How Do You Set up an Outline?

Setting up an outline involves organizing your essay on paper according to an introduction, body with main points and conclusion. Outlining an essay takes a minimum of 20 minutes and requires paper and a pencil, though research notes may also be necessary.

  1. Outline the introduction

    The introduction serves as a snapshot of the essay. It starts with an attention-grabber and includes a thesis statement. It may also include a transition statement or a preview of your main points. In a traditional outline structure, the word "Introduction" goes with Roman numeral one, followed by capital letters indented for each part of the introduction.

  2. Outline the first body paragraph

    For the first body paragraph, the topic sentence introducing the first main point goes next to Roman numeral two. Supporting details and facts for the point go under this in the following designation order: capital letter, Latin numeral and lowercase letters.

  3. Outline successive paragraphs

    Follow the above set up for each additional point. An essay typically does not have fewer than three supporting points.

  4. Outline the conclusion paragraph

    The conclusion paragraph on the outline starts with the word "Conclusion" next to the appropriate Roman numeral. Under that goes a restatement of the thesis statement with different wording and final thoughts for the reader.

  5. Add transitions

    It is not necessary, but writing the essay is easier if you add the anticipated transitions to the outline. At minimum there should be a transition between each paragraph.