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Research paper outline

One of the key points while writing a research paper is being aware of how to write a research paper outline. A good detailed plan facilitates the whole writing, helping you to line up all your ideas, make them organized and not to lose the logic chain, as well as the train of thought.

How to write a research paper outline

When the research and making notes stages are done, you are to make a general plan, which is an outline of the writing, to know what order to follow. You need to define the length and the general scope of your paper not to exceed it, but make the outline as detailed as possible, setting off each and every point you are going to deal with on the basis of the notes that you have already classified and divided into logic groups.

Just like the paper itself, your outline will have three main sections: introduction, body and conclusion. All the rest depends on a number of factors as each paper may have a lot of variations. It may be a topic outline or a sentence outline. You may organize the ideas logically or chronologically. You may use the whole headings and subheadings or just key phrases. All these details should be cleared out beforehand. You should also know whether you are to make an APA research paper outline or MLA research paper outline, each having its own rules.

Research paper outline format

In order to know how to make a research paper outline correctly, you should be aware of various kinds of a research paper outline format, dealing with the headings, subheadings, numeration and indentation.

APA style research paper outline

APA style research paper outline traditionally uses the Roman numerals to mark the main headings, the capital letters to mark the subheadings, the Arab numerals and the lower-case numbers to mark the secondary and tertiary points and items. Also use indentations to make the outline look like this:

  • I. Heading
    • A. Subheading
      • 1. Details
        • a. Further division

Another way to arrange this is using the decimal outline, which is less common however. In this case your outline would look like this:

  • 1.0 Heading
    • 1.1 Subheading
    • 1.2 Another Subheading
      • 1.2.1 Details
      • 1.2.2 More details

An effective APA outline should also follow four main rules: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

  • Make your main headings parallel by using the same structure with the parallel stylistics, linguistics and appearance (if the first word of the heading I is a verb, it should be a verb in heading II as well);
  • Make them coordinate by giving them the equal significance;
  • Subheadings should subordinate with the headings, presenting more specific information but being equal in their significance;
  • Divide each heading and subheading in not less than two parts.

MLA style research paper outline

A research paper outline MLA format does not differ much from that one of APA style. If you have more than four levels, the further division will be marked with the lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv…). All the other rules will be just the same.

Outline examples for research papers

If you chance to face any kind of problem with your capital punishment, prostitution, uniform, drug abuse, religion, creationism, violence or abortion research paper outline, you may use our outline examples for research papers, sample research paper outline or research paper outline template available at our website. We can always prompt on how to do a research paper outline to make it a good middle school research paper outline, high school research paper outline, college research paper outline or university research paper outline.