Writing an outline for a college paper

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Writing an outline for a college paper

Add the beginning and end. You may read this TIP Sheet from start to finish before you begin your paper, or skip to the steps that are causing you the most grief. Interest, information, and focus Your job will be more pleasant, and you will be more apt to retain information if you choose a topic that holds your interest.

Even if a general topic is assigned "Write about impacts of GMO crops on world food supply"as much as possible find an approach that suits your interests.

Your topic should be one on which you can find adequate information; you might need to do some preliminary research to determine this. Go to the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature in the reference section of the library, or to an electronic database such as Proquest or Wilson Web, and search for your topic.

The Butte College Library Reference Librarians are more than happy to assist you at this or any stage of your research. Scan the results to see how much information has been published. Then, narrow your topic to manageable size: Anorexia Nervosa Once you have decided on a topic and determined that enough information is available, you are ready to proceed.

At this point, however, if you are having difficulty finding adequate quality information, stop wasting your time; find another topic. First read a general article on your topic, for example from an encyclopedia.

8 Tips for Crafting Your Best College Essay

If you need to know what publication information is needed for the various types of sources, see a writing guide such as SF Writer. On the index cards or in your notebook, write down information you want to use from each identified source, including page numbers.

Use quotation marks on anything you copy exactly, so you can distinguish later between exact quotes and paraphrasing. You will still attribute information you have quoted or paraphrased. Some students use a particular index card method throughout the process of researching and writing that allows them great flexibility in organizing and re-organizing as well as in keeping track of sources; others color-code or otherwise identify groups of facts.

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Use any method that works for you in later drafting your paper, but always start with good recordkeeping. Mind map or outline Based on your preliminary reading, draw up a working mind map or outline. Include any important, interesting, or provocative points, including your own ideas about the topic.

A mind map is less linear and may even include questions you want to find answers to. Use the method that works best for you. The object is simply to group ideas in logically related groups. You may revise this mind map or outline at any time; it is much easier to reorganize a paper by crossing out or adding sections to a mind map or outline than it is to laboriously start over with the writing itself.

Focus and craftsmanship Write a well defined, focused, three- to five-point thesis statement, but be prepared to revise it later if necessary.

Take your time crafting this statement into one or two sentences, for it will control the direction and development of your entire paper.

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Facts and examples Now begin your heavy-duty research. Try the internet, electronic databases, reference books, newspaper articles, and books for a balance of sources. For each source, write down on an index card or on a separate page of your notebook the publication information you will need for your works cited MLA or bibliography APA page.

Write important points, details, and examples, always distinguishing between direct quotes and paraphrasing.

As you read, remember that an expert opinion is more valid than a general opinion, and for some topics in science and history, for examplemore recent research may be more valuable than older research.

Avoid relying too heavily on internet sources, which vary widely in quality and authority and sometimes even disappear before you can complete your paper. Never copy-and-paste from internet sources directly into any actual draft of your paper.

For more information on plagiarism, obtain from the Butte College Student Services office a copy of the college's policy on plagiarism, or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester.

Matching mind map and thesis After you have read deeply and gathered plenty of information, expand or revise your working mind map or outline by adding information, explanations, and examples.

Aim for balance in developing each of your main points they should be spelled out in your thesis statement. Return to the library for additional information if it is needed to evenly develop these points, or revise your thesis statement to better reflect what you have learned or the direction your paper seems to have taken.Trying to devise a structure for your essay can be one of the most difficult parts of the writing process.

Making a detailed outline before you begin writing is a good way to make sure your ideas come across in a clear and logical order. Sep 25,  · Expert Reviewed. How to Write an Outline. Five Parts: Sample Outlines Planning Your Outline Structuring Your Outline Organizing Your Ideas Finalizing Your Outline Community Q&A An outline is a great way to organize ideas and information for a speech, an essay, a novel, or a study guide based on your class notes%(18).

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writing an outline for a college paper

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