The big capstone of many a University or High school class is the Big Paper. Big Papers are difficult, often even grueling. One way to cut down on the mental overhead is to break the paper into many parts- in this case, creating an outline. Outlines are great because they first, operate the project manageable, and provide a skeleton from which you can create the meat of your paper. They also are good for keeping you on track. They do this by allowing you to have your ideas presented in an organized manner- with a proper outline; you should not find yourself without anything to say while writing your paper.
Writing outlines is simple. The principle is that you have indentations for each “level” of the outline. On the first level, you have your main ideas; more often than not, your paragraphs get one section at the top level of the outline. You may want to create a higher level for particularly long papers, if they start to breach 10+ pages. Of particular importance are your introduction and conclusions, because there are some special steps to take here. Your introduction should do a couple of things- in no uncertain terms are should state the problem your paper is trying to address, or the question it is trying to answer. A thesis statement belongs in there as well. Your thesis statement should state the idea your paper is ultimately trying to express, and your outline can include any key terms and some of the main points your paper is going to address.
From here, you will want to state each of your main ideas- things that can be expressed in about a paragraph. From here, you will want in indent and list all of the relevant sub points. Below each sub point, you should list supporting facts, and if you are doing a research paper he you should add any citations, facts, and notes, sourced where you got them from. You will also want to include any quotations that you want to use so you do not have to look them up later.
The conclusion of the paper is a bit different. It is a mirror of the introduction in most cases, and it should open with a restatement of the thesis, followed by a summary of what the paper just talked about. You can also add things such as next steps that could be taken, where further research should be done, or any final thoughts on the matter.
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