Research paper outline

How to Write a Research Paper Outline: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

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Writing a Paper: Outlining

Outlining your first draft by listing each paragraph’s topic sentence can be an easy way to ensure that each of your paragraphs is serving a specific purpose in your paper. You may find opportunities to combine or eliminate potential paragraphs when outlining—first drafts often contain repetitive ideas or sections that stall, rather than advance, the paper’s central argument.

Additionally, if you are having trouble revising a paper, making an outline of each paragraph and its topic sentence after you have written your paper can be an effective way of identifying a paper’s strengths and weaknesses.

Example Outline

The following outline is for a 5-7 page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and health. Review the other sections of this page for more detailed information about each component of this outline!

I. Introduction

A. Current Problem: Educational attainment rates are decreasing in the United States while healthcare costs are increasing.
B. Population/Area of Focus: Unskilled or low-skilled adult workers
C. Key Terms: healthy, well-educated

Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (cite sources) and general susceptibility to depression (cite sources), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.

II. Background

A. Historical Employment Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were frequently unionized and adequately compensated for their work (cite sources).
B. Historical Healthcare Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were often provided adequate healthcare and benefits (cite sources).
C. Current Link between Education and Employment Type: Increasingly, uneducated workers work in unskilled or low-skilled jobs (cite sources).
D. Gaps in the Research: Little information exists exploring the health implications of the current conditions in low-skilled jobs.

III. Major Point 1: Conditions of employment affect workers’ physical health.

A. Minor Point 1: Unskilled work environments are correlated highly with worker injury (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Unskilled work environments rarely provide healthcare or adequate injury recovery time (cite sources).

IV. Major Point 2: Conditions of employment affect workers’ mental health

A. Minor Point 1: Employment in a low-skilled position is highly correlated with dangerous levels of stress (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress is highly correlated with mental health issues (cite sources).

V. Major Point 3: Physical health and mental health correlate directly with one another.

A. Minor Point 1: Mental health problems and physical health problems are highly correlated (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources)

VI. Major Point 4: People with more financial worries have more stress and worse physical health.

A. Minor Point 1: Many high-school dropouts face financial problems (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Financial problems are often correlated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such unhealthy food choices, overconsumption/abuse of alcohol, chain smoking, abusive relationships, etc. (cite sources).

VII. Conclusion

A. Restatement of Thesis: Students who drop out of high school are at a higher risk for both mental and physical health problems throughout their lives.
B. Next Steps: Society needs educational advocates; educators need to be aware of this situation and strive for student retention in order to promote healthy lifestyles and warn students of the risks associated with dropping out of school.


Your introduction provides context to your readers to prepare them for your paper’s argument or purpose. An introduction should begin with discussion of your specific topic (not a broad background overview) and provide just enough context (definitions of key terms, for example) to prepare your readers for your thesis or purpose statement.

Sample Introduction/Context: If the topic of your paper is the link between educational attainment and health, your introduction might do the following: (a) establish the population you are discussing, (b) define key terms such as healthy and well-educated, or (c) justify the discussion of this topic by pointing out a connection to a current problem that your paper will help address.

Thesis/Purpose Statement

A thesis or purpose statement should come at the end of your introduction and state clearly and concisely what the purpose or central argument of your paper is. The introduction prepares your reader for this statement, and the rest of the paper follows in support of it.

Sample Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (Smith, 2010) and general susceptibility to depression (Jones, 2011), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.


After the initial introduction, background on your topic often follows. This paragraph or section might include a literature review surveying the current state of knowledge on your topic or simply a historical overview of relevant information. The purpose of this section is to justify your own project or paper by pointing out a gap in the current research which your work will address.

Sample Background: A background section on a paper on education and health might include an overview of recent research in this area, such as research on depression or on decreasing high school graduation rates.

Major & Minor Points

Major points are the building blocks of your paper. Major points build on each other, moving the paper forward and toward its conclusion. Each major point should be a clear claim that relates to the central argument of your paper.

Sample Major Point: Employment and physical health may be a good first major point for this sample paper. Here, a student might discuss how dropping out of high school often leads to fewer employment opportunities, and those employment opportunities that are available tend to be correlated with poor work environments and low pay.

Minor points are subtopics within your major points. Minor points develop the nuances of your major points but may not be significant enough to warrant extended attention on their own. These may come in the form of statistics, examples from your sources, or supporting ideas.

Sample Minor Point: A sample minor point of the previous major point (employment and physical health) might address worker injury or the frequent lack of health insurance benefits offered by low-paying employers.

The rest of the body of your paper will be made up of more major and minor points. Each major point should advance the paper’s central argument, often building on the previous points, until you have provided enough evidence and analysis to justify your paper’s conclusion.

More Major and Minor Points: In this paper, more major points might include mental health of high school dropouts, healthcare access for dropouts, and correlation between mental and physical health. Minor topics could include specific work environments, job satisfaction in various fields, and correlation between depression and chronic illness.


Your conclusion both restates your paper’s major claim and ties that claim into a larger discussion. Rather than simply reiterating each major and minor point, quickly revisit your thesis statement and focus on ending the paper by tying your thesis into current research in your field, next steps for other researchers, your broader studies, or other future implications.

Sample Conclusion: For this paper, a conclusion might restate the central argument (the link between lack of education and health issues) and go on to connect that discussion to a larger discussion of the U.S. healthcare or education systems.

