Writing an essay is a lot like building a house. Before you can get started, you need blueprints to show you what to do and what you need. That's what an outline is to a writer; a set of blueprints that can be used to build an awesome paper.
Creating an outline lets you think about what to write before you put it down. It helps you check over your work, restructure or remove sentences and paragraphs that you don't want, and acts as a place to put your ideas down in case you forget about them later. The following tips are used in the creation of an essay, and they can be adjusted to fit whatever essay idea you have in mind. Some thesis and dissertation programs even require the creation of an outline, so others can follow your work.
First: Be brief. When making an outline, keep things short and simple. Headings, titles, arguments and points should be one line each, drawn in a circle and connected to the main point. These are blueprints, and blueprints can be referred back to or changed later on. If you can't write what you want into one line, it probably belongs as specific information in another point.
Second: Be descriptive and assertive as possible. When describing the point of different paragraphs, phrase the point in a claim. “Guns are legal” is not helpful to you if you're writing an essay on why the Second Amendment is an important right in the United States. Instead, write “guns are legal because they are important” as your claim on your outline. It's a one line that's brief, but makes a claim and can be used in your paper.
Third: Choose an appropriate setup for your paper. Creating an outline lets you see how each paragraph will fit into the essay as a whole. You'll be able to read about what works and what doesn't. Every word, sentence and paragraph in your essay should support the main position of your essay. Weaker arguments should be placed in the middle of your essay, while stronger arguments should be used at the front and end of your essay.
Fourth: Your outline is just an outline. Remember that outlines are supposed to be a guide for you to put things down. An outline helps a person make a paper. And once you put enough into your outline that you can use it to write an essay, begin writing the essay itself. When you start putting your thoughts into words, you'll find that time starts to fly by as you state your position and your argument clearly.
Hopefully these tips will encourage and point you in the direction you need to go in order to make a good and viable essay come to life. And always remember to save your work!
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