Creating a Good Research Paper Outline

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by Will Martins / Updated May 24, 2022

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The outline allows to ease the academic report composing procedure because researchers can adhere to it. In essence, the quality of the outline prepared directly impacts the grade of the scholastic paper submitted. Therefore, it's vital to form a top-quality research essay outline.

Meanwhile, a professionally-made outline can help reduce the time needed to craft a college paper. Undergraduates can follow a plan and fill the existing layout to cover a topic in more detail. Also, undergraduates don't need to keep all the details in their minds. Accordingly, the chance of forgetting a crucial detail decreases significantly. 

If you want to boost the quality of your scholastic writing, you're at the right place. Scroll down below and discover how to outline a research paper.

What's an Outline of Research Paper

It's vital to comprehend what it is in a nutshell. The outline for research paper is widely confused with a list of contents.

However, the outline on research paper is a thorough writing that implies a lot of detailed info about your college paper. It helps categorize ideas in a certain way and comprehend how your paper will look when it gets completed. Consequently, you will note missed details or irrelevant information to remove. 

Also, it helps pay close attention to the flow of ideas to arrange them properly before documenting an analysis essay. The outline for composing a research paper should imply topics and subtopics. Also, it needs to be formatted according to particular standards. Feel free to check out a sample outline for research papers below.

Research Paper Outline Example

Topic: Effect of Smartphones on Teenagers

  1. Introduction
    1. Statistics about the adoption and use of mobile phones among teenagers
    2. The rise of hours spent by teenagers using their smartphone leads to severe consequences
    3. Figures: Detailed information on the increasing usage of smartphones by students
  2. Chapter 1: Reasons for the increased usage of mobile devices
    1. Convenience of communication
    2. Instant access to any information
    3. Mobile entertainment
    4. Assistance in coping with routine tasks
  3. Chapter 2: Risks of increased mobile phone usage among teenagers
    1. High risk of smartphone addiction
    2. Possible development of musculoskeletal disorders that cause pain in the hands
    3. Sleep loss because the unlimited and untracked smartphone usage
    4. Increased anxiety development because of the need to stay online 24/7
    5. Reduced focus on the crucial task because a smartphone is a major distraction
    6. Cyberbullying is a widespread issue among teenagers
    7. Vision problems can be developed in case of excessive smartphone usage
  4. Chapter 3: Measures taken to break down the usage of smartphones
    1. Mobile phone time usage tracking
    2. Use of time limits for certain applications
    3. Utilization of blocking applications
  5. Conclusion
    1. Brief description of claims and arguments
    2. Summarizing statement

How to Write a Well Structured Research Outline

It's not a tough task to compose well-structured research paper outlines. To compose a top-tier quality structure, you need to comprehend that it's required to spend a lot of time composing a detailed outline. Even though you may consider it a time-waster, a detailed blueprint will help save time on composing a research essay in the long run.

The first thing you ought to do to craft a layout is to choose a subject. Note all the ideas that arise in your head in the form of short notes. It's recommended to brainstorm to get as many ideas as possible to compose a comprehensive paper. 

Organize all the thoughts by dividing them into groups and sub-groups. It is the initial stage of outline research paper composing, so there is no need to follow any strict rules. You can note and update all your ideas in free form. After this, you need to arrange all the ideas listed in a particular order. They need to form a coherent story that reveals important details step-by-step. Indeed, the most vital data should be specified first in your outline. 

Finally, it would be best if you polished your outline to compose professional-grade headings that imply all the required data. Don't forget to apply a certain format to the structure of a research paper outline. Below in the post, you will find a detailed direction on formatting your paper blueprint.

Ways to Format Your Outline

Indeed, you can apply any approach to format a paper’s skeleton in your draft. However, there are three formats for research papers available: alphanumeric, full-sentence, and decimal. They will bring standardization to your blueprint, so other readers will be able to read it effortlessly. If you follow any of the mentioned structures below, the reader won't spend extra time comprehending your paper's logic and idea flow. Also, you will be able to find particular chapters to update them upon a need.


It is one of the most popular formats used by research paper services. It requires you to use a roman number for the first-level headings. Second- and third-level headings should be identified by capitalized Latin letters and Arabic numbers. The four-level heading needs to be indicated by lowercase Latin letters. All the text should have the form of short notes. Check out the example:

  1. Movie
    1. Action
    2. Fantasy
    3. Comedy
      1. Romantic comedy
        1. The Wedding Planner
        2. The Holiday


It follows the alphanumeric research paper outline format. Therefore, you ought to indicate headings in the same way. However, there is one difference. This format brings the ability to compose more detailed outlines by writing full sentences instead of short notes. Here is an example:

  1. The world consists of seven continents
    1. Europe implies a lot of diverse countries
      1. Western Europe is one of the most developed regions
        1. Portugal has an extensive coastal line
        2. France is famous for many masterpieces


It is the most logical format used to identify points and subpoints in a research paper outline. There is one simple rule to remember. Every heading is identified by an Arabic number with a period. Every new sub-heading is indicated by adding a new number. Use short notes to compose this type of outline. Check out the sample:

  1. British isles
    1. Ireland
    2. United Kingdom
      1. Northern Ireland
      2. Great Britain
        1. England
        2. Wales
        3. Scotland


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