Organizing an Appropriate Synthesis Essay Outline

“What is a synthesis essay?” is one of the more common questions we receive from students. The name can seem a little intimidating but the assignment itself isn’t that much more challenging than a common argumentative paper. In a synthesis assignment you are given a list of resources which you must use to support your argument and demonstrate relationships for a particular issue – usually these resources (and topic issues) are provided by your instructor. The following article doesn’t show you how to write a synthesis essay but it does show you how to develop a key tool necessary to write a great assignment – the synthesis essay outline.

  • Why an Outline Is Important
    A well-structured outline will maintain the argument and logic of your assignment. The most important part – also referred to the body paragraphs – contain your sub-topics, supporting evidence, sub-arguments, and your specific original ideas on the sub-topic. All of it should lead back to your thesis statement and transition to the next idea fluidly.
  • The Main Parts of the Outline
    There are three main parts to this type of assignment: the introduction, the body (multiple paragraphs), and the conclusion. Each part is distinct and helps the reader understand your argument and logic. Your introduction should include a brief summary of the major points you will discuss in the body paragraph. Each body paragraph should have one unique sub-topic that is supported with evidence or examples from your research. And your conclusion should restate your discussion points and provide answers to any questions.
  • Plugging in Your Information
    Now that you have a structure draft of your outline, you can start to plug in the information you have gathered by conducting research. As mentioned earlier in this article this assignment is similar to a argumentative one – and those usually require at least three body paragraphs in support of your thesis statement. Choose your best ideas and fill in each part of the outline and arrange it for effectiveness.
  • Using Your Synthesis Outline
    Finally, a lot of students will simply put together an outline but leave it sitting someplace without ever once using it when writing the first draft. Don’t fall into this same trap. It’s important for you to reference your outline throughout the writing process, possibly even revising it before you write a second draft of the assignment.