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MLA Sample Paper

Mla sample paper #1.

If you’ve been wondering how to produce a research paper that is strong in both formatting and writing, you’ve come to the right place.

Check out our first sample paper below. It is a helpful and clearly labeled visual aid to refer to. Note that while these sample papers do not include MLA abstracts , you should check with your instructor to see if an abstract should be included.

Visual Sample Paper

The example research paper below is one that was written in college for a course on the Inklings. The Inklings were a group of writers in England before WWII, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The abbreviated MLA paper below (linked here without annotations) is about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and how the author used myth, story, and song to link all of his works together. Tolkien is famous for creating a fantasy universe called Middle-earth, which readers can’t truly understand until they read all of the books about Middle-earth ( The Silmarillian, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings ).

Since we’re here to learn how to format an essay, we’ve pointed out some important things about the paper to help you write a correctly formatted essay.

For starters, the essay is in MLA format. That means it follows the style manual of the Modern Language Association, which tells you how to format the paper itself and every source you cite. You’ll also see notes like how long a paragraph should be, how to use commas properly, and how to correctly punctuate a title. Some of these guidelines are different from those in APA format , so be sure to confirm you are using the correct style in your paper.

Pay special attention to the MLA format works cited. We only used one type of source (books), but both citations are correct according to the 9th edition of MLA, published in 2021. When you’re writing your own paper, you need to make sure you always use the most recent edition of the style manual. You’ll also want to check with your instructor to see if you need to include an MLA annotated bibliography with your paper, which contains additional information summarizing and evaluating each source after the regular citation.

Whether you need MLA, APA citations , or Chicago style notes, look up the latest edition before turning in a paper.

sample mla research paper outline

MLA Sample Paper #2

See below for an example paper or click below to download it as a Word Document.

sample mla research paper outline

The MLA header should be one inch from the top and left margins. The heading and the entire paper should be double spaced.

Eli YaffarabeProfessor Rapheor

28 August 2018

Privatization of Prisons in Texas

              The privatization of governmental services has increased dramatically in the past decade as local, state, and federal agencies have searched for ways to cut costs while still meeting their mandated responsibility to provide various public services. This privatizing trend has particularly affected the criminal justice system. Since the early 1990s, privatized correctional facilities have increased significantly, nationally and statewide. This policy has far-ranging consequences not only within the criminal justice system, but as an instructive example for government officials when considering the costs and benefits of privatization as a public policy option. By 2001, thirty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had privately-operated correctional facilities (Austin and Coventry 4). This movement has incited considerable debate and controversy, mainly because prison privatization calls for giving the private sector direct control over the lives of a captive human population.

Surprisingly, there has been little objective and concrete analysis of the privatization of prisons in the United States. This is probably for two reasons: first, ideological arguments on the matter have pushed out substantive research, and second, because this trend has only recently accelerated in the U.S. and mainly on a state level. However, case studies and statistics at the state level are more accessible. With capacity for over 30,000 prisoners in 43 facilities, the state of Texas has privatized more of its prison system than any state in the nation (McDonald and Patten Jr. iv).

Yaffarabe 2

              Public policy concerning the criminal justice system has become more daunting and important in the last decade. The problems in the system are twofold: an overcrowding prison population, mainly due to “three strikes” legislation and reducing early parole; and the costs of operating prisons with this growing population (Austin and Coventry). According to the most recent U.S. Department of Justice survey, slightly over 2.2 million people were incarcerated in correctional facilities in this country in 2003. In comparison, in 1993, 1.37 million people were imprisoned in this country (Beck and Harrison 1).

At the same time, the growth of privately operated correctional facilities has increased significantly in this country. Private prisons now hold 95,522 inmates in this country, which is 6.5 percent of total prisoners (Beck and Harrison 5). In Texas, 16,570 inmates (10 percent of its prison population) are held in private facilities, about 10,000 more than the next highest state. Furthermore, six states had at least 25 percent of their prison population housed in private prisons, led by New Mexico (44%), Alaska (31%), and Montana (29%). These current statistics show that while state governments have been forced to manage and operate overcrowded and over-capacity prisons at considerable costs, many have turned to the private sector to operate prisons (McDonald and Patten Jr.). According to the General Accounting Office, prison operating costs have grown steadily since 1980, increasing almost 550 percent since 1980 based on inflation-adjusted dollars (Austin and Coventry 1).

Prison privatization started in the early 1980s, ostensibly to ease the burden on taxpayers by offering financial relief to private companies to run state prisons. Thomas Beasley founded Corrections Corporation of America in 1983, “the nation’s leader in the construction and management of private prisons” (Darling). That year, Corrections Corporation of America set up the first privately-operated prison in Tennessee. Since then, the number of private

Yaffarabe 3

correctional facility firms has grown to 14 (Austin and Coventry 3). The privatization of prisons occurs in two ways. First, state government can contract out (or outsource) specific services in a correctional facility to a private company after a bidding process. Second, and more radically, private companies build their own privately-managed prisons and contract with state governments to house their inmates. This latter approach, giving private correctional facility firms wide latitude over inmates, is taken in the Texas criminal justice system. In fact, many of these privately operated facilities “have no relationship at all with the state governments in these states, other than an obligation to pay corporate income taxes” (McDonald and Patten Jr. v).

