College Term Paper Organization

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An outline is a formal system used to develop a framework for thinking about what should be the organization and eventual contents of your paper.

An outline helps you predict the overall structure and flow of a paper.

University of North Carolina; Reverse Outlines: A Writer's Technique for Examining Organization. A good way to check your progress is to use what you have written to recreate the outline.

Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. How do you know whether to change the paper to fit the outline, or, that you need to reconsider the outline so that it fits the paper?

The thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay and previews your supporting points.

The thesis statement is important because it guides your readers from the beginning of your essay by telling them the main idea and supporting points of your essay.Pay attention to any how-to handouts you’ve received, and don’t forget to check your university’s writing lab for more resources.A research paper is different from a research proposal (also known as a prospectus), although the writing process is similar.Columns can include headings such as Title, Author, Reference link, Page number, and Quotes. Don’t skip the organization step—it’s critical to your paper’s success.Without it, your paper will lack focus and you’ll spend much more time in the revision process trying to make sense of your jumbled thoughts.The sentence outline is also useful because sentences themselves have many of the details in them needed to build a paper and it allows you to include those details in the sentences instead of having to create an outline of short phrases that goes on page after page. A strong outline details each topic and subtopic in your paper, organizing these points so that they build your argument toward an evidence-based conclusion. Writing an outline will also help you focus on the task at hand and avoid unnecessary tangents, logical fallacies, and underdeveloped paragraphs. If you discover that it's difficult to create an outline from what you have written, then you likely need to revise your paper.Keep track of your reference materials so you can cite them and build your bibliography later.The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) and other university writing lab websites are excellent resources to help you understand what information you’ll need to collect to properly cite references.

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