English and composition professors in colleges throughout the USA (and most other countries) recommend students outline their papers before writing them. Sadly, though, few students do this. Most think that writing an outline is a useless waste of time. To end this misconception once and for all, here is a list of the reasons why outlining is actually critical for writing a quality essay.
Outlining helps you stay on-point
One of the problems that a lot of students struggle with is staying on-point. It’s not uncommon for professors to realize two paragraphs into an essay that the student has shifted to a different topic and has no intention of going back to the one that was assigned. For example, they might start to comment on their favorite educational website in the middle of what was supposed to be an academic article critique. Needless to say, the authors of such essays can’t expect a high grade.
To avoid deviating from the topic, always start with an outline. All professionals from CustomWritings and other essay writing services online recommend outlining every paper. They complete custom and personalized essays all the time, so no one knows all the tricks of academic writing better. If you try to follow their expert advice at least once, chances are, you’ll never get back to writing without outlining again.
The thing is, if you write an essay from scratch without an outline, it’s easy to get carried away. You might think of something related to what you’re talking about in the paragraph and end up with three paragraphs that have nothing to do with your topic. An outline is like Directions in Google Maps. If you want to get anywhere (including a decent essay), an outline should keep you company.
An outline makes the essay easier to follow
A professional writer or someone with much experience in reading essays can see if the author used an outline even from the text of the essay. If you don’t believe this, write three papers with an outline and submit them to your TA together with three of your old essays for review. If your TA agrees to take part in this experiment, ask them to determine which of the essays were written with an outline. They will probably guess correctly.
Essays started with an outline are much less confusing and easier to follow. Here are a few things that an outline can improve in a paper:
- An outlined essay has more transitions (in appropriate places). One of the signs of an essay written with no outline is the lack of transitional words and phrases (“first,” “as a result,” “therefore,” “in conclusion,” and so on). Whether you are writing a pitch to convince your customer to make a purchase or an academic essay, transitions make it easier for the reader to understand your arguments.
- The paragraph structure is better. Outlining can help improve even your paragraph structure. All paragraphs should have a topic sentence followed by an argument, evidence, analysis, and a concluding sentence. Students who don’t outline often break these structure rules. And they end up losing points.
- There are no distracting or misplaced paragraphs. An experienced writer and reader can also notice that any essay written with no outline ends up somewhat confusing. When you write an outline, you know what the order of your arguments is. Mixing something up unintentionally is more than likely if you jump straight into writing without thinking through the structure of your essay first.
- The writer’s ideas and arguments aren’t repetitive. Finally, seasoned experts from writing assistance services say that most outlined essays tend to be repetitive. When you write with no clear structure, it’s easy to get carried away and forget what you were writing about two paragraphs back. That’s why almost every professional writing service offers a separate outlining feature. While not free, it’s quite cheap, so consider getting it if you lack skills in outlining.
Essay outlining saves your time
If you think that writing an outline is a waste of time, you’re wrong. In fact, the extra 15 to 20 minutes you spend outlining your essay will cut the actual writing time by far more. An outline for the essay is like a spine for your body or a frame for your bike. It holds everything together. You would probably start assembling a bike from the frame. So do yourself a favor and start writing your essay from an outline.
What’s more, it gives you a clear idea of what goes where, what the right order is, and which argument goes next. If you have an outline ready, the writing process gets seamless. You have everything you need right in front of you. So you end up writing twice as fast as you would have with no outline.
Students are always short on time. This has always been and will forever be the case. Some of them are in challenging programs; others have to work their way through college. Even those who aren’t objectively busy don’t have much time because of typical student hobbies akin to partying. If every student knew how much time they could save by simply outlining their essays, professors wouldn’t have to work so hard to get students to write an outline.
An outline can help you beat procrastination
Procrastination is a huge problem even for students who are consistently at the top of their class. It’s sadly not original. Tons of distractors, young people’s ever-shrinking attention spans, and the lack of discipline have made procrastination the number one barrier to successful learning. It is a mental health issue as much as a bad habit. Paradoxically, outlining is one of the ways you can break it.
One of the sure methods for beating procrastination is splitting every large assignment into smaller, more manageable tasks. As all mental health professionals rightly point out, when people are overwhelmed, they are much more likely to procrastinate. The same is true for students. So instead of trying to write your entire seven-page essay in one sitting, split the work you have to do into chunks. Write an outline on Monday. Then write the first half on Wednesday and the second half on Thursday. Finally, polish your essay on weekends.
So, how to start outlining an essay?
As you can see by now, the benefits of outlining are impossible to ignore. The best way to start outlining is to stop postponing your first essay outline explained in our article. Even if you have no essays assigned at the moment, google a prompt and write a short outline to practice. Or contact professional writing companies with good reviews to buy your first outline or two from them. Also, research helpful writing resources with outlining tips both online and in the library. Good luck!