Research Essay Outline Maker

Thesis Statement Guide Development Tool

Follow the steps below to formulate a thesis statement. All cells must contain text.

1. State your topic.

2. State your opinion/main idea about this topic.
This will form the heart of your thesis. An effective statement will

  • express one major idea.
  • name the topic and assert something specific about it.
  • be a more specific statement than the topic statement above.
  • take a stance on an issue about which reasonable people might disagree.
  • state your position on or opinion about the issue.

3. Give the strongest reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

4. Give another strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

5. Give one more strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.

6. Include an opposing viewpoint to your opinion/main idea, if applicable. This should be an argument for the opposing view that you admit has some merit, even if you do not agree with the overall viewpoint.

7. Provide a possible title for your essay.




Thesis Statement Guide Results

Thesis Statement Model #1: Sample Thesis Statement

Parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Thesis Statement Model #2: Thesis with Concession

Notice that this model makes a concession by addressing an argument from the opposing viewpoint first, and then uses the phrase "even though" and states the writer's opinion/main idea as a rebuttal.

Even though television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Thesis Statement Model #3: Thesis with Reasons

Here, the use of "because" reveals the reasons behind the writer's opinion/main idea.

parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it isn't always intellectually stimulating.

Thesis Statement Model #4: Thesis with Concession and Reasons

This model both makes a concession to opposing viewpoint and states the reasons/arguments for the writer's main idea.

While television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it inhibits social interaction, shortens children's attention spans, and isn't always intellectually stimulating.

Remember: These thesis statements are generated based on the answers provided on the form. Use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like. Your ideas and the results are anonymous and confidential. When you build a thesis statement that works for you, ensure that it addresses the assignment. Finally, you may have to rewrite the thesis statement so that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct.

Thesis Statement Guide: Sample Outline

Use the outline below, which is based on the five–paragraph essay model, when drafting a plan for your own essay. This is meant as a guide only, so we encourage you to revise it in a way that works best for you.

Introductory Paragraph

Start your introduction with an interesting "hook" to reel your reader in. An introduction can begin with a rhetorical question, a quotation, an anecdote, a concession, an interesting fact, or a question that will be answered in your paper. The idea is to begin broadly and gradually bring the reader closer to the main idea of the paper. At the end of the introduction, you will present your thesis statement. The thesis statement model used in this example is a thesis with reasons.

Even though television can be educational , parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it is not always intellectually stimulating

Paragraph #1

First, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans.

Notice that this Assertion is the first reason presented in the thesis statement. Remember that the thesis statement is a kind of "mapping tool" that helps you organize your ideas, and it helps your reader follow your argument. In this body paragraph, after the Assertion, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this first point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Paragraph #2

Additionally, it inhibits social interaction.

The first sentence of the second body paragraph should reflect an even stronger Assertion to support the thesis statement. Generally, the second point listed in the thesis statement should be developed here. Like with the previous paragraph, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this point after the Assertion. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Paragraph #3

Finally, the most important reason parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch is it is not always intellectually stimulating.

Your strongest point should be revealed in the final body paragraph. Also, if it's appropriate, you can address and refute any opposing viewpoints to your thesis statement here. As always, include evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports your strongest point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.

Concluding Paragraph

Indeed, while television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.

Rephrase your thesis statement in the first sentence of the conclusion. Instead of summarizing the points you just made, synthesize them. Show the reader how everything fits together. While you don't want to present new material here, you can echo the introduction, ask the reader questions, look to the future, or challenge your reader.

Remember: This outline is based on the five–paragraph model. Expand or condense it according to your particular assignment or the size of your opinion/main idea. Again, use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like, until you reach a thesis statement and outline that works for you.

Outlines can be a helpful tool when you're trying to organize your thoughts for an essay or research paper.  After you've decided on a topic and done some brainstorming to generate ideas, think about the best way to group your ideas together.

Ask yourself:  What is my main point or purpose in writing this paper?  The answer will help you form a thesis statement. 

Ask yourself:  Can I list at least 3 larger concepts that will support my main idea?  These larger topics will make up the body paragraph sections of your outline.

Ask yourself:  How can I organize the rest of my ideas so that they fit within these larger categories?  These ideas will make up the sub-topics of your outline. 

Ask yourself:  What else do I want or need to say about this topic to fulfill my assignment?  These additions should be placed on your outline, as well.

A Note About Formatting:  Outlines usually follow a specific format using parallelism, Roman Numerals, upper case letters, and sometimes numbers to indicate ideas with different levels of importance.  Unless your instructor is planning to collect and grade your outline based on proper formatting, try not to get too hung up on making sure that you're formatting each section properly.  The important thing to remember is that the outline is meant to be a helpful organizational tool--compose your outline in such a way that it will be helpful to you!

Example of a Formal Outline

  1. Introduction/Tentative Thesis
  2. Main Topic 1
    1. Support 1
    2. Evidence 1
    3. Example 1
    4. Support 1
  3. Main Topic 2
    1. Support 2
    2. Evidence 2
  4. Main Topic 3
    1. Evidence 3
    2. Example 1
    3. Support 1
  5. Conclusion
    1. Topic 1
    2. Topic 2
    3. Topic 3

Reverse Outline

A simpler, more informal type of outline can be helpful after you've written your rough draft.  If you find that your essays are often disorganized or you tend to struggle with transitions, reverse outlines might be a useful tool for you.

What is a reverse outline?  Reverse outlines are informal lists that are created after a rough draft has been written, to help you visually see what you're discussing in your essay

How do I create one?  You can make a formal outline if you want, but often the best type of reverse outline simply involves jotting down notes in the margins of your draft.  Follow these steps: 

  1. Read your introduction paragraph.  Underline your thesis statement.
  2. Read each body paragraph slowly.  Each time you finish a paragraph, jot down the main idea that the paragraph discussed, in the margins.
  3. Read each body paragraph again and jot down notes about the supporting information that was discussed in each paragraph, in the margins.
  4. Read your conclusion paragraph.  Check to make sure that it refers back to your thesis statement, but uses different words to do so.

In order to use this reverse outline as a revision tool, you'll need to take a look at the main ideas that have been presented.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do each of these body paragraph topics support my thesis statement?  (Consider removing anything that wanders away from your topic)
  2. Have I discussed the same idea or topic in multiple places throughout the draft?  (Group similar ideas together!)
  3. Have I used clear transitions to show how each paragraph relates to the surrounding paragraphs?  (If not, add connecting words or transitional phrases)
  4. Have I covered everything that I wanted to say about my topic?  (Look for holes in your information, then add paragraphs or sentences to fill them)
  5. Have I tried to cover too much information or rambled on about a particular idea for a long time?  (Narrow your topic and/or remove unnecessary words)
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