Speech and Essay Outlines [Free Examples]

speech outlineWhether you need to deliver a speech for a class, you have a presentation to give at work, or you’re writing an essay, a solid outline is the starting point for success.


From drawing an audience in with an attention-grabbing opening to keeping their interest with relevant main points and smooth transitions, an outline helps to organize your thoughts and to make sure all the bases are covered.

On this page, you will find information on writing an outline, and many outline examples and tools.

Informative Speech Outline

The basics of writing an informative outline

There are many different purposes for writing an informative outline, therefore there are several different types of informative outlines. A few of the types include the informative essay outline, the informative presentation outline, and the informative speech outline.

Regardless what type of informative outline you are writing, the basic parts remain same. Each will include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

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The introduction generally needs to:

  • Grab the reader’s or audience’s attention
  • Present your thesis statement
  • Establish your credibility
  • Preview what is to come
  • Transition to the body

The body:

  • Outlines your main points, with subpoints and supporting facts
  • Includes transitions between main points

The conclusion:

  • Signals the end is coming
  • Restates your thesis
  • Ends strongly, but quickly, wrapping it up and driving your point home

You are likely already familiar with the basic outline format, which uses Roman numerals for the introduction, body (main points), and conclusion, and letters and numbers for subpoints and supporting facts.

If you have the basic format down, you’ll then want to then master the differences specific to the type of informative outline you’re writing. For example, a speech outline may include a notation about visual aids you are using or when to emphasize using gestures or pauses, which would not be necessary in an informative essay outline.

Writing an informative speech outline

According to this writing guide from Colorado State University, the main point of an informative speech is “to provide interesting, useful, and unique information to your audience.” Within that framework, there are still different types of informative speeches. When selecting your informative speech topic and beginning your outline, you’ll want to keep in mind the type of speech you are writing and its overall objective.

Again, the key parts of your outline will remain the same, but the pattern of organization you use in your outline may vary based on which type of informative speech you are writing.

Types of informative speeches include:

  • Object (people, places, animals, products)
  • Process (patterns of action, including both demonstrative “how to” speeches and more broad processes)
  • Event (things that have happened, are happening, or will happen)
  • Concept (more abstract ideas such as theories, beliefs, and ideas)

Based on your speech type, you’ll want to consider the following patterns of organization for your speech outline:

  • Topical
  • Chronological
  • Spatial
  • Causal

Another difference when preparing an outline for a speech is that you’ll benefit from two outlines: the preparation outline and the speaking outline. A preparation outline is typically full sentences and is used to help write your speech. A speaking outline uses keywords and phrases, generally on note cards, and is designed to jog your memory during your speech, keeping you on track, without distracting you from delivering your message.

Once your preparation outline is complete, you’ll also want to consider if you need a speaking outline. If it’s permitted, a speaking outline can be a useful tool to use when delivering your speech.

Informative speech outline examples and tools

1. Demonstration speech with chronological organization

This informative outline example from Santa Monica College is a full sentence outline of a demonstrative, or how to, informative speech about CPR. It uses a chronological pattern of organization, describing steps in the order you would perform them. The body consists of three main points, each with three to four subpoints. The introduction shows a clearly defined thesis statement.

2. Process informative speech outline examples using phrases

An example of a process informative speech outline, this outline informs how to eat healthy with a busy lifestyle. The pattern of organization is topical rather than chronological and this outline uses phrases, rather than full sentences, showing an alternative to the complete sentence speech outline. If you have a brief speech to give or are confident in your abilities to prepare and deliver your speech, this outline may suit your needs.

A full-sentence process speech outline in pdf format, this outline describes the process of spray paint art. It shows how to incorporate a visual aid in the introduction. It also shows how to use transitions between main points in your outline.

3. Complete sentence outline example

This informative process speech outline demonstrates how to create a personal recipe collection cookbook. From the labeled anecdote in the introduction to the transitions between sections, it is a great example of a complete sentence outline and is a Word document so the content could easily be replaced, while keeping the basic format to be used for any topic.

