Academic Guidelines: Writing An Analytical Essay Outline

An analytical essay outline is generally similar to an outline for any other kind of essay. Typically, it consists of introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, there also are peculiarities related to the analytical nature of this essay.

General Tips

  • Structure your outline properly.
  • You will have three first-level points: introduction, body, and conclusion. Leave enough free space (five or six lines) between them to write sub-points in. The sub-points to your introduction will be your “hook” and thesis statement; the sub-points to your body – three main arguments that you make to support your point.

  • Use numeration levels.
  • Generally, you should use Roman numerals for your first-level points and capital letters for second-level points. A proper use of numeration is especially important if you have to submit this outline to your instructor for approval.

  • Decide between sentence and bullet point styles for your outline.
  • You can write your outline points either as complete sentences or just phrases. Whatever style you choose, be consistent with it. Do not mix sentences and bullet points in the same outline.

  • Avoid making your outline points too long.
  • No outline point should be longer than a single line. The only possible exception is your thesis statement.

  • If your assignment has any special requirements to outline formatting, follow them.

  • Introduction

  • Identify the work or issue you are going to analyze.
  • For a literary analysis essay, include the title and author’s name as the first sub-point of your introduction. For a critical analysis essay, specifically identify your subject.

  • Write a thesis statement.
  • Your thesis statement is the second sub-point of your introduction. It should be a single sentence that wraps up your interpretation of the essay subject.


  • Break your main point into three parts.
  • Look at your thesis statement. Think of three main arguments you can use to support it. Write these arguments down as your body sub-points. Later, you will develop them into topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

  • Find evidence in support of your sub-points.
  • For a literary analysis essay outline, it may be useful to include references to specific examples in the text. Find quotes that support your sub-points, and write the numbers of pages where they can be found in parentheses.


  • Write a final wrap-up sentence.
  • Your final sentence should re-phrase your thesis statement and emphasize how you have proven your argument with the sub-points above. A wrap-up sentence should provide a sense of closing. Your reader should not walk away with “So what?” question. | Essay Writing Secrets