How to develop an Outline for your Essay

How to develop an Outline for your Essay

All points must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

Example of an outline:

I.  INTRODUCTION – (Brief comment leading into subject matter – Thesis statement on Shakespeare)      

II. BODY – Shakespeare’s Early Life, Marriage, Works, Later Years         

A. Early life in Stratford              

1. Shakespeare’s family                  

a. Shakespeare’s father                  

b. Shakespeare’s mother              

2. Shakespeare’s marriage                    

a. Life of Anne Hathaway                     

b. Reference in Shakespeare’s Poems         

B. Shakespeare’s works              

1. Plays                    

a. Tragedies                       

i. Hamlet                       

ii. Romeo and Juliet                      

b. Comedies                       

 i. The Tempest                       

ii. Much Ado About Nothing                    

c. Histories                       

i. King John                       

ii. Richard III                       

iii. Henry VIII                

2. Sonnets                

3. Other poems                          

 C. Shakespeare’s Later Years               

1. Last two plays                

2. Retired to Stratford                   

a. Death                    

b. Burial                       

i. Epitaph on his tombstone       


A. Analytical summary                

1. Shakespeare’s early life                

2. Shakespeare’s works                

3. Shakespeare’s later years           

B. Thesis reworded          

 C. Concluding statement

The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other. Include in your outline an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Make the first outline tentative.

Introduction – State your thesis and the purpose of your research paper clearly. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

Body – This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i.e. find 3 supporting arguments for each position you take. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point.

Conclusion – Restate or reword your thesis. Summarize your arguments. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion.

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