Outlining Video

Note that this video was created while APA 6 was the style guide edition in use. There may be some examples of writing that have not been updated to APA 7 guidelines.

How to Write a Research Paper Outline: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a research paper outline is a rather challenging but usual part of student’s life. Every student has to spend a lot of time in order to create a successful well thought out research paper.

A research paper has to reflect your position on the topic and persuade the readers in its accuracy and truthfulness.
A research paper outline is a helpful point-by-point plan, which makes your research paper writing services easier.

However, before proceeding to an outline you will have to take some pre-writing steps. They will be helpful in composing the best quality outline and, as a result, a great academic work.

Before writing an research paper outline:

  • Select an appropriate topic. Selecting a topic is a crucial factor for a successful research paper. Whether you select a topic yourself or not, it should work to your strengths and not weaknesses. An appropriate topic should be interesting to you and appeal to or provoke readers. As to choosing the best essay topics for your research paper, we have professional writers, who offer personalized help or even essay writing service if you need it.
  • State your argument. After selecting a topic, take some time to figure out what kind of argument you want to support. You need to understand why it is important to you and why it might be important to others. Ask yourself – what is the aim of my thesis statement? Can it provoke a meaningful discussion that might change the world? How can I build a research paper on this argument? As soon as you have answers for these questions, you are almost ready to create a good outline for a successful research paper.
  • Define the audience. Of course, most of the time only your professor will read a research paper you have created. However, you need to understand readers of your paper. Will the professor support your argument or will he have a counterargument? When defining your audience, you will comprehend what type of language is better to use: will the use of jargon be appropriate or is it better to stick with formal language? The overall style and tone of your research paper depend on the audience it is aimed at.
  • Conduct a research. There is no research paper without proper and thorough research. You will have to investigate a lot of resources in order to find effective evidence to support your argument. Firstly, you will have to find general information to support your thesis statement, then you will have to dig deeper. You will have to be aware of any counter arguments and evidence supporting them. This way you will master the topic and comprehend the pitfalls of your thesis statement better.
  • Organize references. References are the evidence of each of your arguments and the research you have conducted. You should prioritize them according to the importance and relevance to your thesis statement.

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Writing a good research paper outline

When you are finished with pre-writing activities, created a good research paper topic, you are more than ready to make an effective research paper outline. An outline is a basement of your research paper from which you build up the whole paper. Each outline consists of three main parts the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion. For a successful and high-quality research paper, however, the more detailed outline you use the better.

The simplest diagram of an outline looks like this:


  • Hook
  • Define the audience.
  • Thesis statement.


  • An argument to support the thesis.
  • An argument to support the thesis.
  • An argument to support the thesis.


  • Summary of arguments.
  • Call to action.

A research paper outline: step-by-step guide


The introduction is an important part of every academic work. It determines whether a reader is going to continue with your paper or just give it a rest. An introduction should be intriguing, engaging, and informative, although without giving away too much. There are three main points that make an impressive Introduction:

  • Hook. Depending on the overall volume of your research paper, a hook can be from one to five sentences long. This the part that persuades readers to read the paper. A hook should be interesting and provoking – you need your readers to want to read your research paper.
  • Define the audience. In your pre-writing activities, you had to define the audience for yourself – you had to understand who would be interested in reading your paper. Here, however, you need to explain to your reader why she or he is your target audience. The Introduction and the whole text, for that matter, should be relatable.
  • Thesis statement. Here you state your argument. You make a clear point about what you are going to discuss and why is it important. Your thesis statement should be clear and simple but never dull. You want the readers to read your paper especially after the research you have conducted and materials you have gone through.

The Body is the main part of the research paper outline you are writing. It has no volume limitation, as it is the biggest and main section of the paper. The quantity of paragraphs for this part depends on overall requested volume of the research paper: the more arguments you have to support the bigger Body section there should be.

All the evidence you have found during the research should go here. You state each idea and provide efficient evidence. Do not state something you have no ways of proving! Each statement you give has to be backed up with the proof. Do not forget about valid references and proper citation according to the required paper format.

You can mention counterarguments to your ideas and provide evidence why they are not correct. Opposing facts prove your deep knowledge on the topic and that you have really conducted a thorough research. This will show your commitment to the challenging tasks and create quite an impressive academic reputation.

Do not forget about the style and the tone of your research paper, which you have stated in the introduction. The paper should be consistent from the beginning to the very end. The manner, pattern, and techniques should be the same throughout the paper. However, remember to be creative and use various language techniques to make your paper interesting to read. Take into consideration that there is a high chance that your professor knows everything about the subject. Nonetheless, your paper needs to be addressed to the reader unfamiliar with the topic and the thesis statement of your choice. This again will show your deep knowledge on the matter. Be sure to explain everything clearly without sounding too dull in the process.

Stuck on Your Research Paper Outline?

Check out these research paper example.


The conclusive part of the research paper has to summarize the arguments so the readers digest the main idea and remember it for a long time. The conclusion should not be long but should contain all the important parts to make the whole paper sink into readers’ memory.

How To Write a Research Paper Outline (With Examples and Tips)

Creating research paper outlines before beginning school, scholarship, or contest essays can greatly simplify the writing process. Regardless of length or complexity, research paper outlines help organize your thinking. Taking the time to develop this skill will pay dividends throughout schooling and into some careers. This article will discuss the process of crafting a quality research paper outline to consistently structure winning essays.

Why use an outline?

