Tips and Tricks on How to Do a Research Paper Outline

Most students skip this step of making an outline in the writing process when they are working on their research paper.  This makes writing their research paper more difficult because they are trying to put together an unorganized paper from the top of their head.  Doing this leads to more rewriting and editing of their work, which makes the writing process longer than it should be.

Using an outline allows you to put all of your research in order and create a simplified version of what will be in your research paper.  The outline will show you places that need work, like where further research is needed or what needs to be taken out.  Know all this information before you start to write your research paper will ensure there will be less rewriting and editing of the finished product.

Tips and Tricks


  • Before you start to write your outline, do all of your research. Take good notes and keep track of all of the sources that you used in your research.  This will come in handy later when you are citing your work.
  • Gather all of your research and determine your topic and thesis statement.  Your topic is the general idea for your essay but your thesis statement is the main focus or question that you want to answer during the writing of the research paper.
  • There is still a little bit more you need to do before you start to write your outline.  Brainstorm what you want to include in the paper.  You can do this by free writing, making a list of your ideas, or doing a rough draft of your outline.  This will show you the information that will be in the outline and show you what to include or not to include.
  • Now since you have you main points of your research paper, you can start your outline.  Start with your introduction, then the body of research paper, and the conclusion.  Label each part and write a sentence or two to describe what will be in each section of your research paper.  You can add and eliminate any information that will make the paper better.
  • Take your outline and start to write your research paper. Since all of the information that is going to go in your paper is in front of you, you will be able to write it in no time.  As always, remember to proofread and edit your paper to find errors and structural problems before you turn it in.

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