The outline/thesis page
Think of your essay's outline as a table of content that shows how your main points are organized.
Do not wait until the essay's final draft is completed to write the outline or you may find that you will need additional revisions to make the structure of the essay match the outline.
You may want to start by writing an informal outline.  Since your essay is probably covering only four or five main sub topics, the outline does not need to be very detailed. You can just list the main idea that you are discussing in each paragraph (the paragraph's topic sentence). You can write the outline in complete sentences or phrases. It is important that your entries are consistent in from.  Therefore, if you use the paragraphs' topic sentences to outline, you should do so through the entire outline.  See the handbook for details on creating an outline page.
You will also need a thesis statement. In one complete sentence write the main idea of your essay. How would you summarize your entire essay in one sentence? The thesis should help you as writer to keep the essay focused on one main point. If you change your mind about your thesis as you rewrite the essay, it is OK. Just make sure that the final thesis matches your essay's main point.
If you need help with the thesis and the outline, email them to me and I will let you know if you are on the right track. To learn more about writing a thesis go to http://www2.selu.edu/Academics/Faculty/elejeune/thesis.htm and http://www2.selu.edu/Academics/Faculty/elejeune/questionsthesis.htm
If you need more help from me, come by or email me. I can also answer your questions during my office hours by phone.
 For more information about outlines,  go http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/544/1/

 
Outline

Thesis statement:   One complete sentence that identifies the specific topic and purpose of the essay.

I.  Main idea

A. Supporting example
B. Supporting example
1.
2.
a.
b. 
II. Main idea........................................

You can have any number of divisions to outline your essay's structure.  However, remember that for each division there should be at least two lower level entries. That means that if you have a capital letter A, you must also have at least a capital letter B.
Subdividing a point  into parts will generate more than one subtopic.