How to write essays - you should outline your paper first

If you only learn one thing about writing an essay, and there are many things to learn, know that you must use an outline. An outline is if you like the architect’s drawings for the building of a house or whatever. Imagine somebody building a house without a plan. Well it won't take you quite as long to write an essay but it certainly will help you write a better one and in a shorter period of time if you use an outline.

There are a number of benefits which fall to you should you use an outline and do it sensibly. The first and obvious benefit is that it forces you to think about what it is you plan to write. So many students look at the topic of their essay and start writing. That's wrong. By waiting and not starting to write for some time, and instead creating an outline, you force yourself to think about the content and direction of your essay. This simple but extremely valuable preparation helps improve the content of your essay and makes the actual writing of it quicker and easier.

Your outline is flexible

Once you start to write your outline which is basically a series of headings and subheadings under which you list the relevant points you intend to write about, you have not set this document in concrete. If you think you have finished the first draft of your outline, simply look over the document to see if there are any gaps or items which are repeated. Then if you do more research you might come up with an additional idea or ideas.

The whole point being that you can make changes to your outline. This is before you start to write your essay. So your outline, which is your guide to a successful essay, is flexible. You can add and subtract material making it as strong as possible.

Your outline is brief

One of the main characteristics of your outline is that it is short, it is brief. The essay is something which contains many words. The outline contains few words. In fact the fewer words you use in your outline the better it will be. It is not something to be studied in great detail because only key words are used. And it is these keywords which leap out from the page and assist you once you get to the longer task of actually writing the essay. Keep it short.

Your outline is your guide

Once you decide that your outline is complete, that it has all the necessary information you want to include in your essay, then you are free to start the actual writing. But your outline should not leave your side. It should be beside your notepad or your keyboard as you write your essay. Look at it constantly. Refer to your outline throughout your writing exercise.


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