- Construct an argument that answers the writing prompt by arranging your notes linearly.
- Unless your teacher wants a 5 paragraph essay (an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph), don’t feel constrained by that model.
Now that you’ve grouped your notes, thought about your transitions, and developed a high-powered thesis, its time to build the scaffold upon which you’ll structure your paper: the outline.
Some teachers prefer a standard 3 body paragraph format. Three is a nice number aesthetically, but there is nothing particularly magical about having three body paragraphs. Unless your teacher states that you must have a certain number of body paragraphs, don’t feel constrained by this 3 paragraph format. The number of body paragraphs you have should be determined by your research and how you grouped your notes, not by an arbitrary number. Have one main claim expressed in each paragraph.
Tip: Keep in mind that the outline needs to be flexible. Don’t feel constrained by your outline once it’s created. If you get a surge of inspiration part way through writing your paper and decide to take your paper in a new direction, go ahead and change your outline.
There are several different ways to format an outline, but the MLA method (below) is a solid way to do it. Note how easily all the previous work you’ve done (grouping your notes and thinking about transitions) slides into the outline format:
Links to sample outlines:
MLA Outline Pages with Formatically
First, you'll need to set up your Formatically account. When you're done, you'll be able to format outline pages in just one click. Start by opening a new document and scrolling to section that says "do you need any other pages?". Click the last option to include a free formatted outline page with your download.
WARNING: You will need a premium account to download your outline page. If you don't have or don't want a premium account you can follow the steps outlined below to set up your outline page in Word, or Google Docs.
How to Format an MLA Outline Page
Do you need to format you paper’s outline page in MLA Format but don’t know how? No problem! Here are a few quick and easy steps to get you going.
Part One- Page Set-up
- To start, you will need to open a new word document specifically for your outline. First of all, the header you need for your outline will be different than the header used for rest of the paper.
- Start the outline by including the lowercase Roman numeral “i” as a page number on the top-right corner of each page after the first page of your report, ending when your essay begins.
- Your title needs to be centered. The word outline is the title.
- Then write the thesis statement directly below it and to the left, and label it as such. Hit Enter once, and this is where you start your outline. Your thesis should be one to two sentences long.
Part Two- The Proper Hierarchy
You’re halfway there.
This part is what seems confusing at first, but it’s actually pretty simple to do. Your outline should be a multilevel list, which just means that it’s a mix of numbers and letters, should your outline need it. The thing to remember, though, is which letters and numbers to use first.
5. You need to start with the Roman numeral “I.” The subtopic, which follows right after on the next line, is the uppercase “A.” If this subtopic has its own subtopic, it would be number “1,” and then subtopic after that is lowercase “a,” and its subtopic (the one that needs symbols) is denoted as “(1),” and so forth.
Remember: Your outline should consist of complete sentences, and that each general point in the outline is always denoted with an uppercase Roman numeral. Normally you will have one Roman numeral for each paragraph.
Now, doesn’t that sound simpler? Check out the rest of the site for other how-to’s and tips for writing your paper using the MLA Format. Don’t worry, all of them come with their own MLA Templates to help guide you!