How to write a good outline

time to complete: 5 minutes

It’s important to write a clear outline of your essay or paper to help see the overall structure. Below are some general tips to help you write a better outline: 

(1) Provide background and an aim

  • Explain what you want to analyse/examine and why you want to do this or what the main focus of the question is. 
  • State the purpose of your paper and what question(s) you hope to answer.

(2) Think about organisation

  • Divide your paper into sections/headings.
  • Don’t use too many separate numbered sections. Instead, try to group your ideas logically.
  • Give a brief idea of what points you will expand on in greater detail.
  • Indicate a rough word count for each section

(3) State what to include in your introduction and conclusion

  • A paper without a clear conclusion is like travelling without a map. You must know your final destination before you start travelling.

(4) Explain how and where you will use sources

  • These do not have to be in perfect format in your outline but you should have a list of your primary sources. Make a note of which sources you could use in each section. How do their ideas link to your argument e.g.  as supporting evidence? as background context? as part of a wider academic debate?

Sources: 12