This Analytical Essay Outline Will Kick Start Your Writing
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You’ve been staring at your blank computer screen for what feels like hours, trying to figure out how to start your analytical essay. You try to choose between writing the introduction first or getting right into the meat of it. But somehow, it seems too difficult to do either.

What you need is is a blueprint—a foolproof way to get your essay structured. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

analytical essay outline

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t worry—consider me your architect. I’m here to give you an analytical essay outline that’ll make writing the final draft (relatively) painless.

What an Analytical Essay Is—And What It Isn’t

Before we get to the good stuff, you should know exactly what an analytical essay is. Your middle school and high school teachers probably told you something like, “An analytical essay is writing that analyzes a text.”

Helpful, right? Um, not so much.

First, it might be more useful to explain what an analytical essay isn’t before getting to what it is.

An analytical essay isn’t a summary. Though this may seem obvious in theory, it’s more difficult in practice. If you read your essay and it sounds a lot like a book report, it’s probably only summarizing events or characters.

One way to figure out if you’re summarizing instead of analyzing is to look at your support. Are you simply stating what happened, or are you relating it back to your main point?

Okay, so what is an analytical essay, exactly?

Usually, it’s writing that has a more narrowed focus than a summary. Analytical essays usually concentrate on how the book or poem was written—for example, how certain themes present themselves in the story, or how the use of metaphor brings a certain meaning to a poem.

In short, this type of essay requires you to look at the smaller parts of the work to help shed light on the larger picture.

An example of a prompt—and the example I’m going to use for the rest of this post—could be something like: Analyze the theme of sacrifice in the Harry Potter series. (Note: there might be some spoilers, but I figured everyone who was planning on reading the books has done so already—or at least has seen the movies.)

One Way To Form Your Analytical Essay Outline

There are quite a few ways to organize your analytical essay, but no matter how you choose to write it, your essay should always have three main parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of this soon, but for all you visual learners, here is a nice representation of all the components that make a great analytical essay outline.

analytical essay outline

 

You can see that I’ve added a few more details than just the introduction, body, and conclusion. But hold your horses—we’re getting to those parts right now.

Introduction of Your Analytical Essay Outline

analytical essay outlineThe purpose of your introduction is to get the reader interested in your analysis. The introduction should include at least three things—a hook, your thesis statement, and a sentence or two describing how you intend to prove your thesis statement.

1. You gotta hook ‘em from the start. The first part of your introduction should draw the reader in. This is called the hook.

The hook should be interesting or surprising. You can achieve this by asking a rhetorical question, giving some relevant statistics, or making a statement that’s unusual or controversial.

For my Harry Potter example, I might say, “Since the publication of the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, some Christian groups have attacked the books for promoting witchcraft. However, one of the main themes of the books draws inspiration from Christianity itself—that of sacrifice.”

Okay, so that’s two sentences. But it’s got a little bit of controversy and relates to what the rest of the essay will discuss.

2. Get to the good stuff—write a killer thesis statement. Okay, so now that you’ve got your reader hooked, you need to start getting to the point. This is where the thesis statement comes in.

My thesis might be, “The theme of sacrifice is prevalent throughout the series and is embodied as sacrifice for the greater good, sacrifice for an ultimate gain, and sacrifice to keep a promise.”

3. It’s time to back up your thesis. Let the reader know how you’re going to prove your claim.

For my example, I would let the reader know that I intend to analyze the instances of Harry’s “death,” Voldemort’s sacrifice of his soul in exchange for immortality, and how Snape sacrifices in order to honor a promise made to Lily Potter.

These points will be the building blocks of the body paragraphs.

Body of Your Analytical Essay Outline

analytical essay outlineThe body is where you can start to get really creative and play around with formatting.

In the flowchart, there are three body paragraphs. But that’s because I was trained in the 5-paragraph outline. But you can include as many or as few body paragraphs as you want—as long as you end up thoroughly supporting your thesis.

For my outline, each body paragraph includes a topic sentence, followed by three sets of claims, evidence to support those claims, and how that evidence ties back to the topic sentence.

Again, three is not necessarily a magic number here. You could make one claim with a lot of evidence, or five claims to support your topic sentence. But let’s get into it, shall we?

1. Develop a strong topic sentence. Each topic sentence in each body paragraph of your analytical essay outline should tell the reader exactly what that section is going to be about.

My first body paragraph might start with, “Harry Potter is willing to fulfill prophecy and make the ultimate sacrifice—that of his life—in order to save the rest of the wizarding world.”

2. Make your claim. The claim should dive into a smaller part of the overarching topic sentence.

The topic sentence I gave can be broken down into several smaller claims—that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, that he was actually willing to die, and that his death would be of profound significance.

3. Provide evidence from the text to back your claim. You can’t just go around making claims without any support. You can use quotes or paraphrase parts of the text to add evidence.

For evidence that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, you could cite the instance in the hall of prophecies with the quote, “and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.”

4. Tie that evidence to the topic sentence. You have to make it absolutely clear why you included the evidence. If you don’t, your analytical essay runs the risk of being a summary.

For example, with the citing of the prophecy, I would tell the reader that Harry and his friends found said prophecy and figured out that it had to be about him (although there are objections that it could’ve been referring to Neville, but we’ll leave that out of this example). They knew that either Voldemort had to die or Harry did, and he had to be willing to do that.

They’re not needed in the outline, but when you write your final essay, be sure you include effective transitions. This will help your essay flow.

Conclusion of Your Analytical Essay Outline

analytical essay outlineAfter you’ve built up all of your body paragraphs, given the appropriate evidence to back your claims, and tied that evidence to your awesome topic sentences, you’re ready to wrap it all up.

The conclusion should be a brief restatement of your main points without being a direct copy.