Outlines are visual aids that assist writers in organizing essays. Most outlines contain the key points of each paragraph, the thesis, topic sentences, and supporting sentences, quotes or citations. Writers use outlines to visualize the elements of their essay and see how they fit together. While many high school and college research papers are five paragraphs in length, longer papers are often variations on this format. Consequently, familiarity with the five-paragraph essay should ease the transition to longer papers.

How to write a research paper outline

After identifying a topic, determine the type of research paper you’ll be writing. Common formats include descriptive essays, are argumentative essays and comparative essays. Fortunately, the structures for all three are very similar. Below, are several steps that will help you craft an outline.

Determine the type of essay you’ll be writing. Research essays for high school are early college are often five paragraphs in length and are either descriptive or argumentative.

Determine your topic. Many times, instructors provide topics for students. The best topics are those that are of interest to your reader and are arguable.

, resources and references.

Complete any necessary research or investigations.

Organize your outline by using one of the following styles: full sentence or alpha-numeric. Alpha-numeric outlines provide less detail than full sentence outlines. There are examples of both below.

Consider using parallel structure. Each section of the outline should begin with the same type of word–nouns or verbs, for example. If using verbs, be certain to use the same tense.

Think in terms of the five-paragraph essay, even if your paper is longer. Essential sections include an introduction, body paragraphs that directly address the thesis and a conclusion.

Craft your introductory sentence. This is one of the most important sentences of your paper, second only to the thesis. This sentence should generate interest while introducing your topic.

Add the ideas–or full sentences–for at least three supporting sentences, quotations, or citations.

Create an arguable thesis. This is typically the final sentence in the introduction and contains three points. For example, “The film Rosemary’s Baby is a masterpiece because of its use of atmospheric horror, its visual symbols, and the surprise ending.”

Outline a paragraph to support each point in the thesis. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that sequentially addresses points in the thesis. For example, the first body paragraph in an essay using the thesis above may be: “Rosemary’s Baby was among the first films to successfully use several cinematic elements to create atmospheric horror.”

Begin the concluding paragraph by restating the paper’s thesis. For example, “For the reasons outlined above, Rosemary’s Baby was a masterpiece of modern cinematic horror.”

Add the ideas–or full sentences–for at least two sentences that summarize you essay.

End the conclusion with a declarative statement or by making suggestions for future research.

Consider compare/contrast essays. The structure for a compare and contrast essay is slightly different. Typically, such papers consist of an introduction, a paragraph of similarities, a paragraph to discuss differences, and a conclusion.

Consider advanced organizers for longer essays. In such cases, each point of the thesis may be developed through multiple paragraphs; these may be introduced through an advanced organizer, headings, and subheadings.

Example research paper outlines

In most cases, you won’t turn in your outline. As such, It’s okay to modify it as often as necessary. While a well-crafted outline using parallel structure looks nice, its most important function is to help you write. Maintaining a consistent style and format is less important than using the elements most helpful to you.

Research outline example one

The example below provides a basic template for five paragraph research papers.

A. Introductory sentence

B. Supporting sentence, citation or quote

C. Supporting sentence, citation, or quote

Most often, a thesis contains three points

II. Body Paragraph I

A. Topic sentence related to first point of thesis

B. Supporting sentence 1 or quote with explanation

C. Supporting sentence 2 or quote with explanation

D. Supporting sentence 3 or quote with explanation

III. Body Paragraph II

A. Topic sentence related to second point of thesis

B. Supporting sentence 1 or quote with explanation

C. Supporting sentence 2 or quote with explanation

D. Supporting sentence 3 or quote with explanation

IV. Body Paragraph III

A. Topic sentence related to third point of thesis

B. Supporting sentence 1 or quote with explanation

C. Supporting sentence 2 or quote with explanation

D. Supporting sentence 3 or quote with explanation

A. Restate thesis in a new way

B. Supporting sentence 1

C. Supporting sentence 2

D. Final thoughts, including ideas for future research or additional questions

Research outline example 2

The example below is for a paper that makes the argument that using a ketogenic diet may reduce the incidence of certain disease. In this case, certain topics may be expanded into separate paragraphs. It uses a full sentence, parallel structure.

I. Introductory paragraph

A. In the United States, health experts have increasingly looked at diet as a causal factor in diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

B. The prevalence of diabetes, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis in the United States is increasing. (Journal of Health statistics)

C. The ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet.

Describe ketogenic parameters for:

The ketogenic diet may decrease the prevalence of disease by controlling blood sugar, reducing the intake of refined foods, and limiting excessive protein intake.

II. Body Paragraph I

A. The ketogenic diet successfully helps adherents control blood sugar.

B. Increased carbohydrate intake negatively affects blood sugar, insulin and correlates with certain disease.

C. Restricting carbohydrate intake improves measures of fasting blood sugar, insulin response and appears to reduce the instance of certain disease.

D. Several studies have examined the effects of the ketogenic diet, blood sugar, and disease severity.

Describe 16-week ketogenic diet study on diabetes and blood sugar control (McMurray, 2019)

Describe 24-week ketogenic diet study on Alzheimer’s and blood sugar control (McMurray 2016)

III. Body Paragraph II

A. In addition to possible disease-modifying benefits of blood sugar control, the ketogenic diet may prevent disease by reducing adherents’ consumption of processed food.

