An essay outline has four basic parts: the introduction, the body, the conclusion, and the list of citations. These parts will form the four key sections of your outline. Begin every part with the corresponding roman numeral. For the introduction, use the roman number "I". For the body, use "II" and, for the conclusion, use "III". Finally, end with "IV" for your conclusion.
The body section [the one denominated by "III"] of your essay outline may consist of several subheadings. Use capital letters for your subheadings, such as A, B, C, and so on. Remember that these subheadings are actually the supporting points or arguments for the particular heading in the body.
In the essay outline, it is also likely that you will have sub-subheadings for your subheadings [the one denominated by "A, B, C" and so on]. Thus, for subheading "A", you may have several supporting ideas, arguments or examples. Use numbers for each supporting idea, argument, or example.
In sum, the structure of your essay outline will look like this:
The main reason why writing the outline for your essay is important is that it organizes your thoughts. An essay outline gives you a bird's eye view of how your paper will look like and provides you with a guide for a smooth transition of paragraphs. Moreover, an outline helps you plan the overall length of your essay, especially if you are limited to writing just a few pages. The essay outline is a must.
You may also want to read about Rogerian argument outline or how to write a thesis statement.
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