Outlining: Traditional

In many of your courses, you’ll be asked to write a traditional, thesis-based research essay. In this structure, you provide a thesis, usually at the end of your introduction, body paragraphs that support your thesis with research, and a conclusion to emphasize the key points of your research paper. You’ll likely encounter this type of assignment in classes in the humanities, but you may also be asked to write a traditional research paper in business classes and some introductory courses in the sciences and social sciences.

In the sample on this page, you’ll see a basic structure that can be modified to fit the length of your assignment. It’s important to note, in shorter research essays, each point of your outline might correspond to a single paragraph, but in longer research papers, you might develop each supporting point over several paragraphs.

Traditional Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. background, context for topic
    2. transition to thesis
    3. thesis statement
  2. Supporting Point 1
    1. supporting detail
      1. example 1
      2. example 2
    2. supporting detail
      1. example 1
      2. example 2
    3. supporting detail
      1. example 1
      2. example 2
  3. Supporting Point 2
  4. Supporting Point 3
  5. Supporting Point 4
  6. Conclusion
    1. review central ideas presented in body and make connection to thesis
    2. transition to closing thoughts
    3. closing thoughts

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