B. The ketogenic diet reduces consumption of processed food

C. There is a correlation between consuming processed food and multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

D. Replacing processed food with unprocessed food leads to a decrease in the prevalence of certain diseases (Journal of Diabetes and Weight Management, 2016)

IV. Body Paragraph III

A. Finally, the ketogenic diet may reduce the occurrence of disease by reducing the overconsumption of protein.

B. Excess protein consumption may contribute to disease.

Excess protein creates a burden for the kidneys.

Excess protein consumption is predictive of heart disease.

C. The ketogenic diet moderates protein consumption.

D. Studies find there are benefits of decreased protein consumption on disease.

Describe 30-week correlational study on decreased protein consumption and kidney function (McMurtry, West, and Johnson, 2015)

A. In conclusion, the ketogenic diet may reduce disease through its roles in reducing carbohydrate and protein intake, as well as aiding in blood sugar management.

B. Summarize research on how the following contribute to disease:

Reduction in carbohydrate intake and blood sugar management

Reduction in processed food intake and disease

Reduction in excess protein consumption and disease

C. Review how ketogenic diet may be beneficial because it:

Reduces protein consumption

Reduces processed food intake

Reduces excess protein consumption

D. Research appears to suggest that there is a relationship between a ketogenic diet and a decrease in variables that may contribute to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.

Research outline example 3

This example is a brief, topical outline of reasons why schools should use technology for educational purposes.

A. The increasing role of technology in careers

B. The need for technologically literate citizens

C. The role of educators to prepare students must include technology literacy

D. The benefits of technology for students include

Allows for new types of assignments

Allows for remote learning

Reflects modern careers

II. Body paragraph one

A. Technology allows for simulations, games, and programming

B. Examples of simulation

C. Examples of games

D. Examples of programming

III. Body paragraph two

A. Technology allows for distance learning

B. Examples of remote learning

C. Example of hybrid learning

Students at school and at home

D. Examples of remote collaborations

Across cities, states, districts

IV. Body paragraph three

A. Technology is an important part of many careers

B. Technology prevalence in work (cite Johnson, et. al., 2018)

C. Examples of school projects that mimic work projects (STEM Camp, Boulder Schools, 2012)

D. Examples of schools using technology for problem-solving

A. Three reasons to encourage technology in school

Preparation for careers

B. Summary of innovative uses of technology

C. Summary of support for using technology in schools

Belcher (2016) found increased technology use led to better math scores on PSAT

D. Ideas for future research

More studies on the effect of technology and test scores

a. Using technology as an intervention for struggling students

Research paper outline example 4

The following example is for a five-paragraph compare and contrast essay on driving vs using public transportation. It uses the full sentence structure. Research could investigate the specific costs of each type of transportation, their environmental impact, and the value of convenience.

A. Many people use both private and public transportation.

B. Most large cities have busses, subways, and elevated trains that travel within walking distance of many city centers.

C. There are millions of cars on the road, attesting to their popularity.

D. This paper will examine the similarities and differences between public and private transportation.

II. Body paragraph one (similarities)

A. There are several similarities between public and private automobile transportation.

B. Both have direct and indirect costs.

C. Both get you where you need to be.

D. Both mostly burn fossil fuels.

III. Body paragraph two (differences)

A. There are several differences between public and private automobile transportation.

B. The daily costs of maintaining an automobile are higher.

C. The net environmental impact of using public transportation is less, therefore it is better for the environment.

D. Public transportation requires adhering to the public transportation schedule.

E. Private transportation is more convenient, allowing for greater freedom.

IV. Summary of findings

A. While public transportation does have advantages, driving is superior.

B. Driving allows for greater freedom.

C. Driving is more convenient

D. Driving accommodates those with special physical needs

E. Driving saves time

A. This paper examined the similarities and differences between using private and public transportation.

B. Advantages of public transportation include cost and environmental considerations.

C. Advantages of private transportation include convenience, speed, time savings.

Ways to overcome the advantages of public transportation:

a. Reduce environmental impact by buying an electric car, carpooling, or ride-sharing.

b. Reduce the cost of driving by ride-sharing, buying a reliable used car, driving infrequently.

D. In conclusion, both types of transportation have their respective advantages and disadvantages; for reasons outlined above, however, I believe driving is preferable to public transportation.

Research Paper Outline. A Guide to How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

Can you imagine cooking your favourite meal for the first time without having step-by-step instructions? It is easy to get lost! Just like a wanderer who cannot find a way out of the woods, a writer needs to know how to write an outline for a research paper. It will prevent one from facing writer’s block. In this article, we are going to discuss what does an outline look like, what’s it concept and goals and view some vivid examples.

However, if you have no time or desire to work on a paper, our online essay writers can create the best outline for a research paper. Find out more about our paper writing service.

Concept & Goals of a Research Paper Outline

What is an outline and why does it matter? A research paper outline is a plan written by the author to avoid stucking in the middle of the process. Call it an action plan. This part reveals the primary ideas of the study. Once a writer is done with the list of research paper topics to explore, it is necessary to dedicate some time to the outline development.

What is the difference between learning how to write a research paper outline and how to make a table of contents? Well, an outline is not that detailed, and there is no need to put numbers of pages next to each section. An outline allows the amalgamation and review of the study. A writer will not repeat their words; he will stick to the logical flow with the help of an outline.

The assignment’s prompt may not say to write an outline. However, if a project is more than 1000 words in length, a professor utilizes a research paper outline by default. For example, a 5-paragraph essay requires an outline. It will not be possible to develop a 10,000-word coursework or dissertation without having a plan. An outline structure depends on the type of academic assignment and its format.

