How to Write a Research Paper Outline

How to Write a Research Paper Outline

When you know how to write a research paper outline, you can write a paper with each paragraph having a specific purpose. A research paper outline is an organizational plan that should help you in drafting a research paper. Writing a research paper outline is an effective way of ensuring proper organization of your thoughts and ideas in the final paper. The purpose of an outline is to breakdown different parts of your research paper and to ensure their hierarchical organization so that after seeing it, you can clearly see and understand the overall paper format.

Why exactly you should know how to write a research paper outline

Outlining is very important as a step of the process of writing a research paper. In most courses that entail writing research papers, professors and teachers require outlines to be submitted by students before they write research papers. Sometimes, students are required to submit research papers and their outlines. There are professors who follow outlines when marking research papers. This is because by simply looking at a research paper outline, one should tell how ideas relate in the paper.

To a research paper writer, an outline should make thinking about the research topic easier. This is very important because it enables you to reach the evaluation and synthesis learning level. Further, an outline enables you to determine whether you have conducted thorough research on your topic. By looking at the outline, you can tell whether the organization of your paper and the argument that you intend to present makes sense before you deal with sentence structure, transitional sentences, as well as grammar and word choice.

A step by step guide on how to write a research paper outline

Step One: Choose a research paper topic

Choose a topic for the research paper that you want to write on the basis of the provided research paper writing guidelines. Your professor or teacher may have specified the parameters of the topic, provided a topic or allowed you the freedom to choose a research paper topic. If you have the freedom to choose a topic, make sure that the topic that you choose is not too broad for you to cover or too specific to a level where you will not have adequate content for your paper. Choose a topic that you are sure of finding adequate, reliable sources for so that you can have relevant and sufficient content for your paper. Make sure that you have a general idea of your paper before you start writing an outline.

Step Two: Decide on the type of the outline to use

Choose between a sentence outline and a topic outline. A sentence outline entails the use of complete sentences in expressing points. A topic outline entails the use of short phrases. You can start by finding out whether your professor or teacher has specified the type of the outline to use. Make sure that you do not mix both styles.

Step Three: Create a header for each page of the outline

Each page of the outline of your research paper should have a header, though this is optional when you are not required to submit the outline to be awarded a grade. The header should appear at the right side of the paper. It should have your name and page number.

Step Four: Create a title for your outline

The title should not be written in capital letters, large fonts, underlined or in boldface. The title that you give the outline should be the title that you give your research paper. Note that the title should not have the word “outline”. Make use of the title style. This means that each word of the title should have a capital letter at the beginning except for short prepositions, conjunctions and articles.

Step Five: Use main ideas or points to subdivide your outline

This is an important step of a guide on how to write a research paper outline that you should master. Your outline should be subdivided into sections of major points or ideas that support the main argument of the research paper. The outline should present at least three major points. Although you can have more points, do not include too many points. Make sure that you have manageable points. Have a Roman numeral numbering each point or subdivision.

Step Six: Expand the subdivisions

Include minor points under your major points using capital letters to label them. If you have subtopics that you want to include under your minor points, use numbers to label them. Use lower case letters to label the next details’ level. However, make sure that you have a minimum of two points for each detail level. Thus, if your outline starts with a major point labeled by Roman numeral “I”, it can have minor points A, B and C. Under the minor point A, you can have subtopics or points 1 and 2. Under subtopic or point 1, you can have details a, b, c and d.

Step Seven: Start each entry with a capital letter

The first word of every entry should start with a capital letter even if it is a topic outline that is made of phrases only. When your outline uses complete sentences, make sure that first letters of all first words are capitalized. There should be a period at the end of each sentence.

Step Eight: Indent the outline

Major points’ Roman numerals should be flushed left. Each level should be indented but this should be done at the same amount. This implies that capital letters should be lined up with one another. Numbers should be lined up too. Make sure that the reader can follow your research paper outline at their first glance due to its proper organization.

Five bonus tips on how to write a research paper outline

  • Know what to include in the research paper outline

Basically, the purpose of a research paper outline is to enable you to break down your research paper into sections. This is why you have to subdivide your outline into sections so that they can guide you in conducting research and writing the paper. Therefore, make sure that you know the components of an effective outline and how information should flow in your research paper. Make sure that you can work with the outline that you create to write a research paper whose information is tied together properly and flowing logically.

  • Pay attention to instructions, requirements and guidelines

While writing your research paper outline, you should refer to the guidelines, requirements and instructions of your project. Although this can seem simple, it is possible to leave out some information that is crucial to your research paper by accident. Make sure that the outline that you create for your paper is custom-written for your research paper writing assignment. Additionally, bear in mind the rules of the specified academic paper writing style such as APA style and MLA style while writing the outline for your research paper.

  • Use a good research paper outline sample to guide you

It is possible to create a research paper outline on the basis of the sections that you want to include in your research paper. However, you should remember the rules of the writing style that you will use and how they will affect your final research paper. Sometimes, studying a well written research paper outline sample will give you important ideas on how a good research paper outline should look. You can even look for a well written outline to compare with the outline that you write by following the above guide on how to write a research paper outline. Click here for well written examples of research paper outlines that you can use while writing an outline for your research paper.

  • Organize your main points chronologically where possible

If you are writing an outline for a research paper in which you might want to trace the chronology or history of issues or events, make sure that your outline is arranged in that manner. This will make organizing your ideas and presentation easier. It will also make re-arranging your paper easier because the outline of your research paper will be your guide for writing the actual paper.

  • Have the purpose of your outline in mind

When you know the purpose of your outline, writing it becomes easy. This is because you strive to come up with an outline that accomplishes its purpose. Your outline should indicate what you will address next. It indicates the coherent order in which ideas should flow. Using the outline, you can keep your paper focused; know where you are and how much you are yet to write.

Get online help with your research paper outline

If you have difficulties while writing an outline for your research paper, get in touch with us any time for professional assistance. You can also visit our website’s homepage for additional information regarding our custom writing services. Alternatively, continue reading for more guidelines on how to write a research paper outline and sample papers on our blog.