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Outlining Your Research Paper: 8 Vital Tips

It’s important to create a good outline for your paper in order to avoid some common writing pitfalls. It’s also a necessity as you continue your education and must write longer and more complex papers. So it’s a good idea to form good outlining habits from the start. Here are eight vital tips that can help you with your outline.

  1. Refine Your Thesis
  2. As you’ve been researching, you’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the topic you were unfamiliar with when you formed your thesis. You may want to revisit the thesis statement at this point to decide whether or not it’s still suitable as-is. Determine whether any changes need to be made before continuing. If so, refine your thesis until you are satisfied with it.

  3. Determine What Sections Your Paper Will Include
  4. Of course there will be an introduction and a conclusion, but now is the time to decide on how you will divide up the other points of your paper.

  5. Roughly Outline the Introduction
  6. When creating the introduction outline, be sure to touch on each section in the paper briefly. Your initial introduction outline should be broad in scope.

  7. Outline the Body Sections
  8. Write down the title of each body section. Make a note of how you will introduce that section, and the ideas that will be used to support it. Link it to your thesis.

  9. Link Sections to Sources
  10. When you sit down to write, you don’t want to struggle to remember which sources go with which section. When creating the outline, use some method to indicate which are the most critical sources for each one.

  11. Note Transitions Between Sections
  12. Unlike an outline, the actual paper must have a good flow between sections. Each should move naturally into the next. Consider when outlining each body section how you will conclude it and segue into the next section and make a note of this.

  13. Outline the Conclusion
  14. Make a note of how you will restate your thesis for the conclusion, and any special material you’d like to include here.

  15. Refine the Introduction Outline
  16. Once you’ve completed the rest of the outline, it’s likely you’ll have come across information that you think should be included in the introduction as well. Go back to that section and refine the outline, adding and removing the information that needs to change.

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