How to Write an Outline in the MLA Format for a Research Paper?

An outline is an essential tool that a writer uses to organize their thoughts. It is the skeleton of the paper. A lot of readers dread doing an outline because they feel like it is a waste of time. An outline will actually save you time if done correctly. You may be required to submit an outline for your research paper. This is either to encourage you to actually make one or to ensure that you are on the right track.

The key to any outline is to organize your ideas. You want to be able to organize them into the separate paragraphs. Outlines will help your paper flow smoothly and ensure that you have all of the necessary information available. It can also keep you from going off on a tangent. The idea is to try and write a paper that explains your thesis. Every sentence should be designed so that it is explaining your thesis. If you took that one sentence out, the paper would not make sense. Therefore, an outline helps to ensure that you are staying on track and producing a paper that flows nicely.

Steps to creating an outline:

  1. Title: Create a title for your outline which will be the same title that you use for your paper. It should relate to what you are trying to prove by writing your paper.
  2. Thesis Statement: Clearly define your thesis statement. This is the reason you are writing the paper. It should reflect the main synopsis of the entire article in one sentence.
  3. First Paragraph: Roman numeral one is listed right before your first topic sentence for your first paragraph. Any subheadings to support this first topic sentence will be indented with the capital letter “A”. You need to have at least two points to support your topic sentence. The second point will be aligned with the last point and labeled with a “B”.
  4. Subsequent Paragraphs: Subsequent paragraphs will be labeled in numerical order using roman numerals two through etc. The sub points will use the same letters “A” and “B” for their sub points.
  5. If you break down the points “A” or “B” any further, these should be labeled with “a” and “b”.
  6. Conclusion: The last part of your outline will include the conclusion. You may not have any specific information for this point unless you have found a great quote you want to use or an idea you want to bring up.

By following these simple steps, you will be able to easily write your outline. Try and use complete sentences so that it will be easier later on. The more in depth you make your outline, the less work you have to do later in the writing process.


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