Sample Outline Cause/Effect Essay

The first rule of essay writing is to remember there are multiple types of essay one can write. The chances are high you’ll have to work on all of them at some point of your university education and after. If you work as an essay writer, there’ll come the time when you’ll receive a special assignment that requires a particular type of essay writing, and your job is to make that happen. Cause and effect essay is just one example, but it’s poorly understood. Some may regard it as complicated, but once you learn how to create a functional outline, it will be easier. To help you out, I’m going to show you how to construct cause and effect paper successfully. You’ll see, it’s easier than it seems!

How differentiate cause and effect?

Let’s start with the definition first; cause and effect essays are concerned with why things occur (causes) and their outcomes (effects). This type of writing poses as a standard method of organizing and discussing ideas. Here, the author demonstrates his/her ability to connect the reasons and their consequences in a logical and evidence-based manner.

Naturally, a cause is an answer to why a particular event occurs and effect refers to things that happen because of it. Although the explanation is quite simple, many students find it difficult to differentiate causes and effects. Since the successful completion of your paper depends on the ability to know the difference between causes and effects, you should take your time with this. There’s no reason to rush and construct your outline when you aren’t sure how to set apart two main factors.

For example, global warming is an effect whose causes are deforestation, pollution, climate change and so on. To determine the cause, you should ask yourself “Why did this happen?” while effects are usually the answers you get after asking “What happened because of this?” In the example mentioned above, you have global warming as an effect of multiple causes. This allows you to complete your essay discussing different factors that contributed to global warming while citing official sources, respected journals, and so on.

In a way, cause and effect essay is similar to an argumentative essay. You have to prove certain cause led to some particular effect, just like argumentative essay writing requires showing that your argument about some subject is valid.

When you’re in doubt, always ask yourself why and what, and you’ll get your answer. Sometimes you won’t have to describe both causes and effects throughout the essay. In some instances, you’ll just have to explain causes of some effect or effects that occurred due to some cause.

Structure of cause and effect essay

As mentioned above, adequate structure and proper outline are the keys in the successful completion of cause and effect essay. The structure of your work will depend on the type of subject i.e. whether the essay will discuss both causes and effects combined or one of these factors individually. Below, you can see three possible variants and their outlines.

Variation #1: Multiple causes, one effect

This kind of work refers to the situation when one effect is a result of multiple causes. The paper should consist of five paragraphs, introduction and conclusion, and three sections wherein each one describes one cause.

Variation #2: One cause, multiple effects

Unlike the previous variant, this type of essay writing is used for situations when a single cause induces a multitude of effects. Five paragraphs make up the outline of the essay, introduction and conclusion, and three sections for each effect.

Variation #3: Domino effect (causal chain)

The last variant of this kind of essay refers to instances when a single cause leads to a certain effect. Then, that effect leads to some other situation, and so on. Every situation might have different causes and effects that you have to mention and elaborate. For domino effect essay you’ll need to construct seven paragraphs: introduction and conclusion, and five causal link sections.

Writing your cause and effect essay

Now that you know how the outline of your essay should look, you can proceed to the writing process. It’s always useful to have a schematic demonstration of your outline on a piece of paper. This will help you with the context, research, and ensures you don’t drift away from the subject, which happens sometimes. This part is just the accumulation of your plans, notes, and details gathered, and it happens to be the most demanding aspect of essay writing. You have to showcase your knowledge about the topic as well as your vocabulary and discuss the given subject to keep the reader’s eyes locked on the paper. Below, you can see valuable tips that will help you construct each part of your essay.


As always, your essay starts with the introduction. Although very overlooked, the intro is vital. It sets the tone, catches reader’s attention, and creates a sound basis for the entire paper. This part shouldn’t be too long; a few sentences are enough. Start by quoting someone, mentioning some general info or anecdote and move your way to the thesis statement.

Thesis statement informs the reader what he or she will read about; it also navigates the course of your essay. The introductory part should end with a thesis (one to two sentences long). Here are some thesis tips for cause and effect essay:

  • Variation #1 – mentions the general effect of the situation and names three causes that led to it
  • Variation #2 – mentions one specific cause that created numerous effects
  • Variation #3 – names the first and last part of the causal link chain

The thesis statement should be precise and easy to understand. The last thing you want is to create confusion that would prevent professor (or client) from reading the rest of the text you wrote and submitted.

Causes/effects paragraphs

Sections that elaborate causal links, causes and effects are the central part of your work. Each cause or effect should be divided to different paragraph to create a clear flow of situations and consequences.

