Make Essay Outline

Types of Outlines and Samples

Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase Letters

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

If you are going to write an interesting, unique essay, you will need to do research. A literature essay requires the writer to do the following things before writing a word:

1. Read all Required Materials or Subject Text
You have to read all of the required materials so that you can invent a clear thesis. While you are reading, take notes. If you are using your own copy of the book or you have printed it from your computer, take notes directly on the page and underline important quotes. If I am crunched for time, I will type the important quotes into a word document as I read. Doing this will help you collect evidence to use in the body of your essay.

2. Invent a Thesis Statement
Since you have finished reading the subject text of your essay and have collected quotes that you will use in your analysis, you have a general idea of the major themes in the work. Pick one and try to invent an argument around it. For example, the barrio is a theme in Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street . I used this theme to argue that the environment of the main character directly influences her desire to change and escape in this article. If you have trouble coming up with a thesis, move on to step 3 and return to this step afterward.

3. Research and Read Supporting Material
If you know of any other books, articles or essays that support your thesis or argue against it. You should do the same with these materials that you did with the main text: underline, annotate and collect quotes from these texts.

4. Organize your Research
Now that you have collected quotes from the materials and have invented a thesis statement, you should now organize your quotes in a manner that will support your thesis and also flow nicely. You will need to delete quotes that are irrelevant. Do not get attached to your quotes. Having too much evidence that doesn't directly support your thesis can cause your essay to seem muddy and all-over-the place, making your thesis statement seem far-fetched.

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