Guidelines on How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

It is not necessary that all research papers require pages of matter and information, but having an outline for one proves to be a very useful aid, especially in the later stages of compilation and analysis. Firstly, having an outline helps in the amalgamation of ideas and gives the paper a skeleton. Thus, it proves to be a wonderful aid when it comes to going about the paper in a systematic manner. You will not need to hunt for new topics and statistics if you already have a general framework in your mind. Therefore, here are a few instructions on how to write an outline for a research paper:

  • One of the most prudent steps to take is to make a preliminary outline for your paper. Of course, if your paper is short in length, you do not need to prepare two outlines, but you should consider doing this for papers that are longer.
  • The most popular way to write an outline for your paper is using the MLA format. In this style of writing, the outline is presented in the beginning of the paper.
  • All major headings such as ‘Introduction’, ‘Review of Literature’ and so on should be numbered in upper case roman numerals.
  • If you find yourself in the need of dividing these headings into sub parts, then you should use capital letters for the second level, numbers for the third level and lower case letters and numbers for the subsequent levels.
  • As mentioned before, it is better to have two outlines than one when it comes to writing research papers. However, keep in mind that the first outline should be a tentative outline and should not go into too much detail. Leave that for the final outline.
  • As most outlines are written on editing and writing software like Word, you can also make use of the predesigned templates that are often provided on such software. Additionally, keep in mind that the levels specified in the outline correspond to the headings and sun headings provided in the software. Each of these headings has a predefined font size and style setting that will make your work that much easier.

There are various styles and guides that help one to write outlines for one’s research papers, but one should always, before finalizing things, consider any additional guidelines and steps that might have been specified.