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How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples

Published on August 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph , giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold.

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Table of contents

Organizing your material, presentation of the outline, examples of essay outlines, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay outlines.

At the stage where you’re writing an essay outline, your ideas are probably still not fully formed. You should know your topic  and have already done some preliminary research to find relevant sources , but now you need to shape your ideas into a structured argument.

Creating categories

Look over any information, quotes and ideas you’ve noted down from your research and consider the central point you want to make in the essay—this will be the basis of your thesis statement . Once you have an idea of your overall argument, you can begin to organize your material in a way that serves that argument.

Try to arrange your material into categories related to different aspects of your argument. If you’re writing about a literary text, you might group your ideas into themes; in a history essay, it might be several key trends or turning points from the period you’re discussing.

Three main themes or subjects is a common structure for essays. Depending on the length of the essay, you could split the themes into three body paragraphs, or three longer sections with several paragraphs covering each theme.

As you create the outline, look critically at your categories and points: Are any of them irrelevant or redundant? Make sure every topic you cover is clearly related to your thesis statement.

Order of information

When you have your material organized into several categories, consider what order they should appear in.

Your essay will always begin and end with an introduction and conclusion , but the organization of the body is up to you.

Consider these questions to order your material:

  • Is there an obvious starting point for your argument?
  • Is there one subject that provides an easy transition into another?
  • Do some points need to be set up by discussing other points first?

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Within each paragraph, you’ll discuss a single idea related to your overall topic or argument, using several points of evidence or analysis to do so.

In your outline, you present these points as a few short numbered sentences or phrases.They can be split into sub-points when more detail is needed.

The template below shows how you might structure an outline for a five-paragraph essay.

  • Thesis statement
  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence
  • Summary/synthesis
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement

You can choose whether to write your outline in full sentences or short phrases. Be consistent in your choice; don’t randomly write some points as full sentences and others as short phrases.

Examples of outlines for different types of essays are presented below: an argumentative, expository, and literary analysis essay.

Argumentative essay outline

This outline is for a short argumentative essay evaluating the internet’s impact on education. It uses short phrases to summarize each point.

Its body is split into three paragraphs, each presenting arguments about a different aspect of the internet’s effects on education.

  • Importance of the internet
  • Concerns about internet use
  • Thesis statement: Internet use a net positive
  • Data exploring this effect
  • Analysis indicating it is overstated
  • Students’ reading levels over time
  • Why this data is questionable
  • Video media
  • Interactive media
  • Speed and simplicity of online research
  • Questions about reliability (transitioning into next topic)
  • Evidence indicating its ubiquity
  • Claims that it discourages engagement with academic writing
  • Evidence that Wikipedia warns students not to cite it
  • Argument that it introduces students to citation
  • Summary of key points
  • Value of digital education for students
  • Need for optimism to embrace advantages of the internet

Expository essay outline

This is the outline for an expository essay describing how the invention of the printing press affected life and politics in Europe.

The paragraphs are still summarized in short phrases here, but individual points are described with full sentences.

  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages.
  • Provide background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press.
  • Present the thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
  • Discuss the very high levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe.
  • Describe how literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites.
  • Indicate how this discouraged political and religious change.
  • Describe the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.
  • Show the implications of the new technology for book production.
  • Describe the rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.
  • Link to the Reformation.
  • Discuss the trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention.
  • Describe Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation.
  • Sketch out the large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics.
  • Summarize the history described.
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period.

Literary analysis essay outline

The literary analysis essay outlined below discusses the role of theater in Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park .

The body of the essay is divided into three different themes, each of which is explored through examples from the book.

  • Describe the theatricality of Austen’s works
  • Outline the role theater plays in Mansfield Park
  • Introduce the research question : How does Austen use theater to express the characters’ morality in Mansfield Park ?
  • Discuss Austen’s depiction of the performance at the end of the first volume
  • Discuss how Sir Bertram reacts to the acting scheme
  • Introduce Austen’s use of stage direction–like details during dialogue
  • Explore how these are deployed to show the characters’ self-absorption
  • Discuss Austen’s description of Maria and Julia’s relationship as polite but affectionless
  • Compare Mrs. Norris’s self-conceit as charitable despite her idleness
  • Summarize the three themes: The acting scheme, stage directions, and the performance of morals
  • Answer the research question
  • Indicate areas for further study

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You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved April 5, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/essay-outline/

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Free Essay Outline Template

  • Posted on September 19, 2023 September 18, 2023

Essay writing is a large part of many classes in high school and college. Whether in English classes or not, teachers often require students to turn in multiple drafts and an essay outline. An effective essay will use an outline to sort through ideas, ensure that all essential points are covered, and make drafting easier. 

However, many students don’t know how to effectively write an essay outline for academic writing. In this article, we will walk you through the process of writing a good essay outline and include a free essay outline template for you. 

Importance of Writing Outlines

The essay writing process generally involves the following steps: choosing a topic, brainstorming and researching, writing and outlining, and drafting. Within these steps, an outline will provide guidance and organization for the majority of the ideas that will end up in the research paper. 

Outlines are crucial for essay organization. An effective outline shows all the main points, supports the topic, and, most importantly, makes the essay writing process more manageable. Once you finish an outline and start working on a rough draft, you should be able to use your outline to help you complete it. 

How to Write an Essay Outline

Once you’ve chosen an essay topic and done some basic research, you should have enough background information to begin outlining. While the type of essay you are writing may vary, the instructions on writing an essay outline are essentially the same. 

