Outlining is an important step in the writing process, especially when you’re writing a longer essay.  It’s important not to think about outlines as simply listing the order of each point you’re going to use.  Instead think about the points you want to make, the evidence you will use to support your point and how you will connect it to your thesis.

Through writing your outline you may discover that some points you thought were important really are not and that some can be combined with others.  You can also very easily look at your essay in a big picture way that can be difficult once it is written.  You can also avoid a lot of wasted time and confusion if you try to jump to writing too quickly.

A good way to start is to first look over your charts and sort the specific events into general groupings, topics, or categories.

At that point, you can use the paragraph planning sheet to map out individual paragraphs and order those sheets logically and let those sheets function at your outline.

Paragraph PLanning Page

Below is a sample outline of the Jamestown essay.  It is not a completely full outline but it gets the point across. It would be more effective if you had all the questions from the planning page answered.

Sample outline

Paragraph #1: Introduction

  • Discuss background information

European exploration

Desire for wealth

Why the English wanted colonies

  • Introduce and discuss the essential question
  • Thesis: Conflict between the English and Indians was inevitable because…(here you can mention your major points)

Paragraph #2 Views of Each other and Prior Experiences

Topic Sentence: Prior experiences and the ways the two groups thought of each other made conflict between the groups inevitable

Evidence: The English thought the Indians were savages and beasts

The English described them as animals

The Indians had prior bad experiences with Europeans

The Indians thought the English were uncivilized and savages as well

Connection to thesis: When two groups of people have negative views of each other then it is difficult for the two groups to get along and live peacefully

Paragraph #3  Background Circumstances in England and Virginia

Topic sentence


Connection to EQ

Paragraph #4 

Paragraph #5

Paragraph #6 (you can include more than 6 body paragraphs)

Paragraph #7: Conclusion

Sum up my points from my essay and restate my thesis.

Say something insightful about people and the way they relate to each other.


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