Write an Outline
Outlining is a strategy that helps you organize your ideas and the information you have collected, prior to writing your research paper. Because outlines are the visual representation of your paper, they can also highlight where information is lacking on your topic.
There are informal and formal outlines. Formal outlines can be either sentence or topic outlines. An extreme form of informal outline is called a scratch outline--a list of two or three main ideas.
The resources below will guide you in creating outlines for your research paper, but they are also great sources for other information about writing papers and essays.
Writing a Research Paper American Style: An ESL/EFL Handbook
PE1128 .L377 1996 Reference Stacks
- This book is very easy to use because of its concise writing style and clear organization. This handbook was originally developed for students whose first language is not English, but it is highly recommended for all students as a quick guide to outlining.
- Chapter Four, "The Formal Outline," pages 53 - 63, have an outline description and examples of topic and sentence outlines.
- Another example of a sentence outline appears on pages 111 - 113.
Writing the Modern Research Paper
LB2369 .D44 1997 Book Stacks
- This resource is highly recommended for its in-depth, yet easy-to-read descriptions of informal and formal outlines. It has detailed guidelines for creating outlines using headings and subdivisions. See pages 164 - 177.
- When to use formal and informal outlines
- Science or business paper outlines; pages 167-168.
- Topic, sentence and paragraph outlines; pages 168-170
- Outlines for argumentative, comparison, analytical papers; pages 174
A comprehensive, user-friendly online guide to outlining that covers construction of outlines, outline templates, argumentative and analytical outlines. Also has links to information about organizing essays and papers. From Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
A brief discussion of the process, theory, and formatting of outlining; includes printer-friendly and PDF versions. From Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
The St. Martin's Guide to Writing
PE1408 .A94 2001 Book Stacks
- This writing textbook has outlining information on pages 518 - 520.
- Scratch outline examples for essays and argumentation papers
- Formal topic and sentence outlines examples pages
Other outlining resources include:
A Writer's Reference
PE 1408 .H2778 Reference Stacks
The Bedford Handbook
PE1408 .H277 1998 Book Stacks
Sample Outline from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)