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MLA Research Paper Outline

MLA is the easiest and most frequently met research paper format, so we should start explaining how to write an outline for a research paper on this example. The Modern Language Association proposed this guide a long time ago. It is used to cite works by the students and professionals from the following fields:

  • Comparative literary analysis
  • Cultural studies
  • History & Anthropology
  • English Composition
  • Literature
  • Foreign language & literature
  • Literary criticism

Use MLA outline when working on the papers from these fields. Start with the primary headings (“Intro” and “Method”) using the upper-case Roman numerals. If the paper is long, with many different subsections, the student should use letters and numbers for the various levels of subheadings.

In a draft, arrange the things in the proper order. Do not go into details until starting the final version of the research paper outline. This part defines how the writer will come up with other integral parts (example: Literature Review).

Use a couple of tips from college professors.

  1. Depending on the tool a writer uses to create documents, he/she should make sure if the different levels of the outline (II, B, 3, c, j) correspond to the headings in the Microsoft Word as most professors accept only DOC & DOCS format.
  2. MLA changes its writing guide! Before developing an outline for a research paper, read a recently released version of the manual to see if there are any changes to this resaerch paper format.

Mastering APA Research Paper Outline

An APA is a most frequently used format when it comes to writing a research paper, and it is more complicated than MLA. The American Psychological Association has established it. Students and professionals use APA essay format in these fields:

  • Psychology
  • Social sciences
  • Humanities
  • Healthcare & nursing
  • Education

The representatives of other fields apply APA paper format from time to time too. We have prepared a tasty infographic with an APA outline example, which is based on the 6th edition of the manual.

Let’s view that structure in details.

A Detailed Outline

There are several critical elements you should consider in your research paper:

It is the opening section to introduce the major details. The length of the recommended title is 60 characters. On the whole, do not miss this information in the title page:

  • Your full name
  • Professor’s name
  • Peers who took part in the investigation (if any)
  • Submission date

A summary is an integral part of the research paper. In college, they call it an abstract. The length of such text should not exceed 250-300 words (1/3 of an A4 page), and a student should include the basic findings, their significance, and a brief conclusion.

Experts recommend painstaking the entire research into the investigation’s background. Try to explain why the chosen problem is necessary to analyze and discuss. Mention the results you expected to obtain during the working process, and state a hypothesis that should enclose the introduction (it would be the thesis). Also, don’t forget to mention the thesis statement or the topic of your research.

List the tools, equipment, & techniques used to carry out a study. This section should make it possible to replicate the investigation step-by-step. The goal of the section is to allow other scientists interested in the same research question to continue the investigation.

In most cases, master paper writers combine results and discussion in one huge section. They are interrelated. Start with sharing the findings of the study. Go on interpreting the meaning of the results for the society and provide a short synopsis of the main components: figures and statistical examinations. While adding any visual elements for understanding (graphs, images, etc.), place the numbers next to each of them to provide details in the last section — Appendix.

In the Conclusion part, it is necessary to include:

  • A summary of the results
  • Paraphrased thesis statement
  • Value of the research paper
  • Ways to implement the findings
  • Some forecasts
  • References

Based on the chosen paper format, develop a full list of references. Each time you cite something, write the source’s details on a separate piece of paper. It will speed up the process at the end.

Things to Remember

  • An outline is like an action plan which guides you through the writing process.
  • You need to write an outline if your assignment is more than 1000 words in lenght.
  • Basically, the outline contains three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion.
  • The outline format depends on the type of academic assignment (MLA, APA).
  • Before developing a research paper outline, read the latest version of the manual according to the chosen format of the research paper.

Research Paper Outline Example

Also, check free research paper outline template example: Developing an Attention-Grabbing Resume! The example is written according to APA writing style guidelines – the rules of the game maybe be different for other formats.

APA Research Paper Outline: Examples and Template

Formatting your paper in APA can be daunting if this is your first time. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers a guide or rules to follow when conducting projects in the social sciences or writing papers. The standard APA style to format research papers includes proper layout from the title page to the final reference pages. There are formatting samples to create outlines before writing a paper. Amongst other strategies, creating an outline is the easiest way to format your paper.

Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?

Consistency in the sequence, structure, and format when writing a research paper encourages readers to concentrate on the substance of a paper rather than the manner in which it is presented. The requirements for paper format apply to both student assignments and papers that are submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed publication. APA Style may be used to create a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation. If you plan to use the style for other types of work like a website, conference poster, or even PowerPoint presentation, you must format your work accordingly to adjust to requirements. For example, you may need to use different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the formatting rules provided by your institution or publication to ensure that its formatting standards are followed as closely as possible. However, to logically structure your document, you need a proper APA paper outline format. You may ask: why is it necessary to create an outline for an APA research paper?

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Concept & Purposes of Research Paper Outline

A path, direction, or an action plan! It may seem easy to write short essays without a layout, but not for 10,000 or more words. Yet, confusing a table of contents with an outline is a major issue. The table of contents is an orderly list of all front matter, primary, and back matter of the chapters. It includes sections and, often, figures in your work, labeled by page number. On the other hand, a research paper outline is a proper structure to follow.

