Basic Outline of an Academic Paper
An essay outline provides a logical arrangement of ideas to help define the organization and characteristics of an essay. Creating an outline helps the writer logically plan, arrange, and structure the essay, providing a creative framework for problem-solving.
- The introduction should have some of the following elements, depending on the type of paper: the hook, background information, connections, and thesis statement.
- Start with the hook: an example, quote, statistic, anecdote, or historical fact that introduces the paper topic.
- Provide background information related to any issues involved with the subject.
- Define important terms and language needed to understand the topic.
- Emphasize background information on the topic necessary to understand the direction of the paper.
Thesis statement: The introduction should end with the thesis statement, usually one, sometimes two sentences:
- The thesis is the claim stating the overall focus of the paper.
- The thesis outlines the main points in the paper.
III. Body Paragraphs
- Clearly present the main points of the paper as listed in the thesis.
- Give strong examples, details, and explanations to support each main point.
- If it is an argumentative paper, address any counterarguments and refute those arguments.
- In a research paper, use strong evidence from sources—paraphrases, summaries, and quotations that support the main points.
- Restate the thesis in different words.
- Make important observations in the conclusion.
- Reinforce the significance of the argument.
- End with a strong closing statement, a thoughtful and logical final sentence that ties the whole point of the paper together.
Some Useful Strategies:
- You do not need to start with the introduction.
- Try drafting a working thesis to provide a logical framework for the paper.
- Write a few body paragraphs, dumping information on paper.
- Write the thesis and body first, then go back and figure out how to best introduce the body and conclude the paper.
- Use transitions between main points and between examples within the main points.