How To Write An Outline For An Essay Or Book

How to write an outline

Great writing starts with a great outline

By Lisa Brown

Once you’ve decided on your topic and wrote down an impactful thesis, it’s time to create the foundation upon which you will write your content.

Writing an outline for an essay or a book is very similar as the only difference is the length or amount of words.

With an essay, you are usually required to write an introduction, three paragraphs and a conclusion. As you know, writing a book includes many chapters, but ultimately, you also need a beginning, middle and ending.

Even though the middle might be where the difference comes in, the process is almost identical.

Don’t be afraid to use a free paraphrase generator as these tools help us prepare more effectively. Now, let’s get into how you create your outline.

Start with all the basic information

Write down the date, name, class or module, and any extra information you feel is necessary. This does not include any information about the essay or book yet, but it’s necessary to have on your outline.

You might be working on various class essays or projects at the same time, and you want to quickly look at this information and see which one it is you are working with. This is also important for your teacher or publisher to check who is sending the information.

Thesis / Synopsis

Your thesis argument should be solid and provide the reader with information on what to expect when they read your essay or book. It does not need to be a long, drawn out statement, but it should communicate a clear message.

You can find a paraphrasing tool online free of charge, to help you word your thesis better. When you write down your thesis, be sure that you are able to argue your point.

When writing a book, you might relate to this section more if you think of it as a synopsis. This is a short summary of what your book is about.

Some publishers will have a set number of words, while others leave it up to the author. Check with the publishing house you want to work with and make sure your synopsis fits their requirements.

First paragraph / Chapter

Your opening paragraph is probably one of the most important sections of your writing project. This is where you hook the reader and create the spark.

Many readers will form an opinion about your writing on the first paragraph, and it is important to convince them that your thesis is correct. Once you have convinced the readers of your thesis, you are able to keep them interested throughout the essay or book.

Focus on your strongest point in your first paragraph to set all doubts aside. There are times I have to reword my essay if there isn’t enough punch to my first paragraph.

As this paragraph also stands as your introduction, it is important to introduce the readers to your way of thinking. Once you’ve stated your most valuable fact, you can move on to the rest of your paragraphs or chapters.

The Body / Middle

Now that you have started with your most compelling paragraph and fact, it is time to add more information. Do not think that the body of your work does not need to be strong.

If you are writing an essay or a book, there are always other people competing with you. If you are a student in the class, you want to be one of the top students. Being an author is not any easier because there are many writers out there trying to get published.

Do proper research to prove your thesis, and this is the section where you will state most of those facts. Seeing as this is just the outline for what will eventually be the final product, you need to make sure you understand the flow and structure. You can jot down ideas or facts and insert it into these paragraphs.

Your work needs to have a flow to it, and this is where you create that flow. The body is where you organize your thoughts. You already know your thesis and your opening fact, but what else do you want to say and in which order do you want to say it?

The Conclusion

After you’ve created an outline for all of your chapters, it is time to start your conclusion. Your conclusion should basically sum up all the facts you stated in the essay or book.

Do not be afraid to remind the reader of you most impactful facts. This is a summary of what has been discussed and to leave the reader on a high. You cannot start with a bang and then slowly lose your audience at the end.

Use the hook you started with and let them know why they chose to write your piece till the end.

Call to Action

Once you have convinced your readers that your thesis is correct, what actions would you like for them to take? You provided great facts in your writing, and the audience will start thinking about your point of view more. Now you have to direct them to test your theory for themselves.

There is no difficulty in creating a great outline once you have your structure right. You can also go online and look at some examples and apply it to your own work. There is no right or wrong way to do an outline if you have a flow to your work.

You do an outline to prevent rambling in your writing or stating random facts that do not create any type of flow. Your final draft will come much later than your outline so do not rush the process. With that being said, your outline also makes writing later much easier.

You can take each heading as a new project and focus on your transition to the next section. When you write the ending sentence of a paragraph, think about the opening sentence of the next one. This way you know that there will be no sharp endings, but rather a smooth transition between paragraphs.

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Lisa BrownLisa Brown works as a content manager. She is specialized on writing useful articles for writers, students and people who want to improve their writing skills. Her hobby is reading, travelling and blogging. Lisa`s life motto is “Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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