4. Topical pattern of organization outline example

From the Monmouth College, this outline is an example of the most commonly used pattern of organization, topical. It also shows the effective use of internal summaries and internal transitions between sections for a smooth speech.

5. Event informative speech outline examples

This full sentence event informative speech outline about the sinking of the Titanic is from Central Michigan University. It shows an effective attention getter and credibility statement in the introduction, as well as transitions between sections.

This outline is downloadable as a Word document and provides an example of an event informative speech outline describing the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. It uses full sentences and then shows how to use a central idea as a thesis statement. In addition, it shows how to develop your points in the body paragraph, starting with a broad idea, then a supporting statement, then specific details.

6. Object informative speech preparation outline and speaking outline

This is an assignment used at Bakersfield College. It is downloadable as a Word document, and it includes both an example of a complete sentence object informative speech outline about a person (you) and also an abbreviated version suitable for a speaking outline.

This outline sample is a comprehensive guide from the University of Hawaii used for developing a preparation outline for your informative speech. It provides detailed instructions for each part of the outline, including how to cite your sources in MLA or APA format.

7. Concept informative speech outline examples

A concept informative speech can be a bit more subjective. This particular example outlines the factors that influence a restaurant’s success.

This sample outlines an informative speech about the history of Halloween; however, it also discusses the concept of conformity, making it a good example of this type of informative speech.

8. Informative brief outline format

This is a short outline example from the University of Delaware that covers the main parts of an informative outline without being overly complex. If you’re needing a version to get you started towards developing a more complex outline, this is a good starting point.

9. Informative speech outline guide

Here is an outline guide from the University of Hawaii that you can print and fill out. If you’re feeling a bit stuck on getting started, it is a useful to break a pattern of procrastination and get some thoughts down on paper.

10. Informative speech outline checklist

Once you’ve completed your outline, you can use this handy checklist from the University of Hawaii to make sure you haven’t left anything out.

Persuasive Speech Outline

Persuasive speeches and essays are presentations with a specific purpose to convince the audience to adopt a certain point of view and/or compel them to take concrete action. In order to properly organize the ideas and research for your presentation, you need to create an outline. A strong persuasive outline allows you to stay on point and use the most compelling arguments to effectively present your case.

The basics of writing persuasive outline

When writing a persuasive outline, the first thing to think about is your topic. Is your essay or speech topic compelling enough to keep both you and your audience interested? If not, you may want to revisit your topic selection before you proceed with the outline.

Persuasive presentations are not all the same, and there may be varying requirements regarding the outline format. For example, you may be asked to write a persuasive essay outline with a specific width, height, and other formatting guidelines. In addition, some outlines are for your own personal use, while others are formal and need to be turned in along with the rest of an assignment. As always, check with your instructor to determine exactly what is expected before you begin your project.

Writing persuasive speech outline

There are four main sections that are typically included in a general persuasive outline:

  • Introduction:
  • Start out with a hook to grab your audience’s attention. This could be a question, quote, interesting fact, or any other strong attention getter. Next, include a sentence or two to help your target audience relate to the topic. The last sentence or two of your introduction should be your thesis statement, which is the central idea behind your presentation.
  • Body:
  • The length of this section will depend on the parameters of your assignment. Include several body paragraphs with the main points you will make to support your thesis. Your main points should be structured in a logical sequence. For example, each point could have a claim, supporting facts and examples to back up your claim, and refutations of opposing arguments.
  • Conclusion:
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the arguments you made. Make your final case to persuade your readers/listeners on the benefits of acting on this issue, and close with a strong call to action.
  • Source Citation:
  • If this is a formal persuasive outline that needs to be turned in, you may be asked to cite the specific sources for the facts and research you presented.

Persuasive speech outline examples and tools

On this page, we provide links to 27 good persuasive outline examples covering a wide range of topics and formats. You can reference these outlines to see what others have done and help ensure you are on the right track.