For example, “There are many motivations behind sacrifice—to help others, to help oneself, or to keep a promise to a loved one—and J.K. Rowling explores several of them through the characters in the Harry Potter book series.”

This, of course, does not suffice as a full conclusion. To fill it out and give the reader a sense of closure, you can relate the theme to the real world or end with a final quote from the text or the author.

Use This Downloadable Analytical Essay Outline as a Guide

Easy, right? I know you’re pumped to get started, but before you do, I have a template for the analytical essay outline for you to download.

Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template PDF

Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template (.doc)

Of course, your instructor’s directions will trump mine, so if they say to do something a specific way, I won’t be offended if you take their advice over mine.

Need more help? Check out these analytical essay examples.

And don’t forget about the Kibin editors. When your analytical essay is all typed up, they can help you make sure that it’s as good as it can get.

Now… get to it!

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Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

  • h

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  • Daniel Liu

    @naomi_tepper:disqus Oh my Gosh! this was amazing thank you so much! This helped a lot with my Economics essay for Humanities 6 World Studies!

    • Woot woot! Happy to help. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  • Adil

    This is undoubtedly very much helpful… Thanks a lot.

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Supong Longchar

    Hi….Eden thank you for orienting me on how to structure an analytical essay. because of many reasons which i don’t like to name writing an analytical essay has been my Achilies Hill. Your effort in writing this article has thrown much need light as far as I’m concerned. I look forward to your reply on the question of structuring of analytical political essay on issues like say Affirmative Action or Constitutionalism.

    • Thank you for your kind words. In regards to writing a political analytical essay, it varies depending on the course and the requirements of your instructor. However, you can follow the same advice in this post. Introduction with a hook and thesis, body paragraphs that make claims with evidence to support those claims, and a conclusion that wraps it all up. The main difference is that you’ll have to do more research than reading just one book. (And make sure to cite your sources.) I hope that helped!

  • Tina

    Thank you, this will help ?

  • Allen

    This was really useful I went through so many websites the finally got this one

  • Jake

    hi this is great

  • Max Radio

    How would I write an analytic essay using dramatic conventions? I’m supposed to write an essay on The Tempest from Shakespeare using dramatic conventions and I’m not doing so well at understanding how to do it. basically it’s also asking me “how dramatic conventions make the reader see characters in a certain way. Please respond to this if you can

    • Hey Max,

      I think that I would devote one body paragraph to each of the dramatic conventions that you’re covering in your paper. For instance, in one paragraph, if you are writing about the conventions of soliloquy, the play-within-a-play convention, and asides (these are the first three conventions I thought of — I’m not sure which ones you’ve studied in class), then you could devote one body paragraph to each of these topics and their influence on how the audience views the characters.

      I hope this puts you on the right track!

      Best,
      Erin

  • Lily

    I have two write an essay about Animals by O’Hara and how it reflects the innocence and simplicity of childhood. I don’t know how to start. Could anyone suggest the first sentence of the introduction? I’ve already got my outline 🙂

  • This is amazing and extremely helpful!
    Thank you author

    • Hey, thanks for reading and for the nice comment! I’ll be sure to show the author. 🙂

    • Chicken

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  • Haha! Awesome. We’re happy to help, but don’t sell yourself short just because of your blonde hair. 🙂

  • Shayan

    great site but second para 24th word should be ALWAYS not away. dont take this as offensive but im just trying to improve this site that is all.
    thks

    • Thanks for keeping us on our toes, Shayan! No offense taken — we’ll get that updated 🙂

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  • Aceris

    Hi there! Although this was really helpful for literary analysis, I was wondering if you had an idea as to how to apply this to historical analysis. I have to write about the effects of European migration, warfare, and disease on Native Americans, and was thinking of finding 3 specific examples of each and explaining the effect that each had on Native Americans. Is this a good plan?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Aceris,

      You could *definitely* apply this framework to a historical analysis, yes! As Eden mentions, you can have as many body paragraphs as you want, so you could devote a single paragraph to each of your examples — giving you 9 body paragraphs. Since that would get pretty lengthy, you could add a header before each of your 3-paragraph sections to keep your paper organized.

      Happy writing!
      -Erin

  • randall payne

    DIOS MIO! this is really helpful

  • Hi Rawan–I think this blog post will help you a lot: https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/anatomy-perfect-essay-paragraph-structure/

    Happy writing!

  • Woot! That’s awesome. So happy you found this post helpful. 🙂 Thanks for the kind comment.

  • Jessica

    This is so helpful, thank you. I have to write an analytical essay about The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and I’m stuck. This is my second essay and on the first I received a C 🙁 I don’t know how to start and it isn’t even about the whole book, its only for half the book. Please help.

  • claire kulba

    thanks so much for your blog. you have made it very easy for me to understand this (horrible) essay. I have to write my first Analytical essay. kind regards to you.

    • And thanks to you for reading! Good luck with your essay — you’ve got this.

  • HI Maiza-
    This article might help you there: https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement/

    Best,
    Naomi

  • Emely Jacobo

    I have to write an analytical essay for my college English course, and its about an American folk song called “Frankie and Johnny” and im stuck in how to begin it! my professor gave me an example on how to start, she said “to summarize a short definition of North American folk music from Oxford Music Online” please help

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  • Eshara Randeniya

    Thank you so much!!! I was dying a moment ago. Now I think I can manage it!!! love the example! it got me even more excited! 😄😋😎

    • Yesss, you can totally manage it! Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Chicken

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      • Eshara Randeniya

        I feel motivated and have been trying my best all these days… Grateful for everything!!!:)

  • Chicken

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  • Wax

    thank you so much psych

  • Awesome! Glad we could help 🙂