How To Compose A Research Paper Outline: Guidelines For High School


If you’re a high school student, chances are that you’ll be assigned research paper writing assignments throughout the term. Part of writing an effective paper involves drafting an effective outline. In fact, some teachers may grade that as well. But how do you compose one? Let’s take a look.

Getting Started

An outline should be, in fact, the first thing you write about when you’re drafting your research paper.

Most essays that you’ll write in high school feature the same basic structure. You’ll start off with an introduction. This tells the reader what you’re going to be talking about in your paper and what they should expect. Then it’s onto the body paragraphs. These provide the evidence and support you’ll need in order to prove whatever points you’re trying to make. Typically, you’ll want at least three to five sentences per body paragraph although this can depend on the class and the nature of the assignment. Finally, you’ll sum everything up in your conclusion.

Once you know the structure you’ll need to follow, you can continue on with your outline. What else will you need to account for when it comes to drafting it up? Let’s take a look.

Drafting the Outline

Now it’s time to actually draft it.

Keep your outline simple. For the most part, you’ll only need a couple words or sentences to sum up each point. But you should be able to show how your paper will be organized. After all, you’ll probably want to reference it when you’re writing your paper’s first draft.

Here’s an example:

Topic: Frogs

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
    • Physiology
      • Body
    • Habitat
      • Swamps
      • Rivers
    • Life cycles
      • Laying eggs
      • Metamorphosis
  3. Conclusion

As you can see, it’s pretty basic and simple. But it serves an important purpose: it shows you what you’ll be writing about in each section. Thus, even if you technically don’t have to write one and your teacher’s not grading it, it can still be a handy tool for you to stay on track.

Make sure you have a strong topic in mind. And when organizing your piece, always make sure that you stay on track and that each paragraph is summed up effectively.

Keep it concise and stick to it. That’s what will ensure that you’ve written an effective, well-organized outline for any research paper you may be asked to write about.

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