1. Sample Persuasive Speech Outline

This is a sample persuasive speech outline template from Klein Independent School District. The first page of the document provides three example topics; the first for a fact-based speech, the second for a value-based speech, and the third for a policy-based speech, along with additional tips on choosing a good topic for yourself. Below the sample outline, you will find more topics and detailed instructions.

2. Persuasive Argument Outline on Cosmetic Surgery

Keyword essay outline from Penn State University on the detrimental effects of plastic surgery. The introduction includes a hook/attention grabber, background information, and a thesis statement. The body section includes three main points and two or three supporting details for each. The conclusion summarizes the main points, emphasizes the message as a whole, and closes with a call to action.

3. Persuasion Speech Problem-Solution Outline Format

Persuasion speech outline from Southwest Minnesota State University using the problem-solution format. This outline sample includes a body and transition section with a main point checklist. In the body section, you state the problem, show the problem exists, and show that it is significant and harmful. In the transition section, you state the solution, how the solution will work, and why it is practical and desirable.

4. Persuasive Essay Outline Sample

Good persuasive essay outline with explanation and blank Outline Persuasive Essay section. In the introduction, there are blanks to enter your hook (attention grabber), thesis statement, and three arguments. In each of the three body paragraphs, there are blanks to enter your argument, three examples, and a transition. In the conclusion, there are blanks to restate the thesis, restate arguments, and tie everything together.

5. High School Persuasive Speech Outline

Schurz High School provides this MS Word-based persuasive speech outline for a 3-5 minute speech. On the top, there is room for the title and statement of the specific purpose. In the introduction, there is room for an attention grabber, thesis, and qualifications. In the body section, there is room to state three reasons with three examples followed by a transition statement. In the conclusion, you can fill in a summary and memorable ending/challenge to the audience. Instructions on what to enter in each section are provided throughout.

6. Persuasion Speech Outline Format with Examples

Outline for a persuasion speech from Seton Hall University. In the introduction section, there is room for your attention grabber, thematic/thesis statement, establishment of credibility, and preview statement. In the body section, there is room to enter your information, deductive and inductive statements, carrot-stick, primacy/recency, and much more. In the conclusion, you can reiterate your thesis statement and enter concluding remarks. Below the outline, there are instructions for preparing a post-speech question and answer period.

7. High School Persuasive Essay Outline

Outline of a persuasive essay from Waterford Union High School. This PDF document contains instructions on writing a persuasive/argument essay and detailed descriptions on what should be included in the introduction, body, and conclusion. Below the outline template, you will find a good list of transition words and phrases and a section with some questions you can use for a peer review.

8. Persuasive and Informative Speech Outline Examples

Central Michigan University provides two sample outlines; one for a persuasive speech, and the other for an informative speech. Persuasive speech topic is hearing loss, and informative speech topic is The Titanic. Both outline examples include detailed introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.

9. AP Persuasive Essay Rubric

Wallingford Public School District provides a detailed persuasive essay rubric in AP format for instructors. In this rubric, there are five main criteria for instructors to use when they grade the students’ persuasive papers. They are thesis & main points, quote selection/integration, organization & style, development, and format/mechanics.

10. Persuasive Presentation Outline Motivated Sequence Format

Houston Community College provides this persuasive speech outline template using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. Sections include Introduction, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, Action, and References. Within each section, there is room to include essential elements such as attention grabbers, main ideas, subpoints, and summary.

11. Causal Argument Format Examples

The University of Kentucky provides short samples of various approaches to a persuasive presentation using a causal argument. On this page, you will find two example introductions using the topics of genetically-altered foods and child abuse. Below that, there is a sample organization section on the topic of no-till farming.

12. Argumentative Outline Templates

This persuasive/argument outline page from Mesa Community College contains three different outline patterns with descriptions of each, two blank outline templates with ample space to fill in your information, and additional persuasive paper outline instructions at the bottom. The page also includes links to three more outlines you can use to help with your paper.