  • Start by finding your thesis statement or topic sentence; the sentence the whole outline will support. 
  • The first section of your outline will be your thesis statement and some introductory points.
  • Separate your outline into separate sections according to your body paragraphs. 
  • Under each main idea, summarize several minor arguments and details. 
  • Include background information and research to support your main views. 
  • The final section will be a conclusion: restate your thesis statement and a few of your main points. 

The outline can be as simple as bullet points or as detailed as complete sentences. As long as your central claims are explicit throughout your procedure, you’ll be able to come back to it and find a framework for your drafting process. 

Different Types of Essays

In a college English class, you might be required to write one of many different types of essays. In all of these essays, citing your sources and sticking to the proper writing format are crucial. 

Regardless of your essay’s style, an outline will help you organize your thoughts and prepare for writing the paper. 

Don’t forget to always cite your sources correctly according to the style guide in question. To make your job easier, you can use a tool like Quetext and their citation generator.

Here are the common types of college essays and how their outlines might differ. 

Persuasive Essay Outline

A persuasive essay is the most common type of essay taught in rhetoric and composition classes. Persuasive essays generally have a thesis statement that consists of a topic and a position on that topic. When creating a persuasive essay outline template, it is crucial to ensure that all of your main points support your side of the argument. 

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is still non-fiction but is more story driven. Narrative essays tell a personal experience as though it were a story (think of a memoir or autobiography if it helps). When thinking of a narrative essay, it’s helpful to write the story’s main events as points on your essay outline. 

Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay is extremely similar to a persuasive essay. However, you will have an added set of bullet points for your opposing view. In an argumentative essay, you’ll need to include your opposite view as well as a refutation of your opposing view. Otherwise, it’s very similar to a persuasive essay outline. Create or look online for an argumentative essay outline template to make your job easier.

Expository Essay Outline

Expository writing is the same as an informative essay. An expository essay will have the facts and statistics about a phenomenon or historical event without any opinions or bias. When creating an expository essay outline, ensure that you have the background information to fill it well. 

Contrast Essay Outline

Usually used as part of literary criticism, a contrast essay outline will take two different works of fiction, products, or historical events and compare and contrast them. Usually, the outline will set up an aspect in which the two items are different and evidence to support that for each paragraph. 

Reflective Essay Outline 

Perhaps the most personal of the college essay requirements, reflective essays require students to consider their position on a topic or an event and write about their point of view on it. This is usually done in a journal style but can still benefit from an outline to help organize the writer’s thoughts. 

Research Paper Outline

Unlike an expository essay, a research paper goes in-depth about a specific historical event, subject, or literary work. To prepare a research essay outline template, you will need preliminary research and know what you are writing about. Research papers are longer, so their outlines will be long as well. 

College Essay Outline

If you are applying for college and want to write the perfect essay for your application, you will benefit from using a college essay outline template. These essays vary depending on the prompt but are often reflective or narrative essays. Word count is the most important thing to look at in a college essay. 

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

If you are in an upper-level literature class, you might be assigned a literary analysis essay. These focus on closely reading a work of literature and discussing the themes, characters, or plotlines present. Ensure you read the source material carefully to find evidence for your literary analysis essay outline template. 

Essay Outline Template

No matter the essay topic or type of essay, most essays follow a similar outline structure, with an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Here is a standard outline template for essay with five paragraphs: 

  • Hook to draw audience in
  • Introductory sentences
  • Support for major claim (minor claim)
  • Support for minor claim (facts and statistics)
  • Restate thesis 
  • Restate strongest main claim 
  • Final clinching statement

Final Thoughts

With this free essay template, you should be able to create your own essay outline within a few minutes. Make sure that you adjust the outline for your essay’s needs and don’t forget to check for plagiarism every step of the writing process. Happy writing! 

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How to Write an Essay Outline + Essay Outline Examples

Download for free, how to write an essay outline + essay outline examples .

Writing an essay can seem like a daunting task, but one of the best ways to tackle this challenge is to organize your ideas into a well-structured essay outline. This guide will walk you through the process of creating an essay outline, complete with essay outline examples, to ensure your next essay is a masterpiece.

We’ve compiled a variety of essay outline examples to help you understand how to structure your own essay. We'll cover persuasive essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, expository essays, and even provide a sample research paper outline. Each example will provide you with an idea of how to lay out the structure and details for each type of essay.

Looking for a printable list of essay outline examples? Our printable PDF features essay outline examples and templates that your students can use as examples when writing research papers, or as a supplement for an essay-writing unit

Why write an essay outline? 

An outline serves as the skeleton of your essay, giving you a clear and organized path to articulate your thoughts. Not only does it make writing an essay significantly easier, but it also allows you to present your arguments coherently and effectively.

An essay outline will help you organize your main ideas and determine the order in which you are going to write about them.

Student receives essay feedback A+ . Essay outline examples.

Types of essay outlines

Several types of essay outlines can be used when writing an essay. The two most common types are the alphanumeric outline and the decimal outline.

An alphanumeric outline typically uses Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters, in that order. Each level provides a different level of specificity. This structure is a very effective way to think through how you will organize and present the information in your essay. It also helps you develop a strong argumentative essay.

Alternatively, a decimal outline uses only numbers, and each subsection is a decimal subdivision of the main section. This type of outline is often used in scientific papers.

Persuasive essay outline example 

In the following section, we'll explore a persuasive essay outline example on competitive swimming. The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince the reader of a particular point of view or idea, using compelling arguments and evidence.

In this case, the argument is that competitive swimming is an ideal sport for kids. The essay will present a series of arguments to support this view, demonstrating the various benefits of competitive swimming for children.

