have noticed in the sample above, the primary headings contain broader and more general information. However, the subheadings should describe specific aspects from the headings. The same rule works with secondary and tertiary items as well. All in all, the hierarchy should be maintained based on how general the statement in a heading is and how much information should be written to cover that idea.
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