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Academic Paper Writing Guide: Analytical Essay Outline

Analytical essays are a popular but challenging assignment that requires students to analyze the content of a literary work such as a poem, play or fiction. What this type of essay is not is a simple summary of the work. Mastering the technique is very important for students who wish to advance in almost every academic field that requires writing with an analytical focus.

Here is common analytical essay outline for you to use in your writing:


Your introduction should consist of a paragraph that provides a brief explanation of your topic, introduce the author and title of the work you are analyzing, and give the paper some direction that will be developed in the body paragraphs. You should also give a concise summary of the main characters, plot and summary and how they relate to your central argument.

Lastly, write a thesis that clearly states your position and purpose of analysis. Unlike other kinds of essays, an analytical essay requires a thesis that is long enough to clearly show the reader where your argument will go. This may be 2 – 3 sentences long.

Body Paragraphs

The position you present in your thesis will be argued throughout the body paragraphs of your paper. Body paragraphs can vary in number, depending on the scope of your analysis. Regardless, each body paragraph should contain topic sentences that directly support your thesis.

Take each point mentioned in your introduction and develop them into individual topic sentences. In each paragraph you can introduce quotations and paraphrases to support each of your topic sentences. Analyze each of these pieces for meaning, drawing on connections such as themes, character and conflict. Draw a conclusion that finishes your analysis and brings in language from the thesis statement.


Now that you have made your arguments, you want to show the relationship between each of your arguments and tie all of them to your thesis. You want to stress the accuracy of your position and summarize your argument to affirm your analysis.

Always express your arguments in different words than the ones you used earlier. And make sure to leave the reader with a clear picture in his or her mind and make sure there is a sense of finality. Remember that it’s your job, in this particular type of assignment, to look deeply into the relationships between the parts of a work and find ways that those relationships bring meaning to the entire piece.