research paper prompts

How To Do An Outline For A Research Paper Properly: Tips & Tricks


For you to make the most of your research paper writing project, it is important you understand how to write an outline as it usually forms an integral part of papers in many fields. It is especially beneficial if the paper you are writing is a long one as it helps you to keep track of your ideas. In writing, an outline is usually likened to a road map and helps you to achieve writing a perfect paper. If you are preparing to write your paper and at a loss on how to start writing the outline, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you to make the most of the project. They are as follows:

  • Identify your main categories: Depending on the larger purpose of the research paper and the nature of the supporting materials you will be using, you should be able to break down your general topic into logical categories. It is these categories that will form the first level of your outline and are traditionally labeled with capital Roman Numerals.
  • Determine at least two points to be addressed in each category: These are referred to as sub-points and are usually based on the purpose of the paper you are working on and the available list of materials. It forms the second level of the paper outline and is traditionally labeled in capital letters of the English alphabets.
  • Expand on your points: This is usually done with sub-points and goes a long way to maximize the logical grounding of the research paper being written. It forms the third level of the paper and traditionally labeled in numbers.
  • Create a concise and straightforward outline: The outline does not necessarily have to be in-depth or highly polished. Your major concern with the outline is that it should convey your points across to your readers. If there are certain information that are not relevant to the work, don’t be afraid to eliminate them. This will help you to further create a concise paper that is focused on the topic at hand. Also, make use of concise words as they act as concept triggers.
  • Make use of a computer: This type of work is best if done with a text-formatting program like Microsoft Word. Bear in mind that it comes with an automatic indentation feature that could impose on your outline. You have the option to work with your own indentation pattern. On this note, each level of outline should be indented 0.5 to 1 inch past the previous level of outline.

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