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How to Prepare the Outline/Structure of an Academic Essay

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    How to Prepare the Outline/Structure of an Academic Essay

    Academic essays need to present a coherent set of ideas to the reader as a well-defined argument. Inherently, all essays are of a linear nature – they address a single idea at a time. To this end, these ideas must be presented in the most optimum order in an academic essay, so as to make the most sense to the reader.

    In other words, an effective essay structure should ideally appeal to the reader’s logic and guide the reader into comprehending the intended ideas and arguments in the best manner possible. Organising these ideas into a cohesive plan is the first step towards focusing the reader’s attention.

    Planning the Outline of an Academic Essay

    It is a good idea to plan the essay in advance as it enables one to ascertain a certain logical structure that the reader can follow easily. There are two key points that need to be taken care of:

    • Understanding the requirements – The first step towards structuring an essay effectively is to clearly understand the central idea or argument that the essay intends to convey to its readers. Adequate time should be spent in comprehending the central theme of the essay, and the ideas and/or arguments that it looks to address.
    • Brainstorming for ideas – Now that the central theme of the essay has been clearly identified and understood, the brainstorming can commence! One needs to distinctly demarcate what they already know about the topic, what they need to research, and in what order do they intend to bring forth their arguments.

    Structuring Your Academic Essay Effectively

    Now that the planning stage has been taken care of, one may begin attempting to write the essay.

    Generally, academic essays follow an established outline that assists the writer in expressing their thoughts and ideas in a favourable manner. The main parts of a well-structured essay are:

    • Introduction – This is the first paragraph of an essay and primarily looks towards introducing the essay topic, thesis statement, claim or argument. This should be followed by a statement, or a couple of statements, that directly answers the same.
    • Body – As the name suggests, this part carries the main content of the essay. Its purpose is to present, in detail, ideas that help support the main thesis being presented. There is no limit to the number of paragraphs you use, but you need to keep in mind that each paragraph should present a single idea, and should directly support the theme of the essay presented in the introduction. Most scholars also suggest that the strongest argument should be presented first, with subsequent arguments following according to how well they support the central idea. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Instead, more importance should be paid towards following a certain logical sequence to the ideas being presented in order to make the essay more cohesive.
    • Conclusion – In essence, this is the concluding part of an essay wherein one needs to summarise the arguments and evidence, and conclusively show how they support the central idea, or theses statement, of the essay. One should try to keep this paragraph as brief as possible.


    By following the aforementioned guidelines, one can write well-structured academic essays that the general populace will understand easily and effectively.