Pre-Writing Guides For Students: Essay Outline Examples

In elementary school, every student learns about the writing process.  But by the time they are in high school most have forgotten the very first step and no longer use pre-writing.  What these student fail to realize is that the pre-writing it the most important step in the process and that is why it’s the first step in the writing process.  

In high school and college, students are going to be required to write essays and research papers more times than they are going to want to count, and if they leave out the pre-writing step then they aren’t able to plan their paper out with precision.  They might save some time at the beginning but they will be causing themselves to add more time as they go through the writing process.  

There are many types of pre-writing guides, but one of the easiest is an outline.  There are different types of outlines, but the most common is an alphanumeric outline.  This is the short phrase that has a roman numeral and then capitalized letter, then Arabic numeral then lowercased number.  


  • Point
    • A. Phrase
  • New Point
    • A. Phrase

The other type includes other ways of how each line is identified.  One type of outline is done in completed full sentences. But no matter what type of outline the student uses, they need to have the paper organized and this is what the outline will help them do.  

Guidelines for an Outline:

  • Have all points of the paper included in the outline.  The student needs to make sure that all the points they need to cover are listed in the outline.  They need to then decide the best way to go from point to point.  

  • Be flexible, but follow it.  This outline that a student has taken time to create needs to follow it.  But as they work their paper, they may discover that one tactic works better than another.

  • Have a parallel structure.  The student needs to make sure that each and every point has a counter point.  They need to do this in order to make sure that the paper is balanced and well prepared.  

Using this guideline will help any student with their pre-writing ritual.  They will be able to organize their paper like a professional and should then be able to use the outline as a guide to write a paper that will impress their teacher or professor.  But they have to do the pre-writing, just like they learned in elementary school.  

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