Outlining is a type of organization that is used among authors of most writing styles. The common organizational method allows writers to list all their research and ideas in a single place prior to the writing process starts. Understanding the general university essay outline can go a long way in getting your thoughts structured, in addition to positive feedback from your professor. Take a look at this guide to understand how to write an outline.

What Is an Outline?

An essay outline is one of the main planning techniques when it comes to writing academic papers, scholarly articles, informative guides, novels, and encyclopedias. The everyday paper outline provides the headings: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Every source is organized by relevance to strengthen the writing process. There are many formats with regards to outlining, however the main formats required for a college essay outline is MLA and APA.

Whether or not you’re writing an MLA or APA outline, the organizational process remains the exact same with some minor differences. The main big difference being APA uses abstracts, as it requires one or two sentences per line. APA is employed for humanities, as MLA is used more for social studies. Apart from that, the simple outline remains the exact same for any type of academic paper structure.

How to Write an Outline?

The most frequent college essay is five paragraphs. Hence, an easy way to keep in mind the general format of a writing plan is to think about it as planning a 5 paragraph essay outline where students would write an Introduction, Thesis, Human body, and Conclusion. Then, fit a total of 5 paragraphs within the essential structure. Exactly the same practice can be carried out with planning, except instead of paragraphs, it’s notes. The very same method would apply to an argumentative essay outline and any other sort of paper structure throughout and beyond university.

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The Key-Elements to Outlining

  • Research & Notes: Ahead of the writing process, it is essential to locate credible sources and note them down. Search across credible internet sites, as well as academic search engines, Google Scholar or Oxford Academic, to find reliable references to incorporate in an academic paper.
  • Prioritize Your Thesis: Because the thesis statement is a summary of the complete paper, start prioritizing it before focusing on the other parts of the outline. The thesis can show you along the planning and writing process.
  • Write Your Ideas: If you do already written out the essential headings of an outline, jot down all of the tips from your found sources in the Thesis and Human body sections.
  • Where to Include References: For cause and effect, AP English examinations, SAT essays, admission essays, and also other formal writing styles, all the references are included in the human body section. Excluding reflection paper and analytical papers, where it’s acceptable to include a citation within the introductory paragraph.
  • Introduction: For many academic styles, the introduction is the opening line to the paper. Thus, it is crucial to plan something catchy within the outline. As previously mentioned, writing styles, for example , reflection essay or analytical paper, allow for the utilization of citation being an opening.
  • The Conclusion: The complete paper ought to be summarized in the final paragraph, restating the thesis in the first sentence, adding suggestions, predictions, and/or opinions in the sentences that follow. As for the final sentence, it will summarize the purpose of the paper.

General Outline Format

Title page

  • Essay Title:
  • Student Name:
  • Professor’s Name:
  • Class (Optional)


  • Opening Paragraph.


  • Brief Description of the Entire Paper.
  • Link Sentence to the First Body Paragraph.

Body paragraph 1

  • Evidence/Reference.
  • Explanation (Related to the Thesis).
  • Link Sentence to the Second Body Paragraph.

Body paragraph 2

  • Evidence/Reference.
  • Explanation (Related to the Thesis).
  • Link Sentence to the Third Body Paragraph.

Body paragraph 3

  • Evidence/Reference.
  • Explanation (Related to the Thesis).
  • Link Sentence to the Conclusion.


  • Summary of the Entire Paper.
  • A Conclusive Sentence.


  • Footnotes or Bibliography

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Outline Examples

We understand that it might be difficult to differentiate between an MLA & APA Outline. The techniques both be determined by the referencing styles. APA outlining makes the use of abstracts, as MLA uses sentence citations. Within an MLA outline, a title page isn't necessary. Since the APA referencing style requires it, include it on the outline. Take a look at an overview example below to get a better idea.

MLA Outline Example

I. Introduction:
  • Introductory Sentence: Stonehenge is a vast hub for ancient history.
  • Link Sentence to the Thesis: Standing 13 feet high, it really is one of the oldest structures in the united kingdom.
II. Thesis:
  • Description of the Paper: The paper describes how Stonehenge was built and its purpose.
  • First Argument/Claim: Stonehenge was built in 3001BC.
  • Second Argument/Claim: Stonehenge is known to be described as a place for religious worship.
  • Third Argument/Claim: Other Stonehenge-like structures exist around Europe.
III. Body Paragraph 1:
  • Reference: The circulation ditch around Stonehenge is considered to have been constructed around the year 3000BC, based on studies.
  • Explanation/Claim: Round the end of stone-age, pagans got together and built the initial segment from what has become stone-henge.
  • Link Sentence: Which brings up the matter of belief.
IV. Body Paragraph 2:
  • Reference: Through the late Tudor era, many people believed that ancient Britons placed the stones for the sole intent behind religious practice.
  • Explanation/Claim: From the late 2nd millennium AD to modern day, the practice of Paganism may be the common explanation for the key reason why stone-henge was built.
  • Link Sentence: More evidence emerges regarding the mysterious structure.
V. Body Paragraph 3:
  • Reference: Around 1100 BC, Stonehenge-like stones emerged.
  • Explanation/Claim: The structure is believed to have now been built by migrants.
  • Link Sentence:
VI. Conclusion:
  • Summary of the Paper: Over all, the ancient stones have caused great interest for the duration of human history with science and assumptions.
  • Conclusive Sentence: No one knows for sure how they were built.
VII. References:
  • “History of Stonehenge” https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history-and-stories/history/
  • “Why Was Stonehenge Built?”
  • “Stonehenge Is Not Alone: 7 Ancient Megaliths You've Never Seen. ”

