Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From Notes to Outline...

Today you are going to begin organizing your notes. It's the first step in creating an outline.

Creating an outline:

  1. Organize your notes according to your Plan of Development.
  2. Using a traditional outline organization, sketch the main body sections of the paper.

  3. Then, organize each sub-section, using your notes as a guide.

Remember: Each paragraph in your paper has a purpose--it is explaining or persuading your reader. When you don't know what should come next, ask yourself, "what do I need the reader to know to believe MY opinion?"

In your MLA Book instruction on outlining begins on page 48. Outline example on page 53.

Here is a picture of a properly formatted outline:

Still confused? Ask Ms. Miller for a Writing Research Papers book. Start on page 42.

Here is some advice from other people who've written research papers....

Arrange Your Notes by Topics -- (

Once you have taken color-coded notes, you will be able to sort your notes more easily. Sort the cards by colors. Then, arrange by relevance. These will become your paragraphs. You may have several paragraphs for each sub-topic.

Outline Your Research Paper

Write an outline, according to your sorted cards. You may find that some of the cards fit better with different “colors” or sub-topics, so simply re-arrange your cards. That’s a normal part of the process. Your paper is taking shape and becoming a logical argument or position statement.


All points must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other. Include in your outline an INTRODUCTION, a BODY, and a CONCLUSION. Make the first outline tentative.

INTRODUCTION - State your thesis and the purpose of your research paper clearly. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

BODY - This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i.e. find 3 supporting arguments for each position you take. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point.

CONCLUSION - Restate or reword your thesis. Summarize your arguments. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion.

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