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How To Make A Good Outline For A College Paper

It can be overwhelming when you have a term paper to produce but when you have more than one (and that is a great possibility) it can be overwhelming times 10! So let’s see how to make a good outline for a College Paper.

One of the really good ways to make a start and to stop postponing starting the work (which can cause even more stress) is to try some of these really quick tips on how to make a really good outline for any college paper.

Why produce an outline?

There are several really positive reasons why:

  • Helps you focus.
  • Helps you differentiate between what is the most important information that you need and what supporting information you need to research.
  • Helps with the organization of the logical progression of ideas.
  • You can use your outline to discuss your focus with your tutor (they will be impressed).

What do I need to do?

Follow this sequence of instructions using the headings.

  • Introduction. Introduce your topic and how it fits in with the work that you have studying through the term. Is the topic you have chosen an extension of the curriculum that you have been following or is it a focus that has a level of personal interest. Be realistic about the amount of research that you will need to keep the focus simple.
  • Thesis Statement. This where an outline really becomes an essential tool, because right at the beginning of starting work on your term paper you will find that it is difficult to describe your thesis stamen in concise language. Don’t be put off if you have to keep revisiting this part of the process. For tips on taking multiple-choice exams, check out this post.
  • The Body of the paper. This is where you need to put all of the points that you want to make/discuss, you also need to provide evidence to support your thesis in the form of experiments or examples. Decide how you are going to present your data (this could mean by tables of results or comparisons, photographs or illustrations.
  • Conclusions. Relate your conclusions to the evidence that you have presented in the main part of the paper. Remember to also make recommendations about your findings. All of the statements that you make in this section should relate to your thesis statement.
  • Bibliography. Make sure that you list all of the sources of your information including any course textbooks that you have used and cited. Make sure you check with your tutor as to the referencing format that you should be using. Ideally, you need to make a list if the works you are citing as you research.

What is a Research Paper – Basics for College Students

Step One – Develop a question for your research

The preliminary step in doing this research task is to come up with a question that you want to research. Sometimes the question will be provided by the instructor and other times there will be general topics that you must choose from relating to the subject of the class. Take the topics and guidelines your class provides and come up with a question to guide your work.

It’s key to do this right. You’ve probably loaned enough money to work for a while just to pay it all back (or maybe you were lucky with your parents) and wasting your time will only cost you more…But fear not my dear student loaners, you’re almost ready for a bright future!

Step Two – Researching your topic

The next step in completing this project is to conduct research about your topic. There are many places to look including your textbook and notes, school library and online searches. In today’s educational process most research is done online from the comfort of your dorm room or home. Categorize your research and save it in one location for easy reference while you are working.

Step Three – Develop the outline of your work

As you go through the investigative process you can begin to develop the outline of your paper. You will see an outline as you read research that was done in other areas and also can begin to develop questions for your writing. When you are researching and developing your outline, capture any quotes or references at this time so that you will have them available for your writing. Just work hard and be a hustler (in the good sense of the word). It’ll pay off!

Step Four – Develop a first draft of the paper

Now that you have an outline of what you want to say, you can begin to develop the written part of your project. Sit in a quiet place and put your thoughts down on paper or type them into the document on your computer. You do not have to work from beginning to end of the document but instead, you can fill in the outline that you have created with the areas that are fresh in your mind. If you plan to go ahead and study abroad, for example in the USA, check out this post about the American Banking System.

Step Five – Fill in the gaps

Once you have the first draft completed now is the time to fill in any gaps in your material. Work through the entire document and fill in any areas where there is not sufficient information. Add quotations and additional references to make your work have substance. Complete this process by ensuring that all of your references have been annotated correctly. Read also this post on How To Write An Essay

Step Six – Final editing

The last step of the process in developing a research paper is editing. Editing is like putting frosting on a cake, the cake itself has substance and the material you want but without the frosting it is bland and no fun to eat. Go through the paper and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Verify references and add a reference section to the end or footnote section of the composition. Review the flow of the entire piece to ensure it is logical and concise and clearly answers the question you posed.

Once you’ve done it all right and you’re done studying, taking a year off, in case you haven’t done that after your high school years, could well be one of your options if your financial situation allows you to do that.