How to write a detailed outline for a college research paper

Writing a detailed outline for a college research paper can be tricky. You need to demonstrate very many different skills, and an awareness of both your field of research, and your very specific thesis. Alongside this, you need to provide evidence that you understand how a research paper should look, which means following any structural and formal requirement that come with your subject. So, how can you do this, and write in sufficient detail to provide a good structure for your paper? Here are a few tips.


Before you begin you will need to be absolutely certain of what it is that you are going to say: what is your thesis? Before you know this, you cannot plan, because you have nothing to plan around or towards. So take some time and think, very precisely about what your paper will demonstrate.


When you have an idea of what you want to demonstrate, think about how you might do that. What kinds of paragraphs might you need? What steps will you have to take in your argument? What evidence will be required? When you know these things, then you already have the basics for a detailed outline.


Now that you have the thesis, and the argument outlined in your mind, you can begin writing your outline. So, first, check what the required sections are in your given field, as each subject generally has certain requirements. Once you have this, put it down in skeleton, as a frame, with your argument in mind.


Once this is done, you can write precisely what those sections will do; go through each section heading and sub-heading and write, very clearly, exactly what your paper will do in that space. You have your argument in mind, so you should know, in detail, exactly how the paper will look.

Intro and Conclusion

Take some time on the outline of the content of the introduction and conclusion, because these are where a great deal of the work of your paper will be done. Be very clear in the writing.

So, follow these steps to put yourself in the best position to write a detailed outline for your college research paper. Remember, as with any academic work, the thinking that you do before you begin writing is just as important as the writing itself.