Let’s say you have to write about global warming; it’s not enough to mention pollution, deforestation, and so on. You have to provide accurate and reliable info that will confirm that they, indeed, contribute to the problem you specified. Whenever you use some information, website, study, or journal don’t forget to acknowledge it. Plus, mentioning reliable sources only contributes to the quality of your paper. For that purpose, it’s wise to avoid personal blogs and unreliable websites, despite how tempting they might seem.

Research and organizing info you found are crucial for the quality of your text. Organization is the key, and you can do it in a few different ways:

  • Chronological order – arrange details in order they occurred
  • According to importance – organize info from the least important to the most importance or vice versa
  • Categorical manner – divide the topic into different parts or categories and arrange details accordingly

Once you’re done describing one causal link, effect, or cause, you’re ready to move to the next paragraph, and so on. However, you just can’t just skip from one subject to another. Instead, you should make a smooth transition to retain the logical flow and avoid choppiness. To accomplish this, you can start navigating the subject to the one you’re going to discuss in the next paragraph by mentioning something they have in common. This will allow you to elaborate the next cause/effect/causal link without making it look weird.

You can also use transitional words for both causes and effects.


  • Due to
  • Because
  • First
  • Second
  • Since
  • Another is
  • On cause is


  • Consequently
  • As a result
  • Thus
  • Resulted in
  • Therefore
  • Thereby
  • One result is


The importance of conclusion is underestimated, but you shouldn’t ruin your hard work on the essay with a wrong conclusion, right? Conclusion should:

  • Restate the topic and why it’s important
  • Summarize causes and effects discussed
  • Call for action regarding the subject i.e. why we should help fight global warming and what could happen if we don’t

Keep this in mind

  • Don’t forget your purpose: are you writing the essay to inform a reader about causes/effects or your aim is to persuade someone?
  • Limit yourself onto causes that are close in time and related i.e. they should have a direct relationship
  • Improve the quality of your essay with facts, definition of some terms, statistics, examples, and so on
  • Be precise and on point, don’t exaggerated effects or causes just to prove your point
  • Don’t say “evidence” or “proof” if you’re not going to support those words with actual evidence. The information isn’t automatically valid just because you write “a growing body of evidence supports…”

Bottom line

Cause and effect essay aims to discuss the situations where one (or more) causes lead to one (or more) events. To write this paper and get positive feedback, you just have to know how to create an adequate structure, and this article taught you that. With a little bit of practice, you’ll find it incredibly easy. In fact, why don’t you start now? Write cause and effect essay about global warming and see how you’ll do.


What is a Cause and Effect Essay?

A cause and effect essay is the type of paper that author is using to analyze the causes and effects of a particular action or event. A curriculum usually includes this type of exercise to test your ability to understand the logic of certain events or actions.

If you can see the logic behind cause and effect in the world around you, you will encounter fewer problems when writing. If not, writing this kind of paper will give you the chance to improve your skillset and your brain’s ability to reason.

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this article, we’ll find out how to create an outline for your cause and effect essay – the key to successful essay writing.

Types of the Cause and Effect Essay

Before writing this kind of essay, you need to draft the structure. A good structure will result in a good paper, so it’s important to have a plan before you start. But remember, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: just about every type of structure has already been formulated by someone.

If you are still unsure about the definition of the essay, find that out with our guide: What is an Essay?

Generally speaking, there are three types of cause and effect essays. We usually differentiate them by the number of and relationships between the causes and the effects. Let’s take a quick look at the various kinds:

  1. Many causes, one effect

This kind of essay illustrates how different causes can lead to one effect. The idea here is to try and examine a variety of causes, preferably ones that come from different fields, and prove how they contributed to a particular effect. If you are writing about World War I, for example, mention the political, cultural, and historic factors that led to the great war.

By examining a range of fundamental causes, you will be able to demonstrate your mastery of the topic.

Here is how to structure this type of essay:

  • Introduction
  • Body
    • Cause #1
    • Cause #2
    • Cause #3 (and so on…)
    • The effect of the causes
  • Conclusion
  1. One cause, many effects

This type of cause and effect essay is constructed to show the various effects of a particular event, problem, or decision. Once again, you will have to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge and analytical mastery of the field. There is no need to persuade the reader or present your argument. When writing this kind of essay, an in-depth knowledge of the problem or event’s roots will be of great benefit. If you know why it happened, it will be much easier to write about the effects.