13. Persuasive Speech Example on Banning Guns

This sample persuasive speech outline from Santa Monica College is on the topic of banning guns to help prevent school shootings and make the world safer. The introduction contains two questions to grab the audience’s attention, and the body section contains three main points and several subpoints. After the conclusion, there is a short list of references/sources cited.

14. Sample Persuasive Speech Outline on Organ Donation

Model High School provides this persuasive speech outline example about the growing need for organ donors. In the introduction, there is attention-getting material, a tie-in to the audience, thesis statement, preview, and transition statement. The body contains three main points and several subpoints. The conclusion contains a transition, summary statement, tie-back to the audience, and call to action. Below the example organ donation outline is another sample outline with instructions in each section, followed by several more pages detailing various approaches and persuasive techniques you can use.

15. Sample Argumentative Outline on Assault Weapons

Valencia College provides this classic model for an argumentative/persuasive essay. The outline includes the basic elements (introduction, body, conclusion) used in most persuasive papers. Throughout each section, there are good instructions on what should be included along with example statements using the topic of assault weapons.

16. Persuasive Speech Outline on Milk

The University of Delaware provides this persuasive speech outline example on the topic of the benefits of drinking milk. This outline format includes the topic, specific purposes, proposition, attention step, need step, satisfaction step, visualization step, action step, and references.

17. Persuasive Outlines on the Civil War and States’ Rights

McMurray University provides two persuasive speech outline examples. The first is a detailed outline for a speech on the question of fact. The second is a condensed outline for a speech on the question of value. The persuasive speech topic for the fact-based speech is the main cause of the Civil War. For the value-based speech, the topic is states’ rights.

18. Persuasive Speech Outline on Chronic Homelessness

This persuasive speech outline example from Youngstown University is for an action-based speech on how the U.S. has one of the highest rates of homelessness. The introduction starts with an attention step with questions for the audience, followed by several statements to summarize the problem. In the body section, there is a need step with four main points, and a solution step with five main points. In the conclusion, there is a visualization step and an action step.

19. Persuasive Speech Outline on Renewable Energy

Missouri Valley College provides this example persuasive speech outline on the need to support alternative energy. Before the introduction, it lists the topic, specific speech purpose, and thesis statement. The introduction includes an attention getter, restatement of thesis, preview of main points, and a transition statement. The body and conclusion follow a basic format with main points, subpoints, summary of argument, call to action, etc. Please Note. You must sign up for a free account to Course Hero to view the entire outline.

20. Persuasive Speech Template on Impaired Driving

This MS Word document from Santa Monica College is a persuasive speech outline example on the dangers drunk drivers pose to society. The outline uses the Motivated Sequence format with sections to fill in the title, general purpose, specific purpose, thesis/central idea, introduction, main body, conclusion, and works cited. The introduction contains an attention getter, common ground, credibility, and preview statement. The body lists the need, satisfaction, and visualization. The conclusion includes a call to action and a zinger.

21. Sample Persuasive Speech Outline on Exercise

Monmouth College provides this example problem-solution persuasive speech outline on the benefits of exercise. In the introduction, there is attention material, a thesis, motivation statement, and transition statement. Part I of the body states the problem and four main supporting points. Part II of the body states the solution and five main supporting points. In the conclusion, there is more attention material, a restatement of the thesis, and a final thought.

22. Sample Persuasive Outline on Random Acts of Kindness

The University of Hawaii provides this persuasive outline example using the Motivated Sequence pattern. The topic for this persuasive speech is random acts of kindness. The specific purpose and central idea/thesis are listed above the introduction. Within the introduction section, there is the attention step, which includes an attention getter, credibility statement, and preview. Within the body, there is the need step, satisfaction step, and visualization step. The conclusion is an action step that contains a summary, call to immediate action, and a memorable close.

23. Persuasive Outline on Cyberbullying

This basic persuasive speech outline from Penn State University is on the topic of cyberbullying. The introduction lists the stakeholders (children & teens, parents, schools), the problem, and the thesis statement. In the body, there are two main ideas with three supporting facts for each, and a reflection with three supporting ideas. In the conclusion, there are closing thoughts and a concluding remark.

