How To Write An Academic Paper Outline

Many students underestimate its importance and pay more attention to the content. In reality, if your outline is poor, the whole content can be watery too.


Learn how to write an academic paper outline and what differs it from other academic papers

Thesis outline: definition and features

There is hardly any academic paper that should not have an outline. Even if it is not included in the final draft it does not mean that the paper was written without it. Outline is the backbone of every paper that indicates the directions it will focus on. Many students underestimate its importance and pay more attention to the content. In reality, if your outline is poor, the whole content can be watery too. This is one of the main reasons to consider outlining the initial stage of paper writing and never neglecting its quality.

There are different definitions of the ‘outline’. It is called a blueprint, plan or organizational guide of the paper. Its goal is mention the key points of the thesis or any other academic paper. Themainfeaturesofthethesisoutlineare:

  • Organizing ideas received from free writing, analyzing sources, brainstorming etc.;
  • Identification of the areas in which additional research or supporting details are required;
  • Focusing on the detailed thesis structure;
  • Giving a short overview of the main thesis statements;
  • Being a guide to the reader;
  • Showing relation of different parts to each other etc.

Outline is necessary for finding a right focus of your paper as well as helpful in its restructuring. It makes sense of the changes made and gives a brief description of the main paper points.

Being an important constituent part of each paper it is usually placed before the introduction but there are academic papers where outlines are shifted to be displayed to the reader after it too.


Outline structure

Every outline must be informative. Of course, its points may consist of statements and phrases, but it is advisable to include descriptive sentences in it.

A general structure of an essay is the following:

  1. Introduction that must also include a thesis statement.
  2. Background that includes a literature or historical overview to justify the paper and indicate the current gap to be bridged.
  3. Major and minor points. As outline points should be usually indicated by Roman numerals, the minor points of each major point can be preceded by letters.
  4. Conclusion that should include the restatement of thesis and recommendations.
Outline writing tips

What makes a good outline? There are several important tips to consider:

  • Make up an outline in accordance with the paper structure. If you need to outline a research paper, its structure will differ greatly from an essay or thesis. That is the reason to learn the structure of the paper before you start writing it;
  • Be clear and specific in your formulations;
  • The outline points should represent the main message of the whole chapter or paragraph;
  • To make accurate outline sentences read out the first and the last paragraph of the chapter;
  • Create your first outline draft before you start writing paper and make necessary changes to it in the process of the developing your custom essay or thesis;
  • The final version of the outline should be polished when you complete your final draft and before you start proofreading and editing it.

The outline is an important part of every paper. There are tutors and professors who can evaluate the efficacy of the whole paper having a single look at its outline. Moreover, it gives readers a representation about the paper, its structure and content. Browsing this short but informative part of the paper a reader will decide if it is worth his or her attention and time, so it will be a great mistake to compromise on its quality. By the way, a good research paper you can order at


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