Competitive Swimming, an Ideal Sport for Kids


Start your argumentative essay outline by stating your point of view and/or presenting your persuasive argument.

Thesis: Competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports.

Body Paragraph 1

Introduce your primary persuasive argument and provide supporting details in your argumentative essay outline.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides the same benefits as other sports.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   It is good exercise and builds muscular strength.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   It promotes cooperation among team members, especially in relays.

Body Paragraph 2

Introduce a secondary argument and provide supporting details.

Topic Sentence:   Competitive swimming provides some unique additional benefits.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Swimming is an important skill that can be used forever.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Swimming poses a reduced risk of injury.
  • Detail Sentence 3:   Each swimmer can easily chart his or her own progress.

Conclude your essay writing with a summary of the thesis and persuasive arguments. Brainstorming details that support your point-of-view is a great way to start before creating your outline and first draft.

Concluding Sentence:   There are many reasons why competitive swimming is a great alternative to other youth sports, including...

Narrative essay outline example

In the following section, we will examine a narrative essay outline example titled "How Losing a Swim Meet Made Me a Better Swimmer." Narrative essays aim to tell a story, often about a personal experience, to engage the reader and convey a particular point or lesson.

In this case, the narrative revolves around the author's personal journey of improvement and self-discovery through swimming. The essay will illustrate how an initial setback served as a catalyst for significant improvement and personal growth.

How Losing a Swim Meet Made Me a Better Swimmer

Introduce the subject of your narrative essay using a thesis statement and a plan of development (POD).

Thesis: The first time I participated in a competitive swim meet, I finished in last place. With more focused training and coaching, I was able to finish 2nd in the State Championship meet.

Plan of development:   I was very disappointed in my results from the first meet, so I improved my training and fitness. This helped me swim better and faster, which helped me to greatly improve my results.

Set the scene and provide supporting details. Again, start by brainstorming different ways to begin; then go ahead and craft an outline and a first draft.

Topic Sentence:   I was embarrassed at finishing last in my first competitive swim meet, so I began working on ways to improve my performance.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I spent extra time with my coach and the team captains learning how to improve my technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   I started running and lifting weights to increase my overall fitness level.

Provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences to develop your general idea in your essay writing.

Topic Sentence:   Over time, my results began to improve and I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   My technique and fitness level made me faster and able to swim longer distances.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I steadily got better, and I began winning or placing in the top 3 at most of my meets.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  My results improved to the point that I was able to qualify for the state championship meet.

Body Paragraph 3

The next step in the writing process is to provide additional supporting details, descriptions, and experiences. You can then divide them up under different headings.

Topic Sentence:   With my new confidence, techniques, and fitness level, I was able to finish 2nd at the state championship meet.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   I was able to swim well against a higher level of competition due to my training and technique.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  I was no longer embarrassed about my last-place finish, and was able to use it as motivation!

Conclude the narrative essay with a recap of the events described or a reflection on the lesson learned in the story. Briefly summarize the details you included under each heading.

Concluding Sentence:   I used my last-place finish in my first competitive swim meet as motivation to improve my performance.

Descriptive essay outline example

We will now delve into a descriptive essay outline example. Descriptive essays aim to create a vivid and detailed description of a person, place, object, or event to paint a picture for the reader. The intention is to immerse the reader in the subject matter fully.

In this case, the essay provides an in-depth description of a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The essay will use sensory and descriptive details to create a vivid and memorable experience for the reader.

Visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame

Introduce the subject of your descriptive essay with a thesis statement covering the person, place, object, etc. you are writing about.

Thesis: The Hockey Hall of Fame is full of sights, sounds, and experiences that will delight hockey fans of all ages.

Set the scene and provide factual details.

Topic Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Canada and features exhibits from amateur and professional hockey.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   The Hall is located in downtown Toronto and is visited by 1 million people every year.
  • Detail Sentence 2:   You can see exhibits ranging from the early beginnings of the sport to the modern NHL and Olympics.

Provide additional sensory details, descriptions, and experiences.

Topic Sentence:   There are many types of exhibits and shows, including activities you can participate in.

  • Detail Sentence 1:  Player statues, plaques, and jerseys decorate the walls in every room of the Hall.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Many of the exhibits have movies and multimedia activities that make you feel like you're part of the game.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  You can even practice shooting pucks on virtual versions of some of the game's greatest goalies!

Conclude the essay with a paragraph that restates the thesis and recaps the descriptive and sensory details.

Concluding Sentence:   The Hockey Hall of Fame is an experience that combines the best sights, sounds and history of the game in Toronto.

Expository essay outline example

In the following section, we will explore an example of an expository essay. An expository essay aims to explain or describe a topic using logic. It presents a balanced analysis of a topic based on facts—with no references to the writer’s opinions or emotions.

For this example, the topic is "Why The School Year Should be Shorter". This essay will use logic and reason to demonstrate that a shorter school year could provide various benefits for students, teachers, and school districts.

Why The School Year Should be Shorter

Introduce the primary argument or main point of an expository essay, or other types of academic writing, using a thesis statement and context.

Thesis: The school year is too long, and should be shortened to benefit students and teachers, save districts money, and improve test scores and academic results. Other countries have shorter school years, and achieve better results.

Describe the primary argument and provide supporting details and evidence.

Topic Sentence:   A shorter school year would benefit students and teachers by giving them more time off.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Students and teachers would be able to spend more time with their families.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Teachers would be refreshed and rejuvenated and able to teach more effectively.

Provide additional supporting details and evidence, as in this essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:  A shorter school year would save school districts millions of dollars per year.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   Districts could save money on energy costs by keeping schools closed longer.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  A shorter school year means much lower supply and transportation costs.
  • Detail Sentence 3:  Well-rested and happy students would help improve test scores.

