Using MLA Format for Composing an Outline of a Research Paper
Creating an outline is one of the most important steps of the research paper writing process. An outline is the plan of your essay. If you make it detailed and precise, writing the actual paper will be much easier, since you will only need to expand the main ideas presented in the outline.
When working on an outline for an MLA format essay, you will need to start by learning the requirements of this particular style. Your outline must include all the major parts of the paper in the correct order (introduction, body, and conclusion).
The first outline you create will be a “working outline”. If you are not required to present it to the instructor, you may make this part of the paper as informal as you wish. Depending on your personal preferences, it may be a simple list of topics you want to include in the essay or a more detailed sentence-type outline. In the latter case, you will need to write a full sentence for every point. You can use them later as core ideas for every paragraph. Please note that if your professor requires an outline to be presented to him or her, its structure must correspond to that of the actual paper as per the requirements of MLA format. Instructors usually do this in order to check whether you are going in the right direction with your research and to offer advice. You may use your working outline for this task after formatting it properly.
The following tips will help you quickly create a good outline:
- Write an outline that has multiple levels in order to make it as detailed as possible. You will be able to use it later in order to create a table of contents within minutes. Such a well-structured outline will also ensure that you do not miss anything important when working on the actual paper.
- When working on an initial outline, focus on the things you need to include in the paper, not on the order of their inclusion. You will be able to use this to assess the connections between different topics, and then work out the most efficient structure.
- If you do not feel comfortable working with sentences, try a topic outline format. In this case, you will only need to write a phrase that represents your main idea for every point. These outlines are easier to organize. However, do not forget that you will need to turn each of these phrases into a topic sentence when writing the essay.