24. Persuasive Speech Outline on Global Warming

Valencia College provides this action-oriented persuasive speech outline example on the topic of global warming. The general purpose and specific purpose are listed above the introduction. Within the introduction, there is an attention grabber, thesis, audience tie-in, and preview. The body contains three main points and several sub-points, and the conclusion contains a summary statement and call to action.

25. Sample Student Persuasive Speech Outline on Second-Hand Smoke

Here is a sample student outline from the University of North Carolina about the problems caused by secondhand smoke. Within the introduction, there is an attention getter, thesis, credibility and relevance statements, and a preview of the main points. The body contains the need/problem step, satisfaction/solution step, and visualization. The conclusion summarizes the main points with a call to action and impactful closing.

26. Persuasive Outline on the Death Penalty

This persuasive presentation from the City University of New York is on the topic of capital punishment. This document was used for a departmental exam. On the left side of the box is the text of the presentation. On the right side are outlining indications. This document provides a useful exercise to help identify various essential elements as they are used in a persuasive outline.

Research Paper Outline

When writing a research paper, an outline is essential for helping you stay on track. With countless ideas in your head and a myriad of ways you could approach your project, it is easy to become paralyzed by writer’s block when you are creating your rough draft. A good research paper outline provides the direction you need to keep you focused on the main points when you write the paper.

The basics of writing research paper outline

After you have chosen a topic, carefully review your instructions to determine the research paper outline format that the assignment calls for. For example, were you instructed to write an APA-style research paper, or does your professor want you to use MLA style? Are you supposed to create a complete-sentence outline, or are bullet points with short topic statements acceptable? Are you required to turn in a completed copy of your outline to your professor, or is the outline for your own personal reference? Take the time to fully understand the guidelines before you begin your outline.

Writing research paper outline

Your research paper outline should contain three main parts:

  • Introduction: Craft a thesis statement that clearly conveys the main idea and purpose of your essay. Write a brief summary of the major points you plan to make, and why readers should be interested.
  • Body: Present your arguments for your thesis statement and your main points. A good rule of thumb is to use at least three supporting arguments for each point you are making. Begin with a strong argument, followed by a stronger one, and end with your strongest argument to support your major points.
  • Conclusion: Re-word your thesis, summarize the arguments you made, and explain why you came to your conclusion.

Research paper outline examples and tools

On this page, you will find links to 21 research paper outline templates covering a variety of topics and paper outline formats. These can be used as sample outlines to help you get started and give you a good idea of what your finished product should look like.

1. Sample Outline Format on Barack Obama

This tutorial from John B. Cade Library contains detailed instructions on how to write an outline, as well as a sample outline for an informative essay on the topic of former U.S. President Barack Obama. This format uses Roman numerals for the main heading, and subheadings alternate between letters and numbers. Below the example outline is a blank sample paper outline format with room to fill in your main topic, important subtopic, detail, and sub detail.

2. Argumentative Outline on Health Care Costs

This is an argumentative research paper sample outline from Walden University that seeks to draw a correlation between lower educational attainment rates and rising health care costs. This outline works well for more in-depth argumentative essays and term papers. If you click on the link, there are outlining strategies and instructions on putting together your background, introduction/context, thesis statement, major and minor points, and conclusion.

3. Argumentative Outline on the Cost of Obesity

This is a tutorial from Ashford University on outline structure, followed by a sample argumentative essay outline on obesity and the need for government intervention to address the problem. The sample outline includes an introduction, two body paragraph sections, and a reference section with examples to help you cite sources.

4. Alphanumeric, Full Sentence and Decimal Outline Examples

This template from the Purdue Owl in Google document format provides three good APA research paper outline examples. It begins with one full alphanumeric APA format outline on the topic of the college application process with the main headings in capital letters. Next, there is a partial full-sentence outline about global warming. At the bottom is a partial decimal outline about choosing colleges.

