GEOS 220: Environmental History of Southwest
Essay Outline Guideline

The task of writing an essay can be daunting from the outset. Many ideas and sources and notes must somehow be organized into a coherent essay with logical flow. To aid in organizing a lot of information, formally drafting an outline can be very helpful, perhaps better than beginning by composing prose. For the essay in Geos. 220, we will start with doing an outline that will then be expanded into a full essay.

Many styles of outlining exist, and perhaps UA students have already seen them all in English 100-level courses. The style that we'll try is variously called the "topic sentence" or "thesis" outline. Coherent paragraphs have a (one) topic sentence (a general summary of the paragraph), with additional sentences to support that topic. In our topic sentence outline, only the topic sentence of each paragraph will be fully written out, and all additional entries for a paragraph will be just a few notes plus references to be cited in support of the topic sentence.

From Rules For Writers, Diane Hacker, topic sentences:

Here's an example that Geos. 220 students might follow for the outline phase of our essays. This example uses the age-old debate topic of U.S. participation in the United Nations. (Note: although the U.N. debate is quite real, this example is entirely made up.) Click here for U.N. outline.

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