How to Make The Best Essay Outline?

Every good essay begins with an essay outline. The outline is one of the most important planning steps when writing an academic paper or a scholarly article. A basic paper outline includes headings, introductions, the body, and the conclusion. No matter whether you’re writing with the APA or MLA outline, the same basic organizational process is the same. The key difference between the formats is that APA uses more abstracts as it involves a few lines per line. Here’s how to make the best essay outline.

How to Write an Essay Outline

College essays are generally five paragraphs long. It will help to remember the general format for an essay and think of it as a five-paragraph outline where you write the introduction, thesis, body, then conclusion. Take that basic structure and fit five paragraphs into it. You can take this approach to planning, but with notes instead of paragraphs. This method of putting together an outline applies to any kind of paper structure during – and even after – college.

Research and Notes

The essay outline begins well before the essay does with the research phase. Before you can even think about writing an essay you want to put together some credible resources, including notes about them. Search through academic search engines and credible websites. Websites such as Oxford Academic and Google Scholar are great for students.

Prioritize the Thesis

The thesis for an essay is the summary of your paper. You should always prioritize the thesis before beginning work on the rest of the outline. Your thesis will guide you across the planning process and help put together the paper when the time comes.

Write Down Ideas

If you already have the basic headings of your outline written down then put down notes of the key points of your sources in the outline. Write down some ideas in the Thesis and Body sections and go from there.

Note Where to Put References

Where you put the references is important. For AP English examinations, cause and effect, admission essays, and SAT essays – and most formal writing papers and styles – you should include the references in the Body of the paper. Analytical papers and reflection papers are the exception to the rule. With these papers you can include citations in introductory paragraphs.


The introduction for academic papers will be the opening line for the paper. It’s important that your introduction be catchy and grab attention. As mentioned before, some writing styles allow for you to use citations for your opening introduction.


An academic paper ends with a conclusion. The conclusion should restate the original these, add suggestions and predictions, and offer opinions. The final sentence for the paper should be a summary of the goal of the paper.

Outline Format Example:

  • Title Page
  • Title
  • Name of student
  • Name of professor
  • Class (if needed)


Opening paragraph


  • Description of the paper
  • Sentence to link the thesis to the body paragraph

Body Paragraph 1

  • Evidence and/or reference
  • Explanation connected to the thesis
  • Sentence to link the first body paragraph to the second one

Body Paragraph 2

  • Evidence and/or reference
  • Explanation connected to the thesis
  • Sentence to link the second body paragraph to the third one

Body Paragraph 3

  • Evidence and/or reference
  • Explanation connected to the thesis
  • Sentence to link the third body paragraph to the conclusion


  • Brief summary of paper
  • Conclusive sentence to finish


Footnotes and bibliography for the paper


Creating an outline for your essay doesn’t need to be a hassle. Stick to the format above and you’ll have no problem writing your essays to standard.

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