essay help

Manual on how to Write an Outline of an Essay

In today’s world, teachers tend to use preprinted outline templates instead of teaching actual outlining style. By the time that high school students graduate, they have seen a wide variety of essay outlining templates, but they have never really understood the idea of outlining. These templates often provide sentence starters or other helpers so students do not have to think much about organizing their very own outlines and essays. Many students can benefit from having a manual that helps them learn how to outline.

How to Organize an Outline

Students often have difficulty knowing what to put in the different parts of an outline. The easiest thing for students to remember is that the big topics are set closer to the left side margin and the details are set farther away from the left margin. The outline is organized in this order: Capitalized Roman Numerals -> Capital Letters -> Lower Case Roman Numerals -> Lower Case Letter. Most students do not go any deeper into an outline than this.

The Rule of Two

When it comes to formatting the outline, the order stays and is repeated throughout the outline. With each level, the outline is indented one more tab away from the left margin. Along with the indenting, there is a general rule of two when it comes to writing outlines. For example, if you use one Capitalized Roman Numeral, you should use a second one in the outline. If you have one lower case roman numeral, you should have a second one. Everything that you put in the outline should be done in twos. Once you have at least two details, you can always add a third or fourth, but the minimum is two. This is what an outline for a body paragraph could look like:

  • Topic sentence

    • Supporting fact #1

      • Detail about the support fact
      • Detail about the support fact

    • Supporting fact #2

      • Detail about the supporting fact
      • Detail about the supporting fact
      • Detail about the supporting fact

The next body paragraph could be structured in a similar way or if could have significantly more supporting facts and details. When you write your outline, you will actually write the topic sentence or a fragment of it. You will write the supporting facts and the details in short phrases. You do not write “topic sentence” or “supporting fact #1” in your outline. The location of the indents is what tells you what the words are going to do in that paragraph.

Learn more


  • Thank you so much for helping me write my IB extended essay. I am a foreign student and had a problem writing such a big and complex paper on my own. I was even planning to pay a professional writing service to have it written but my budget was too small. I will definitely recommend your blog to all of my friends.

  • At first I could not believe this academic resource does not charge for help. There are plenty of essay writing guides, tutorials and how-to's that any student can use to build a better paper. I appreciate all you've done for me.

  • I was looking for a free term paper sample as I am not quite good at formatting and found it here.