How Do You Write a Research Paper Outline: Professional Advice

Outlines are only as good as the material that is within the outline. The wrong material on a perfectly formatted outline will not help you write the correct paper. An outline is much like a road map. It is used to give you hints and directions as you write the paper. Use the following tips when writing your outline.


Use the standard alternating number and letter format. The sequence can be found on line but it goes: I, A., 1, a, and so on. There are rules such as you cannot have a one without a number two or a letter a without a letter b.

Make sure to use a size twelve plain and easy to read font. Double-space the entire paper. Make sure that you have a MLA heading on the first page and your last name and page number on the following pages. The title on the first page should be centered. Do not underline the title or put the title in italics.


Make sure that you have composed a nice and strong thesis statement. Then go to the library, interview people, talk to experts, review case studies, and gather as much information on your topic as you can. Then go through the information and determine which of it is suitable for your outline. You will not use all o f the information in the outline, but it is good to have extra information, so the paper is not too short.


Most instructors will have the students write a working draft. The teachers will then collect the outline and edit it for you. When the teacher returns the outline make the necessary changes that she has noted. Then continue to add information where it is needed. You will then write a final outline and you will use this as a guide when you sit down to write your research paper.


The outline will either be in sentence or topic form. Ask your teacher which style he or she prefers for you to use.

An outline will go through many changes before it is ready to be considered a final outline. These changes and rewrites are part of the process. You should not be worried when you have to make some changes to the outline as you work on it. If the outline is well written and researched, then the paper will be easier to write.

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