5. Protecting Federal Wetlands

The Georgia Tech Library provides this MLA format outline example about wetland protection. Roman numerals are used in the main headings, with alternating letters and numbers for subheadings. The outline contains the thesis statement, four main points, and plenty of space to fill in minor points. By clicking on the link, you will find a short tutorial on how to create an outline, a video on how to structure an outline, and tabs at the top with links to help on developing a topic, locating information, and other essential steps.

6. Women’s Rights Paper Outline

The Lindberg School District in Missouri provides this sample paper outline for a high school project on the topic of women’s rights. This is a simple topic outline containing a title and seven main headings using Roman numerals, with subheadings alternating between letters and numbers.

7. Career Research Paper Outline

Ontario High School in California provides a good sample outline for a mini-research paper on career choice in M.S. Word format. The outline includes an in-depth introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Instructions and questions for the student to answer are provided throughout, making it easy to put together your own career research paper outline.

8. Powerpoint Outline Tutorial

Leetonia Exempted Village School District provides a detailed PowerPoint tutorial on creating your outline. The tutorial covers topics such as parallelism, heading and subheadings, coordination, subordination, division, alphanumeric outlines (e.g., Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, etc.), topic vs. sentence outlines, and a basic outline format.

9. Argumentative and Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Template

University of California-Berkeley provides two sample outlines. The first is a full-sentence argumentative research paper outline on employees’ rights in the workplace. The second is a compare and contrast topic outline about the three major political theories. Read a detailed explanation of the difference between topic and sentence outlines, as well as an explanation of outline patterns, by clicking on the link.

10. Argumentative Abortion Research Paper Outline

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides this full-sentence argumentative outline on the the merits of legalized abortion. The outline is very detailed and contains a thesis statement, nine main headings marked by Roman numerals, several subheadings, and a conclusion.

11. Alzheimer’s Disease Research Paper Outline

Buffalo State University provides this APA outline for a research paper on Alzheimer’s disease. This informative research paper outline contains five main headings, numerous subheadings, a conclusion, and references. This is a good example of a standard topic outline using the APA format. Please note. The instructions above the sample outline apply to a specific assignment given by a BSU professor.

12. Gun Control Research Paper Outline

This is a full-sentence formal outline example provided by Kent State University on the topic of gun control. On this page, there is a detailed explanation of the difference between formal (to be turned in) and informal (for your own use) outlining. Below that, there is a blank outline format followed by the gun control outline sample.

13. Three Sample College Research Paper Outlines

Austin Community College provides a brief explanation of how to write your outline, followed by three example outlines showing varying levels of detail. The first is a topic outline on Frederick Douglass, the second is a detailed, (mostly) full-sentence outline on the Federalist Papers, and the third is a full-sentence outline on Thomas Paine’s book Common Sense.

14. Basic Paper Outline Format Example

This outline from Crestmont College provides the basic format that is followed for most academic research papers. This PDF document details the basic outline for an essay or research paper (intro, body, conclusion), additional tips to make your outline better, and a sample fill-in-the-blank outline.

15. Sample MLA Paper Outline

Mountain View College provides this MLA-format outline example for an argumentative paper on the risks of cell phones and the need to take action. Some instructions appear in red and blue lettering on the sides to specify certain formatting requirements. The original source of this outline is Diana Hacker Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.

16. Psychology Research Paper Outline

This is a research paper outline for a psychology paper provided by Wolfe County Schools. This sample paper outline is presented in PDF format on the topic of prejudice and social influence. It contains mostly complete sentences and includes an introduction (with the topic, issue and thesis statement), four body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

17. Sample Thesis Paper Outline

Woodbridge Township School District of New Jersey provides an Microsoft Word document with an example thesis paper outline on the topic of ice cream. This MLA-formatted argumentative outline has an introduction, body/arguments section, and a conclusion. The document also includes an instructional outline to make it easier for students to write their own paper.

