Writing A 5x5 Essay

Aiming for the big ‘A’ on that next essay? Well guess what—winging it without an essay outline is just not an option!

By now, you’ve probably made plans in one form or another. You’ve marked quizzes and paper due dates on a calendar. Maybe you’ve put together a surprise birthday party for your friend. Thinking about setting a wedding date with your significant other? Now you’re really talking about planning.

But why do we plan? What makes us set a schedule for a series of events ahead of time? In this post, I’ll answer these questions and focus on why outlining your papers is a vital part of the writing process.

Then you’ll get the chance to access some awesome essay outline templates to help you start writing a well-planned and strongly organized paper that wows your professor.

Planning Saves Lives … or Grades

Okay, so your freshman analysis paper on gender roles in 50 Shades of Grey may not win a Pulitzer or change anybody’s life. But if you don’t outline your paper, you’re probably heading for a crash.

Speaking of crashes, think about something you probably do on a daily basis, driving—or riding in—a car. A lot of planning went into that machine to make it work and get you safely from point A to point B.

If the engineers hadn’t carefully blueprinted all the working parts and how they fit together, then that car wouldn’t run at all. Essays are similar. An unplanned essay that isn’t outlined usually won’t pass your professor’s inspection and just gets you nowhere.

An essay outline denotes how you’ll structure your paper. You can (and should!) make changes along the way. But you want to get everything written down so that you can refer to the outline while you’re writing your rough draft.

If you start out with a good idea of how your paper will function and transition between ideas and paragraphs, then you’ll stay on track and avoid writing yourself into a corner.

Beware the corners—this is what happens when you get to a point in your paper and feel like you have run out of ideas or have no place else to go. Don’t let this happen to you—plan ahead!

Got It–But How Do I Start?

Good time management skills definitely don’t hurt. But just like your paper won’t write itself, your essay is going nowhere if you don’t sit down and start working on that outline.

But maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve composed an outline, and some forms are better than others. No worries—instead of starting from scratch, we’ve got you covered with these templates. You just have to fill in the blanks and keep moving forward!

That said, it’s a good idea to think about the process behind writing a paper before moving forward with your outline. Most papers—like most cars—have the same basic working parts.

You usually need a thesis statement in your introductory paragraph, body paragraphs that follow a logical order and support that thesis, and a conclusion that wraps it all up.

And though most essay have those same working parts, there are different types of essays. Each one requires a different approach to outlining. So without further ado …

7 Super-Awesome Essay Outline Templates

1. Analytical essay outline

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This outline template can help you pick apart a topic and support your thesis so well that your professor’s jaw will drop. An analytical essay isn’t a summary—it requires you to concentrate on how a book or poem was written, why a song was composed, what themes are prevalent in a movie, and why that matters.

You come up with an answer and then explain why you’re right. This template covers the basics and narrows the focus, so you can write a killer thesis statement and use strong evidence to support your claim.

2. Argumentative essay outline

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Nearly all college students will write an argumentative essay, so steel yourself and get ready to create a powerful outline. In this type of essay, you’ll try to persuade your readers that your thoughts on a given topic are the right ones.

But unlike a persuasive essay, you’ll have to do some solid research and back up your ideas with hard facts. This is a great template to guide you through writing your intro, developing your argument, refuting your opponent’s arguments, and bringing your essay over the finish line with the conclusion.

In an argument essay, you must consider the opposing side(s). This handy template will also show you how to tackle the best of them.

3. Compare and contrast essay outline

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A compare and contrast essay takes two subjects and focuses on their similarities and differences. Sounds easy, right? Wait—there’s more!

Like all good essays, this one also serves a larger purpose—maybe you’re trying to state something unknown, clear up a misunderstanding, or show that one topic is better than another.

This template can help you reach these goals using the point-by-point comparison method. Check it out.

4. Expository essay outline

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Do you like helpful advice? Me too. That’s what you get with this awesome expository essay template. An expository essay is kind of like a book report. Your teacher makes you write one of these to show that you’ve aptly researched a topic.

Though there are many ways to organize this type of essay, start with this outline, and you’ll be in good shape. It will help you explain your topic using facts, evidence, and analysis—all of which will help you showcase the larger significance at hand.

5. Persuasive essay outline

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Prove it to me. A persuasive essay’s goal is to convince your readers that your viewpoint is the right one. It’s kind of like an argument essay, except that you don’t have to use well-researched facts in order to support your thesis. You can focus on emotional anecdotes and stories to convince your reader that you’re 100% correct.

This is a great outline template that really delivers from intro to conclusion. Need to define your audience and lay down your best hook? Look no further than this stellar template.

6. Reflective essay outline

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In a reflective essay, you get to recall an event, object, or person that helped you become who you are today. This is a fun essay to write because all the material for it exists in your own head. You don’t have to research or argue. You simply offer the reader a meaningful glimpse into your life.

These essays don’t have to be serious—just ask David Sedaris—but there are good and bad ways to write them. Never fear—this template is here to guide you in setting up your hook, descriptive body paragraphs, and an impactful conclusion.

