How to Write an Outline: A Complete Guide and Examples

Are you having a hard time writing an outline? Or are you sure you know how to format and structure an outline?

Before writing any academic paper, think carefully about what you’re going to write about; also, consider how you will structure your essay. Usually, it is challenging to do both tasks simultaneously-and; that’s where a well-structured outline will be of great help.

1.The Outline Basics

An outline is an overall plan used to organize your essay, report, or speech.

What are the main functions of an outline?

  1. To organize your thoughts and make sure all key points are included.
  2. To structure your work.
  3. To help you plan and manage your time.

2.The Outline Structure

The outline structure contains these three essential parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. (with thesis statement)
  3. Body
  4. Having the argument, pieces of evidence, or necessary examples)
  5. Conclusion

While constructing your outline, keep the following tips in your mind:

1.In your outline, list all the important tips you will use to write your paper.

2.Each paragraph must specify just one point. By doing so, your reader will understand your work and get to the point more easily.

3.In the introduction, describe the overall opinion or the statement on the topic.

4.Gather your ideas together in a group under general headings. Then, arrange them logically.

The outline allows your reader to:

  1. To perceive the information visually.
  2. To understand the logical exposition of the research topic.
  3. Understand signals about changing focus

3.Guidelines for Formatting an Outline

To write an excellent outline:

1.Use a clear and precise organizational system. Divide your topics using numbers and letters, followed by a period.

2.Your headings/subheadings should consist of at least two entries. For example:

If your outline starts with a section under Roman numeral I, a section labeled roman numeral II must also be included.

3.The main topics in the outline must correspond to your key ideas. They should be placed in each paragraph’s topic sentence.

4.You can use the words ‘introduction and ‘conclusion’ instead of the unique headings.

4.Outline Formats: Different examples

4.1. Topic outline

This kind of outline is appropriate when dealing with various issues that could be organized in different methods.

Research essay outline: Common reasons for self-harm


1.1. Why do people self-harm?

⠄Brief statistical data

⠄The issue of causation

1.2. Recent research

⠄Studies ‘for’ self-harm

⠄Studies ‘against’ self-harm

2.Research for

2.1. First investigation ‘for’




⠄Commenting on the conclusion

2.2. Second investigation ‘for’



⠄ Results

⠄Commenting on the conclusion

3.Research ‘against.’

3.1. Study ‘against’




⠄Commenting on the conclusion

3.2. Second study ‘against’




⠄Commenting on conclusion


⠄Controversial results of studies ‘for.’

⠄Common reasons for self-harm

⠄No further research is needed.

4.2. Alphanumeric outline

This type of outline format is a mixture of letters and numbers. They follow this order:

  1. Roman numerals
  2. Capitalized letters
  3. Arabic numerals
  4. Lowercase letters

An ordinary industrial attachment application outline sample:

            The Industrial Attachment Process


2.Look for the desired company/employer

⠄Check through the web to find more about work condition

⠄Find a position relevant to your area of specialization

3.Send your email with the relevant details to the targeted person.

3.1. Write your address in the email

3.2. Attach your department’s attachment letter or even academic details (If necessary)

4.Wait for the feedback from HR

4.1. Get ready for the interview

4.2. pass the interview

4.3. Become a perfect employee


4.3. Decimal outline

This type’s format is similar to the alphanumeric type, but it is more detailed.

A basic essay outline sample: Modern Tendency for Healthy Lifestyle


1.1. Benefits of health in the contemporary world

1.2. Recent research relating to health life tendency

2.Healthy lifestyle benefits

2.1. Fewer cases of lifestyle diseases

2.2. More physical fitness across the globe


⠄Popularity and growth of healthy lifestyle

⠄Future campaign of healthy life among young people

5.How to Make Your Outline More Effective

1.Keep your content consistent. By doing so, you will significantly improve your content’s readability and visual perception.

For example:

⠄Choose an appropriate topic.

⠄Make a clear outline.

Write an excellent essay.

2.Maintain the synergy between similar paragraphs

⠄Conduct in-depth research

⠄Show your hypothesis justification

⠄Write down appropriate conclusions

3.Keep the subordination. Stick to the relevant paragraphs’ ranking. From general(headings) to the specific(subheadings)

Use the outline as a tool to structure your writing; this will ensure your paper remains organized and well-structured.

You can create outlines using Microsoft Word. All you have to do is:

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Check the paragraph setting below.
  3. Choose your outline format.

Thank you for reading this article! If you need further clarifications and questions regarding an outline, contact us. We are ready and happy to assist you in any academic writing queries.

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