Writing a Term Paper Outline: Advice for Freshmen

Writing a term paper can often be a difficult, arduous task. However, preparing for your essay with a complete outline will alleviate some of the stress and help to organize your thoughts.

Begin by brainstorming ideas for your thesis. Develop a working thesis statement that is reflective of the topic and complete in its perspective. Your thesis should include an assertion of the topic of the paper. If you are writing a descriptive essay, this is where you will introduce your reader to an overall view of your topic. If your essay is persuasive, your thesis will state your argument. If your essay is expository, your thesis will examine your overall theme of the information you will provide. If you are writing a narrative essay, your thesis will present your reader with the defining moment of your story. It is important to note that, in most cases, a narrative essay is the only essay in which you would use the first- or second-person perspective. Other essay styles are traditionally written using the third-person omniscient point of view.

Next, consider the pieces of information presented in your thesis that will be the body of your paper. Using bullets, arrange your key points and the information associated with them:

  • Body 1
    • Details
    • Details
    • Details
  • Body 2
    • Details
    • Details
    • Details
  • Body 3
    • Details
    • Details
    • Details

The details of your body points should include information gathered via research, generally accepted knowledge, and/or other sources (depending on the nature of the assignment). Be sure to cite your sources using the proper writing style. While your paper can have as many relevant points as you see necessary, it is important to prioritize the information so that the paper does not become overly verbose, redundant, or even contradictory.

When you feel that you have properly explored your thesis, you are ready to conclude your paper. Your conclusion should consist of a general re-statement of your original thesis and any parting words you deem necessary. If your essay is didactic in nature, this is where you would present the overall lesson to be learned or the moral of the story.

Essay writing can be a difficult endeavor. However, using a proper outline will help to arrange your thoughts and, hopefully, quell your fears.

 
 

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