HISTORY ESSAY OUTLINE
There are several vital elements to any successful college essay. This handout
will define those elements and show you how to put them together using an
outline. Following this format will help you keep your thoughts organized and
get your essay underway.
Elements of an Essay
Introduction: Usually an introduction starts broad and narrows down to your
specific topic, ending in the thesis. This is your opportunity to establish why
readers might be curious about your general topic, catch their attention, or put
your essay in context.
Thesis: Your introduction should end with a clear, specific thesis statement,
which will tell readers exactly what your paper will be arguing. Each body
paragraph will directly and obviously support your thesis.
Body Paragraphs: An essay usually has at least three body paragraphs, and
these will be the arguments, evidence, or topics that support your thesis.
Topic Sentences: Each body paragraph will begin with a topic sentence which
introduces its topic. All of the information in that paragraph will be clearly and
logically related to that topic sentence, which in turn should obviously relate to
Support: You use arguments, data, facts, analysis, quotes, anecdotes, examples,
details, etc. to support your topic sentences and flesh out your body
paragraphs. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three points to support
each topic sentence.
Transitions: An effective essay will show the connection between paragraphs
with transitions. These can be the final sentence of each body paragraph or can
be integrated into the next topic sentence with transition words.
Conclusion: A conclusion should wrap up your essay, but should not introduce
new information or arguments. It should begin with a sentence that looks a lot
like your thesis to summarize the general points of the paper as a whole, and
then draw your paper neatly to a close.