Is there an appropriate outline format for essays

When you are writing an essay, you should make sure to include an outline. An outline is a key component to the early stages of essay writing. With the outline you are able to craft the entirety of your paper. The outline is what stores your notes. It is where you keep all details about your argument and the supporting evidence.

But is there an appropriate outline format for essays?

The answer, is “no”. An outline is meant as a set of notes wherein you organize your thoughts. The outline is yours, essentially. It is whatever you make it. The outline should be formatted in such a way that you understand it and you can write a cohesive essay from it.

Some students work better with a bullet point outline, one which has the headings and bullets underneath like this:


  • Notes for intro


  • Argument 1
    1. Notes
    2. quote
    3. Argument 2
      1. Notes
      2. Statistic from Author A
      3. Argument 3
        1. Statistic from Author B
        2. Quote
        3. notes


  • Notes for conclusion

Other students prefer full sentences beneath each of the headings and subheadings which enable them to craft the perfect line and keep the data integrated, rather than referring to data or quotes that you stored somewhere else.

Neither way is better than the other. You should pick whatever works best for you.

That being said, an outline cannot be started, let alone completed, until you have your topic.

If you are interested in writing a paper that encompasses environmental topics you can look over the list below. These are meant only as a broad spectrum of potential topics and with these you should find one which interests you and then narrow down an appropriate thesis from it:

  • What effects does acid rain have on plant life? Can these effects be reversed over time?
  • Are alternative fuels important and should more be done to encourage research in the field?
  • Is conservation the responsibility of the government or individual?
  • What effects does the loss of an endangered species have on the ecosystem?
  • What can be done to save energy in modern households?
  • Why is smog an environmental concern?
  • How much money should be put toward wildlife conservation?
  • What leads to soil pollution? Should companies be fined if they pollute the soil of the location around their manufacturing plants?
  • How is radioactive waste disposed of?
  • Are pesticides dangerous? Can they be eliminated through some other means?
  • Are landfills good or bad?
  • Global warming
  • Deforestation
  • What is leading to marine pollution?
  • What can be done to alleviate future oil spills?

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