Provide additional or supplemental supporting details, evidence, and analysis, as in the essay outline example.

Topic Sentence:   Shortening the school year would also provide many benefits for parents and caregivers.

  • Detail Sentence 1:   A shorter school year would mean less stress and running around for parents.
  • Detail Sentence 2:  Caregivers would have more balance in their lives with fewer days in the school year.

Conclude the essay with an overview of the main argument, and highlight the importance of your evidence and conclusion.

Concluding Sentence:   Shortening the school year would be a great way to improve the quality of life for students, teachers, and parents while saving money for districts and improving academic results.

Sample research paper outline

Now let’s dive into a research paper outline. Unlike a typical essay, a research paper presents a thorough and detailed study on a specific topic. However, it shares the same foundation with an essay in terms of structuring the ideas logically and coherently. The outline for a research paper includes an introduction, a series of topic points that cover various aspects of the main topic, and a conclusion.

This research paper will explore the background of Mt. Everest, the major explorers who attempted its summit, and the impact of these expeditions on Mt. Everest and the local community.

The Conquest of Mt. Everest

  • Location of Mt. Everest
  • Geography of the Surrounding Area
  • Height of the mountain
  • Jomolungma (Tibetan name)
  • Sagarmatha (Nepalese name)
  • The number of people who have climbed Everest to date
  • First to reach the summit (1953)
  • Led a team of experienced mountain climbers who worked together
  • Norgay was an experienced climber and guide who accompanied Hillary
  • Sherpas still used to guide expeditions
  • Leader of the failed 1996 expedition
  • Led group of (mainly) tourists with little mountain climbing experience
  • Loss of trees due to high demand for wood for cooking and heating for tourists.
  • Piles of trash left by climbing expeditions
  • Expedition fees provide income for the country
  • Expeditions provide work for the Sherpas, contributing to the local economy.
  • Introduction of motor vehicles
  • Introduction of electricity

The Everest essay outline template is based on a research paper submitted by Alexandra Ferber, 9th grade.

Happy writing!

Writing an essay outline is a crucial step in crafting a well-structured and coherent essay. Regardless of the type of essay - be it persuasive, narrative, descriptive, expository, or a research paper - an outline serves as a roadmap that organizes your thoughts and guides your writing process. The various essay outline examples provided above serve as a guide to help you structure your own essay. Remember, the key to a great essay lies not just in the content but in its organization and flow. Happy writing!

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Template for 5-Paragraph Essay Outline

Essay Template Description :

It's important that students write an outline before they begin their essay writing. A solid outline is key to ensuring students  follow the standard essay-writing structure and stay on topic.

This is a simple template I have my students complete before they begin writing their five-paragraph academic essay.

The essay template includes sections for the following.

  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting Detail
  • I have put the third supporting detail section in each body paragraph in brackets , since it may not be needed if the first two points support the topic sentence sufficiently (this is my opinion).
  • I have not put a blank field for the conclusion section, since the student is merely meant to restate the thesis statement in a fresh way and include a  So What? idea that indicates why the topic is important.

Feel free to edit the essay template as you'd like.

Essay Template Download :  five-paragraph-essay-outline-template.docx

Essay Template Preview :

5-paragraph essay outline template

- Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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9 comments on “ Template for 5-Paragraph Essay Outline ”

Thank you. Love this template for my students.

Thank you. I also love this template for my students

Thank you this template is very good..and I understand now

Thank you for the outline…. would you consider providing examples of topics ? Just a thought… Once again, thank you

Here are some topics you could write an essay on: https://www.englishcurrent.com/speaking/discussion-speech-topics-esl/

i think it is very good. but like someone else said would you give more examples, but thank you verry much

so this is where my teacher gets her lesson plans. XD thanks this will help when i constantly lose my work.

This is a great template for 5-paragraph essay outlines. It is easy to follow and provides a good starting point for writing your own essays.

They are over 100 fields of fun and exciting types of science including Biology, Archeology chemistry and SO much more. However, the one field of science that really fascinates me, is Astronomy. Ever since I was like six years old I was always so curios about our world, the other planets, black holes, and how things worked and formed in space, which is what really got me in to space. Then I realized there were types of scientist that study this particular branches of science, and they are called Astronomers. Astronomy is defined as the celestial objects, space, and the physical world as a whole. Astronomy is actually one of the OLDEST fields of science. Through out the years, people have utilized astronomy to learn about the universe, our own planet, and even make predictions about life its self. Understanding astronomy requires a great understanding of it’s origins, and the numerous groups and cultures that used it, which is why astronomers usually work for university’s or research institutions. In order to succeed in Astronomy you will need a PHD in physics and math, analytical thinking skills and the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning. Somethings that i find inserting about Astronomy is the physics behind it and like how things are formed/created, like stars, black holes, the Big-Bang theory, galaxy’s, and so much more. Last but mot least, Astronomy actually makes a huge deference in our would because with out Astronomers to build up theory’s and Laws, there is so much stuff that we would not know, and will be left a mystery. In addition, Even our ideas about the future of Earth were shaped by astronomers’ observations of the runaway global greenhouse effect on Venus — and what it meant for climate change on our own planet. We have also been exposed to Astronomy since birth as it determines our Zodiac signs.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Types of Outlines and Samples

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This resource is enhanced by a PowerPoint file. If you have a Microsoft Account, you can view this file with   PowerPoint Online .

Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase Letters

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Free Essay Outline Generator

Need to quickly outline an argumentative essay or a research paper? Try out this free essay outline generator!

