How to Write an Outline

After you have taken, reviewed and organized your notes you are ready to create your outline. A good outline will transform your notes into the form and structure that your paper will eventually follow. Take the time to do this right as it will help you to better organize your thoughts and find out what you really want to say with your paper. 

How to Structure an Outline

The Introduction

  • A brief comment leading into your subject matter
  • Your thesis statement

Body of the Article

  • Organized according to the main and sub-points that you want to make
  • Each main and sub-point should contain a number of supporting points

Conclusion

  • Wrap up the paper
  • Restate your point and thesis
  • End with a concluding statement that ties your whole paper together

Sample Outline

Note: This sample outline is not based on any actual research – it is merely designed to illustrate how to write a good outline.

Title: A Case for Developing Alternative Energy

  1. Introduction
    1. Opening statement:  Our reliance on traditional energies sources such as oil and coal is causing numerous unnecessary societal problems.  These problems are not limited solely to environmental pollution, but also create serious health, economic, diplomatic and military problems.
    2. Thesis Statement: We have the technical know-how and the economic resources to develop and maintain alternative energy resources which are economically competitive and sustainable and which will greatly reduce the societal costs of our present day energy sources.
  2. Body
    1. The Societal Costs of Our Present Day Energy Sources
      1. Environmental Costs
        1. Supporting points, examples, etc.
        2. Supporting points, examples, etc.
      2. Health Costs
        1. Supporting points, examples, etc.
        2. Supporting points, examples, etc.
      3. Economic Costs
        1. Supporting points, examples, etc.
        2. Supporting points, examples, etc.
      4. Diplomatic Costs
        1. Supporting points, examples, etc.
        2. Supporting points, examples, etc.
      5. Military Costs
        1. Supporting points, examples, etc.
        2. Supporting points, examples, etc.
    2. The Benefits of Alternative Energy
      1. Sub-points and supporting points
      2. Sub-points and supporting points
    3. Different Types of Alternative Energy Sources
      1. Sub-points and supporting points
      2. Sub-points and supporting points
    4. The Feasability of Alternative Energy
      1. Sub-points and supporting points
      2. Sub-points and supporting points
    5. Etc.
  3. Conclusion
    1. Wrapping Up the Paper: It seems that the only thing thats holding us back today from developing a sensible energy policy is
    2. Restating the Thesis:  As such, it is time that we dedicate our vast and varied intellectual, technical and economic resources to developing an energy policy that will benefit us our diplomatically, financially, militarily, environmentally as well as improve our overall health.
    3. Concluding statement:  It used to be that the costs of pursuing an alternative energy program seemed prohibitive.  Today, the costs of not pursuing such a policy are hampering our society in a needlessly destructive and wasteful way.  All we need is the resolve to do what is so clearly right.  The only question is do we have that resolve.

The 8 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper

  1. Pick a good, well-focused topic that you are interested in
  2. Determine the goal and/or purpose of your paper
  3. Gather together the best resources available on your topic
  4. Study and take notes of your resources
  5. Turn your notes into a well-organized outline
  6. Write a rough draft
  7. Revise (over and over again) your rough draft
  8. Get feedback from friends, colleagues and experts (then rewrite again)