Definitive essay outline: Best Outline, Examples, Structure

Definitive essay outline: Best Outline, Examples, Structure

A definitive essay outline is more than an explanation of the essay topic. It is a research paper that presents detailed arguments for the reader. This article will offer you reliable information on how to write a definitive essay outline.

What is a definitive essay outline? 

This is the layout of a research paper that describes a term. A definitive essay is majorly about the term definition, but also entails more detailed content about the term. The essay outline helps to structure and give a layout to the research paper. 

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The layout is the guide to good essay writing, to give you a well-structured paper. Each section of your essay should be clear and well-positioned. Use the outline to project your essay content from one section to the other for easy reading. 

How to write a definitive essay outline 

A good definitive paper outline has three main parts. These are the introduction, main body, and conclusion. This outline applies to all definitive essays no matter the topic.

Here is a simple guide on the definitive essay outline.

  1. Introduction
  •  Hook
  • Main points
  • Thesis statement 
  1. Main body

Transition sentence or paragraph 

  •  Body Paragraph 1

History and origin of the term

  • Body Paragraph 2

Different definitions from different sources, including examples 

  • Body Paragraph 3

Your perspective and definition, including examples 

  1. Conclusion 


The introduction is how to start a definition essay. Use a hook to grab the attention of the readers and keep them interested in your content. The hook should be the first sentence in your essay, and should also introduce your main definitive essay terms. 

The hook sentence is followed by a hint of the main points you will have in the paper. This may include the origin of the term and other arguments. It should be one statement, followed by a thesis statement to end the introduction paragraph.

Your thesis statement should be what your essay focuses on. It shows your reader what to expect in the content. This statement will guide you on the content to provide in your essay. 

Main body 

In this section, give details about the main points. Include in-depth research on the main term and its different meanings. Start each paragraph in the main body with a topic sentence stating what the paragraph is about. 

After the topic sentence, support your point with evidence from reliable sources. You need good research to get good content for reliable evidence. Complete your main body section with an analysis of the content you provided. 

The main body section of a descriptive essay should have clear examples. Use examples in definitive essays help to show how the term is used. 


You need a good conclusion that does not introduce new content to the essay. Your conclusion should be a summary of your content and may include a call to action or recommendation. You should also state the thesis statement in the conclusion.

Definitive essay format and topic

Definitive essays mainly require you to use the MLA format. You can write descriptive essays that focus on social sciences aspects using APA format. APA and MLA are the main writing styles, and they differ in structure.

When choosing a term or topic for your definitive essay, avoid words with an obvious definition. A word like ‘dog’, for instance, is described in a similar way by most people. However, people may describe ‘faith’ or ‘anger’ differently.

A good definitive essay title allows you to express your perspective on the main term. You can also present more content because the term can be defined in different ways. Definitive essays can also be called extended definition essays, as they are research papers on particular terms.

Tips for writing a good definitive essay 

As a student or professional writer, you need good research and writing skills for a good definitive essay. Here are some tips you can use. 

Read the instructions carefully 

Read the requirements of the paper before you begin your research. Take note of the keywords and the content required. Some of the content for definitive essays includes detailed definitions, history of the word, examples, and proper use of the term. 

Choose a good topic

Get a term to discuss in your essay, depending on your interests and area of study. You can write down various interesting words and choose the best from the list. A term or topic is important in definitive essays and it is advisable to avoid simple nouns.

Simple nouns are clear words that most of us can agree on and will limit your content. Choose abstract and complex terms instead. These allow you to research and present wide content. 

In some cases, however, the essay topic or term is selected for you. Some terms also have different meanings in different cultures, making them suitable for definitive essays. However, when the term is given in the essay requirements, you have no choice but to write about the given term. 

Create an essay draft

Write down all information you can get about your topic, to gauge your content. Include the available definition in the dictionary and in other reliable sources. You can also include examples of the word’s use to show its practical meaning. 

When writing the definition of a term, avoid copying the meaning as it appears in your source. This amounts to plagiarism and is an unethical practice in writing. Study the definition and write it in your own words, without changing the actual meaning. 


Check the dictionary meaning of the term and all its associated meanings. Research other specific definitions from other dictionaries. If it is a philosophical term, for instance, there are philosophical dictionaries that you can use for more content. 

You can also use the internet for research on reliable sites. Search your keyword and review the search results. The internet also shows you where the term is used through online ads, books, and more. 