Are you a college student struggling to compose a well-organized essay, yet your deadline is approaching fast?

Our essay outline generator is here to help you save time and avoid stress by creating a structure for whatever kind of essay you’re writing. This AI-powered essay outline-making tool employs cutting-edge Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies to swiftly and accurately comprehend complicated themes. So, you don’t need to worry about grammatical or spelling issues when preparing outlines for papers or articles.

  • 🔢 How to Use It?
  • 🤩 The Tool’s 5 Benefits
  • 📝 What Is an Essay Outline?
  • ✍️ How to Write an Outline

🔎 References

🔢 essay outline generator: how to use it.

To generate an essay outline, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  • Choose the genre of your assignment . Is it an essay, research paper, literature review, or proposal?
  • Choose the type of the text . Do you need an informative, analytical, persuasive, or argumentative paper?
  • Indicate the number of paragraphs . That’s an optional step.
  • Add the topic . Please note that it should not be too long or too short.

🤩 Essay Outline Generator: the 5 Benefits

Using our outline generator is easy and beneficial for students.

Here are the parameters you’re sure to like:

📝 What Is an Essay Outline & Why Is It Important?

An essay outline is a technique of organizing the structure and flow of your essay before you begin writing the text itself. You should outline any essay, no matter which type you need: argumentative , comparative , narrative , or other.

The picture defines an essay outline.

Outlining highlights each section’s content, the paragraphs’ sequence , and the relationship between various arguments. Though you may only sometimes be required to make an outline before drafting the essay, doing so can help you plan your thoughts and ensure that you cover all the basics.

Let’s review 5 advantages of an essay outline.

Enhanced Focus

An outline gathers and emphasizes all of your ideas to determine if you’ve adhered to your main point or veered off course. In essence, it helps you maintain concentration and prevents you from wandering off into unrelated topics’ discussion.

Seamless Transitions

If you organize your thoughts logically, your writing will flow more smoothly , and the topic sentences in the body paragraphs of your essay will have more impact. You may check your transitions and the logic of your material with a well-planned outline.

The picture explains the importance of outlining a paper.

Effective Information Sequence

Presenting your strongest point first is better. Your outline will help you determine whether you have presented your information in the most effective sequence .


An essay outline allows for achieving one of the most important writing goals: conciseness . Maintaining simplicity and brevity will help the reader understand your message rather than burying it beneath a sea of superfluous words and off-topic discussion points.

Better Organization

An outline is fundamentally a tool of organization . Have you said everything you intended to? Did you use a logical approach to your argument? Is your argument convincing? It’s still crucial to plan your strategy for the essay, even if you’re not writing to prove or debate a specific point.

✍️ How to Write an Essay Outline

Here are a few pointers on developing an outline for your essay.

Step #1 Understand the Requirements

Before beginning to write the outline, please read the assignment instructions thoroughly .

Ensure you understand:

  • The style of the essay you should write
  • The number of citations required
  • The required length

Ask yourself:

What’s the goal of my essay?

Do I intend to inform, convince, or merely entertain the readers? Depending on the objective, you will know which thesis to consider, which writing techniques to employ, and how to conceptualize research in the article.

Step #2: Formulate Your Thesis Statement

Establish your thesis statement to determine which topic sentences to outline in your essay .

The thesis statements must:

  • Be debatable
  • Contain sufficient details to captivate readers

Once you have a thesis prepared , you may begin organizing your essay. Please note that the outline is not an initial stage of work. You should already have a clear idea of your essay by the time you are creating an outline.

Step #3: Brainstorm

Brainstorming involves writing down as many concepts as possible without limiting yourself or critiquing any of them. You can generate ideas and arguments confirming your thesis during brainstorming or, vice versa, choose opposing points.

Step #4: Select the Best Points

Now that you came up with ideas for the essay, it’s time to review your planning notes and choose the ideas that will help you reach your essay’s purpose.

How does this prove my point?

Do that for each piece of information you have written down. If you have a concise, well-thought-out response to that query, consider including it on your list of essay topics.

Step #5: Structure the Body

Using the compiled perspectives you created, determine the most significant points you will present in your essay. These will be the parts of your essay’s body. List the facts, anecdotes, and statistics that corroborate these claims.

There should be only one idea per paragraph, and each of them should be connected with your thesis statement.

Step #6: Write Your Outline

Now that you fully understand your main claims and supporting evidence, it’s time to compose your outline.

Format your essential points into a concise, well-organized framework using a template for the style of essay you’re writing. You’ll fill in the blanks with information when you write your first draft.

👀 Essay Outline Examples

In this section, you’ll find outline examples for various essay types. Note that these are 5-paragraph essay outlines.

Argumentative Essay Outline

Here is an illustration of an argumentative essay outline that a college student can use:

  • Title : Almond Milk Is Better Than Soy Milk
  • Introduction : Discuss the distinctions between soy and almond milk and their respective levels of popularity.
  • Thesis : Almond milk is a more nutritious, flavorful, and sweeter alternative to soy milk.
  • Compare the typical calories in a serving of soy milk with almond milk.
  • Cite how almond milk is more easily included in consumers’ daily calorie allowances.
  • Compare the advantages of consuming vegan versus items made from animals.
  • Describe how almond and soy milk’s vegan status makes them available to vegans and non-vegans and a better, more environmentally friendly option for everyone.
  • The product is easier to find than soy milk due to the availability of almonds and how much milk they produce with every squeeze.
  • Tell stories of people who have dairy allergies and the health issues they cause.
  • Conclusion : Explain why almond milk is preferable to soy milk again, and include any supporting arguments.

