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No matter what your area of study is, an outline can be helpful not only for organizing your thoughts but also as a blueprint for your entire paper. A research paper outline provides a visual summary of all the pertinent details of your research under your article or paper. It is essentially a skeleton verse of the actual paper and will guide you through the entire process.

How would you make an framework to your paper?

Breaking down your essay, research, or any other paper into different sections such as Introduction, Body, Conclusion, etc., can improve your organization and reduce the chances of important information being overlooked or unintentionally omitted. Moreover, dividing the essay into these sections allows you to tackle specific parts separately and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

The structure of an outline remains similar regardless of whether you are composing a research paper or a more general essay. In fact, the structure of a research outline is almost identical to that of a research paper outline. To become more acquainted with the structure of an outline, you can examine sample research papers available online. Additionally, the USC guide to creating an outline can also be helpful..

An outline typically consists of three main components: the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion. While this may seem simple, it is important to keep in mind that each section has a specific purpose, and how you organize your information within the outline will impact the overall flow and structure of your paper.

The three main components of a research paper outline are the Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Each section serves a specific purpose and how you organize the information in your outline will determine how your paper flows.

The Introduction is crucial in grabbing the reader’s attention and presenting the topic with a thesis statement to “hook” the reader. The Body is the most substantial part of the essay and includes fact-rich paragraphs or subsections that expand on the thesis statement by providing evidence to support your argument. This section should also discuss the methods used to conduct research and provide answers to questions posed.

An expository expression outline should also be considered to document the literary sources used to support your thesis and ensure that the topic of your paper is contiguous. The Methodology and Literature sections should also be included to highlight your results and any other factors that were uncovered during your research. Using charts or tables to illustrate your findings is an option, but make sure to explain them to your readers.

Lastly, you will write your Conclusion, which should summarize the main points addressed in the paper and reiterate the thesis statement. It is also essential to mention any future research that could be conducted in this area.

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How to Format a Research Paper

There are various resources available to access research paper examples, and depending on your field of study, there are numerous potential topics to choose from.

However, merely compiling a bunch of text and citations into a document will not suffice to produce a great research paper, as evident from examining any high-quality research paper example. Achieving a passing grade requires conducting thorough research on the topic and ensuring that all sources are accurately cited. Additionally, proper formatting of the research essay is crucial to creating a finished product that reads professionally written and appears visually appealing. The following guidelines will assist you in crafting a research paper that meets these standards.

Formatting A Research Paper

Here are some guidelines to follow for formatting your research paper:

  1. Use good quality 8 1/2″ x 11″ white paper, and only print on one side of the page.
  2. Leave a 1″ margin on all sides of each page, with the exception of page numbers which should be placed 1/2″ from the top right-hand corner, flush with the right margin. This margin is about 10 typed spaces.
  3. While a title page is not necessary unless your teacher requests it, you may start your essay 1″ from the top of the first page and flush your title against the left margin. Double-space, and then on separate lines, flush with the left margin, include your name, your teacher’s name, your course code, and the date. If your instructor prefers the first page of your essay to not be numbered, you can start numbering with page 2.
  4. Number your pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, flush with the right margin and 1/2″ from the top. Use your last name before the page number in case the pages get separated. For example, on page 4 of your essay, your header should read: Jones 4.
    When numbering pages, use Arabic numerals and keep it simple. Do not decorate or add any embellishments. Avoid underlining, enclosing in hyphens, parentheses, or asterisks, or using “Page,” “Pg.,” “P.,” or adding a period after the number. Simply write the page number in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin.
  5. The MLA recommends adding your last name before the page number in case pages become separated. For example, on page 4, your page number should read “Jones 4.”
  6. If submitting your essay via email, your instructor may ask you to number your paragraphs consecutively for easy reference. Use [1] before your first paragraph, [2] before your second paragraph, and so on. Electronic submissions are becoming more common, and this system helps to quickly reference sources by identifying a specific paragraph.
  7. Regardless of whether your essay is handwritten, typed, or printed, double-space the entire text with 1-inch margins on all sides. This allows your teacher to write comments and feedback.
  8. In general, use one space between words and one space after each comma, semi-colon, or colon. Traditionally, two spaces were required at the end of each sentence if it ended with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point.
  9. Although it is acceptable to leave two spaces after a period, it is not necessary nowadays. However, no space should be left before a punctuation mark. For example, the following would be incorrect: op. Cit. or “Why me?”
  10. Indentation is an important aspect of formatting your essay. If you are writing your essay by hand, make sure to double space all lines and begin each paragraph with an indentation of approximately one inch from the left margin. You can use the width of your thumb as a guide.
  11. If you are using a typewriter or a word processor on a computer, indent each paragraph by five spaces or half an inch from the left margin. If you have set-off quotations, indent them by 10 spaces or one inch from the left margin.
  12. Your instructor may allow you to choose whether or not to indent your paragraphs, but whatever option you choose, make sure to be consistent throughout your essay.
  13. If you choose not to indent your paragraphs, then you should begin each paragraph flush with the left margin. To make it clear where a new paragraph starts, you need to double space between lines and quadruple space between paragraphs. When you have block quotations, they should still be indented 10 spaces or 1″ from the left margin.
  14. When referencing full-length works such as novels, plays, or books in your paper, underline the titles, for example, Shakespeare’s plays.

