How to Write a College Research Paper Outline

April 7, 2021 F WP
how to write a college research paper outline

How to Write a College Research Paper Outline

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Many people ask us, ‘What is an outline?’ An outline is a document people use to plan an essay. This article will show you how to write a research paper outline. We will go over the different ways to create an essay outline and help your writing.

Definition of a Research Paper Outline 🔑

If you ever buy a custom research paper, you can be sure that the writer has outlined it. An outline is hard to define since it has no fixed explanation. Put and an outline holds information that you think is important to your paper. You can put down sources, quotes, or pieces of writing. Whatever you think will help your writing process the most, do it!

Many people have what they call a thesis statement outline. This is where they use the outline as a means of keeping their essay arguments close at hand. An outline can be very handy for keeping everything in one place so you can check it easily. Alternatively, some people also use the essay outline to outline their essay. They use it to put down their thesis statement, their arguments, and their conclusions. Many people use an outline to try out different arguments, to see how well they work in the paper.

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How to Write a Research Paper Outline

1️⃣ Decide how you are going to use your outline

There are different ways to use a college research paper outline. This is why they are so popular. Decide how an outline would best help you, and then work from there. Remember that you have to do what works for you, not for anybody else.

2️⃣ Make sure you have all the information you need for it

Part of your outline preparation should ensure that you have all the information you need to set it up. Outlines generally need some information in them to have any value. Make sure you know what you will put into your outline.

3️⃣ Remember to add to it as you go along

A good outline for a research paper will help you through the entire process of writing a paper. Remember that an outline is most helpful when you keep adding to it throughout the process. Keep your outline updated, and it will be helpful through every step of your writing journey.

4️⃣ Remember to refer to it regularly

Your research paper outline will work best if you keep on referring to it through the writing process. You can have the best outline in the world, but it won’t help you if you don’t look at it! Keep an eye on your outline while you write – you can always find something new to help you.

How to Format a Proper Research Paper Outline

1️⃣ Create your outline

The first step in formatting your outline is to create the proper outline format. Keeping to a specific format means that you can easily find what you need in an outline. It also means that you can easily take information directly from the outline and put it into the essay if you need to.

2️⃣ Have specific areas for information

A good college research essay outline is well laid out and easy to use. The best way to do this is to make sure there are specific areas for the information you need. Ensure that everything is in its proper place, and you will be able to find it easily.

3️⃣ Make sure that everything is included

Your outline format should have everything in it that you need. Before you start writing your essay, make sure that your outline format meets your needs for this particular essay. You need to have your information at your fingertips, and choosing the correct format is the way to make sure that happens.

4️⃣ Make sure that everything is accessible

The best research paper outline templates have everything immediately available. An outline isn’t going to be much good to you if you can’t access the material! You need to make sure that everything in an outline will be available when you need it. The outline won’t be of much use to you if that isn’t the case.

👉 Example of a Research Paper Outline

✅ APA Style Outline

An APA research paper outline might look something like this:

  • Question
  • Introduction – list of what topics will be covered in the essay
  • Thesis statement – list of research topics that pertain to the thesis statement
  • List of body paragraphs – Each one labeled with the argument, the topic sentence and concluding sentence, and any quotations included in the paragraph. Put down important quotes that you want to remember in your outline.When you write a college research paper outline, try and have your body paragraphs in different orders. This will let you see which order works best.
  • Conclusion – list of topics that will be covered in the essay and conclusions.Put the thesis statement here again if you feel the need to reinforce that it should be included in the conclusion.
  • References – Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. Remember to note down any references that you particularly want to remember.

✅ MLA Style Outline

A research paper outline in MLA might look something like this:

  • Important citations: Author. Title. Title of container (self-contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publisher Date, Location (pp.). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Pub date, Location (pp.).
  • Question – explanation of a question
  • Thesis statement – individual arguments that go into the thesis statement
  • Introduction – list the topics in your essay, the thesis statement, and some additional useful information.
  • Body paragraphs – have two different ways that the body paragraphs could be laid out, depending on how the essay turns out
  • Conclusion – list the topics in your essay, the thesis statement, and then wrap up with the conclusion

At this point in your research paper outline for a college paper, you will want to put down any ideas that you think might also be good for the essay but that you didn’t have room for. Maybe they will fit better than your current arguments.


Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for how to create a paper outline. Our research paper outline examples are there to give some ideas for your outlines. Remember that there is no one outline definition. Take what works for you from our article, and build on it.

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