APA Outline Example

APA Title Page
  • Title: The Dangers of Using Cell-Phones
  • Student Name: Jake Smith
  • Professor’s Name: Dr. Stephen Miller
  • Class (Optional): Class of 2019
  • Introductory Sentence: Cellphones have taken a drastic impact on our daily lives in the worst possible way.
  • Link Sentence to the Thesis: The everyday utilization of mobile technology has gone unmanageable.
  • Description: The paper describes the regular dangers and adverse effects on humans regarding cell-phone usage. The ordeal may be life-threatening, or simply just socially depriving.
  • First argument: High amounts of cell-phone usage results in negative health consequences.
  • Second Argument: Cell-phone usage includes a negative influence on human interaction.
  • Third Argument: Texting while driving is worse than drinking and driving.
Human anatomy Paragraph 1: Health-Risks Related to Cell-Phones
  • Evidence/Reference: “Mobile phones keep in touch with base stations using radiofrequency (RF) radiation. If RF radiation is high enough, it features a ‘thermal’ effect, which means it does increase body temperature. You will find concerns that the low quantities of RF radiation emitted by mobile phones may cause health problems such as for instance headaches or brain tumors. ” (“Mobile phones along with your health”)
  • Explanation/Claim: Rays from phones possesses cancerous elements after long-term usage. In other words, one’s long-term cell-phone usage can put him or herself at risk of terminal illness, or worse. There's still too little evidence to the claim as cell-phones haven't been around for very long.
  • Link Sentence: Which brings us to how cell-phones are destroying human interaction.
Human body Paragraph 2: How Cell-Phones Are Destroying Human Interaction
  • Evidence/Reference: “Sherry Turkle argues that the utilization of cell phones whilst in social situations affects the caliber of human conversation. Turkle says that it generates people less open and honest in conversation. She also says it makes people less empathetic. She works on the school of children for instance, stating that the children don't seem to be in a position to understand one another or show empathy toward each other. ” (“Cell-Phones and Human Interaction. ”)
  • Explanation/Claim: Cellular phone usage has gotten to the extent that humans are no longer communicating. Families venture out to restaurants, cafes, and parks without interacting with one another due to their dependence on cell-phones. Humans have also possessed far less empathy compared with 15 years ago because of the missing interaction that could have already been obtained during this time period period. This shows mostly in school children who've been born in to this way of life.
  • Link Sentence: As well as that, cell-phone usage while driving also is sold with life-threatening risks.
Body Paragraph 3: Using A Cell-Phone While Driving
  • Evidence/Reference: “The Transport Research Laboratory unearthed that motorists who use their mobile phone to send texts (... ) the research found, with steering control by texters 91 percent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the street. ” (“Texting while driving is more threatening than drink-driving. ” )
  • Explanation/Claim: Employing a mobile device while driving a motor vehicle has more of a drastic effect than drink-driving. On record, there has been more deaths around the world from text-driving and drink-driving.
  • Link Sentence to the Conclusion: Humans are completely addicted to cellphones, to the extent of dangerous driving, health-risks, and a lack of interaction.
  • Summary of the Entire Paper: Restate the Thesis.
  • Conclusive Sentence: The continuation of excessive using mobile phones is now a major threat to mankind in every aspect possible.
  • “Mobile Phones and Your Health”
  • “Cell Phones and Human Interaction.”
  • “Texting While Driving Is More threatening Than Drink-Driving, ”

Video Guide: How to Write an Essay Outline


Whatever the writing style, the main essay format acts as a helping turn in multiple approaches to any kind of author. Knowing the typical plan of an essay can highly benefit those writing their everyday academy paper or dissertation with all of the a few ideas and references on a writing plan. For example , a persuasive essay outline doesn't differentiate from the research paper plan. Ergo, knowing the typical outline format can make producing academic papers far easier by simplifying the whole writing process.

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