Formatting a Research Paper Outline

Writing a research paper outline is an often a usual but daunting part of academic life. Every student needs to spend several hours in order to make a proper, well-crafted research paper. A well-prepared research paper outline is an useful point-by-point guide, making your research paper writing much simpler. Do not think that because you are using Microsoft Office or some other word processor, your outline will be as good as a well-written paper from a top-tier university or college. In fact, the chances are that your paper will be even better!

Three main parts make up a research paper outline: the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Introductions introduce the topic of the paper, whereas the body outlines the main arguments for the subject matter. Conclusions summarize the arguments and support each one. You can use a bulleted list but remember that you should organize your points chronologically and not simply list things in the order in which they appear in the list.

Another useful tip is to keep your research paper outline in a notebook, with dividers to separate it into sections, and preferably, two or three people for each section. The notebook should also have space for notes. During the writing process, you may get stuck on words, and at times, you may need extra help. In this case, the handwritten notes are extremely handy. Also, it will be easier to glance back over your work and spot typos and grammatical errors if you have kept your notes in a digital format.

Before writing your research paper, figure out what kind of format will suit you best. If you’re a quick writer, then using a dotted outline format will work well for you. If you’re a more meticulous writer, then a typed or printed format will suit you better. There are pros and cons to both approaches. With a dotted outline, you don’t have to worry about spaces or margins, so your ideas will flow well. However, if you plan on doing a lot of research, using a typed format is usually faster and more efficient.

When outlining your research paper, be sure to determine whether you’re writing it as a formal essay or as an article. Formal essays call for more structure, so be sure your research paper outline has a clear division between the two. An example would be to divide it into an introduction, the main body of the essay, a conclusion, and one or two pages of recommendations. With an article, the only real division is between the title and the conclusion. The title, unlike the introduction, needs to provide information that is relevant to the topic.

Numbered lists can also be used in conjunction with the outlined format. Long, complex sentences can be broken down to a few short, concise paragraphs. Using alphanumeric lists also allows you to organize the paper more effectively. Use bullets, numbering and a subheading where appropriate. If your research paper outline uses standard format, it will be easier for the reader to see the flow of your writing and determine its overall organization.