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Research 101: Outline The Paper

A guide to help you develop good research skills!

Why Outline?

Oultines provide a means of organizing your information in an hierarchical or logical order.

For research papers, a formal outline can help you keep track of large amounts of information.

How to Create an Outline

To create an outline:

  1. Write thesis statement at top.
  2. List the major points, and
         label with Roman Numerals.
  3. List supporting ideas or arguments
         under each major point, and
         label in capital letters.
  4. Sub-divide supporting ideas until 
         outline is fully developed, and 
         label them 1, 2, 3, etc., and
         then a, b, c, etc.

Create an Outline

Example of an Outline

Thesis: Federal regulations should foster laws to protect wetlands, restore those that have been destroyed, and take measures to improve the damage from over development.

I. Nature's ecosystem
   A. Loss of wetlands nationally
   B. Loss of wetlands in Illinois
      1. More flooding & poor water quality
      2. Lose ability to prevent floods and 
             clean & store water

II. Dramatic floods
   A. Cost in lives and dollars
      1. 13 deaths from 1988 to 1998
      2. Cost $39 million per year
   B. Great Midwestern Flood of 1993
      1. Lost wetlands in IL
      2. Devastation in some states
   C. Flood Prevention
      1. Plants and Soils
      2. Floodplain overflow

III. Wetland laws
   A. Inadequately informed legislators
      1. Watersheds
      2. Natural water systems
   B. Water purification

IV. Need to save wetlands
   A. New federal definition
   B. Re-education on interconnectedness
      1. Ecology at every grade level
      2. Education for politicians and
      3. Choices in schools and
            people's lives

Example taken from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (9th ed).