How to Write a College Essay Outline: Format and Template

How to Write a College Essay Outline: Format and Template

So, your professor gave you a new assignment, and you don't know what to do or don’t clearly understand how it should be done.  When it comes to writing an essay, students often feel perplexed as to how to write a college essay paper. Nevertheless, an outline really helps to build a consistent essay supported by evidence or arguments.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to write a good essay. An outline helps you stay focused on the topic and its problems and to write a well-built essay. It prevents you from having trouble looking for ideas so that you always know what to write next. The main idea of a good argumentative, compare and contrast, narrative, persuasive, personal essay outline for college, or other types of papers is to dig deeper to find correct arguments related to your topic.

How to Write a College Essay Outline: Our Example

Let’s have a look at our outline example and try to understand how it’s written and what key points are used there. 

Topic: Conflict Management: The Significance of Effective Strategies to Prevent & Control International Conflict

  1. The Introduction
    1. General information + quote ‘If we do not deal with the root causes of conflict – and offer sustainable solutions – we will be left with humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations without end.’ The UN General-Secretary Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
    2. Thesis Statement: Although some might argue that it takes a lot of time, the reason effective strategies prevent conflicts is that they save lives, bring peace, and give stability and opportunity.
  2.  The Body
    1. Paragraph 1: Preventive Diplomacy
      1. Argument 1: It helps refrain from using force.
      2. Argument 2: It is aimed at preventing further escalation.
      3. The Supportive Example: The negotiations between Israel and Egypt in Camp David in 1977. 
    2. Paragraph 2: Peace Enforcement
      1. Argument 1: Prevention of further casualties.
      2. Argument 2: The way to stop the ongoing aggression.
      3. The Supportive Example: The UN intervention to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi army during the Gulf War in 1990-91.
    3. Paragraph 3: Post-Conflict Management and Reconstruction
      1. Argument 1: Disarmament, repatriation of refugees, etc.
      2. Argument 2: Economic and social projects.
      3. The Supportive Example: Kosovo post-conflict reconstruction and management.
  3. The Conclusion
    1. Restate main arguments in favor of strategies related to international conflicts and what makes these strategies effective.

An Essay Outline Template Analysis: Key Points to Remember

Obviously, making an essay outline takes some time, but it definitely saves your time in the end because you always know what to do next. Let’s have a look at the main points of the outline to figure out how it should be done.

The Introduction

Any introduction has several important aspects required to make an essay good:

  • getting the attention of your audience;
  • the topic introduction;
  • how it is related to the audience;
  • stating a thesis;
  • outlining of key points.

These points should be remembered when handling the introduction as they assist in finding necessary words. Looking for a proper quote may be a good idea. Nevertheless, it’s also important to keep in mind that the quote shouldn’t overshadow the whole essay and must be related to your topic directly.

Making a thesis statement may be difficult, and you can leave it for the end while you are looking for arguments. You can omit it at all when making an outline, but such an approach may cause unnecessary headaches when working on an essay. If you don’t know how to write an essay outline for college, especially when it comes to a thesis statement, you can use one of the numerous thesis statement generators available online.

The Body

Generally, this part should include at least three paragraphs. The usual structure of every paragraph includes:

  • a topic sentence;
  • an argument;
  • evidence;
  • an example;
  • a concluding statement.

So, this part of your outline should include the main idea for each paragraph along with the supporting arguments. Please mark that some points of this structure may be omitted or changed as in a college admissions essay outline or in outlines for some other types of papers. 

The Conclusion

This part is aimed at tieing all key points from the body together and showing that your arguments matter and are really important. You just need to restate the main points without adding new information.

Different essays require various conclusions, but you may take a look at the following theses and select one or more to finish your paper. Adding them to your outline will help you conclude your essay properly.

  • a brief summary of the main statements;
  • a summing-up quote;
  • asking a provocative question;
  • a call to action;
  • suggesting consequences or results;
  • comparing to other situations;
  • finalizing with a warning.

Main Tips on a College Outline Format

Take a glance at the template we’ve added above once again. It is an example of a brief and fast essay outline. Nevertheless, there are no generally accepted structures, and you can build upon the needs of your paper. The following tips may be useful while drafting an outline:

  • read the prompt thoroughly before creating an outline;
  • don’t forget about a thesis statement;
  • keep in mind what type of essay you’re working on;
  • select the main supportive statements;
  • develop your arguments for each statement;
  • use an alphanumeric or decimal format;
  • prepare quotes;
  • add interesting thoughts that may be used later in your paper.

Please keep in mind that a good essay outline allows you to write the whole essay. It’s much easier to spend time drafting an outline and then writing your paper from the notes.