18. Science Fair Research Paper Organizer

Here is a cool research paper organizer provided by the Mount Pleasant, California School District for an elementary school science fair project. This organizer contains easy, fill-in-the-blank boxes to enter your introduction, body paragraphs with key points and supports, and conclusion. There are also good instructions provided to point you in the right direction.

19. Research Paper Tool Kit

St. Thomas More Parish School provides a research paper tool kit in the instructional technology section of their website. This page contains dozens of helpful links to instruct students on how to write their research papers. Examples include creating an outline, developing an outline, outline examples, and much more.

20. Reverse Outline Example

Reverse outlining is a technique often used to determine whether your research paper meets its goals. University of Wisconsin-Madison provides a tutorial on how to create a reverse outline, along with an example outline for an engineering class on the topic of Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial.

Argumentative Essay Outline

When writing an argumentative essay, it can be difficult to cover every aspect of your topic while also keeping it succinct. Start with a good outline to help you structure your claims and evidence, and make sure you defend your case in a concise fashion.

This quick guide will show you the main sections to include in your argumentative essay outline. We also provide 11 free outline samples to guide you in writing a compelling argument.

Writing an argumentative essay outline

In a good argumentative essay, each section plays a part in your argument’s defence. From developing your argument’s topic to refuting the opposing argument, an outline is your roadmap. To help you accomplish these goals and more, your essay outline should include:

While the opening of your essay should be short, this first paragraph (or two) also has a structure to follow. Make sure your introduction has these three elements to grab readers’ attention and compel them to read your essay:

  • Hook – Open your essay with an attention getter, like a quote, fact, or statistic. Pose a question to readers to get them thinking about your argument.
  • Background Information – Give a brief background about your argumentative topic. State who the issue concerns and why it is relevant and important.
  • Thesis Statement – In the last sentence or two of your introduction, form a thesis statement that establishes your position on the topic. A thesis sentence or statement lets the reader know what to expect in the essay.

Develop the Argument:
In the body of your essay, develop your position by making claims that are supported with evidence.

  • Claims – The claims you make add to the validity and effectiveness of your argument. Each claim should support the central argument.
  • Evidence –  Back up each claim you make with supportive evidence. In conducting research to support your claims, find evidence based on facts, studies, and quotes.

Refute the Opposing Argument:
Every argument has an opposing side. You have to present both sides of an argument to be able to convince others that your position is the right stance. State the counter arguments and offer valid evidence that debunks them, helping others to see your point of view.

Much like your introduction, the conclusion should be brief but powerful. It may also follow a structure:

  • Restate your thesis.
  • Give one or two sentences that summarize your argument.
  • Give a warning of the consequences that could happen to society if the argument isn’t followed.

Argumentative essay outline samples and tools

The sections above offer a great starting point to craft your argumentative essay outline. Below are examples of strong outlines. Use them to help you structure your own essay.

1. Argumentative Essay Outline on Abortion

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides a full-sentence argumentative outline on the merits of legalized abortion. Containing a thesis statement, nine main headings marked by Roman numerals, several subheadings, and a conclusion, this outline is a great sample to follow for your own argument, either for or against abortion.

2. Death Penalty Argumentative Essay Outline

This Classic Argument Structure from Houston Community College is a great sample argumentative essay outline that uses the example of the death penalty. This outline gives ideas to get you thinking about how to make claims and refutations in your argumentative essay.

3. Argumentative Essay Outline

This in-depth outline from The Fresno City College Writing & Reading Center gives plenty of guidance for each section of your argumentative essay. Whether your paper is on organ donation, standardized testing or school uniforms, this outline will help you develop your thesis statement into a structured and compelling argument.

4. Argumentative Essay Planning and Outline

George Brown College provides a more visual outline to help you plan the structure of your argumentative essay. With four sample structures laid out, this outline will help you test different possibilities for your argument. The outline uses the example of an essay on abortion to help you plan for the pros and cons of your argument.

