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How to Write an Outline of a Research Paper: Improving Your Writing Skills


When learning to drive a car, you follow the same steps each time. You get into the car, fasten your seatbelt, check your mirrors—then proceed with caution, abiding the laws of the road and practicing defensive driving all the while. Much like the step-by-step process a new driver learns and enacts, writing successfully also includes a step-by-step process to begin. When writing a research paper, you will want to write an outline, overviewing the skeleton of your introduction, body and conclusion. By gather your research, developing your working outline and final outline—you will improve your writing skills.

  • Research
  • Starting any paper begins with a topic, thesis statement and research. Finding the research you need to support your topic is important. In addition to finding this research, organizing this research in an outline is also incredibly important. So, in turn, developing organization for your research with the outline in mind is also important. Think about what information you will present in the introduction, body and conclusion of the research paper. Finding the best sources for this information will help you stay on point when creating your outline.

  • Working Outline
  • Once you have settled on a topic and found your research, you will move forward with the outlining process. As we mentioned, you will have kept your outline in mind while researching to you have enough information for a thorough outline. The working outline will give a general idea of how you will move through the paper, and be the setup for you final outline.

  • Final Outline
  • After getting through the working outline, you should have a fairly certain idea of what information you will be presenting where. Take your working outline and put more meat on the bones of this skeleton. You will insert facts, data, quotes and any other information you wish to present in the final outline. You will follow this outline from introduction to conclusion to guarantee you stay on point and serve the purpose of the research paper.


After you’ve found your research, created a working outline and further developed a final outline—you will have the groundwork for a hitch free research paper. Your outline will be the roadwork for your final destination, an A+. Much like learning the rules of the road, with some basic knowledge, planning and caution you will set yourself up for success.


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