7. Research essay outline

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Research essays are beastly—they’re longer than most papers to start. They also typically require more effort because you’re gathering sources and revealing what experts are saying about your topic. But this type of essay is cool because it helps you sharpen both your writing skills and knowledge about a topic.

So learn something, and slay that research essay beast by starting with the best weapon. This template will help you put a framework to your ideas—covering the thesis, context, and history behind your topic, the existing arguments, and why the topic/research matters.

From Outline to Essay

Outlining your essay before you begin writing it has so many advantages. It’s easier to change and reorganize a few points on a page than doing the same for large paragraphs in a rough draft.

Outlines save you time and provide peace of mind when it comes to writing papers. Even when you’re putting words to the page, you can always refer back to an outline to keep you on the right track and avoid getting stuck in one of those scary corners we talked about.

Want to win the essay-writing race? Then make a habit of outlining your essays from now on.

Some Inspiration

Sometimes it just helps to see how others have tackled essays in the past. Check out some of these great example essays from the Kibin database to inspire your next trip down essay-writing lane.

Now you’re ready to rev your outline-writing engine. Kick your typing into gear, and drive that paper from point A to point B with a well-organized structure that’ll show your professor you know what’s what.

And don’t forget—your Kibin pit crew is standing by to proofread that next paper to make sure it runs like a dream when you’re ready to turn it in.

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

And we’re back to our short series about “maturing” our essays! Last week we talked about more sophisticated thesis statements; now, we’re going to investigate structures.

The task of essay writing is undoubtedly daunting for many; specifically, the challenge of synthesizing information, relating it back to the thesis, and providing appropriate support can be overwhelming.

Often, we race right back to our comfort zones – the five-paragraph essay. This format is often taught in high school, and its organizational structure is simple: an introduction, three body paragraphs that align with the three DOPs (divisions of proof) listed in the thesis, and a conclusion.

What makes this format less useful for college writing is twofold. First, the limits set forth by the thesis apply, thus creating a paper that is structured around evidence instead of subtopics. Secondly, the format does not allow for deep interpretation.

So how can we use our new thesis statements to help us diverge from the five-paragraph essay?

  1. Analyze possible support
    Think of your thesis as your lens. In other words, look at your evidence and possible commentary with what I like to call “thesis glasses.” Rather than merely tacking on information for the sake of providing support, your thesis should help you filter out unnecessary, unrelated, or weak evidence.
  2. Maintain organization
    Here are two possible ways to organize a paper beyond using divisions of proof (DOPs):
    a. Thematic organization– Organize your body paragraphs based on central themes or ideas, using evidence as support rather than the leader of the paragraph.
    b. Chronological organization – This method works best for narrative or
    historical essays that are time-conscious.

Let’s run through this procedure using a thesis from our previous blog post.

Snakes, particularly constrictors, provide the warmest hugs, thereby forging a sense of closeness between owner and pet.

What kind of support can we garner from this thesis?

  1. Behavioral support regarding the snakes’ constricting abilities.
  2. Anecdotal evidence specifically from snake owners.
  3. Statistics regarding the happiness levels of snake owners. (Possible counterpoints from non-snake owners.)

Though additional support exists, the thesis allows us to omit unnecessary data or evidence. For example, because our thesis is focused on the closeness between snake owners and their constrictors, we won’t have to use data pertaining to snake bites or rattlesnakes.

Now, let’s continue with organization.

Because our thesis is more argumentative than it is exploratory, a thematic organization might help us decide how to situate our body paragraphs.

Here’s a rough outline of what that structure may look like:

  1. Introduction
    a. Thesis: Snakes, particularly constrictors, provide the warmest hugs, thereby forging a sense of closeness between owner and pet.
  2. Theme 1: Constrictors as emotionally comforting creatures in the wild.
    a. Evidence: an animal behaviorist’s take on serpentine hugs.
    b. Evidence: constrictors as parents in the wild.
  3. Theme 2: Constrictors as emotionally comforting pets.
    a. Evidence: anecdotal evidence from snake owners.
  4. Theme 3: Bonds between owner and constrictor.
    a. Evidence: statistics regarding the happiness levels of snake owners.

  5. Theme 4: Counterpoint – the danger of soliciting hugs from constrictors.
    a. Counterevidence: statistics about snake-related deaths.
    b. Rebuttal: discuss the importance of recognizing behavioral patterns as to avoid danger.
  6. Conclusion

In this outline, we’ve used themes as our central guides. Notice that we did not label them as body paragraphs. Often, one theme or subtopic could require more than one paragraph because a thematic organization lends itself well to multiple pieces of evidence.

Furthermore, we were able to include a counterpoint: a contrary argument that challenges your own. Not all essays will require or benefit from one, but we can see that the theme of the counterpoint contradicts the previous themes in the essay and the central argument of the thesis. Therefore, rather than immediately attacking the evidence, our rebuttal still aligns with our own point.

Remember that you need not worry about reaching a paragraph quota. Shorter, more succinct paragraphs are preferable over lengthy, disorganized ones. Your thesis will guide your organization; it is your decision how to go about it, though.

While a five-paragraph essay forces an organizational paradigm onto your paper, the schemes we’ve explored in this series should help you take control of your essay.

Go forth and conquer!


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