When it comes to defining an essay outline, the University of Leicester (UK) do it well by saying, “An Outline is to convey the main points placing emphasis on global structures and interrelationships rather than minute detail.” This article explains what that means, how it applies to your essay and how you may do it for your descriptive essay.
Expanding on the definition of an essay outline
Convey means to communicate, so you need to communicate the bigger issues/points and how they relate to each other. This is what an outline is. There may be numerous small issues, details and point that should be added, but they would normally be added into the essay and not the outline. The outline is like the blueprint for a house, and a blueprint doesn’t show you the location of every brick.
Do you need an essay outline?
If you are asked for one by your teacher or professor then yes, but in essence you should have one because it will improve the quality of your essay. You may have all the knowledge in the world about a certain subject, but you may need help getting it down in a refined and easy to understand manner–that is where an outline can help.
Is an essay outline like an essay plan?
You can use your essay outline as a plan; in fact, you can call them both the same thing. Some people consider an outline to be a broader but more concise plan, whereas people may make very large plans with schedules and details of smaller issues that should be added. Is an essay outline like a plan? It is up to you.
An essay outline is like a more concise version of a plan
If your plan included the times you intend to write, the places you intend to research and a long list of all the details you intend to add, then this is not an outline. An outline would just show the bigger issues/points, how they connect or interact, and maybe show a few smaller details too if they are relevant.
How do I build my own essay plan?
The points listed below will explain how you make an essay plan. If you want to build an essay outline for your descriptive essay, then simply create a brief overview of your plan without adding in the schedule part or the smaller details.
Research first and make notes
This is a good idea because there is a chance you will come across some research later on that proves you incorrect, so your best bet is to do some research first to be sure you are writing about the right thing and that you are on the right track.
Note down your resources
This is so you can come back to them later. Your research need not be a big slog. You can look over lots of resources and make notes of the ones you think will be useful later. This sort of information would not go in your outline.
List the points you wish to make
You can brainstorm, look through your textbooks, look online, look at other essay, look at your own notes and take as long as you like. List all the points you wish to add, all the issues you wish to raise and as many details as you can muster. Do not worry about getting them in order right away.
List the bigger issues/points
Pick through the list you just made and pick out the bigger issues/points that simply have to be in your essay. These would also make up most of your outline.
List the smaller issues/points
This is just a case of arranging the smaller issues/points and details that were left over after you removed the bigger issues/points. Put them in an order you can understand.
Plan to put in the bigger issues/points first
The most important things that need to be described should be put first–even if they are really obvious! For example, it may be obvious that the Kremlin is in Russia, but point it out anyway (that is just an example, as one may put that particular point in the introduction).
Connect your issues/points together within the plan
Only you know how the bigger issues/points in your essay connect together. For example, if you were writing about the awesome movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” then a big issue may be that it is set in the Marvel universe, and a connecting issue may be the times it interacts with the Avengers Assemble movie, such as the appearance of Thanos or the Collector.
Plan to add in your smaller issues/points between the bigger ones
In your plan, you can figure out where the best places are to add in the smaller details that make your essay a little more comprehensive. You can add these smaller details into your outline so long as the main focus of the outline is the bigger points/issues.