How to Write the Best Outline for your Paper


How to Write the Best Outline for your Paper

After choosing a great topic and stating strong arguments, it can be hard for many people to write interesting academic papers. You may have many points or thoughts about where you prefer assignment to go, but you will fail to write a good one without your detailed plan of action. This is when an outline comes in handy. It’s a general plan of everything you will discuss in your essay. It’s an effective tool to organize the main facts, connect all ideas, and find the best order to present your major point in a concise manner.

What is a Paper Outline?

You can easily define it as an efficient organizational plan (about 1 page long) that will help you complete academic assignments. It’s the best way to organize or guide your ideas. An outline breaks down your paper in a hierarchical and clear manner to help you determine its final format or flow. Include such basic parts of any paper outline as body paragraphs, your strong conclusion, and introduction with a thesis statement.

Why do You Need a Paper Outline?

Spending your time on making a paper outline will improve your understanding of a specific subject and simplify the entire writing process. Some teachers even ask their students to submit a plan before they start completing academic assignments because it’s very helpful. Why should you create a paper outline? There are different reasons to do that, including:

  • Showing the logical order or hierarchical links of background information;
  • Keeping track of your search;
  • Organizing different threads.

6 Basic paper outline purposes

  1. Helping you to organize a list of all thoughts;
  2. Simplifying your process of writing;
  3. Showing connections in ideas;
  4. Presenting your writing in its logical form;
  5. Determining groups or special boundaries;
  6. Constructing a brief and ordered overview of your essay.

How to Plan your Paper Outline

It can help you organize all ideas before you start, but you should pick a brilliant topic first. You can choose a broad subject because creating a detailed plan will help you narrow it down to come clear arguments. Your outline will help you plan the structure of any paper.

  • What is an Introduction? In this essay paragraph, it’s necessary to clearly state your major argument, purpose of your academic assignment, and how you will approach a particular topic. Briefly explain the points that your paper outline covers, why targeted readers should feel interested in your subject, and answer a few basic questions. Why are you writing your essay? Is it a book review or a problem analysis?
  • Body paragraphs - in body paragraphs, you present strong arguments, develop relevant discussions to support your thesis, and make readers believe that your stance is correct. Find a few supporting facts for every major point. Start with a strong argument, write separate topic sentences and transitions.
  • What is a thesis? It declares your beliefs and what your essay will prove. A strong thesis can make a huge difference in retelling facts and your thoughtful academic assignment, so state it powerfully. It helps you focus your research because you should check many sources of information to identify key questions and choose suitable materials for your paper outline. Place your thesis at the end of your introduction.
  • A concluding paragraph - this section should reword or restate your thesis, sum up all arguments, and explain why you make a specific conclusion.

How to Write your Paper Outline

Start with ordering your major subtopics in a chronological or any other suitable order and label them with Roman numerals. Choose a few points for every category. Make this choice based on the purpose of your writing and all the supporting materials that you have because they will structure the second level of your paper outline. Indent and label them in letters.

Feel free to expand your ideas with sub-points if needed. If any of them are big topics that require extra details to explain, put them in the next level of your paper outline. Indent and label them in ordinary numbers.

Add more layers if needed and use lowercase letters, numbers, and lowercase Roman numerals to create your logical paper outline. Most students prefer to include 3-4 layers in their paper outline. Look at your prepared outline and think about a conclusion and if it matches the goals of writing your academic paper. Add more subtopics if you don’t have enough facts to support it.

Set important paper outline goals

Your essay can inform other people about a given topic, persuade them of your stance, or reflect on personal experiences. Set basic goals for your academic assignment and use these effective approaches:

  • Present causes and effects of any significant historical event (conduct your in-depth research);
  • Compare and contrast events, people, or books (apply your critical analysis skills);
  • Describe how personal experiences shaped you (practice excellent communication skills).

Gather supporting materials

They’re useful for your paper outline and final drafts. Pay attention to subtopics with relevant ideas, stats, or quotes because they will become major parts of your detailed plan. Note down where you get any information to avoid plagiarism.

Pick the best paper outline type

There are two basic options to choose from:

  • A sentence outline of your paper uses complete sentences, relies on many details, and lists separate bullet points;
  • A topic outline of your paper uses short phrases.

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