How to Write a Good Outline for a Research Paper

When you are writing a research paper, one of the things you will find most useful is the outline. A good outline will help you to break down the pieces to your thesis statement in a clear fashion. It will enable you to break down these pieces in a hierarchical manner. Students who create a good outline before they start writing their first draft will find that it enables them to organize their thoughts better. With a good outline, your paper is simple to write.

The basic format for a good outline for a research paper uses an alternating series of either letters or numbers. These can be used to indicate sequence, or they can be used to indicate the level of importance. Your outline may follow sequence and look like this:

  1. Thesis

    The thesis statement belongs in the introduction. The introduction will explain to the reader the purpose of your paper and the path they will take to get there.

  2. Body

    The body is after the thesis and introduction paragraph. You can break down the body of your text however you see fit. If you want to have just two body paragraphs, so be it. If you want to have six, that is fine too. So long as you can cover the necessary information and cover it well, that is all that matters. Some of your body paragraphs may have subdivisions, and others may not. This is all contingent upon the demands of your arguments. Some of your papers may only have three main body sections, others more than you see below. Again, it is entirely up to you.

    A. Point A

    B. Point B

    C. Point C

    D. Point D

  3. Body

    A. Point A

    1. Support for point A

    B. Point B

    1. Support for point B

    2. Support for point B

    C. Point C

    D. Point D

  4. Body

    A. Point A

    B. Point B

    C. Point C

    D. Point D

  5. Body

    A. Point A

    B. Point B

    1. Support for point B

    2. Support for point B

    C. Point C

  6. Conclusion

    Remember that the conclusion is where you repeat your thesis statement. It is also not where you introduce any new material. It is merely where you remind the reader of your thesis, and remind them of the points and support your offered in the essay.

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