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How to Write a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.

Start the Research Process

Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.

Develop Your Thesis Statement

When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.

Create an Outline

Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.

Organize Your Notes

When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.

Write Your Final Draft

After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.


how to write an outline for research paper mla style

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how to write an outline for research paper mla style

How to write an Outline of a Research paper in MLA Style?

16 Oct 2021

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Thesis statement of research mla paper outline, headings and subheadings of research mla paper outline, check-list of a good mla outline for a research paper, the template of mla research paper outline, alphanumeric outline example, decimal outline example, frequently asked questions about mla outline.

Today we are going to help you understand all about the MLA research paper outline. This is something you will need to write and has a huge effect on your paper. The outline is basically a plan of your MLA paper, and it has a huge role. You will use it to organize all the paragraphs, sections, main ideas, and so much more.

Usually, students use bullet points to make all of this easier. MLA outline is important to use and can help you complete the task in less time and provide better information, eliminate mistakes, and so much more. An outline is mandatory or highly recommended for all writings, and you can really benefit from it. A research paper outline is something your professor will recommend you to write!

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Before you even start with the MLA paper, you need to write a thesis. It is important for any paper, and it is essential. It goes before the research paper outline, and it is an explanation of the paper, the ideas, and the main elements you are going to use. It should be 6-7 lines, but you can make it shorter if you like. Once you have it, you can proceed to college research paper outline and use the bullets we have mentioned above. It is important to add that the thesis is not an introduction for an outline, essay, or anything similar. It is not abstract either.

Now you will have to organize the ideas you will use. According to modern language associations, these have to be well-organized and important. In simple terms, do not use vague or unimportant pieces of information. You will create headings, and then you will create subheadings. A structured research paper outline will have as many headings/subheadings as you need in order to explain the topic in detail.

MLA format may be beneficial in this case scenario. An outline in MLA format will present all the main ideas. The key element is not to provide more or less information you need. If you do, a reader will not be interested, and you will end up with a bad paper. In addition, the outline must not use vague, inaccurate, or completely irrelevant ideas. This is something you will have to use for any MLA paper and most essays in general. The goal is to stay accurate and detailed but not go extreme. Use times new roman to keep things simple. Consider style 6th edition.

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Now, look at a sample template of the MLA research paper outline below. The theme of it is "Research on the effects of global warming":

Here we have an example. It is ideal for an MLA outline, and it uses a proper MLA format, so you can always modify it and apply it to your specific needs and goals. If this is too complicated for you or you need help, you can always use " write my research paper " services and get the job done in a minute. This is ideal if you need a complicated college research paper outline MLA or you just don't have time. Anyway, here is an example of a decimal MLA outline. The theme is "Facebook is a great place for making new friends":

What is an MLA Outline?

An outline in MLA format is precisely as you think. It is a plan you will use to write the assignment. It consists of the headings, subheadings, and the ideas you will have to use. Basically, this is a path you will take while writing, and it will reflect how your complete task will look at the end.

According to the modern language association, this is mandatory, and something all of you need to complete first. It eliminates mistakes and makes the whole task easier. Now you have a plan. You may want to follow these steps here and get the job done in less time and expect a better grade.

How to write an Outline for a Research Paper MLA?

You will have to start by explaining the main idea of your essay. Then you will start with defining the headings. Add all the subheadings now and try to focus each one on an important part of the writing. Each one should explain the idea. This is the guide on what you will write later on. The idea must be relevant and accurate, and it must be simple if possible. DO not use ideas that are not accurate or have flaws, or are completely irrelevant to the essay. These can make a reader get bored and not interested.

When does the page numbering of the MLA Research Title Page begin?

It should start with the first page. It always uses Arabic numbers, and all pages should be numbered. The numbers will have to be present in the upper right corner of the page, and there are no exceptions. The only expectation is that some professors will ask you not to number the first page. If that is mandatory, you will start from the second page using number 2 and move on. Numbers must be 0.5 inches from the top, and they must be flush with the proper margin.

How to set Outline of a Research Paper in MLA Style in Google Docs?

