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An Easy Guide On Essay Writing: How To Compose An Outline

When you are writing an essay outline, there are many mistakes that can be made. But following these tips will limit those mistakes:

  • Read the essay question or instructions carefully

  • Highlight any keywords in your instructions. Many students skim the instructions and miss important words like “explain” or “compare AND contrast” versus “compare OR contrast”. You don’t want to get a bad grade because you didn’t take two seconds to read your essay question carefully. If you find any words with which you are unfamiliar, look them up. Look for “task words”, or words that indicate what you have to do such as “discuss” or “explain”. Look for “topic words”, or words that indicate the subject of your essay such as “characters” or “causes of”. Also look for “limiting words”, such as “only in Chapters 2-5” or “during the 18th century”.

  • Finish your background research and reading before you start writing

  • When you start researching, you should be selective about the sources you include. Avoid picking sources that are not accessible or not relevant. Write down any notes you take in your words. If you find a quotation that is useful, write it down, and make sure to write down the bibliographic information that supports it so that you don’t have to go back and look at every source you ever used to find the right author and page.

  • Brainstorm ideas that respond to the essay question or instructions

  • Brainstorming is a chance for you to jot down relevant points to the essay. Here you can note any quotes or evidence you find during your research phase that will help support your point of view. You might consider using a mind map to stimulate more lateral thinking.

  • Develop a thesis that captures your response

  • Your thesis is a statement which expresses your response to the question at hand, or the argument you are going to make. It should express the complexities behind your topic. It forms the foundation of the paper. It needs to be stated clearly in your introduction, and then referred to multiple times throughout the body of your text.

  • Write out a plan

  • Make sure your ideas are placed in a logical sequence. You want every one of your points to support your original question. If they are not relevant, then they serve no purpose being included. After you have written your outline, or plan, you should have a clear idea of where your essay is going.