Guide to Writing a Basic Essay

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Guide to Writing a Basic Essay

Organize Your Ideas


The purpose of an outline or diagram is to put your ideas about the topic on paper, in a moderately organized format. The structure you create here may still change before the essay is complete, so don't agonize over this.

Decide whether you prefer the cut-and-dried structure of an outline or a more flowing structure. If you start one or the other and decide it isn't working for you, you can always switch later.


Diagram

  1. Begin your diagram with a circle or a horizontal line or whatever shape you prefer in the middle of the page.
  2. Inside the shape or on the line, write your topic.
  3. From your center shape or line, draw three or four lines out into the page. Be sure to spread them out.
  4. At the end of each of these lines, draw another circle or horizontal line or whatever you drew in the center of the page.
  5. In each shape or on each line, write the main ideas that you have about your topic, or the main points that you want to make.
    • If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments.
    • If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed.
      You will probably need to group these into categories.
      If you have trouble grouping the steps into categories, try using Beginning, Middle, and End.
    • If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.
  6. From each of your main ideas, draw three or four lines out into the page.
  7. At the end of each of these lines, draw another circle or horizontal line or whatever you drew in the center of the page.
  8. In each shape or on each line, write the facts or information that support that main idea.

When you have finished, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.

Proceed Go on to the next step. Return Return to the previous step. Home Return to the essay home page.

Outline

  1. Begin your outline by writing your topic at the top of the page.
  2. Next, write the Roman numerals I, II, and III, spread apart down the left side of the page.
  3. Next to each Roman numeral, write the main ideas that you have about your topic, or the main points that you want to make.
    • If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments.
    • If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed.
      You will probably need to group these into categories.
      If you have trouble grouping the steps into categories, try using Beginning, Middle, and End.
    • If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.
  4. Under each Roman numeral, write A, B, and C down the left side of the page.
  5. Next to each letter, write the facts or information that support that main idea.

When you have finished, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.

Proceed Go on to the next step. Return Return to the previous step. Home Return to the essay home page.

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