Here is the structure for this kind of essay:

  • Introduction
  • Body
    • The Cause
    • Effect #1
    • Effect #2
    • Effect #3 (and so on…)
  • Conclusion
  1. Chain of causes and effects

This is the most challenging type. You need to maintain a chain of logic that demonstrates a sequence of actions and consequences, leading to the end of the chain. Although this is usually the most interesting kind of cause and effect essay, it can also be the most difficult to write.

Here is the outline structure:

  • Introduction
  • Body
    • Cause #1
    • Effect #1 = Cause #2
    • Effect #2 = Cause #3
    • Effect #3 = Cause #4 (and so on…)
  • Conclusion

Cause and Effect Essay Outline Example

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, you will find an outline for the topic “The causes of obesity” (Type 1):

  • Introduction: Nowadays, people are overweight because of their increasing consumption of unhealthy food, a lack of physical activity, and their refusal to work with fitness trainers.
  • Body:
    • Causes:
      1. People are eating a lot of unhealthy food that is cheap, easy-to-consume and contains a lot of calories. (Include statistics: how many people regularly consume unhealthy food.)
      2. People don’t move enough. Causes: inactive jobs, laziness, and not enough information about the consequences.
      3. People don’t want to visit a specialist. If they did, they would be informed about the causes of obesity and offered a plan to solve the problem.
    • Effect: Until those problems are solved, people will become more and more obese. (Include a prognosis about obesity rates over the next decade.)
  • Conclusion: Junk food, a lack of physical activity, and a refusal to visit a doctor are the three leading causes of obesity. We hope that the situation will change. (Include some examples of what each person can do about the problem)

As you can see, we used a blended strategy here. When writing about the ever-increasing consumption of unhealthy food, it is logical to talk about the marketing strategies that encourage people to buy fast foods. If you are discussing fitness trainers, it is important to mention that people need to be checked by a doctor more often, etc.

How do I start writing once I have drafted the structure?

If you start by structuring each paragraph and collecting suitable examples, the writing process will be much simpler. The final essay might not come up as a classic five paragraph essay – it all depends on the cause-effect chain and the number of statements of your essay.

In the Introduction, try to give the reader a general idea of what the cause and effect essay will contain. For an experienced reader, a thesis statement will be an indication that you know what you are writing about. It is also important to emphasize how and why this problem is relevant to modern life. If you ever need to write about the Caribbean crisis, for instance, state that the effects of the Cold War are still apparent in contemporary global politics.

In the Body, provide plenty of details about what causes led to the effects. Once again, if you have already assembled all the causes and effects with their relevant examples when writing your plan, you shouldn’t have any problems. But, there are some things to which you must pay particular attention. To begin with, try to make each paragraph the same length: it looks better visually. Then, try to avoid weak or unconvincing causes. This is a common mistake, and the reader will quickly realize that you are just trying to write enough characters to reach the required word count.

Moreover, you need to make sure that your causes are actually linked to their effects. This is particularly important when you write a “chained” cause and effect essay (type 3). You need to be able to demonstrate that each cause was actually relevant to the final result. As I mentioned before, writing the Body without preparing a thorough and logical outline is often an omission.

The Conclusion must be a summary of the thesis statement that you proposed in the Introduction. An effective Conclusion means that you have a well-developed understanding of the subject. Writing the Conclusion can be one of the most challenging parts of this kind of project. You typically write the Conclusion once you have finished the Body, but in practice, you will sometimes find that a well-written conclusion will reveal a few mistakes of logic in the Body!

Cause and Effect Essay Sample

Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own cause and effect essay. Link: cause and effect essay sample: advertising ethic issues.

Tips and Common Mistakes from Our Expert Writers

  • Pay attention to the language you use. Informal writing is not the best choice for this type of essay because they are academic works. But be aware that using an obscure vocabulary and complicated constructions can make your essay difficult to read.
  • Express your own opinions on a topic, not ones that belong to a researcher. The best way to do this is to be familiar with all the different research on the theme and use your critical thinking skills to construct your own arguments about the problem.
  • Don’t think you can write an excellent essay if you haven’t investigated the topic thoroughly. Dedicate time to reading the works of researchers who have studied the problem before you. If you do this, your readers will see that your essay is well-researched, and you will look more professional.
  • Don’t let the essay become illogical. This can happen to both beginners and advanced students. Beginners often don’t know enough to make the essay exciting and convincing, while more advanced students sometimes try to write everything that they know (ideas, history, theory, or facts). Make sure that your essay is logical, clear, and concise.


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