Margo Bartsch, founder since 2004 mbartsch@collegeessaycoach.com 802-985-3770

Developing the outline for your essay helps your organize your ideas to tell a story. The outline is a fast and easy way to get your thoughts on paper. It is important for you to feel that you are starting to make immediate progress towards writing your essay. Your outline is like a billboard that you see when you are driving in the car-- listening to music, talking on the phone and reading street signs-- where the most your mind can read is 7 words or less. Thus, the outline content should have short headlines or phrases.

An outline involves three parts: 1) introduction, 2) supporting facts, 3) conclusion. Developing your outline is like building a house-- without a solid foundation or BIG idea, the walls will cave in. Your introduction needs to be connected to your personal BIG idea that best explains the essay topic. The supporting facts should explain a logical flow of information which collectively supports your BIG idea. The conclusion is your opportunity to reflect on your personal thoughts, share insights and create images that illustrate how the BIG idea is meaningful to you.

The outline allows you to give structure around your ideas. Your essay needs to be organized with a logical flow-- in chronological order or to build-up the excitement in presenting your conclusion. Each point is like connecting-the-dots, so that your outline does not get off-topic. Less is more. The points in your outline will be further elaborated upon with your essay writing, in adding description, personality and tone around these main points.

The following lists the components of an outline:

  1. Introduction
    a. BIG idea, and why it is important to you
    b. Listing of main points
     
  2. Point 1
    a. Supporting statement
    b. Application to BIG idea
     
  3. Point 2
    a. Supporting statement
    b. Application to BIG idea
     
  4. Point 3
    a. Supporting statement
    b. Application to BIG idea
  5. Conclusion
    a. Summarize main points
    b. Link points to BIG idea, reiterate importance to you