homework assignment ideas

How to write a good outline for a research paper


Writing a research paper involves several steps. When students skip a step or two, their research papers tend to stray from the point and become quite weak. One of the most important steps and most commonly skipped step is writing the outline. Without the outline, research papers tend to be unfocused. Fortunately, writing a good outline for a research paper is not as difficult as many students think.

Use a Block Outline


Since students are unfamiliar with Roman numerals and the traditional outlining style, students need to learn some simple techniques for writing a research paper. One useful way is to use a block format. Students know that their research papers need to be organized with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If they create blocks for those parts of the research paper, they can fill them in with the information they plan to use.

Look for Logical Organization


Once students see their information organized into blocks, they can move the information around, especially in the body paragraphs. They can see their arguments all laid out on a single sheet of paper so they can arrange their arguments in the most appropriate order. If the research paper needs a counter-argument, then students just add a block for that part of the paper, too. Some students will use one block for each paragraph. Then, they can include the main topic and a few short details to be sure the information in the paragraph fits together.

Bulleted Lists are Helpful


Students can also use bulleted lists for their outlines. If students prefer to type their outlines, they can use the different bullets or numerical lists that word processing programs have. Students can still move sentences and bullets around so they can keep the paper organized appropriate. Students can use different types of bullets for main ideas or details. They can see if a paragraph is missing details and they can tell if details are not really supporting a main idea in a paragraph.

Find a Favorite Graphic Organizer


Some students prefer to use graphic organizers for each paragraph. There are hundreds of different types of graphic organizers available online, so students can eventually find one they like to use for every essay. Graphic organizers work just like outlines. Students organize their research papers in advance so they can rearrange it if needed before committing the large project to paper. It is much easier to rearrange an outline than it is to rearrange an entire research paper.

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