Not all the content available online is correct and reliable for an essay. Use reliable sites to avoid untrue definitions and examples. Wikipedia definitions, for instance, are not advisable for use in research. 

Review some samples 

Read through good examples of definitive essays for a clear idea of how to write yours. This is part of research and is advisable especially for amateur writers. Get a reliable definition essay template as a direct guide on how to write your essay. 

Essay outline 

Follow the definitive essay outline, and position your content in the right way. Have enough examples in your body paragraphs as this is an important aspect in definitive essays. 

Use negation technique

Negate the meaning of the word as a way to clarify its meaning and use. To negate is to show where the term cannot be used or should be avoided. It is a way to help your reader understand the use of the term better. 

You can adapt this writing technique when giving examples in the main body section. Use examples showing the use of the term, and other examples negating the use of the term. This technique should however be applied naturally and not forced within a paragraph or section.

Summary of your main points and thesis statement 

State and clarify terms that can be mistaken for your term. Distinguish the differences between the terms for your readers to understand better. You should also compare different definitions available especially when it affects the term’s meaning. 

Discuss how the term works or what it does. You can include how the word has helped you or influenced your life. Give details on how to structure the term or position it during use. 

Some terms evolve with time, and the current meaning may be different from the original meaning. Show the reader how the term has evolved from the history to the current definition and use. 

Revise your essay

After writing your definitive essay, review it and correct any errors. You can ask someone to read your text and highlight any mistakes. You can also use sites or software to check for any mistakes in your essay. 

Ensure that your essay has a good readability and that the content is clear. Remove ambiguous words and make definitions simple to understand. Your topic sentences should enable your readers to understand your content even before viewing the details. 

Do not use fluffy words in your essay, to avoid repetition and unclear content. Check the grammar, punctuation, and ensure your sentences are complete. Your work should also not be plagiarized and should have a high originality score.

Check your definitions and examples to ensure they are well-researched. Also, ensure that you have followed all the instructions and that your essay structure is correct. Present your definitive essay to the tutor once you are done with proofreading.

Definitive essay topics examples

You can have a word as your topic or as the main guide for a topic. There are different types of definitive essay topics, including definitional argument topics. It is advisable to choose argument topics that allow you to present a wide range of content.

Here are examples of topics to consider:

  1. Define happiness
  2. Define a cold war
  3. What is terrorism?
  4. Define global warming
  5. What is academic writing?
  6. Define the concept of blogging
  7. What is reggaeton Music?
  8. Define a pet
  9. Define a hobby
  10. Define grief
  11. Who is a millennial?

Dos and Don’ts of writing a definitive essay 

There are techniques you should apply to make your definitive essay better. There are also some things you should avoid in a definitive essay. Let us review what to do and what to avoid when writing a definitive essay.

  1. Do not reference your definition sources directly. Avoid the use of phrases like ‘According to Oxford Dictionary’, or ‘In reference to Webster’s Dictionary. Such phrases show a lack of command from you and less originality in the content.
  2. Avoid terms that limit your research base and content. The keyword of a definitive essay is very important as it is the basis of all content. Choose a word with multiple definitions, uses, and originality or history.
  3. Do not repeat definitions in a definitive essay. Each definition in the main body section should be in a distinct paragraph and supported with examples. Choose other content including the history of the word and how to use the term, to avoid repetition.
  4. Do good research on the term to avoid writing content that is obvious and shallow. Research helps you to understand the term better and learn the history and any evolving history. You also need to write your thesis statement using an active voice. 
  5. Conduct your research on reliable sources. Include definitions that are true and from credible sources since untrue information makes your work unprofessional. Academic sources are most advisable for definitive essays. 
  6. Your examples should be accompanied by comments and explanations. Defining a term and giving an example is not clear enough for a definitive essay. The comments and explanations help the reader to understand your term better. 
  7. Your definitive essay content should be engaging and informative. Term definitions can be boring and hard to internalize. Use engaging phrases and simple transition sentences to keep your readers interested and engaged. 
  8. Have your audience in mind while writing. Your content should focus on providing good quality content for the reader. Use simple language for easy readability and understanding. 

Parting shot

Descriptive essays are expository essays that contain information about a particular word. You can easily write a good definitive essay with the right definitive essay outline. Your essay outline must have a good introduction, main body section, and a conclusion. 

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