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How to Write an Outline

This article is a part of the guide:

❶The introduction should contain your thesis statement or the topic of your research as well as the purpose of your study. What organizational plan will best support my purpose?


How to Write a Research Paper?
What is a Research Paper?
MLA Recommendations On How to Write an Outline

For any research paper , it is essential to understand how to write an outline. In many fields, research papers require an outline, as an integral part of the paper. Here are a few research paper outline examples. Even if this is not the case, for longer papers, a good outline helps you to keep track of your ideas , acting as a road map for a perfect paper. An outline is a great aid when you are trying to amalgamate and assess the research paper , because it allows you to see certain links between different areas, whilst making sure that you do not repeat yourself.

For a short paper, of a couple of thousand words or less, an outline might not be necessary. For a longer paper, it is essential, or you will become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that you need to assimilate, and write down.

Trying to write a 10 word dissertation, without an outline, is an exercise in futility. Some subjects, typically those using MLA format , demand that you write an outline at the beginning of the paper. Others, whilst not requiring an outline, do ask for a table of contents for longer papers, and an outline makes this process much easier. It allows you to be organized and lay out your headings properly, allowing the word processor's automatic table of contents tool to do its work.

For long papers, there is no harm in showing your outline to your supervisor early on in the process, because they will be able to tell you whether you are going in the right direction. The easiest way to design an outline is with the MLA standard format , which helps you to develop a good structure for the outline.

Major headings, such as ' Introduction ', ' Method ', etc. These sections are further subdivided, using A, B as a second level, 1, 2 as a third and a, b and i, ii make up the rest. Obviously, for a short or straightforward paper, you may not need all of these subheadings. Your first outline is a working outline, so do not worry too much about going into detail, or getting everything in exactly the right order.

The initial outline allows you to structure your thoughts and establish how you are going to lay out the paper. For example, in the literature review part of your paper, the outline will help you to decide whether to lay it out in a purely chronological order, or address each relevant point individually.

Whichever layout you use, it will help you to integrate the previous research and provide a more detailed analysis. If you follow these instructions to write an outline, then you are a long way towards laying out the parts of a research paper correctly. Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Martyn Shuttleworth Sep 11, You use Roman numerals, capital letters, and standard numbers for this version. Next to each third-level subsection, you should address the topic of a paragraph that falls under the corresponding second-level section or main idea above it.

Use a four-level outline, when necessary. These outlines are about the most complex you would expect to need for a research paper, and if you choose this structure, you will use Roman numerals, capital letters, standard numbers, and lowercase letters for your levels.

The fourth-level subheadings should address supporting statements, citations, or ideas within each paragraph listed in the third-level sections. Every heading and subheading should maintain a structure that is parallel to the other headings within its level.

Parallelism also refers to parts of speech and tense. If a heading starts with a verb, then the other headings must also start with a verb. Moreover, that verb must also be in the same tense usually present tense. The information provided by your first major heading should be equal in importance to the information offered in your second major heading. The same can be said of sentences in subheadings, as well. Your major headings should identify major tasks or ideas. Your subheadings should elaborate on the points addressed in your major headings.

The information in your headings should be general and the subheadings should be more specific. For instance, if you were writing about memorable experiences from your childhood, "Memorable Childhood Experiences" would be the heading and the subheadings might look something like, "Vacation at 8 years old," "Favorite birthday party," and "Family trips to the park. Each major heading should be divided into two or more parts.

In other words, you should have at least two subheadings for every major heading. There is no limit on subheadings, but once you start forming a dozen or so subheadings under a single heading, you might find your outline looking cluttered and messy. Identify the research problem. As you prepare to write your outline, you need to specifically identify the research problem you are trying to address.

This will guide the entire formation of your outline and your paper. From this research problem, you will derive your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a single sentence that sums up the entire purpose or argument of your research paper.

This thesis statement will usually be written above the outline itself or within the first "Introduction" heading of the outline. Your research problem can also help you figure out a title. Identify your main categories. You also need to figure out what main points you plan on covering. All of these main points will be listed in your introduction and listed as part or all of you major headings for the body part of your paper.

The main points are details that support or address your research paper. They should be very general in nature. Take a look at your research topic and determine the best possible order to deliver information. You might end up using a chronological arrangement or a spatial arrangement, but as a general rule, you will go from general ideas to specific ones. Chronological arrangements generally only work if you have a topic that has some chronological history to it.

For example, if you were researching the history of modern medicine, it would make sense that your paper and outline follow a chronological order. If your research topic does not have a history, though, you will probably end up using a spatial structure. For instance, if you are researching the effects of television and video games on the adolescent brain, you probably would not follow the chronology of the research. Instead, you might describe the different contemporary schools of thought on the issue or otherwise follow some other spatial arrangement of ideas.

Establish your major headings. Your first and last headings will be your "Introduction" and "Conclusions" sections, respectively. The other major headings will be represented by the main or major categories of your paper. In these instances, you can usually skip these two sections altogether, but you will need to write your thesis statement separately and above the outline. Know what to include in your Introduction. Your "Introduction" heading will need to include your thesis, at minimum.

You might also want to briefly list your main points and your hook. Note that these elements will usually be listed as subpoints, not as major headings. The major heading for the section will be "Introduction. Understand what the body of your outline will consist of.

Each main heading within the body portion of your outline will be labeled by a short phrase or sentence addressing a main category of your research paper. As with the actual paper itself, this portion of your outline will hold all the significant content. Arrange the Conclusions section. This section will not contain much information, but you still need to provide at least two subpoints under the main heading. Restate and rephrase your thesis.

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Below are examples of research paper outlines. Creating an outline is the first thing you should do before starting on your research paper. Creating an outline is the first thing you should do before starting on your research paper.

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What is an outline for a research paper and how to write an outline for a research paper? The primary thing is to provide a clear definition. An academic project outline is an action plan a student prepares not to get lost during the process of writing, and this piece reflects the main points of the text.

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For any research paper, it is essential to understand how to write an outline. In many fields, research papers require an outline, as an integral part of the paper. In many fields, research papers require an outline, as an integral part of the paper. An outline structure depends on the type of academic assignment and format. For example, a 5-paragraph essay requires an outline. MLA Research Paper Outline Basics. MLA is the easiest and most frequently met research paper format, so we should start explaining how to write an outline for a research paper on this example.

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An outline is a “blueprint” or “plan” for your paper. It helps you to organize your thoughts and arguments. A good outline can make conducting . This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.