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Createdby:M.Payne9/08
How to write an Outline for a Paper
What is an outline?
Anoutlinecanbedefinedasanorganizationalplantohelpyoudraftapaper.Writingan
outlinebeforebeginningapaperisthemosteffectivewaytoorganizeyourthoughts.An
outlinebreaksdownthepartsofyourthesisinaclear,hierarchicalmannertohelpyouseethe
overallformatofyourpaper.
Remember:Thethreepartsofapaperincludedinyouroutlineare:anINTRODUCTION,aBODY,
andaCONCLUSION.
INTRODUCTION‐Stateyourthesisandthepurposeofyourresearchpaperclearly.Whatis
thechiefreasonyouarewritingthepaper?Statealsohowyouplantoapproachyourtopic.Is
thisafactualreport,abookreview,acomparison,orananalysisofaproblem?Explainbriefly
themajorpointsyouplantocoverinyourpaperandwhyreadersshouldbeinterestedinyour
topic.
BODY‐Thisiswhereyoupresentyourargumentstosupportyourthesisstatement.
RemembertheRuleof3,i.e.,find3supportingargumentsforeachpositionyoutake.Begin
withastrongargument,thenuseastrongerone,andendwithstrongestargumentforyour
finalpoint.
CONCLUSION-Restateorrewordyourthesis.Summarizeyourarguments.Explainwhyyou
havecometothisparticularconclusion.
What is a thesis statement?
Athesisstatementdeclareswhatyoubelieveandwhatyouintendtoprove.Agoodthesis
statementmakesthedifferencebetweenathoughtfulresearchprojectandasimpleretellingof
facts.
Agoodtentativethesiswillhelpyoufocusyoursearchforinformation.Butdon’trush!You
mustdoalotofbackgroundreadingbeforeyouknowenoughaboutasubjecttoidentifykeyor
essentialquestions.Youmaynotknowhowyoustandonanissueuntilyouhaveexaminedthe
evidence.Youwilllikelybeginyourresearchwithaworking,preliminaryortentativetheses
whichyouwillcontinueto
refineuntilyouarecertainofwheretheevidenceleads.
Thethesisstatementistypicallylocatedattheendofyouropeningparagraph.(Theopening
paragraphservestosetthecontextforthethesis.)
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