Expository Essay Outline

Here is an illustration of an expository essay for a middle school student.

  • Title : My Favorite Pet
  • Introduction : Describe your favorite animal and your feelings towards the pet. Provide background on the pet and some interesting features about it.
  • Thesis : My dog, Coco, is my best friend.
  • Compare the dog to other pets you have encountered.
  • Describe how the dog’s breed, color, favorite snack, and why you chose the name for the dog.
  • Tell stories about your dog’s hobbies and your best memories together.
  • Conclusion : Explain why you love your dog and how you plan to care for your furry best friend.

Personal Essay Outline

Here is a sample of an essay outline for a personal essay suitable for high school students:

  • Title : The Two Best Birthdays in My Life
  • Introduction : Describe your feelings around birthdays and how you prefer commemorating yours.
  • Thesis : My 16 th and 17 th birthdays were the two happiest days of my life.
  • I obtained a driver’s permit on my sixteenth birthday, and my closest pals and I went to our first live music concert.
  • I still have my armband and ticket voucher from the event.
  • I initially believed that everyone didn’t remember my birthday. I was inconsolable.
  • Then, as a pleasant surprise, my family drove six hours to pick me up and take me to the art exhibition I had been dying to see.
  • Conclusion : The reasons mentioned above made my 16 th and 17 th birthdays very special.

Thank you for reading this article! If you wish to continue working on the sample, check out our essay generator to get a full-scale paper example.

❓ Essay Outline Generator FAQ

❓ what is an essay outline.

An essay’s outline is used as the paper’s basic framework. It’s a written version of an essay’s main idea and most important supporting points. Whenever you are working on an essay, creating one is a good idea to help you build a supporting structure for further writing stages.

❓ How to make an essay outline?

You should formulate the essay’s main point that will lay the basis for your essay’s thesis statement. Then apply brainstorming to generate supporting arguments and find academic sources that expand those points and help you build solid, coherent content.

❓ What elements are required in an outline for an argumentative essay?

The standard format for an argumentative essay consists of an introduction, a thesis statement, supporting evidence, counterarguments, and a conclusion. You should insert that data in the argumentative essay outline generator to get high-quality results.

❓ How does an essay outline generator work?

An outline generator for essays is an online, AI-powered tool that helps students organize their essay ideas orderly. The essay outline builder uses complex AI models to research, paraphrase information, create relevant outlines, and guarantee that its content is authentic, interesting, and related to the topic.

  • How to Write an Outline in 5 Steps, with Examples
  • Types of Outlines and Samples - Purdue OWL
  • Why and How to Create a Useful Outline - Purdue OWL
  • Creating an Outline
  • Outlining | - Harvard College Writing Center


30+ Essay Outline Templates – (Free Samples, Examples and Formats)

When writing an essay, an outline isn’t strictly required for completing an essay. However an effective essay outline can make the task of writing an essay much easier than it would be without the outline. The essay outline organizes the main points, and their supporting content. This process prevents needless repetition of information, and highlights areas that need special attention.

There is no hard-fast rule in essay outline design, but there is a general consensus on the overall idea. Typically, an essay has five paragraphs. The first paragraph is the introduction which includes the hook, and the thesis or main argument. The second, third, and fourth paragraphs are the three arguments, and their supporting facts or opinions. The fifth paragraph is the conclusion.

Basically this breaks down into three main parts:

  • Introduction
  • Main points and supporting content

Here are 30+ plus blank outline templates , samples and formats to help you with your essay.

Table of Contents

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Template

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Template

Free Download

Blank Essay Outline Template

Blank Essay Outline Template

Essay Outline Template for Compare and Contrast

Essay Outline Template for Compare and Contrast

Essay Outline Template for Middle School

Essay Outline Template for Middle School

Essay Outline Template for High School

Essay Outline Template for High School

Essay Outline Template for College

Essay Outline Template for College

Essay Outline Template for Word

Essay Outline Template for Word

Essay Outline Worksheet

Essay Outline Worksheet

Research Essay Outline Template

Research Essay Outline Template

Analytical Essay Outline Template

Analytical Essay Outline Template

Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Expository Essay Outline Template

Expository Essay Outline Template

Persuasive Essay Outline Template

Persuasive Essay Outline Template

Reflective Essay Outline Template

Reflective Essay Outline Template

Sample Essay Outline Template for Word

Sample Essay Outline Template for Word

Blank Informative Essay Outline Template

Blank Informative Essay Outline Template

Expository Essay Outline Sample for Word

Expository Essay Outline Sample for Word

Sample College Essay Outline Template

Sample College Essay Outline Template

Argumentative Essay Outline Example

Argumentative Essay Outline Example

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template for PDF

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template for PDF

Essay Outline Example for PDF

Essay Outline Example for PDF

Essay Outline Worksheet for PDF

Essay Outline Worksheet for PDF

Expository Essay Outline

Expository Essay Outline

Literacy Essay Analysis Outline Example

Literacy Essay Analysis Outline Example

Narrative Essay Outline Format for PDF

Narrative Essay Outline Format for PDF

Persuasive Essay Outline Example

Persuasive Essay Outline Example

Research Proposal Essay Outline for PDF

Research Proposal Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Argumentative Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Argumentative Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Essay Writing Outline

Sample Essay Writing Outline

Sample Narrative Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Narrative Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Persuasive Essay Outline for PDF

Sample Persuasive Essay Outline for PDF

Simple Essay Outline

Simple Essay Outline

Thesis Essay Format Example

Thesis Essay Format Example

Tips for writing an essay outline:

  • The hook should be in the first sentence- While addressing the content of your essay is important, a reader won’t get there if they’re not interested in your work
  • There are three types of essays- There are three basic types of essays: Expository, Informative, and Argumentative. The type of essay you write will dictate your introduction. In informative essays, the introduction will be a general summary of the information to follow. In argumentative essays the introduction will be your main argument in the discussion, and expository essays will lead with an introduction that may state facts or statistics.
  • Outlining is a time saver and an organizer- Assembling an essay outline allows the writer to see what work has been done and what work remains. It also organizes otherwise chaotic thought processes in a sensible manner. Essay outlines take time, but they save more time and frustration later in the process. You wouldn’t go on vacation without first knowing where you’re going, and how you’re getting there. This same concept applies to writing.
  • There is no right or wrong way- There is no right or wrong way to make an essay outline- The components of an essay outline can be written out in proper sentence structure or paraphrased. The essay structure doesn’t necessarily have to consist of five paragraphs, and there is no set way of organizing the main points as long as the structure is organized for your purpose.

Why you should make an outline for essay?

Writing an outline essay is important because mastering the skill of writing essay outlines allows the writer to master their writing structure for future projects. Also, essay outlines allow the writer to organize their thoughts so readers don’t get lost in, or frustrated with what they’re reading. You might also like to check book outline templates .

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Generate unique and creative essay outlines quickly.

AI Essay Outline Generator Generate unique and creative essay outlines quickly.


1. Type in the topic or subject matter of your essay.

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Unlock the Power of Essay Writing: Discover the Essay Outline Generator

Writing an essay can sometimes feel like navigating through a maze without a map – you know you have a destination, but the path to get there is unclear. For students, professionals, and writers alike, the journey to a well-structured and articulate essay is a critical one. That’s where an essay outline generator comes in – your digital compass to guide you through the writing process, ensuring every point is hit and every idea effectively conveyed.

What is an Essay Outline Generator?

An essay outline generator is a tool used to provide a framework for your essay. Think of it as a skeleton of your writing; it highlights the main points, giving you a clear structure to flesh out with your words. This powerful tool is designed to streamline the essay creation process, breaking it into manageable parts, ultimately saving you time and leading to higher quality work.

How Does It Work?

Most essay outline generators follow a relatively simple process that requires input from the user to produce a customized outline. Here’s a general breakdown of how it works:

Topic Input: You input your essay’s topic or thesis statement into the generator.

Organizing Structure: The generator uses an algorithm to arrange these points in a logical structure, which often follows the introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion format.

Outline Output: The final product is a clear and cohesive essay outline that acts as a blueprint for your writing.

Benefits of Using an Essay Outline Generator

Streamlines the writing process.

With an outline, you can straighten out your thoughts before diving into the writing process. It provides a roadmap that helps to ensure your essay has a defined beginning, middle, and end, which is crucial for maintaining a logical flow and keeping your reader engaged.

For many, the planning phase of essay writing is the most time-consuming. An outline generator can significantly speed up this step, leaving you with more time to focus on research and the actual writing.

Provides Structure

A well-thought-out structure is key to a great essay. An outline generator can help you structure your essay in a way that supports your thesis statement and strengthens the overall argument or narrative.

Enhances Focus

When you have a clear outline, it’s harder to go off on a tangent. The generator keeps you focused on your main points, ensuring that all content in your essay is relevant and purposeful.

Tailors to Different Essay Types

Whether you’re writing an argumentative essay, a compare and contrast piece, or a narrative, an outline generator can tailor your structure to suit the specific needs of your essay type.

Features to Look for in an Essay Outline Generator

While there are numerous essay outline generators available online, not all are created equal. Here are some features to look out for when choosing the right tool:

User-friendly Interface: The generator should be easy to navigate.

Exporting Capabilities: The ability to export your outline to a word processor is crucial for many writers.

Guidance and Tips: Some generators offer tips and prompts to help you refine your points and structure.

Practical Tips for Using an Essay Outline Generator

Always refine the outline.

The output from the generator is a great starting point, but it’s only as good as the information you put in. Always review and refine your outline to ensure it aligns perfectly with your essay’s focus.

Embrace Flexibility

An outline isn’t a binding contract. If your research leads you in a slightly different direction, don’t be afraid to adjust your outline accordingly.

Utilize the Generator at Different Stages

You can return to the outline generator throughout the writing process. Perhaps after drafting you see new connections or remember additional supporting points – the generator can be used to re-structure your work effectively.

Combine with Other Tools

An outline generator should be one of many tools in your writing toolkit. Combine it with a grammar checker, plagiarism detector, and citation generator to optimize the quality and originality of your essay.

The Human Touch is Irreplaceable

It’s essential to remember that while an essay outline generator is a powerful ally in the writing process, it’s not a replacement for critical thinking and creativity. The tool can help with the foundations of your essay, but the depth, analysis, and nuanced understanding come from you, the writer.

Final Thoughts

In our fast-paced, information-driven age, anything that can streamline a complex task is a welcome asset. An essay outline generator is just that – a modern tool designed to guide writers through the essay-making journey more swiftly and with greater clarity. Leveraging its benefits can result in stronger, more cohesive, and well-argued essays that stand out. Whether you’re working on an academic assignment, a personal project, or content for professional purposes, embracing the power of this neat little innovation can elevate your writing to the next level.

Step into effortless content creation with Typli and elevate your writing today. Experience AI content writing made simple.

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Outline Templates

Essay outline template – 12+ free word, pdf format download.

