OUTLINING: Creating an Outline for Your Research Paper


Directions: To create an outline for your research paper, follow these instructions to organize your information. Bracketed notes direct you to the bottom of this page for further explanation.


  1. Cut out and sort your note cards into stacks that contain each of the areas below.
    1.  Introduction
    2.  Main Point #1
    3. Main Point #2
    4.  Main Point #3
    5. Conclusion
  2. Use the sample outline below as a model to help you properly create your own outline.



Sample Outline[1] 


Global Warming: Time for Action


I. Introduction

    A. Is global warming a serious problem that Americans must confront?

    B. Evidence shows that it is a huge concern, destroying the earth's ozone layer, changing the climate, and having

         negative effects on life forms.[2] 

II. Ozone layer destruction

III. Climate changes

            A. Global warming

            B. Greenhouse effect[3] 

IV. Negative effects[4] 

V. Conclusion- Clearly, air pollution is damaging the earth's ozone layer and harming life, so a solution to this problem must be found. [5] 

(Part of this outline comes from http://www.jtasd.k12.pa.us/hs/curriculum/library/a_sample_outline.htm).




  1. On a separate sheet of paper, type the outline of your research paper. Use Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.) for main headings.
  2. Review your completed outline and make sure it matches the sample outline’s format.


 [1]Each Roman numeral (highlighted in yellow) will correspond to a paragraph in your paper.

 [2]This is your thesis statement.  It will be the last sentence of your first paragraph.  The first sentence will be a question or “hook” to get your reader’s attention. It can also be an interesting fact.  The second sentence will be a general reply to your question or a reaction to the fact.

 [3]If your paragraph about climate changes begins with a topic sentence like, “Two climate changes are global warming and the greenhouse effect,” you need to have an “A” and a “B” to show these categories.  Important: In an outline, you cannot have an “A” if you don’t have a “B.”

 [4]Notice that each topic of the body paragraphs ends in a noun and is preceded by an adjective.  Using the same parts of speech in the same pattern is called parallel construction.

 [5]This first sentence of your concluding paragraph is based on your thesis statement, but allows you to remind your reader of the evidence you have provided in your paper that shows that action must be taken.