Research Paper Outline and Format

Writing a research paper requires a lot of preparedness in terms of research and having a concrete plan. No matter what your paper’s subject is, having an outline helps you organize your work and thoughts beforehand.  An outline acts as a visual cue to help remember all the crucial parts and details of your paper. Sectioning your paper into key components makes your work easier and more organized. It also reduces the chances of leaving out vital information and helps you cover all the sections independently.  Your paper’s structure and outline can become similar independent of whether you decide to write something general or something specific like a scientific paper.

The research outline’s structure proves identical to the template of a research paper. To familiarize yourself with the outline structure, it is vital to go through research paper samples. So how can you go about this? Students have to go through a research paper outline, something that often proves a tall order. However, you no longer do not have to worry, as you can consider the guidelines below.

Research Paper Outline Guidelines

An outline of a research paper often entails an introduction, body, and conclusion. It might seem simple, though it becomes prudent to remember that every segment has a particular purpose. Therefore, how you arrange your information in the outline drives the outlook and information flow in your paper upon completion.

Introduction. It forms a critical element in any excellent research paper. The segment often gets completed last. The introduction serves to grab your audience’s attention, and therefore, has to have the topic and a compelling thesis statement to serve as a hook in attracting the reader’s attention. 

The body. It forms the bulk of your essay and often includes plenty of fact-rich subsections or paragraphs. The section allows you to develop the thesis statement by giving facts to back your argument up. It has to elaborate your opening statement besides giving insight into research methods used in investigating answers and points to questions.  

You also have to incorporate the literature review at this stage. It gets achieved by thoroughly documenting the sources utilized in backing up your hypothesis and theories. Remember, your paper’s subject and the picked literature have to be adjacent. Additionally, in instances where you use data validation, it has to follow your literature and methodology sections. It represents the segment where it becomes prudent to highlight the results besides mentioning other variables uncovered in the study. Here, you can use tables or graphs, though the data must be explained to ensure your readers understand.

Finally, you have to write the conclusion, and in this section, you have to avoid providing any new information. The goal in this section entails summarizing the primary points that you have addressed in your paper. It also proves crucial to reiterate your thesis statement besides mentioning any future study.    

Formatting Your Research Paper

  • Paper. It becomes essential to use good quality and clean white paper. Potentially an 8 ½ x 11″. Use only one side.
  • Margins. It becomes essential to leave at least 2.5cm at the bottom, right, left, and top sides of your paper. However, you can make exceptions for page numbers. 
  • Title page. The page proves non-essential when writing your research paper. However, it carries significant weight in the instance where your instructor requests it.You can get the general guideline from the MLA Handbook. Avoid typing your title in capital letters or using acronyms.
  • Number your paragraphs and pages
  • Space between lines
  • Indent
  • Use automatic hyphens and justify your work to the right.
  • Underline the titles of magazines, books, journals, and newspapers
  • Please avoid writing in caps or capital letters as it always comes out as rude or shouting.
  • Incorporate a contents table if your paper proves long. However, for a short paper, you do not need a contents table.


Most research papers will have diverse subjects but often the same structure or outline. Therefore, you need to consider the guidelines provided to write an excellent research paper.

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