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Writing a Paper: Outlining
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Reflecting & Improving
Outlining your first draft by listing each paragraph’s topic sentence can be an easy way to ensure that each of your paragraphs is serving a specific purpose in your paper. You may find opportunities to combine or eliminate potential paragraphs when outlining—first drafts often contain repetitive ideas or sections that stall, rather than advance, the paper’s central argument .
Additionally, if you are having trouble revising a paper, making an outline of each paragraph and its topic sentence after you have written your paper can be an effective way of identifying a paper’s strengths and weaknesses.
The following outline is for a 5-7 page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and health. Review the other sections of this page for more detailed information about each component of this outline!
A. Current Problem: Educational attainment rates are decreasing in the United States while healthcare costs are increasing.
B. Population/Area of Focus: Unskilled or low-skilled adult workers
C. Key Terms: healthy, well-educated
Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (cite sources) and general susceptibility to depression (cite sources), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.
A. Historical Employment Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were frequently unionized and adequately compensated for their work (cite sources).
B. Historical Healthcare Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were often provided adequate healthcare and benefits (cite sources).
C. Current Link between Education and Employment Type: Increasingly, uneducated workers work in unskilled or low-skilled jobs (cite sources).
D. Gaps in the Research: Little information exists exploring the health implications of the current conditions in low-skilled jobs.
III. Major Point 1: Conditions of employment affect workers’ physical health.
A. Minor Point 1: Unskilled work environments are correlated highly with worker injury (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Unskilled work environments rarely provide healthcare or adequate injury recovery time (cite sources).
IV. Major Point 2: Conditions of employment affect workers’ mental health
A. Minor Point 1: Employment in a low-skilled position is highly correlated with dangerous levels of stress (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress is highly correlated with mental health issues (cite sources).
V. Major Point 3: Physical health and mental health correlate directly with one another.
A. Minor Point 1: Mental health problems and physical health problems are highly correlated (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources)
VI. Major Point 4: People with more financial worries have more stress and worse physical health.
A. Minor Point 1: Many high-school dropouts face financial problems (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Financial problems are often correlated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such unhealthy food choices, overconsumption/abuse of alcohol, chain smoking, abusive relationships, etc. (cite sources).
A. Restatement of Thesis: Students who drop out of high school are at a higher risk for both mental and physical health problems throughout their lives.
B. Next Steps: Society needs educational advocates; educators need to be aware of this situation and strive for student retention in order to promote healthy lifestyles and warn students of the risks associated with dropping out of school.
Your introduction provides context to your readers to prepare them for your paper’s argument or purpose. An introduction should begin with discussion of your specific topic (not a broad background overview) and provide just enough context (definitions of key terms, for example) to prepare your readers for your thesis or purpose statement.
Sample Introduction/Context: If the topic of your paper is the link between educational attainment and health, your introduction might do the following: (a) establish the population you are discussing, (b) define key terms such as healthy and well-educated, or (c) justify the discussion of this topic by pointing out a connection to a current problem that your paper will help address.
A thesis or purpose statement should come at the end of your introduction and state clearly and concisely what the purpose or central argument of your paper is. The introduction prepares your reader for this statement, and the rest of the paper follows in support of it.
Sample Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (Smith, 2010) and general susceptibility to depression (Jones, 2011), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.
After the initial introduction, background on your topic often follows. This paragraph or section might include a literature review surveying the current state of knowledge on your topic or simply a historical overview of relevant information. The purpose of this section is to justify your own project or paper by pointing out a gap in the current research which your work will address.
Sample Background: A background section on a paper on education and health might include an overview of recent research in this area, such as research on depression or on decreasing high school graduation rates.
Major & Minor Points
Major points are the building blocks of your paper. Major points build on each other, moving the paper forward and toward its conclusion. Each major point should be a clear claim that relates to the central argument of your paper.
Sample Major Point: Employment and physical health may be a good first major point for this sample paper. Here, a student might discuss how dropping out of high school often leads to fewer employment opportunities, and those employment opportunities that are available tend to be correlated with poor work environments and low pay.
Minor points are subtopics within your major points. Minor points develop the nuances of your major points but may not be significant enough to warrant extended attention on their own. These may come in the form of statistics, examples from your sources, or supporting ideas.
Sample Minor Point: A sample minor point of the previous major point (employment and physical health) might address worker injury or the frequent lack of health insurance benefits offered by low-paying employers.
The rest of the body of your paper will be made up of more major and minor points. Each major point should advance the paper’s central argument, often building on the previous points, until you have provided enough evidence and analysis to justify your paper’s conclusion.
More Major and Minor Points: In this paper, more major points might include mental health of high school dropouts, healthcare access for dropouts, and correlation between mental and physical health. Minor topics could include specific work environments, job satisfaction in various fields, and correlation between depression and chronic illness.