  15. For shorter works such as newspaper, journal, and magazine articles, chapters of books, or essays, use quotation marks, for example: “Handing Over the Earth: Western Missionaries Make a Difference in India.”

  16. When formatting title citations, capitalize every word except articles (such as “a”, “an”, “the”), prepositions (like “in”, “on”, “under”, “over”), and conjunctions (such as “and”, “because”, “but”, “however”), unless they are at the beginning of the title or subtitle. For instance: “And Yet Something Completely Different: A Hedgehog Hospital.”

  17. If you’re unsure about whether a word is a preposition, conjunction, noun, verb, or verb modifier, consult a dictionary. For example, “near” can be an adverb, adjective, verb, or preposition depending on how it’s used.For more complex details on how to cite titles and quotations within titles, holy texts, abbreviated titles, exceptions to the rule, etc. in this manner, keeping a comprehensive list and organization of all tools can be helpful.

  18. Avoid writing or typing everything in capital letters, even if it saves you time and effort. Learn when to use capital letters and when not to, instead of relying on the Caps Lock key. Some people write everything in capital letters because they never learned to use upper and lower-case letters correctly in elementary school. Others use all capital letters to make their writing appear important. However, reading a paper that is mostly written in capital letters, especially one without spaces following punctuation marks, slows down reading speed and can significantly decrease reader comprehension, besides being very annoying to the reader. Remember that the purpose of writing anything is to communicate. Most of us are not accustomed to reading most text in capital letters. Word processors also treat words stuck together without spaces as single words, creating other problems.
  19. A brief essay or research paper does not require a table of contents.

    However, for longer written works such as books or extensive research papers, including a table of contents can be helpful for readers. The suggested order for including sections in a table of contents are: Acknowledgements, Foreword, Introduction, Body (Parts I, II, III), Conclusion, Afterword, Endnotes, Appendices, Contact Organizations, Glossary, Bibliography, and Index.

    A simpler table of contents may include the following sections: Introduction, Main Body (using primary section headings), Conclusion, Works Cited (or References), along with the corresponding page numbers for each section.

    Here’s a possible rewrite:

    Table of Contents

    Introduction: Page 1
    Government: Page 3
    Economy: Page 6
    Arts and Entertainment: Page 10
    Conclusion: Page 14
    Works Cited: Page 15

  20. To keep your essay together, staple the sheets of paper at the upper left-hand corner. If a stapler is not available, use a paper clip instead. Do not fold the paper or use a pin. Avoid submitting your paper in a folder, binder, plastic jacket, rolled up with an elastic band, or tied with a ribbon or string, unless your teacher specifically requests it. Also, refrain from using scented paper or spraying perfume or cologne on your paper. Additionally, avoid submitting your research or term paper in loose sheets, even if they are numbered and neatly placed in an envelope or folder.
  21. Remember that the condition of your paper reflects the level of respect you have for yourself and your teacher. Therefore, before submitting your paper, ask yourself if it is the best work that you can produce.

Final Note on Your Essay

Every research paper is unique due to the varying viewpoints and educational level of each author, even when covering the same topic. To submit a great essay, a research paper outline can be helpful, regardless of your grade level or assigned topic. The outline should consist of subheadings and headings in bulleted form, with as much detail as possible. Crossing out each section as it is completed will aid in ensuring thoroughness.

The structure of a research paper typically includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. In the introduction, the topic or issue is briefly introduced along with the methodology being used, the thesis statement, a review of all sources used, and an explanation of the relevance of the research. The body of the paper includes detailed and thorough information about the main points of the argument, with each paragraph representing a different point. Finally, the conclusion offers a brief summary of the main points or facts mentioned in the body, a reiteration of the thesis statement, and a closing remark or thought.