Outline Of A Mla Research Paper

It is told that the mode of writing of an outline for the research paper is a necessary thing to understand. However, the point is in comprehending of a reason why one should draw it up at all. Evidently, in some cases the outline could be a requirement for paper, but what creates this aureole of necessity for such a thing?

Importance of the outline

Outline`s first assisting aim is in breaking information down into smaller pieces of a sense. Simplified navigation through text is great, but after navigation goes part that is more valuable: managing and applying of this information. 

Talking about dissertations or any other kinds of papers with numerous amounts of pages, the presence of outline or simply plan is an obvious thing to be. It must be quite hard to navigate through the enormous text without visual structure support. Concerning less weighty papers, outline helps to concentrate on the key aspects that are under the survey.

Having writing plan in small papers is not vital, because its main goal is simply to structure the text, and Modern Language Association (MLA) writing standard doesn`t demand it in research papers. It still doesn`t mean that intentional omission of plan of whole survey is a sensible decision. It helps to follow all formal aspects of the research study.

As sometimes it is the requirement, there should be special way of formatting it. Here the most used technique exactly is the MLA writing standard. It provides coherent set of rules that guides you composing the plan.


Everything has its start and for the outline, this start is a thesis statement. It usually includes two or three and, sometimes, even a single sentence. It is not important how many words would you use for the thesis in contrast to the sense of these words. Thesis statement aims to reflect the main idea of survey and to set accents on what research is about.

After opening part of plan – thesis statement – usually goes the body of the work. In order to make it more convenient to write, MLA writing standard proposes to divide subsequent thoughts into chapters. Important to know, that all information divided into chapters should support thesis statement.

As every chapter needs a structural designation, MLA formatting advices are the following.

  • Headings of sections are numbered with roman numerals (I, II, III).
  • If these sections are hereinafter subdivided, Capitalized letters are used (A, B, C).
  • For next level go Arabic numerals (1,2,3),
  • and small letters (a, b, c) for the last subdivision of the section.

The page numeration of MLA research paper uses small roman numerals (i, ii, iii). MLA standard also recommends writing plan in accomplished sentences.

Thinking of a reader

Initial outline of the research paper consists of separate sections, which are united by a single logic of a study. It is also worth noting, because absence of consecution in plan dooms all the work to failure.

The simple example of using writing plan is referring to previously aligned ideas of the author while losing sight of the main thought of research. While writing the research paper author concentrates on his own ideas, but outline gives a chance to think about a reader. Information included in writing plan helps readers to orient themselves throughout the structure of study. Still being not compulsory to use, the outline shows only pros of efforts spent on its creation.


Thesis: Federal regulations need to foster laws that will help protect wetlands, restore those that have been destroyed, and take measures to improve the damange from overdevelopment.

I. Nature's ecosystem

   A. Loss of wetlands nationally

   B. Loss of wetlands in Illinois

      1. More flooding and poorer water quality

      2. Lost ability to prevent floods, clean water and store water

II. Dramatic floods

   A, Cost in dollars and lives

      1. 13 deaths between 1988 and 1998

      2. Cost of $39 million per year

   B. Great Midwestern Flood of 1993

      1. Lost wetlands in IL

      2. Devastation in some states

   C. Flood Prevention

      1. Plants and Soils

      2. Floodplain overflow

III. Wetland laws

   A. Inadequately informed legislators

      1. Watersheds

      2. Interconnections in natural water systems

   B. Water purification

IV. Need to save wetlands

   A. New federal definition

   B. Re-education about interconnectedness

      1. Ecology at every grade level

      2. Education for politicians and developers

      3. Choices in schools and people's lives

Example taken from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (9th ed).

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