Outline of a Research Paper: What, How, Why + EXAMPLE

The research paper is a labyrinth. Horrible monsters lurk around its meandering branches. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here without a map. If you don’t know your way around a research paper, you’ll quickly get lost. For safe navigation, use outline templates for research paper. They will help you organize your ideas and develop the first draft of a document. Read this article to learn what is an outline for a research paper. It will also teach you how to set up a good outline, thereby providing you with Ariadne’s thread. Once you have it, even the most labyrinthine research paper would seem simple and familiar to you.
Outline of a Research Paper

  1. Research Paper Outline Example
  2. How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper
  3. Research Paper Outline Format
  4. Research Paper Outline MLA
  5. APA Research Paper Outline Template
  6. FAQs
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Research Paper Outline Example

Paper Outline ExampleA blank page won’t turn itself into a business research paper. You have to fill it with something. And this something better be a rigorous analysis and well-wrought ideas presented in an easy to follow manner. Otherwise, you might disappoint your professor, and they might disappoint you. To avoid bidirectional frustration, consider the following example of a research paper outline. It is arranged to show hierarchical connections between different sections of the document. Use the sample outline for developing your own map of a research paper. Having a detailed outline will help you get a better hang of your topic and start writing the first draft.

  1. Introduction (background information, topic outline, research question, thesis);
  2. Body (evidence supporting the thesis)
    1. Point One
      • 1.1. Sub-point One
      • 1.2. Sub-point Two
    2. Point Two
      • 2.1. Sub-point One
      • 2.2. Sub-point Two
    3. Point Three
      • 3.1. Sub-point One
      • 3.2. Sub-point Two
  3. Conclusion (reiteration of main points, implications of the research).

If you find these guidelines confusing, consider requesting professional help.


How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

How to Write an Outline

Professional research report writers always start their work on a paper by putting together a rough outline. It constitutes the bulk of their pre-writing activities. If you also want to become proficient in academic writing, follow their example and learn how to do a research paper outline. The skill is immensely useful and universally applicable. It will turn you into a versatilist who is equally at ease with a short essay and a lengthy dissertation. So without further ado, here’s how to make an outline the right way:

  1. Research your topic
Research is at the core of any academic paper. The better you investigate your topic, the easier it will be to craft an outline. So don’t hesitate to dig deep. Write down each piece of evidence buttressing your points. Look for counter arguments disproving your thesis and also commit them to paper. You will need those later for your outline.
  1. Organize your ideas
To arrange your ideas, use a tree diagram branches and nodes of which indicate connections between main points of the paper. If you don’t know how to translate the results of your research into a graphical form, then simply group your ideas by importance or similarity.
  1. Write a thesis statement
Thesis statement will form the basis of your outline. Indicate the purpose of the study and its main idea. You might also summarize your research methodology.
  1. Write your arguments
Write down your arguments using short, punchy sentences. Later, you will develop body paragraphs detailing, explaining, and supporting them.
  1. Write a conclusion
Summarize your position in several brief sentences.

You don’t need to worry about outline if you buy a research paper. Think about it!


Research Paper Outline Format

There is no single research paper format. The basic structure of a research paper differs based on the field of study, college guidelines, and citation format. The latter changes the visual presentation of the paper’s content the most. For this reason, an APA research paper looks nothing like an MLA paper. Keep reading to learn how to format your doc or pdf paper to increase the ease of comprehension and achieve consistent presentation of your research findings.

Research Paper Outline MLA | Approved by WePapers

Research Paper Outline TemplateAccording to the 4th edition of MLA Handbook, students should use alphanumeric outlines. To format your paper in MLA style, use these characters:

  • Roman numerals
  • Capitalized letters
  • Arabic numerals
  • Lowercase letters
  • Arabic numerals in parentheses
  • Lowercase letters in parentheses


An example of an MLA formatted outline looks like this:

  1. Introduction
    • A. Main Argument 1
      1. Supporting argument
      2. Supporting argument
    • B. Main Argument 2
      1. Supporting argument
      2. Supporting argument
  2. Body
    • A. Main Argument 1
      1. Supporting argument
      2. Supporting argument
    • B. Main Argument 2
      1. Supporting argument
      2. Supporting argument
        • a. Supporting point
          • (1) Supporting point
            • (a) Supporting point
  3. Conclusion
    • A. Main Argument
      1. Supporting argument

You can change the number of main and supporting points. However, ensure that you have at least two subdivisions for each level of the outline.

APA Research Paper Outline Template | Approved by WePapers

To write your research paper outline in APA style, use either full-sentence or decimal format. Here’s an example of a full-sentence outline:

  • I. Anthropogenic pollution of the environment is the chief cause global warming.
    • A. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is widely recognized as harmful.
      1. Hazardous greenhouse gases are emitted during the combustion of fossil fuels.

You can also use decimal outline format for your research paper. It is similar to alphanumeric format and looks as follows:

  1. Anthropogenic pollution
    1. Effects of carbon dioxide
    2. Greenhouse gases
      1. Historical emissions of greenhouse gases
      2. Future emissions of greenhouse gases

Use these cheap research papers for sale if decimal and alphanumeric outlines drain your enthusiasm for writing.



In most cases it is. You should definitely create an outline if you’ve been assigned a 5, 7, or 10 page research paper. The same applies to papers that have 15 or more pages. If, however, the paper is only 2 or 3 pages long, you might forego the outlining altogether. Check with your instructor to determine whether an outline is needed.

An outline for argumentative papers should contain both your and opposing arguments. Do not dedicate more than one paragraph to one counterargument. Consequently, your outline should have only one entry per opposing view.

There is no requirement to include dates in an outline. Nonetheless, you can do so for the sake of clarity. For example, when writing about famous wars or battles, you can accompany your outline entries with dates. In the same vein, add timelines to make an art history research paper outline more informative. Note, however, that points will not be deducted if you refrain from doing so.

Use APA format to write a research paper proposal outline for psychology. The format has been developed by the American Psychological Association, which is why it is perfectly suitable for your purposes.

Yes, it should. Make it as detailed as possible. Note that a fair share of your outline should be dedicated to the methodology of your research.

No. There shouldn’t be an entry for an abstract.

Papers on discrimination are often assigned in a sociology class. APA format works best for developing a sociology research paper outline.

A basic outline should mirror section headings of your research paper. There should be at least three outline entries: introduction, body, and conclusion. Use short sentences restricted to APA format for a simple research paper outline.

3rd and 4th graders do not need an outline for their papers. If, however, you study in 8th grade, you might want to outline your paper. A middle school research paper outline template looks as follows: I. Introduction II. Body III. Conclusion Note that a research paper outline for high school has to be more detailed.

To write a formal outline for a college paper, condense headlines of each section to several words. The outline entries should encapsulate the essence of each header. If you struggle with the assignment, consider using professional research paper outline help.

Sometimes, all you need to write a powerful research paper is a little push in the right direction. Don’t know how to start writing an outline? Let us help you.