Basic Essay Structure Guide: How to Write an Essay Outline

An essay is a must-item for students across the globe. As such, it is critical to familiarize yourself with the structure of an essay and master the best tips to secure a decent score.

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This article will highlight the parts of an essay outline to guide you in preparing your paper.

What are the parts of an essay?

Although many people are familiar with the three parts of an essay, a five-part essay is often preferred unless specific guidelines are provided.

The five-part essay usually comprises five paragraphs, with the introduction and conclusion paragraph taking no more than 20% of the total word count. Each section should carry its idea and contain a maximum of 200 words/ 3-5 sentences.

However, this style applies to essays ranging between 500-1000 words. Pieces above this word count may have more parts and sections to allow your readers to follow your ideas quickly.

5 parts of an essay

The 5-part essay consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion paragraph. These sections encompass:

1. Introduction

This part should hook your reader in and introduce the background to your argument and the relevance of the essay. The section also introduces your thesis statement and includes a transitional sentence building up to the first body paragraph.

2. First body paragraph

This is the first paragraph of your body and should contain your strongest argument. Like other body paragraphs, the first body paragraph should start with a topic sentence followed by supportive evidence to the claim.

Also, briefly describe the idea’s impact in relation to the thesis and close off the first body paragraph with a transitional statement to the second body paragraph.

3. Second body paragraph

Like the former, start with a topic sentence and prove the statement’s relevance to your overall argument. Finally, discuss the significance of this idea and relate the idea to your thesis.

Finishing this paragraph with a transitional sentence to the third body paragraph like the preceding paragraphs.

4. Third body paragraph

This portion should carry your weakest idea and the supporting evidence for the points. Finally, tie the idea to your thesis and cater for any counterclaims that you may make against the claim.

5. Conclusion

Within the conclusion, restate your thesis and summarize the three major points covered within the body of your essay. You may also offer suggestions or recommendations for future research in your field.

Essay parts in order

More advanced essays may have more parts than the typical 5-section essay. These essays may have an abstract, an introduction, a body, and methods and results depending on the discipline.

When working on such a paper, the key areas to cover include:

  • The title page
  • An abstract
  • An introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • A conclusion
  • The reference section

How to write an essay outline

An essay outline is a critical roadmap that dictates the direction of your paper. The outline helps you gauge your research and organize your work to present your argument.

The following steps should come in handy as you prepare your essay outline.

  1. Understand the question

Before diving into research, read the question at hand and analyze the possible approaches you could take. Also, determine if the paper can be exhausted in the stipulated word count and select a specific topic where possible.

While at this, brainstorm on possible approaches to the topic to establish the aspects you are properly acquainted with.

  1. Develop your thesis

After selecting your topic, develop a thesis that is open to debate. The thesis should be short and straight to the point and clearly show your stand on the topic under discussion.

  1. Research your topic

Before diving into writing, engage various primary and secondary sources to determine the extent to which your topic has been covered and multiple issues in the existing sources. Next, develop your unique essay, using the current research as supporting elements for your paper.

  1. Organize your points

After research, connect various points and organize the ideas from the strongest to the weakest arguments. Next, sort these ideas into paragraphs and organize each section to start with the topic sentence, evidence, and significance of the research to the thesis.