Most of us who passed our English lessons back in elementary and high school are capable enough of writing for term papers required in college or any written document that needs to be comprehensively, and sometimes, creatively written. However, we are often at the mercy of our jumbled thoughts that we fail to make something tangible out of ideas that would otherwise take good shape. For this reason, we’re also taught how to write outlines in school.
Elements of an Outline Template in Word
Your professor or mentors in the field of research or even at work would require you to come up with an established outline so that you can present your topic or research properly. Take this article as your review regarding the main components of an outline template and how they should be written, starting with the elements below, for writing an outline that would pave the way to a winning topic:
1. Introduction: The first part of a research paper demands a statement of the work’s main points. Your introduction should be a discussion of your thesis statement, problem or research question which you will be required to discuss the later part of your work. The main goal is to tell the audience what the purpose of the research is and why you think it’s worth studying.
2. Literature Review: This part of the outline sums up your findings by referencing relevant works or literature, in which case the literature can range from scientific journals, magazines, internet databases, reliable websites and of course, books. The key here is to prove that there is an existing line of works or literature relevant to what is being studied and the findings can serve as the basis in writing your own paper.
3. Body: The body is where your paper builds the analysis. As the author, you have to present your argument well and show that your points are correct and accurate based on the literature reviewed. The evidence or works you have collected would be valuable since it needs to correspond to the quality of the study otherwise, your evidence would fail to support your claims.
4. Conclusion: In your outline’s closing parts, summarize all the findings you have presented with the thesis statement being restated. This is a way to remind your readers about your study’s purpose and importance, connecting all parts together.
5. References: Some organizations or institutions require special styles in citing works that the researcher used in collecting information for the research outline. The list of literature used should be arranged alphabetically with details about each source such as author’s name, page number, title of the book or material and the date which it was accessed.
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Steps to Write A Good Outline
Once you have completed an outline using the following steps, you’ll have a better understanding of how you want your research to develop:
1. Choose a topic and define your purpose: There are many writers who struggle to define the main point or focus of their paper. You probably have a list of topics ready, with one of them just as worth studying as the next, and it can be challenging to choose but understanding the greater purpose of your paper is equally important. You need to have a clear objective so that you set the proper course for your paper including its limitations and what the content should be. What do you want your readers to learn from reading your paper? Answering these type of questions can help you find focus around the specific messages you want to convey and leave with your target readers.
2. Organize your main ideas: So you have your list of topics or ideas. The next thing to do is rearrange them and pluck out those that communicate well to you and your readers. You can use different strategies in organizing your ideas depending on the type of paper you want to write. Some of the most common structures are cause and effect, classification and process. Once your ideas are in proper order, it will be easier to develop the structure of your paper.
3. Flush out your main points: The goal in this step is to broaden your original ideas so your readers will have a better understanding of each of the points you’ve mapped out. You’re free to add more to each concept by citing examples, quoting sources and referencing theories. This step can be tough but it makes the outlining process a lot easier since you’ll have more time later when your paper becomes more logical and your ideas take better shape or are fully developed and can already be supported.
4. Review and edit: Your outline is done but your work has just begun. Writing is a dynamic, repetitive process and all successful and responsible writers read their work, review it, and make the necessary revisions as often as they can until they feel it is at its best. The outline is no different: It may just be an outline but if you fail to practice the task of revision when the actual writing process has not even begun yet, then your paper will not see the light of day.
Tips in Writing An Excellent Outline
Your outline makes part of the hard work lighter and you’ll be well on your way to putting your ideas into a logical, coherent, well-thought paper. Follow these tips to help you further:
- Do some reconnaissance reading: look for an angle, pick a slant because doing so will help you fill the gaps in the article or research you’re set to write later. Read similar works and what others have written on the subject you want to write. You may also want to make use of this article as a guide. Once you pick an angle, you’ll be able to improve the way your outline is structured.
- Organize, revise, and eliminate: Take a step a back and check on the points you’ve listed then start putting them in a logical order. Cross-check to make sure each point is still within your paper’s objective then eliminate extra ones, especially those that are already off your paper’s path or the ones that don’t match the scope of what you’re writing.
Types Of Outlines
Below are the most common types of outlines you can use in a research or term paper:
- Formal Outline: This type of outline uses roman numerals for the format, capital letters and even numbers arranged in the hierarchy. This is because the formal outline requires parallel structure, coordination, division as well as subordination. In this case, the parallel structure is using the same types of phrases or sentence for each detail.
- Informal outline: This outline is very helpful when the writer is taking on a research writing task. You don’t have to follow a specific form as it will be up to you. Your outline can be a bullet point or a numbered list or something as simple as a series of notes or ideas to help you organize your main points. Just remember that it also requires important details to be included and serves as your plan for the actual paper, just like the formal outline.
Outline Template FAQs
What is an outline?
An outline is a summary or a plan mapped out for a writing project or an academic paper. It is usually structured in the form of a list which is divided into headings with subheadings that separates the main ideas from supporting points. While writing it may seem like such a tedious task, it will make the actual writing process a much easier and smoother experience.
How does an outline help a writer, student or researcher?
An outline serves as a foundation for presenting main and supporting points regarding a certain topic or subject. Writing outlines before finalizing your paper helps you develop a logical and organized paper which in turn makes it easier for your ideas to take shape and be translated into words and sentences.
An outline should guide you through a smooth, organized and logical writing process. It isn’t a prison where you have to follow a strict form or structure, so try not to feel too pressured in the following everything from top to bottom because outlines aren’t meant to be restrictive. Instead, it should allow you to unleash your ideas and let them take shape so that you can write with more clarity, with the right amount of focus to end up with a paper that your readers will find to be a valuable material.