Purpose of research paper outline

An outline is a formalized essay in which you give your own argument to support your point of view. And when you write your paper, you expand on what you already know about the topic. Academic writing papers examine an area of expertise to get the latest and most accurate information to work on that topic. It serves various purposes, including:

  • APA paper outline discusses the study’s core concepts.
  • The research paper outlines define the link between your ideas and the thesis.
  • It provides you with manageable portions that you can handle.
  • The research paper APA outline enables the detection of structural faults or gaps.
  • As shown in the example, it must offer a clear comprehension of the subject at hand.

APA outline example

Research Paper APA Outline

This research paper outline example will guide you in formatting the layout for a clear direction to work on. It eliminates the inconsistency along with lacking proper substance in the paper.

Understanding the APA Outline Format

It would not be wrong to say that there is no standard format for writing an outline. The official publishing handbook does not give precise guidelines for preparing an outline. But, it requires certain basic guidelines to follow when it comes to typeface, font size, structure, margins etc.

APA paper outline example

Moreover, the final shape of your work relies on your instructor’s specifications and your particular preferences for APA citation format. Though, it would be better to follow some standards for formatting your outline, for instance:

Times New Roman is a widely accessible standard typeface for an APA essay format in 12-point font. However, serif and sans serif fonts like Arial and Georgia are acceptable in font size 11pt.

Research Paper Outline – A Complete Guide with Examples

A research paper is a compulsory academic writing task. It is an important activity to check the writing and research abilities of students. However, it takes time to write a good research paper, so you need to create a plan before you start writing.

It is a bit tricky and hard to write an outline. You need to write it carefully, or the ideas will get mixed up. But after you do, it will be worth the work.


  • Research Paper Outline Example
  • Research Paper Outline Template
  • How to Write a Research Paper Outline?
  • Research Paper Outline Samples
  • Why is a Research Paper Outline Important?

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Research Paper Outline Example

A research paper outline could be created in several different ways. Here is a sample research paper outline for a quick review;

Research Paper Example: Typhoid and the Usefulness of Vaccination

  1. Introduction
    1. Definition of Typhoid
    2. Rise in the cases, especially in previously ‘clean’ places
    3. Data and Figures: Surge in the number of cases and number of patients
    1. The disease’s symptoms and time period
    2. Risk and chances of death, based on recent statistics
    3. How does Typhoid spread?
    1. Vaccination methods in different places
    2. The usefulness of vaccination – arguments regarding why it is recommended and why some groups are against it.
      1. Arguments related to opposing beliefs of different regions and groups
      2. Arguments related to details supporting the vaccination
      3. Discussion of a Typhoid case and usefulness of the vaccination
      1. Outbreaks in Canada, SIngapore, Australia, and UK
        1. The percentage of vaccinated people in the area
        1. Dangers of Typhoid as an initiator of other diseases
          1. Diseases that could occur as a result of Typhoid
          2. Rate of fatality after a person contracts Typhoid
          1. Summary of the main arguments
          2. Summary of the data and figures in association with the vaccination
          3. Main concluding statement
            1. How useful is the Typhoid vaccination in preventing the disease?

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            Research Paper Outline Template

            You can format your research paper outline in three different ways. Here is how to use each type of outline template for formatting;

            Alphanumeric Outline

            An alphanumeric outline uses Roman numerals, capital letters, lowercase letters, and arabic numerals.


            1. Paragraph 1
              1. First argument
                1. First sub-point
                  1. First sub-point of the sub-point 1

                  Full-sentence Outline

                  Each point is detailed and the text is written in full sentences.


                  1. First paragraph of the research paper
                    1. First claim to support the argument
                      1. Sub-point to discuss point A
                        1. Sub-point of subpoint1 to conclude the point A

                        Decimal Outline

                        The decimal outline uses numbers instead of letters.


                        1. First paragraph
                          1. 1.1. First point
                            1. 1.1.1. First sub-point
                            2. 1.1.2. Second sub-point

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                            How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

                            steps for a research paper outline

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                            The following is a detailed explanation of the steps to write a college research paper outline.

                            Cover or Title page

                            A paper should have the title in it. It should discuss what the paper is about and how it will help in proving the arguments. This section includes the following elements.

                            • Student’s full name
                            • Name of the instructor
                            • Course title and code
                            • Submission date


                            The abstract is a short summary of your paper. It should be five to six sentences long and includes the main information. It comes after the title page and mainly focuses on:

                            • The main arguments
                            • The research methods
                            • The subject matter
                            • Participants
                            • Outcomes

                            Ensure the abstract should not exceed the ⅓ of the page, i.e., about 150 to 200 words.

                            Table of Contents

                            The table of contents will summarize the chapters and sections in an organized manner. It also includes the title and descriptions of the headings and subheadings.

                            This section provides readers with a complete overview of the document’s contents. It is good to have a table of contents. It helps you know what is in your research paper, and it allows the audience to go directly to a specific section.

                            Research Paper Introduction

                            The introduction is the most important part of any research paper. It should present the topic and answer the research question. Similarly, it must also explain the importance of the subject matter for the audience.

                            The central aim is to grab the reader’s attention with the help of strong arguments. Thus, this section must be engaging and interesting enough.

                            Below are the four main elements to write a compelling introduction:

                            • A Hook – An engaging start to persuade the readers to read more. It is about 1 to 2 sentences in length.
                            • Background Information – It presents the historical background of the topic along with the general information for better understanding.
                            • Thesis Statement – It explains the major points of your paper that discuss why the topic is of great importance. Thus, it must be clear, specific, and to the point.
                            • Define the Audience – Understand and define your target audience. Explain the reasons why they are interested in reading your content.

