How To Write An Informative Essay Outline (10 Tips)

Informative Essay Outline - 10 Tips To Get It Right graphic

Writing an informative essay is so much easier if you first have a good outline in place.

In this article, I’ll show you what exactly is an outline, which elements it consists of, and how to write it to finish with a correctly formatted essay. Let’s do it!


Why do you need an outline in the first place?

A solid outline is your best insurance against writer’s block. The purpose of an outline is to put together the basic structure that will make your essay more organized. Once it’s completed, you can basically fill in the blanks with blocks of text and you’re done.

I create an outline before I start any of my essays. In this way, I can envision the result from the very beginning. Another reason is that it helps you to bring some coherence to your thought process. This will result in a logical and organized sequence of ideas.

Writing an outline is not mandatory, but it will make your life so much easier. So, let’s get straight to it.


How to write an informative essay outline

In this section, I’ll guide you through a step by step process of creating an outline. It’s best to learn by example, so after the quick explanation of each element, I provide a few samples which you can use as an inspiration. Ready?

The main elements of an essay outline:

A note about length: usually, an informative essay is 3-4 pages long (which is around 800-900 words). But it all depends on your assignment, so ask your instructor to be sure.

The elements of an essay outline:

Now let’s dig deeper into each element of the outline so you get a better understanding of how to approach it.


Needs to be straightforward and informative (for example – “The negative effects of alcohol use on US population”.)

The introductory paragraph

Here you’ll need to introduce your topic in a direct, but purely informative way. Your job is to pull the reader in, talk about the main idea of the essay, as well as mention some supporting ideas.

The lead (or the hook)

This is probably the hardest part (as any writer will tell you). The lead pulls you into an essay, an article, a book, and a news story. Make sure you grab the attention of the reader with your first sentence. Don’t go overboard, but do your best to elicit curiosity or concern. You can try with an anecdote, a quote, a statistic, but make it something that will grab attention. For example – 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use. (CDC)

The Thesis Statement

A thesis is the main statement around which you’ll wrap the rest of your essay. For example – Alcohol is one of the leading sources of premature death in the USA. The rest of your essay will be basically about proving this main point and providing supporting evidence. You can grab more info about a thesis from my other article about essays.

The main points you’ll discuss (optional)

In the introduction, you can briefly mention what will be the main points of your essay. This is not mandatory, but can be helpful.

The body paragraphs

A regular 5-paragraph essay will have three body paragraphs. You can stretch it up to five, but normally that’s unnecessary. In the body paragraphs, you follow the basic format – state the main idea and provide supporting evidence in the form of stats, quotes, and hard facts.

Idea 1 + Supporting research

Example: Your big idea for this paragraph would be that “alcohol is the no.1 abused harmful substance”. Then you develop this idea and follow up with hard facts:

“Of the 3.9 million Americans who received treatment for a substance abuse problem in 2005, 2.5 million of them were treated for alcohol use.”

Idea 2 + Supporting research (like above)

Idea 3 + Supporting research (like above)

The conclusion paragraph

Here you basically tally up all the previous points (especially your thesis) without directly repeating them and close your essay with a bang. Remember that in an informative essay you’re not using arguments to persuade someone to do something. You simply offer useful info. But still, think about how to make your conclusion stand out.

References and sources you use (optional)

Here you can list the materials you’ve used when conducting research for your essay. It can be a list of books, magazines, scholarly papers, or websites.

Once you have the outline in place, you can get started with writing. To keep your syntax and grammar clean, I recommend you use Grammarly (you can sign up for free). I’m using it for all the articles on this blog.

Also, if you’re still having trouble with your assignment or preparing for a major test, you can check the homework help service from a company like Princeton Review.


An example of an informative essay outline

Now that you know all about the structure and formatting, let’s look at a short example so you can see how to create your very own outline.

Title: “How regular cardiovascular exercise can help to treat depression”


The lead (or “the hook”) – Here you would provide some dramatic statistic about depression:

“It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of American adults, have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year.”

The Thesis Statement – “Cardiovascular exercise is a highly effective, and safe long-term form of treatment for depression”

The body paragraphs

Idea 1 + Supporting research

The link between exercise and depression according to the new research.

Idea 2 + Supporting research

The effects of exercise on mood in the long term (citing scientific data).

Idea 3 + Supporting research

Proven effects of exercise in depression treatment (including real-world examples).


Summary of the findings, restating the thesis, and the way forward.


One more outline example for your inspiration

Title: “The advancement of the blockchain technology in today’s world”


Here you would introduce the topic to a lay reader, and do your best to pique their interest. You could show a great way in which the new technology is already changing the world.

The Thesis Statement – “In three to five years, the blockchain technology will change the way the major industries operate in the world”.

The body paragraphs

Idea 1 + Supporting research

The ways in which blockchain is already used by companies and government (supported by evidence).

Idea 2 + Supporting research

How blockchain already changed different industries and the way people do business around the world.

Idea 3 + Supporting research

The big changes coming in the future and different possibilities people need to consider.


Here you would give a bird’s-eye view of the situation and map out the way forward or give some sort of recommendation for the reader.


What is an informative essay?

When you get an academic assignment saying you should write an “informative essay”, you probably thought to yourself – “phew, that’s way easier than other types of essays”. But don’t be so sure.

An informative essay is a type of writing where you provide basic-level or in-depth information about any given topic. It’s written from a third-person’s perspective and aims to give an unbiased view of a subject.

This usually means you’ll have to define a term, compare and contrast two phenomena, analyze data and share your conclusions or simply describe how something is done. It can be assigned to you at any level of education.

The broadness of this definition makes it hard to pinpoint the exact thing you should focus on. So make sure you consult your professor before building your outline to avoid re-works in the future.

Additional resources for your review:

It’s your turn to craft a perfect essay

I hope that after looking at all the information in this guide, you’ll be more than equipped to write a great informative essay that’ll earn you a high grade and bring you lots of satisfaction.

If you just follow this formula, you simply can’t go wrong. You can even copy and paste the outlines provided here, and then just fill them out with your own ideas.

Was this article helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time blogger, educator, digital marketer, freelance writer, editor and content manager with 10+ years of experience. I started to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to achieve freedom from 9 to 5 through online creativity. My site is a one-stop-shop for freelance writers, bloggers, publishers, content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money and create beautiful things. Feel free to learn more about me here.