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Direction On How To Properly Outline Your Paper

If you’ve been assigned to write an academic paper, there’s no better way to get started than with an outline. Whether you’re crunched for time or have as much as you need, you’ll find that outlining your paper will not only speed up the writing process, but it will also help keep you focused and on task, as well as help you formalize your own thoughts and arguments. This article will walk you through the proper steps to outlining your academic paper

  1. Start by writing the tentative title of your paper. It doesn’t need to be a good title, just anything you can think of to get you going.
  2. Beneath the title, write a short one sentence abstract describing the purpose of your paper. These can often take the form of a scientific hypothesis. For example: I believe X is true because of A, B, and C. This will help you hone in on the true essence of your argument – you’ll be able to refer back to it later if you begin to lose focus or get sidetracked while writing.
  3. Divide up your argument into separate sections. The introduction should be devoted to explaining the purpose of your paper, while the body should contain all evidence you have to support your hypothesis. Broadly define (in no more than a few words) at least three examples/arguments you wish to make in chronological order.
  4. Now that your basic arguments have been defined, you can dive deeper by dividing each individual argument into separate sub-sections. This step can be repeated as many times as necessary until you are satisfied your argument has been fully supported.
  5. Start filling in the blanks with a little free writing. Now that you have your paper outlined, it’s important to begin playing with the style and feel of your paper. Get all of your initial ideas out of the way and onto a sheet of paper – this will allow you to subconsciously formalize your thoughts and formulate your arguments further.
  6. Remember that an outline is only a tool designed to help you write your actual paper. It’s unwise to try to transform your outline into your actual paper. Instead, feel free to make as many spelling and grammatical mistakes as you wish, as this document will only be seen by you. Ideas will present themselves more clearly when you are not worried about the actual structure of your sentences or paragraphs, which is what makes an outline such a liberating and effective writing tool!