How To Format An Outline For A Research Paper: 6 Basic Rules


When writing academic papers you will often be required to use various formatting techniques. Unless you have been given specific instructions by your teacher then, generally, you will be able to find out exactly what any instructions should be used by looking online or purchasing an official copy of the style guide that you need to use, such as APA style. To give you are further idea of what sort of things you need to keep in mind when formatting the outline section of your research paper, the following provides six basic rules.

  1. Establish a working title and identify any secondary questions
  2. The first thing that you need to do is work out what your paper will be about. Therefore, you need to establish some kind of working title - although this can change as the work progresses - as well as identifying any secondary questions that you may wish to ask. This will give you an understanding of what information you need to include in your outline, and, therefore, how to structure it and format it.


  3. Using the right line spacing
  4. One of the most straightforward formatting requirements that you will need to consider is what kind of line spacing you will use. Generally, the word processing software that you are using will give you a variety of different options, and the spacing that you will need to use will impact upon the visual side of things, but may also be used in order to help your teacher to make any alterations or corrections in pen.


  5. The use of indentations at the beginning of paragraphs
  6. Another thing that you need to be aware of is whether or not you need to include any indentations at the beginning of paragraphs. Generally, if you do need to include indentations, these will often be half an inch long.


  7. Picking a good font
  8. If you have not already been instructed about which font to use, then it is a good idea to pick one that is relatively easy to read and, therefore, is plain and simple.


  9. Sizing the text
  10. Just as it is a good idea to pick a font that is easy to read, you need to also consider the size of the text, and ensure that it is not too small, so that it cannot be read, but equally that it is not too large that it looks inappropriate.


  11. Proofreading and checking the work
  12. Finally, you should proofread your work to check for spelling mistakes, but also to check that the formatting is correct as well.


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