(Due to its length, the remainder of this sample paper is omitted).

Yaffarabe 4

Works Cited Page

Austin, James, and Garry Coventry. Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons . Bureau of Justice Assistance, Feb. 2001, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/181249.pdf.

Beck, Allen J., and Paige Harrison. Prisoners in 2003 . Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2004, www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p03.pdf.

McDonald, Douglas, and Carl Patten Jr. Governments’ Management of Private Prisons . Abt Associates, 15 Sept. 2003, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/203968.pdf.

Darling, Michael. “Pitt News: University of Pittsburgh Shouldn’t Lend Its Name to Prison Privatization.” CorpWatch , 15 Nov. 2004, corpwatch.org/article/pitt-news-univeristy-pittsburgh-shouldnt-lend-its-name-prison-privatization.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • Works Cited
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

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  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.

Citation in prose

Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry. An example of the first citation in prose for a source with one author is given below:

Doug Barry explains the status of the UK.

Parenthetical

Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:

The status of the UK is explained (Barry).

Examples of in-text citations

Here are a few examples of in-text citations for works with various numbers and types of authors:

Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the author’s surname in parenthetical citations.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Stephen George asserts …. (17).

Subsequent occurrences: George argues …. (17).

Parenthetical:

…. (George 17).

Two authors

Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.

First mention: Kane Williams and Clark Ronald ….

Subsequent occurrences: Williams and Ronald ….

…. (Williams and Ronald).

Three or more authors

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”

Krishnan Sethu and colleagues…. or Krishnan Sethu and others ….

…. (Sethu et al.).

Corporate author

For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.

The Language Literary Association of Canada….

…. (Language Literary Association).

If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.

When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .

Endgame explains …. (121).

…. ( Endgame 121).

In MLA style, two types of citations are used to cite a source: a short citation used within the text (called the in-text citation) and a full citation (called the works cited list entry) within the works cited list, which appears at the end of a paper.

The works cited list entry provides the complete details of a source. An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The in-text citation lets the reader know that the information is derived from the cited source, and helps the reader find the full citation within the works cited list.

In order to properly cite a source in MLA style, you must have both citation types in your paper. Every in-text citation has a works cited list entry. Every works cited list entry has at least one (maybe more) corresponding in-text citation.

In-text citations

The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s surname . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited.

First mention: Sian Anderson studies ….

Subsequent occurrences: Anderson analyzes ….

….(Anderson)

or if quoting directly:

…(Anderson 9)

First mention: Paul Fin and Anna Gabriel ….

Subsequent occurrences: Fin and Gabriel ….

….(Fin and Gabriel)

…(Fin and Gabriel 27)

Paul Hill and colleagues…. or Paul Hill and others ….

….(Hill et al.)

…(Hill et al. 138)

Examples of works cited list entries

Below are a few examples of different types of works cited list entries. The examples given are for one author.

Steinman, Louise. The Knowing Body: Elements of Contemporary Performance and Dance . Shambhala Publications, 1986.

Journal article                                      

Barad, K. “Nature’s Queer Performativity.” Qui Parle , vol. 19, no. 2, 2011, pp. 121–58.

Webpage of a website

Midgelow, Vida L. “Experiences and Perceptions of the Artistic Doctorate: A Survey Report.” Artistic Doctorates in Europe,  5 Feb. 2018, www.artisticdoctorates.com/2017/12/28/experiences-and-perceptions-of-the-artistic-doctorate-survey-report/ .

YouTube video

“Behind the Scenes Chili’s Baby Back Ribs Spot.” YouTube , uploaded by Alvin Chea, 11 Sept. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDLh7gNRYA .

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MLA Research Paper Formatting

  • MLA 9th Template & Paper Sample
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MLA Style (9th Edition)

  • Sample Papers

You are going to love this! Save this template somewhere safe or e-mail it to yourself. Then resave it immediately with the name of your new document. This will keep your template safe and ready to reuse again for future assignments.

This template will be sufficient for most student MLA papers. For more information on formatting your paper, consult the official MLA Style website:  https://mlahandbookplus.org/books/book/5/chapter/56247/Introduction-to-Formatting-Your-Research-Project  or pages 1-14 in the MLA Manual. 

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  • Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates

Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates

Published on November 19, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on January 20, 2023.

The formatting of a research paper is different depending on which style guide you’re following. In addition to citations , APA, MLA, and Chicago provide format guidelines for things like font choices, page layout, format of headings and the format of the reference page.