5. Illegal Immigrant Essay Outline

In this example of argumentative writing, a Penn State student has an in-depth outline that showcases two major views on illegal immigration. She fully introduces her claims and evidence that support the different reasons for those two views on illegal immigration.

6. Basic Argumentative Essay Outline

This outline from Amelia Earhart Elementary School is a basic rubric for young students to follow for an argumentative essay. The outline follows up with great elementary essay topics, such as school uniforms, too much homework, and computers in the classroom.

7. Classic Model for an Argument

This sample argument outline from Valencia College is a great template to use for your essay on cosmetic surgery, corporal punishment, child labor, or any argumentative topic. The outline neatly lays out the necessary sections of an argument essay with examples to fit claims and evidence.

8. Argument Outline Template

This fill-in-the-blank style template from Mesa Community College is an excellent way to develop your topic idea. With spaces for an attention getter, your solution to the problem, and reasons to back your claim, this outline template will help you brainstorm ideas for your essay while keeping them neatly structured. Use this template to flesh out your thesis claim on gun control, capital punishment, solitary confinement, or any other argumentative essay topic.

9. Sample Argument Outline on Lifting Economic Sanctions in Iraq

The University of Central Florida provides a detailed outline sample of an argument to lift sanctions in Iraq. See how specific claims help the writer enforce his main argument that the policy is doing more harm than good.

10. Argumentative Paper Structure

The University of Washington provides a template for an argument paper as well as a fill-in-the-blank worksheet to help you brainstorm ideas. This outline goes into more depth, helping you structure the sentences of each body paragraph within your argumentative essay. Use this outline to help you shape your argumentative thesis on animal testing, the effects of a violent video game, drug-testing a college athlete, or any other controversial topic.

11. Classic Argumentative Essay Outline

This classic argumentative or persuasive essay outline template from the University of Washington is neatly laid out for you. Using a three-part thesis to support its main idea, this is a good argumentative or persuasive essay rubric. The template also offers a checklist for citations and writing a thesis statement.

Generic Speech or Essay Outline

Here is basic format example that can help you create a well organized outline. The first part of the outline helps you focus your thinking and planning efforts. Write down your topic, the purpose and specific purpose of your speech. These three are essential for your planning and helps you stay focused on the topic in order to be informative for your audience.

Writing generic speech or essay outline

The Introduction

The introduction should be comprised of four components:

  • attention-getter,
  • revealing/relating the topic to the audience,
  • credibility,
  • preview of the topic

The introduction is where you will reach or lose your audience so make sure the audience can relate to the informational topic and connect with you.


The body is comprised of key points and supporting details. Depending on the specifics of the topic, there may be several points that are necessary. Each point should have at least two or three points that help support the main idea and give credence to the statements being made. There is no hard rule on how many supporting details are needed for each point. Supporting details may include examples, specific data, or facts which sustain the truth of the point.

Concluding Statements

The conclusion is a where you summarize all of your primary points. This will recap the main ideas that you shared with the audience and bring it all together for a closing.

Generic outline example

Your Name:
Class Time:
General Purpose:
Specific Purpose:
Thesis Statement:

Speech or Essay Title

The most important part of a speech or an essay is getting the audience’s attention from the very beginning, otherwise the rest of your points might not get any attention. The opening statement must be strong and concise.

Credibility Statement:
List your credibility on the topic


I. First Main Point (full sentences for main points)

A. First Sub-Point (can be a short phrase, at least one sub-point for each main point)

1. First Supporting Point (can be a short phrase, at least on supporting point for each sub-point)

B. Second Sub-Point

1. First Supporting Point

II. Second Main Point

A. Second Sub-Point

1. First Supporting Point

And so forth…..


Closing with Impact (for informative speech / essay / paper):
Call to Action (for persuasive speech / essay / paper):

Cite this article as: Jim Peterson, "Speech and Essay Outlines [Free Examples]," in My Speech Class, October 15, 2014, https://www.myspeechclass.com/outline.html.