How To Construct An Effective Research Paper Outline In The MLA Format

An outline is a document designed to help students invent their research paper writing strategies. It is useful because the outline presents your material in a logical sequence, helps you organize your points, sheds light on the relationships among different ideas, and defines groups in your paper.

Research Paper Outline Writing Basics

Remember that an effective outline should meet several requirements. They include:

  • Preserving a parallel structure in both headings and subheadings.
  • Using upper-case letters for first-level headings and lower-case letters for subheadings.
  • Making sure that the information in Heading 1 and Heading 2 has the same significance.
  • Following subordination, e.g. present more general information in headings, while subheadings should be more specific.

The MLA Style Guidelines

If you are writing your assignment in the humanities, you will probably need to format it in the MLA style, so learn the following guidelines on how to construct an effective research paper outline in the MLA format:

  1. Use the correct numerals.
  2. The MLA requires using uppercase Roman numerals for the major headings. It is recommended that you use capital letters for the second-level subheadings and Arab numerals for the third level. Although most students do not need the fourth level subheadings, you may consider using them. You will need to use lower-case letters to number them correctly.

  3. Write your rough draft quickly.
  4. You should not spend plenty of time writing your rough draft. It is fine to miss some details or get something in the wrong order. After you complete your initial literature study, you should simply write down all the headings and subheadings that you are planning to write about in your research paper. Then, consider whether it makes sense to use a chronological order or not and arrange the key ideas in a proper way.

  5. Check whether your outline has all the necessary elements.
  6. Each assignment outline in the MLA format should have a number of important elements, such as a document title, an introduction with a thesis statement, list of headings and subheadings, and a brief conclusion. You can write your outline using key words and phrases. However, most professors ask their students to write complete sentences and provide as many details as possible.

The last but not least, you should use a legible font, double-space the text of your document, leave one space after punctuation marks, and indent the first line of each paragraph one and a half-inch from the left margin. Remember to set a one-inch margin on all the sides.