                            Research Paper Body

                            The body is the main section of your research paper. It consists of several paragraphs that include the relevant information, examples, and evidence to support your argument.

                            You can also provide counterarguments and opposing facts. Such factors help the reader to get an idea about your understanding of the topic.

                            Make sure the paper should remain consistent from the beginning to the end. The style, tone, and citation should be according to the required format.

                            Literature Review

                            This section will explain how the literature you used to support your theory has influenced and helped guide your research. It also identifies the research gaps in the existing data.


                            Here, you will present the techniques and types of equipment that you have employed to carry out the research work. Keep in mind that the methods can vary according to the subject matter.

                            Thus, you need to give a detailed explanation of how you have conducted the research.


                            A good research paper has facts and figures to justify the argument. In this section, you will focus on the findings of your paper. Make sure to add as many facts, statistics, and numbers as possible.

                            Use tables and graphs to be more precise and structured. Remember to tell the audience how the outcome has contributed to the field of study as a whole.


                            Most students get confused between the results and discussion. There is a simple line that separates both.

                            Results focus on facts and figures. However, in the discussion section, a writer makes sure whether the expected results are achieved or not.

                            Research Paper Conclusion

                            The conclusion is the final part of your research work that summarizes the main arguments.

                            It also restates the thesis, goals, and methods used to achieve the results.

                            There is no need to provide a detailed explanation. Instead, just give a general overview. Also, formulate the prospect for future research and a call to action to provoke the readers.

                            Keep in mind; the conclusion should not be longer than the abstract.

                            Bibliography and Appendix

                            Mention all the sources that you have used in your text in the bibliography section. Similarly, add facts, tables, images, and charts in Appendix, but in some formats, the appendix is not required.

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                            Research Paper Outline Samples

                            Below you can find an example of an outline for a research paper to understand and create an outline for your own paper clearly.

                            Basic Outline for a Research Paper

                            Research Paper Outline for College Students

                            Research Paper Outline in MLA Format

                            Research Paper Outline in APA Format

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                            Why is a Research Paper Outline Important?

                            A research paper outline is basically a blueprint for a complete subject. It serves as a mindmap and a plan of action that most students follow throughout the writing process.

                            The following are the benefits of creating a well-structured outline.

                            • It organizes all the thoughts and ideas in one place.
                            • It provides a detailed structure for your future research work.
                            • It demonstrates your understanding and vision of a particular topic.
                            • The outline helps to avoid any possible mistakes by shaping a topic.
                            • It helps not to skip any important points.
                            • It gives an idea for the future headings of the paper.
                            • It provides an understanding of the flow of information and how ideas are related.
                            • It gives the audience a clear idea of what is included in the paper.

                            The above guide will help you to start writing an outline for your research paper. However, some students lack good writing skills and prefer to seek professional help.

                            This is where a lot of people get into trouble. In a hurry to meet the deadline, they end up ordering from an unreliable paper writing service.

                            So if you are in search of a legitimate service, is right here to help you. You can fully trust our reliable paper writing service. We are here to write your perfect outline of a research paper or even a complete research paper from scratch.

                            Moreover, our team has advanced qualifications and years of experience. They work with an aim to provide you with 100% original and zero plagiarism work.

                            What Is Research Paper Outline

                            Research paper outline helps in organizing the thoughts to write the research paper well. It is helpful is organizing the thinking process. Basically, it is used to make the proper sequencing of the research paper.

                            How To Write A Research Paper?

                            Most students need to write a research paper when they apply for PhD course. However, most students feel challenging task when they need to write a research paper because writing a research paper is not a cake walk as it requires lots of research. Scholars also need to find out the best research method for the research paper. Following are the defined steps for writing the research paper.

                            • First of all you need to identify the topic of research paper.
                            • Do the research to find out the best and authentic information.
                            • Write an outline which must include all the important thesis questions related to research paper topics.
                            • Craft an outline which must include the all the important parts of research paper writing.
                            • Write all the ideas in research paper writing.

                            What Are The Different Formats Of Outline Of Research Paper?

                            Research paper writing is one of the most critical tasks for the students. However students can write their research paper in a unique manner by considering some unavoidable points in the research paper writing. Following are the some established points for research paper writing.

                            • Outline for research paper APA: Students need to include an introduction, main body and conclusion in the research paper.
                            • Headings and subheadings must be written in capital letters while writing in APA format.
                            • APA follows 1 inch margin, double space, times new roman; in text citation and paragraph should start with indentation.
                            • MLA outline format: Outline is like a base line on which you need to write your MLA outline. Following are the points which must be included in MLA format: 1 inch margin with double spacing. You need to write your research paper in 12 font size and font style should be New times roman. Apart from this, you need to write title, thesis statement, headings and subheadings in the MLA outline format.
                            • College research paper outline: For writing college research paper outline, you need to craft title, abstract, introduction, body and bibliography in the college research paper outline.
                            • Research project outline: Research project outline also consist of introduction, background information, thesis statement and main ideas in the research project outline.

                            Read Also: What Are Research Limitations

                            What Is Research Paper Outline Example?

                            For getting more clarity on research paper outline you need to have a look at some example which will make you research paper more authentic. Research paper outlines consist of introduction, main body and conclusion.

