Tips for Students: Writing 4 Paragraph Essay Outline

If you are tasked with writing a four paragraph essay and you need to figure out a place to start why not start with the outline? The outline is a key component to writing any type of paper and figuring out how to structure your argument using an outline can save you quite a bit of time when it comes to writing the final draft.

When you are writing a four paragraph outline you will have either:

  • Four paragraphs total to your essay which means one for the introduction and one for the conclusion with two paragraphs to make up the body of your text or
  • Four paragraphs in the body of your paper alone with an additional paragraph for the introduction and one for the conclusion.

In any case your goal with the outline is to construct a rudimentary map of what your paper will look like. Your goal is to draft a quick summary of the paper including the main points you will present and the evidence you will use to support that point.

When you are writing an outline for your four paragraph essay you can use either bullet points or full sentences.

The bullet point outline consists of the heading and the subheadings. So for each paragraph you have a heading. Beneath the heading you would list the arguments you plan to make or the topic you plan to cover with all of the supporting evidence. These are listed in short bullet form and are often fragmented thoughts.

The full sentence outline consists of the headings and subheadings too. So for every paragraph you would have a heading. Beneath the headings you would write the arguments you are going to make or the topics you are going to cover with all supporting evidence. But the difference is that you write it out in a coherent sentence rather than in a fragmented sentence or thought. In this case the majority of your writing is done for you because you have the bulk of your material in the outline.

No matter which style you select your outline should be coherent enough that from it you can craft an excellent paper. You can of course play around with different styles and formats until you find something that works for you. There is no right or wrong way to draft your outline so do not worry about limiting yourself.

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