Sharing an expert's opinion on how to write a good outline for a research paper

There will come a time for many students when they will not only be asked to write a research paper but also to write an outline for said paper. This outline might be a precursor to the actual writing of the research paper or it might be a task in itself. Whichever it is, the outline needs careful attention to detail. If you are going to go on and write a full-blown research paper after the outline, the better your outline is in the first place, the better and easier will be your ability to write the full-length paper.

As always with any essay the choice of topic is vital. In the case of the research paper it needs to be relatively specific so that you can seriously develop a main idea. If the topic is too broad you will never be able to cover all aspects within the word count.

There are two styles of a good outline for a research paper

There is the sentence outline in which you write the outline in complete sentences. Or there is the topic outline where you use bullet points and phrases. You need to choose one all these styles and you need to check that your teacher approves of that. Do not mix the two styles.

Treat your outline as an enlarged abstract or in fact a mini research paper. It needs the normal layout provisions you would find in writing a research paper and that includes header on the top right-hand corner of every page together with your name and the page number.

Your outline will be similar to an outline you would write or create for any essay. It will be divided into various points. Your main point or points will come first and each of these main points will be given a Roman numeral. The layout is just as important as the content.

You can expand on each section with minor points being given to support any major points. Again each separate item needs to be numbered. The better the layout the easier it is for your teacher to read your outline and for them to give your work the approval for the complete research paper to be written.