Meg Armour

The Importance of Outlines

Meg Armour

December 9, 2021

Prior to starting at the Writing Centre, I was unaware of how beneficial and important the outline is to the success of essay writing. Through working with students who all have different styles of learning and planning, I began to understand the essential nature of having a consistent planning structure. As an individual who often dives straight into papers and writes them out of order whenever thoughts present themselves, I had not assigned much thought to outlines. Throughout the semester, I quickly realized that every student thinks differently so creating a framework which allows for the organization of thoughts is something beneficial to all students.   

One of my primary goals during appointments was to help students organize their thoughts in a way that would be beneficial to their writing process. When speaking about organization I am referring to the logical flow and function of the introductory, body, and conclusion paragraphs (Kartawijaya, 2018). To assist students with connecting their ideas in a logical flow, I encourage the development of a thesis statement and topic sentences. An outline is intended to “order your ideas, and relationship between the idea and supporting details” (Kartawijaya, 2018). By first designing a thesis statement, and then topic sentences to support the thesis, students are better able to understand the relationship between their ideas. Once a student is aware of what connects their thoughts, they are better equipped to write in a logical fashion.    

Over the course of the semester, I have found several strategies to help a student build a thesis statement and topic sentences. My favourite way to develop a thesis statement, for English, alongside a student is by encouraging them to write out the most important themes, ideas, and symbols from the story. Once the student has a page or two of thoughts, we work together to discover the most prominent ideas they may want to discuss within their paper. The student then attempts to construct two or three different sentences considering these ideas. Together with the student, we then select the most applicable sentence and work to make it a strong, tentative thesis statement. Once this thesis statement is in place it is possible to pull subpoints from the brainstorming sheet to craft topic sentences in a similar fashion. When the tentative thesis and topic sentences are in place, it creates an easy format for students to organize thoughts underneath. This is especially true when searching for important story quotes or quotes from research articles. This technique is also useful at eliminating irrelevant ideas, or identifying where connections are lacking (Kartawijaya, 2018). The thesis and topic sentences are the road map to a successful essay.   

Through working with students over the course of the semester, I have developed habits and strategies to assist in improving organization. Designing an outline based around the thesis statement and topic sentences of a student’s paper assists the student with sorting through their thoughts and writing a well-organized paper. It can also establish a helpful baseline for where research is needed, and where it is useful as supportive evidence. Outlines are beneficial to all types of students when completing any type of assignment. 



Kartawijaya, S. (2018). Improving students’ writing skill in writing paragraph through an outline technique, Curricula: Journal of Teaching and Learning, 3(3), 152-158. DOI: 10.22216/jcc.2018.v3i3.3429