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How to Write an Effective Term Paper Outline: Simple Instructions

An outline is one of the best devices for creating an effective term paper. It helps the student to organize their thoughts and modify the order of the argument. In addition, an outline can be used for students to logically order data, information and quotes. Having an outline helps the student to see the relationship between different ideas and create boundaries for different parts of the argument. Likewise, it is a great way for students to ensure that they present the material in the best possible manner.

Getting Started

Before students can write an outline, they must decide what the paper is about. They should create a thesis statement and conduct research on the topic. Students should also figure out the audience that they are writing for and consider the length of the paper. In general, students will need to research the topic thoroughly before they can even begin the outlining process.


The next step in creating an outline is to brainstorm different ideas. Students should consider the type of information that they want to include in the paper. At this stage, any ideas about the paper should be written down. Later on, ideas can be removed or rearranged as needed.

Organize the Paper

Before students can fill in the outline paragraph-by-paragraph, they need to group their ideas in different segments. Ideas that are extremely similar should be placed within the same part of the paper. After organizing the ideas, students can start to arrange the material that they have accumulated according to subsections, chapters or paragraphs. In general, the information should move from general to specific.

Labeling the Outline

Once the order of the outline has been decided, students can start to create headings. Depending on the paper's length, they may want to make chapter headings or page headings. After a title is created for the paper, students can begin writing.

Final Thoughts

Before students create an outline, they must conduct the research necessary to write the paper. At this step in the writing process, students have an opportunity to make essay writing a little easier. As information is collected, students should track the source, quotes and relevant data. If the student has a general idea of what the paper will be about, they can easily gather quotes that they expect to use. These quotes can be organized in a file or a document so that they can be easily referenced during the writing process.


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