Your conclusion both restates your paper’s major claim and ties that claim into a larger discussion. Rather than simply reiterating each major and minor point, quickly revisit your thesis statement and focus on ending the paper by tying your thesis into current research in your field, next steps for other researchers, your broader studies, or other future implications.
Sample Conclusion: For this paper, a conclusion might restate the central argument (the link between lack of education and health issues) and go on to connect that discussion to a larger discussion of the U.S. healthcare or education systems.
- Prewriting Demonstrations: Outlining (video transcript)
Prewriting Techniques: Taking the First Steps (webinar)
Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing, and Using Feedback (webinar)
Is Your Short Attention Span Showing? Using a Reverse Outline (Writer’s Workshop #5) (blog post)Writing Center blog post
From Prompt to Post: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Effective Discussion Posts (blog post)Writing Center blog post.
Thursday Thoughts: Assignment Prompts as Outline (blog post)Writing Center blog post
Outlining Your Outline as a Way to Write Every Day (blog post)Writing Center blog post
WriteCast Episode 43: How and Why to Revise With a Reverse Outline (podcast)Writing Center podcast (select the episode in the player)
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Example Argumentative Essay Outline: How to Research and Write
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- / Example Argumentative Essay Outline: How to Research and Write
In college, there are many essays that a student is required to write. One of them is the argumentative essay . An argumentative essay is a genre of writing where the student is expected to investigate a certain topic, collect and evaluate evidence after which they should establish their position in a concise manner. To write a great and moving argumentative essay you need to conduct thorough research of literature. Conducting a detailed research will allow the student to learn as much as they can about the topic. This might be hectic for the students and they might opt to buy argumentative essay. Through the research they get to understand the different point of views regarding the given topic. Having done this they are in a position to choose a position and support it with evidence collected. To get a convincing essay one can consider hiring essay writing service.
The common argumentative essay outline is known as a five paragraph essay . The essay will consist of:
An introductory paragraph
Three evidentiary body paragraphs
This is basically the outline of the essay. Each of the sections will require some very important elements.
This is the paragraph in which you lay down the foundation of your argument. In this paragraph there is the hook, the background information and the thesis statement.
The hook is the first sentence and it is meant to grab the attention of the reader. The next section of the introduction should be dedicated to giving information about the background information on the topic. You can first decide to define the key terms of the argument. Some questions that you could ask yourself to get the context include; what is the issue at hand? Why is it important? Who cares? The next section in the introductory paragraph is the thesis. Thesis is a general statement about the main idea. The thesis statement should establish a clear position that you will later support. A thesis statement should be concise and specific. It should not provide too much information. It should match the requirements of the assignment at hand. It should be easily recognizable and should be supported by data and good reasoning.
Evidentiary Body Paragraphs
This section a can further is divided into two parts. The two parts are Paragraphs that develop your argument and a paragraph that refutes the opponent’s arguments.
Paragraphs containing your argument
This is the section where you introduce your claims and each of the claims has to be backed by evidence. You must be in a position to develop your claim in a thorough manner as possible. A claim is a statement that is made in order to support your argument. You can have two paragraphs in this section. Each paragraph should explore a distinct idea that will support your thesis. For each claim made, the student should be in a position to provide supporting evidence. The evidence given has to be factual and it must be from reliable sources. To get accurate evidence you can order argumentative essay. It should not be personal knowledge. For each claim try as much as possible to give at least three pieces of claims. There are some claims that might not have that number of evidence, so it is not limited to three pieces of evidence the number does not matter. To make the claim believable you need to use as much evidence as you can.
Refuting opponents’ arguments
This is the section that comes just after you have given enough evidence to support the claims. So as to present a convincing as fair message you must anticipate, and research as well as outline some of the common arguments that will dispute the student’s thesis. It is important to consider the other positions for those reading your essay yet they have not decided which side of the argument they should support. It is wise to get organized before you can write this paragraph. You can forecast all the information and then address each of the points as you proceed. When you refute an opposing position it is wise to organize it in three parts. The opponents’ argument – at the beginning of the paragraph you just state the main point that you wish to refute as accurately and fairly as possible.
1. The opponents’ argument – at the beginning of the paragraph you just state the main point that you wish to refute as accurately and fairly as possible.
2. The students’ position – you must make clear the nature of your disagreements with the position you are refuting.
3. The refutation – the nature of your disagreement will dictate the specifics of your counter argument.
This part of the essay wraps up all what you have been discussing. This is the part of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the reader. For these reason it has to be effective and logical. The conclusion should begin by generally stating the main points of your argument and state why it is important. You must restate your thesis. You address the opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position. After this paragraph you are finished and you must not bring in any new points. You might want to add in a discussion encouraging more research. When writing, remember that simplicity is the best option for a clear and convincing message.
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