                            How To Write A Good Research Paper Outline?

                            The students who are pursuing their research programme need to write a research paper to pass the degree. Most students feel challenging when they need to write a good research paper. Following are the some recommended points which must be included in the research paper writing.

                            • Maintain consistency: For writing the best research paper you need to maintain consistency to craft the research paper on time. Consistency is also helpful for coherent research papers.
                            • Organise the Data: Students need to organise the information while writing the research paper as it helpful in writing the well-crafted research paper.
                            • Structure a thesis sentence: Thesis sentence is an important part of essay writing because it can hold the readers at the research paper for a longer period of time.
                            • Craft an attractive outline: Research paper outline consist of introduction, body and conclusion.
                            • Start writing: Most students get scared when they need to write a research paper because most students do not start writing research paper because they think that they cannot produce the best research paper, so leave all the fear aside and start writing your research paper.
                            • Editing: Editing is one of the most important aspect of research paper writing. Before sending your research paper you need to check the document whether it grammatically correct or not, formation of sentence is correct or not. Apart from this, you also need to check whether your content is plagiarised or not.
                            • Get feedback from someone: Student must get feedback from someone from their family members to get feedback so that you can improve your research paper quality.
                            • Use authentic source of information: For writing research paper, you need to use authentic sources of information.
                            • Get help from your professors: For writing the best research paper, students can get help from professors to write the best and qualitative research paper.

                            Recommended: Research Paper Topics

                            What Is Thesis Outline Example?

                            Thesis writing requires in depth research and analysis before writing it. Most students get confused while writing their thesis outline. In order to write thesis outline you need to write an introduction, main body and conclusion.

                            What Mistake Should Be Avoided In Research Paper Writing?

                            Research paper writing is not a cake walk because many students find it challenging as it requires lots of research on a particular topic. However, if you know all the tricks and techniques of research writing, you will find it easier. Following are the some key points which must be avoided while writing research paper.

                            • Lack of research: Most students do not do proper research and start writing the research paper.
                            • Lack of strong thesis statement: Most students do not write strong thesis statement in the research paper which makes their research paper worse.
                            • Lack of authentic information: Finding authentic data for the research paper writing is a challenging task for the research scholars.

                            The students of research studies need to write a research paper to pass the degree that is why they need to get some expert input from research paper writing help service to it done with quality.

                            Research Paper Outline Examples

                            Below are examples of research paper outlines. Creating an outline is the first thing you should do before starting on your research paper.

                            This article is a part of the guide:

                            Browse Full Outline

                            Research Paper Outline Examples

                            Once you’ve decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion. The broader your topic is, the more difficult it is to discuss the full details. This is why you should establish early on the scope and limitations of your paper which will provide the foundation for your research paper outline.

                            Basically, your outline will constitute three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion. But to make sure your paper is complete, consult your instructor for specific parts they wants to be included in your research paper. Sample outlines for research papers will follow. But first, let’s discuss the main sections of your paper and what information each should cover.


                            The introduction should contain your thesis statement or the topic of your research as well as the purpose of your study. You may include here the reason why you chose that particular topic or simply the significance of your research paper’s topic. You may also state what type of approach it is that you’ll be using in your paper for the entire discussion of your topic. Generally, your Introduction should orient your readers to the major points the rest of the paper will be covering, and how.

                            The body of your paper is where you will be presenting all your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the “Rule of 3” which states that you should find 3 supporting arguments for each position you take. Start with a strong argument, followed by a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument as your final point.


                            The conclusion is where you form a summary of all your arguments so you can arrive at your final position. Explain and reiterate why you’ve ended up with the said conclusion.

                            Research Paper Outline Examples

                            As mentioned earlier, here are some sample outlines for research papers:

                            Sample #1

                            Thesis Topic: A Study on Factors Affecting the Infant Feeding Practices of Mothers in Las Pinas City

                            1. Introduction
                              1. Statement of the Problem
                              2. Definition of Terms
                              3. Theoretical Framework
                              4. Methodology
                                1. Type of Research
                                2. Respondents
                                3. Questionnaire
                                1. Background of the Study
                                  1. Benefits of Breastfeeding
                                  2. WHO Recommendations
                                  3. The International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
                                  4. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
                                  5. The Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding
                                  6. National Situationer
                                  7. The Milk Code
                                  8. BFHI in the Philippines
                                  9. Milk Code Violations
                                  10. Formula Feeding
                                  11. Factors Influencing the Decision Regarding Infant Feeding Method
                                  12. Area Situationer
                                  1. Socio-economic Demographic Profile of Mothers
                                  2. Information Regarding Current (Youngest) Infant
                                  3. Current Infant Feeding Practices of Mothers
                                    1. Exclusive Breastfeeding
                                    2. Mixed Feeding
                                    3. Formula Feeding
                                    1. Concluding Statement
                                      1. Analytical Summary
                                      2. Thesis Reworded

                                      Sample #2

                                      Topic: Asbestos Poisoning

                                      1. Introduction
                                        1. Definition of Asbestos Poisoning
                                        2. Significance of the Study
                                        3. Definition of Terms
                                        1. Symptoms of Asbestos Poisoning
                                        2. Effects of Asbestos Poisoning
                                        3. Treatments
                                        1. Conclusion
                                        2. Recommendations
                                          1. How to Deal with Asbestos Hazards

                                          Sample #3

                                          Topic: Shakespeare Adapted from

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