Paper Writing Outline

Paper Writing Outline

Planning stage

  • Consider the purpose of the paper – to reflect, report, persuade, explain, etc.
  • Identify the audience – a particular set of readers with specific needs, expectations, educational levels
  • Set the tone – the attitude you adopt as you write — sympathetic, superior, lighthearted, respectful, detached, objective, etc.
  • Choose a topic
  • Finding something to say – brainstorming, reading and observing, clustering ideas, free writing, asking questions (who, what, when, where, why, how)

Shaping your material

  • Identify three or four general categories of information that best represents your material
  • Develop a thesis – one that communicates the main idea, is carefully worded, and delineates your direction, emphasis and scope.

Writing a Rough Draft

  • Write with revision in mind — write every other line or type triple-space


  • Is you tone consistent?
  • Is the thesis clearly and specifically worded?
  • Have you discussed everything promised in your thesis?
  • Did you present your ideas in a logical sequence?
  • Do clear transitions between paragraphs allow your readers to follow your thoughts?
  • Are your paragraphs developed fully enough to support your points?
  • Are the relationships of the sentences within paragraphs clear?
  • Does your concluding paragraph(s) sum up your main points?
  • Have you used correct sentence structure?
  • Have you varied your sentence structure?
  • Have you avoided confusing shifts in tense, voice, mood, person, or number?
  • Have you selected words that accurately reflect your intentions?
  • Have you eliminated jargon, clichés, and ineffective figures of speech?


  • Edit for grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and spelling.
  • Edit again


  • Check for typographical errors
  • Make sure your paper conforms to your instructor’s format requirements