Planning A Discussion Essay Outline

Major points are the building blocks of your paper. Major points build on each other, moving the paper forward and toward its conclusion. Each major point should be a clear claim that relates to the central argument of your paper.

Sample Major Point: Employment and physical health may be a good first major point for this sample paper.  Here, a student might discuss how dropping out of high school often leads to fewer employment opportunities, and those employment opportunities that are available tend to be correlated with poor work environments and low pay.

Minor points are subtopics within your major points. Minor points develop the nuances of your major points but may not be significant enough to warrant extended attention on their own. These may come in the form of statistics, examples from your sources, or supporting ideas.

Sample Minor Point: A sample minor point of the previous major point (employment and physical health) might address worker injury or the frequent lack of health insurance benefits offered by low-paying employers.

The rest of the body of your paper will be made up of more major and minor points. Each major point should advance the paper's central argument, often building on the previous points, until you have provided enough evidence and analysis to justify your paper's conclusion.

More Major and Minor Points: In this paper, more major points might include mental health of high school dropouts, healthcare access for dropouts, and correlation between mental and physical health. Minor topics could include specific work environments, job satisfaction in various fields, and correlation between depression and chronic illness.

Before you start writing your essay, it is important that you plan it. Below is an example of what an essay plan should look like (including explanations and tips), and how much detail it should contain. You can use this as a guide for your essay plans.

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Essay Question: Was the Russian Revolution a genuine revolution or was it a coup?

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Introduction (10% of word limit): 200 words

Introductions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered an Introduction, an Introduction must do two things:

Answer the question – It was a genuine revolution.
This must be done first. An Introduction must answer the question. This is how you put forward a strong argument.

List the evidence your essay will put forward to prove your answer – This can be seen through an examination of the sections of society which supported the revolution. workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities. Any major topic or subject that you plan to discuss in your essay must be introduced in the Introduction.

Body of the Essay: 400 words each

How long you spend writing about each subject should reflect the importance of each subject. If all four topics are of equal importance, write roughly the same amount of words on each. If a topic is more important, write about it first and write more words on it. If a topic is less important, write about it last and write fewer words on it.

Topic 1: workers

Topic 2: peasants

Topic 3: soldiers

Topic 4:  national minorities

Conclusion (10% of word limit): 200 words

Conclusions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered a Conclusion, a Conclusion must do two things:

Answer the essay question again (using different words than in the Introduction, don’t repeat yourself exactly) –  It was a genuine revolution.

Recap (repeat, summaries) all the evidence you have given to prove your answer during your essay– workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities

A conclusion must not contain any new information, you are only summarising what you have already written.

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