Do you have to complete an essay assigned by your college? Well, before you start to write down the actual draft, you should be careful to follow a blank outline template for essay. The outline will assure consistency for your paper so that you never lose out on the main points and their appropriate transitions. The outline will render a structure framing for the essay.

essay outline template free

Basic Biography Essay Outline Format Template

biography essay outline format template

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Sample Argumentative Essay Outline Template

argumentative essay outline template

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literary analysis essay outline template

Free Expository Paragraph Essay Outline with Introduction

expository essay outline template

Free College Essay Outline Template

college essay outline template

Free History Essay Outline Sample Template Word Doc

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Free Blank English Essay Outline in PDF Download

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Free Middle School Informative Essay Outline Template

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Free Research Essay Topic Outline Template

research essay outline template

Free Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template

free compare and contrast essay outline template

Free High School Narrative Essay Outline Template

narrative essay outline template download

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Informative Essay Guide

Informative Essay Outline

Last updated on: Jun 20, 2023

Learn How to Create an Informative Essay Outline

By: Jared P.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jun 1, 2021

Informative Essay Outline

An informative essay is written to educate readers on a particular topic. This type of essay can be written for several purposes, such as defining a term or comparing and contrasting something. This type of essay doesn’t require your opinion on the topic.

The purpose of writing an informative essay is to educate others on a certain topic. You should not express your opinion and do not try to persuade others to take a certain action.

If you are writing an informative essay for the first time, better create an outline first. The informative essay outline will help you structure your essay in the best way possible.

In this blog, you will learn about the basic rules for creating an informative essay outline. These guidelines and a sample outline are designed to help students get started with their projects successfully.

Informative Essay Outline

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What is an Informative Essay Outline?

An informative essay outline is like a checklist or action plan that you need to complete. The outline helps the writer not to lose focus while working on the essay. Creating an outline is not necessary, but expert writers recommend it. An outline is the only way not to get lost in the middle of the writing process.

The purpose of an outline for an informative essay is to highlight ideas that you want to include in your essay.

Writing an outline is important because of the basic structure that it provides. In addition, the outline should contain some specific details regarding the layout of the essay. Creating an outline prior to the essay writing process is the key to writing a successful essay.

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How to Write an Informative Essay Outline?

The layout of an informative essay is similar to other types of academic essays. These include argumentative essays, persuasive essays, narrative essays, etc.

The outline for an informative essay should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Understanding what to include in each part of the informative essay is very important for a successful informative essay.

Informative Essay Introduction

Any idea how to start an informative essay?

Remember this is the section where you need to introduce your topic and provide a thesis statement. In a few lines, introduce the topic you are writing your essay on and provide some background information.

The introduction should end with a strong thesis statement. This statement should tell the audience what direction your essay is going to take. Therefore, make sure the thesis statement is brief, clear, and concise.

Tips for Writing an Effective Introduction:

  • Make sure to narrow down the scope of your essay.
  • There must be a connection between your introduction and thesis statement.
  • Hook your readers at the start of your introductory paragraph.

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Informative Essay Body Paragraphs

The main body of an informative essay is usually composed of three paragraphs. There are two things that you should consider while composing the body paragraphs of an informative essay. One is the target point, and the second is supporting facts.

Each body paragraph of an informative essay should begin with an idea (topic sentence). This is one sentence statement on which the whole paragraph will be based on. This statement must be in cohesion with the thesis statement written in the introductory paragraph.

After that, provide supporting evidence from the most credible sources. The evidence you provide must relate to your main target point. Don’t forget to quote sources and properly cite information to avoid plagiarism.

At the end of each body paragraph, summarize your points and explain their relevance to the thesis statement. Effective body paragraphs for an informative essay depend on the following points.

  • Making a claim
  • Evidence in support of the claim
  • Provide an explanation in the last

The informative essay can have more than three body paragraphs depending upon the chosen topic.

Tips for Effective Body Paragraphs:

  • Do not provide your opinion or point of view on the topic.
  • Completely rely on facts and research.
  • Discuss the strongest point in the first body paragraph.
  • Don’t forget to use transition words for a smooth flow of information in your body paragraphs.

Informative Essay Conclusion

This is the last part where you need to wrap up your information. Begin the conclusion by restating the thesis statement. After that, write about your major arguments and their purpose. The goal of the conclusion is to provide the reason for your informative essay and its importance in the real world.

The conclusion should describe the purpose of your informative essay and what it means for your readers. You should summarize your key arguments and provide a strong closing statement to summarize all your key points.

Tips for a Strong Conclusion:

  • Highlight the key points of your argument.
  • Do not introduce any new ideas in the conclusion.
  • Restate the thesis in other similar words and terms.

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Informative Essay Outline Template Free

Most of the essay outline contain the same elements. But each essay outline has particular points that you need to focus on. It is important to be well-aware of the distinctive features to come up with a good informative paper.






Informative Essay Outline Example

Wondering where you can get free informative essay outline examples? Having a well-written example in hand will help you in coming up with successful work. You can easily find many informative essay examples online for your help.


Sample Informative Essay Outline

Hopefully, the above guidelines and examples help you in writing a great informative essay. However, informative writing is sometimes not easy, especially when you are working on an unfamiliar topic.

In this situation, it is better to get help from professional writers. At 5StarEssays.com, we provide the best ‘ do my essay paper ’ help to students struggling with their academic papers.

Our essay writers can help you create high-quality essays and research papers in no time. To get the best custom essay writing help, all you need is to contact us and hire our essay writer.

Whether you need help with your informative essay topic or with the complete writing process, we can help.

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Jared P.

Masters Essay, Literature

Jared P. is a renowned author and writing service provider with over fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry. He has a Ph.D. degree in English Literature and has spent his entire career helping students achieve their academic goals by providing expert writing assistance.

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