An outline helps you organize a paper's content in a logical and
sequential way. Here is a basic guide.
Things You'll Need
- Report Covers
- Bonded Paper
- Word-processing Software
Write the working title of your paper at the top of a blank sheet of paper. The working title does not need to be the one you use for your final paper; "Midterm Paper" or "History Paper" will suffice.
Beneath the working title, write a few lines about the goal of the paper and the steps you will take to achieve that goal. For example: 'In this paper, I will show the secrets of a successful and happy life, using scholarly journals from psychologists and veterinarians.'
Follow the summary with a statement of your paper's thesis ' for example, 'Owning a dog can make one's life healthier and happier.'
Begin to lay down the basic framework for your paper by dividing its content into sections.
Start by writing either an Arabic or Roman numeral 1 - depending on your style of outline - followed by a period, then the title of the section (a "section heading"). In an informal outline use Arabic numerals; in a formal outline use Roman numerals.
Write a few lines describing what you wish to accomplish in the section.
Use subsections to list specific examples or topics that you wish to discuss under each heading. Mark them with a lowercase letter (a, b, c and so on).
Follow this format for each section heading, then put the sections in the following general order: introduction, body, conclusion.
Tips & Warnings
- You may want to write each section heading on a separate sheet of paper to allow yourself room to take notes and brainstorm.
- Remember that a paper outline is merely a tool in the paper-writing process and does not bind you to anything. Feel free to change its format to suit your needs.
- As you write your paper, refer back to your outline to make sure you're on track.