Formatting your research in this case scenario is simple. You will have to start a new document and click on file/new/template. From there, you will have to search for the MLA template and open it when you find it. Then start with the main idea at the top. You will now have to write the headings followed or containing the subheadings.

As you can see, the whole process is super easy and far easier than when using other platforms. There is no need to manually adjust all the settings and optimize the content. Keep in mind that you should use font sizes 12, 11.5, or 11.

How to set the Outline of a Research Paper in MLA Style in Word?

To start with your research paper outline in Word, start a new document. Click on no spacing and choose font and size. Write the main idea. Click on multi-level numbering and define multiple level numbering then. Change the values. They should be A., I., 1. and so on (enter formatting for number). Choose number style for this number in I, II, III for the first level, A, B, C for the third level, and 1, 2, 3 for the third level. Now you can start writing.

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how to write an outline for research paper mla style

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How to Write an Essay Outline: MLA and APA Styles

how to write an outline for research paper mla style

Outlining is a form of organization which is used among authors of all writing styles. The common organizational method allows writers to list all of their research and ideas in one place before the writing process starts. Understanding the general college essay outline can go a long way in getting your thoughts structured, as well as positive feedback from your professor. Take a look at this guide from our coursework writing services team to learn how to write an outline.

What Is an Outline?

An essay outline is one of the main planning methods when it comes to writing academic papers, scholarly articles, informative guides, novels, and encyclopedias. The everyday paper outline contains the headings: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Every source is organized by relevance to strengthen the writing process. There are various formats when it comes to outlining, but the main formats required for a college essay outline is MLA and APA.

Regardless of whether you’re writing an MLA or APA outline, the organizational process remains the same with some minor differences. The main difference being APA uses abstracts, as it requires one or two sentences per line. APA is used for humanities, as MLA is used more for social studies. Other than that, the simple outline remains the same for any kind of academic paper structure.

How to Write an Outline?

The most common college essay is 5 paragraphs. Thus, an easy way to remember the general format of a writing plan is to think of it as planning a 5 paragraph essay outline where students would write an Introduction, Thesis, Body, and Conclusion. Then, fit a total of 5 paragraphs within the basic structure. The same practice can be done with planning, except rather than paragraphs, it’s notes. The exact same method would apply to an argumentative essay outline and any other kind of paper structure throughout and beyond college.

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The Key-Elements to Outlining

General Outline Format

Here is an outline format from our business essay writing services professionals:


Body Paragraph 1

Body Paragraph 2

Body Paragraph 3

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Outline Examples

We understand that it may be difficult to differentiate between an MLA & APA Outline. The methods both depend on the referencing styles. APA outlining makes the use of abstracts, as MLA uses sentence citations. In an MLA outline, a title page is not necessary. As the APA referencing style requires it, include it on the outline. Take a look at an outline example below to get a better idea.

MLA Outline Example

APA Outline Example

We also recommend reading The Divine Comedy Summary , our readers like it a lot, and it may also be helpful in writing essays.

Video Guide: How to Write an Essay Outline

Regardless of the writing style, the main essay format acts as a helping hand in multiple ways to any kind of author. Knowing the general plan of an essay can highly benefit those writing their everyday college paper or dissertation by having all of the ideas and references on a writing plan. For example, a persuasive essay outline does not differentiate from a research paper plan. Thus, knowing the general outline format can make producing academic papers far easier by simplifying the entire writing process. Sometimes when you start writing an essay, you may encounter various difficulties like not understanding the topic, lack of time, too tired. You may ask yourself "I want to pay someone to write my paper . Can anyone help me?" Sure! On EssayPro we can give you a hand! Just leave us a request and we'll help asap.

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Are you still having difficulty outlining? Our writers are here to give you a hand to create a well-structured essay outline with references and unique ideas included. Regardless of the subject, academic level, or outline format required, we have got you covered. Click on the button below if you have the " write research paper for me " request or need any other help.

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Types of Outlines and Samples

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Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on November 29, 2022.

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

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There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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