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How to Write an Outline

How to Write a Research Paper?

❶When you are done, review what you have written and highlight or underline the most useful information. Use parallel structures for outline sections.

MLA Recommendations On How to Write an Outline

This article is a part of the guide:
What is a Research Paper?
Introduction

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. Like the Olympic athlete aiming for the gold medal, you must have a positive attitude and the belief that you have the ability to achieve it. Choose a topic which interests and challenges you.

Your attitude towards the topic may well determine the amount of effort and enthusiasm you put into your research. Focus on a limited aspect, e. Obtain teacher approval for your topic before embarking on a full-scale research. If you are uncertain as to what is expected of you in completing the assignment or project, re-read your assignment sheet carefully or ASK your teacher.

Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid topics that have only a very narrow range of source materials.

For general or background information, check out useful URLs , general information online , almanacs or encyclopedias online such as Britannica. Use search engines and other search tools as a starting point.

Pay attention to domain name extensions, e. These sites represent institutions and tend to be more reliable, but be watchful of possible political bias in some government sites. Network Solutions provides a link where you can find out what some of the other extensions stand for.

Be wary of the millions of personal home pages on the Net. The quality of these personal homepages vary greatly. Learning how to evaluate websites critically and to search effectively on the Internet can help you eliminate irrelevant sites and waste less of your time. The recent arrival of a variety of domain name extensions such as. Many of the new extensions have no registration restrictions and are available to anyone who wishes to register a distinct domain name that has not already been taken.

For instance, if Books. Check out online resources, Web based information services, or special resource materials on CDs:.

Check out public and university libraries, businesses, government agencies, as well as contact knowledgeable people in your community. Bookmark your favorite Internet sites. Printout, photocopy, and take notes of relevant information. As you gather your resources, jot down full bibliographical information author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access on your work sheet, printout, or enter the information on your laptop or desktop computer for later retrieval.

If printing from the Internet, it is wise to set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page. Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite its source. Most research papers normally require a thesis statement. If you are not sure, ask your teacher whether your paper requires it.

A thesis statement is a main idea, a central point of your research paper. The arguments you provide in your paper should be based on this cenral idea, that is why it is so important.

Do some critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in one sentence. Your research paper thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief.

The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief. It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you write a thesis statement, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas.

You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper. It will naturally change while you develop your ideas. Stay away from generic and too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read. Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers.

If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author.

More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form. If you need to add additional sub-layers, use lowercase Roman numerals i, ii, iii, iv, etc.

In most cases, three or four layers will be enough. Try to combine points first before you add a fifth. You might also include additional layers for a long creative work or a detailed study guide. It's best to start with a strong thesis statement that includes your reasons. Then, dedicate each body paragraph to one of your claims, as well as the evidence that supports it.

Make sure you break down your evidence in your body paragraphs. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 2. Yes, having an outline will help you familiarize yourself with the process of something. It is your guide for your experiment, whatever kind is it.

Having an outline is like planning. Not Helpful 17 Helpful How do I write an outline quickly when I am under time pressure during exams? Begin with reading the exam question quickly but thoroughly. As you read, jot down the major points that occur to you immediately.

Then address the outline, setting a time limit of 2 to 5 minutes to prepare it, filling in additional elements that didn't occur to you initially. Don't allow anything you can't think of to hold you up, it can be added as you go - the outline is just a quick, rough skeleton of one when it's created within an exam. Not Helpful 23 Helpful You could plan out your characters and plot as well as different parts, like setting.

If you have a theme or moral add that too. It may be hard to write a lot, but take it slow and practice. Not Helpful 15 Helpful The outline is meant to be done as the first step of your paper, outline, etc. It gets your ideas down on paper, gets your mind-wheels turning, without having to deal with all of the fancy and tedious details that come with putting your ideas into complete sentences. It helps to pour out your mind, organize your research, and structure your final vision before you do the actual writing.

It also helps to "road-map" your writing when you get to that step. Not Helpful 11 Helpful Think about whatever you want to write about that happened in your life, and then make an outline in either chronological order or in order of what you think is important, based on your own writing ability.

Not Helpful 16 Helpful Make sure you follow the instructions exactly. Have a thesis statement, and make sure the body supports the thesis.

Not Helpful 9 Helpful Not Helpful 3 Helpful 7. When writing an outline, is it okay to use sub key points to justify the reader's or person's perspective? Not Helpful 1 Helpful 4. You should have 5 sections: At least 3reasons 5.

Not Helpful 18 Helpful What are things to look for when writing an essay outline? Answer this question Flag as What should the length of the piece be? How do I write an outline on the topic "why don't Americans understand new immigrants to this country? Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other.

Quick Summary The easiest way to write an outline is to gather all of your supporting materials, like quotes, statistics, or ideas, before getting started. Did this summary help you? Tips Be concise and straightforward in your outline. This doesn't have to be perfectly polished writing; it just has to get your point across. Don't be afraid to eliminate irrelevant information as you conduct more research about your topic and narrow your focus. You can use outlines as a memorization tool.

Choose concise words to trigger a concept. You can use specialized software or a text editor template to structure an outline automatically. For example, Microsoft Word lets you create an outline document, or format it your own way. Indent each level of your outline 0. Keep in mind that this might not work well if you write full sentences.

If you find evidence that contradicts your argument, don't ignore it. Include it in your outline, and use sub-steps to summarize your counter-argument. Warnings Your outline should not be your essay in a different form. Only write down the major assertions, not every single detail. Generally, you should avoid only having one point or sub-point on any outline level.

If there is an A, either come up with a B or fold A's idea into the next level up. Article Info Featured Article Categories: Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 3,, times. Did this article help you? Cookies make wikiHow better. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. ZA Zoe Astra Apr I am doing my dissertation next year and I have to submit my outline plan now; however, my university only gave us a list of all the elements they want us to submit with no explanation or guidelines of how we are actually supposed to do them.

I have been stressing out so much, as I had no idea what I was doing and I am also supposed to be revising for my exams.


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This is why you should establish early on the scope and limitations of your paper which will provide the foundation for your research paper outline. Basically, your outline will constitute three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion.

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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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Sample Essay Outlines Why Write an Outline? An outline will help you organize your main ideas and determine the order in which you are going to write about them. Writing an outline is a very effective way to think through how you will organize and present the information in your essay. The following outline is for a page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and health. Review the other sections of this page for more detailed information about each component of this outline!

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The outline structure is approximately the same whether you write a research outline on dreams or some topic distant from this one, like a research outline for PhD application. The structure is identical to the structure of the research paper itself. For any research paper, it is essential to know how to write an outline. Many research paper formats even require an outline, as an integral part of the paper.