Scribbr offers free Microsoft Word templates for the most common formats. Simply download and get started on your paper.

APA |  MLA | Chicago author-date | Chicago notes & bibliography

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Table of contents

Formatting an apa paper, formatting an mla paper, formatting a chicago paper, frequently asked questions about research paper formatting.

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in APA Style are as follows:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial.
  • Set 1 inch page margins.
  • Apply double line spacing.
  • If submitting for publication, insert a APA running head on every page.
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

Watch the video below for a quick guide to setting up the format in Google Docs.

The image below shows how to format an APA Style title page for a student paper.

APA title page - student version (7th edition)

Running head

If you are submitting a paper for publication, APA requires you to include a running head on each page. The image below shows you how this should be formatted.

APA running head (7th edition)

For student papers, no running head is required unless you have been instructed to include one.

APA provides guidelines for formatting up to five levels of heading within your paper. Level 1 headings are the most general, level 5 the most specific.

APA headings (7th edition)

Reference page

APA Style citation requires (author-date) APA in-text citations throughout the text and an APA Style reference page at the end. The image below shows how the reference page should be formatted.

APA reference page (7th edition)

Note that the format of reference entries is different depending on the source type. You can easily create your citations and reference list using the free APA Citation Generator.

Generate APA citations for free

Scribbr Citation Checker New

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

sample mla research paper outline

The main guidelines for writing an MLA style paper are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Use title case capitalization for headings .

Check out the video below to see how to set up the format in Google Docs.

On the first page of an MLA paper, a heading appears above your title, featuring some key information:

  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
  • The course name or number
  • The due date of the assignment

MLA heading

Page header

A header appears at the top of each page in your paper, including your surname and the page number.

MLA page header

Works Cited page

MLA in-text citations appear wherever you refer to a source in your text. The MLA Works Cited page appears at the end of your text, listing all the sources used. It is formatted as shown below.

The format of the MLA Works Cited page

You can easily create your MLA citations and save your Works Cited list with the free MLA Citation Generator.

Generate MLA citations for free

The main guidelines for writing a paper in Chicago style (also known as Turabian style) are:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger.
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center.

Format of a Chicago Style paper

Chicago doesn’t require a title page , but if you want to include one, Turabian (based on Chicago) presents some guidelines. Lay out the title page as shown below.

Example of a Chicago Style title page

Bibliography or reference list

Chicago offers two citation styles : author-date citations plus a reference list, or footnote citations plus a bibliography. Choose one style or the other and use it consistently.

The reference list or bibliography appears at the end of the paper. Both styles present this page similarly in terms of formatting, as shown below.

Chicago bibliography

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Include a title page
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, January 20). Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/research-paper-format/

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Formatting and Outlining in MLA: Outlining in MLA

  • Outlining in MLA

Developing an Outline

Purdue's OnlIne Writing Lab recommendations for developing an outline

Using Word to Create an Outline in MLA

Sample Outline

sample mla research paper outline

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Sample Essays: Writing with MLA Style

Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited. 

If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023. 

Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2023 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut (chair); Rachel Ihara, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York; and Tarshia L. Stanley, Wagner College.

Caroline Anderson (Pepperdine University)

“ L’Appel du Vide : Making Spaces for Sinful Exploration in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”

Hunter Daniels (University of South Carolina, Aiken)

“Biblical Legalism and Cultural Misogyny in The Tragedy of Mariam ”

Aspen English (Southern Utah University)

“Putting the ‘Comm’ in Comics: A Communication-Theory-Informed Reading of Graphic Narratives”

Raul Martin (Lamar University)

“The Book-Object Binary: Access and Sustainability in the Academic Library”

Grace Quasebarth (Salve Regina University)

“Finding a Voice: The Loss of Machismo Criticisms through Translation in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits ”

Writing with MLA Style: 2022 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2022 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2022 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.

Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)

“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”

Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)

“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”

Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)

“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”

Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)

“Banning without Bans”

Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)

“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”

Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”

Writing with MLA Style: 2019 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2019 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2019 selection committee was composed of Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.

Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)

“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”

Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)

“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”

Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)

“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”

Jennifer Nguyen  (Chaminade University of Honolulu)

“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”

Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)

“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s  Great Expectations ”

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Sample Paper Formatted in MLA Style from OWL Purdue

  • Sample MLA Paper Below is a sample paper from OWL Purdue formatted to MLA Standards

sample mla research paper outline

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sample mla research paper outline

How to Write a Research Paper Outline: Detailed Guide

sample mla research paper outline

In the vast landscape of academia, where ideas are the currency and knowledge the battleground, crafting a research paper isn't just a scholarly exercise—it's a narrative expedition. As you embark on this intellectual journey, consider this intriguing fact: did you know that Sir Isaac Newton's groundbreaking work, 'Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica,' which revolutionized our understanding of physics, was outlined meticulously before the ink touched the parchment? Much like Newton's meticulous planning, the success of your piece hinges on the blueprint you create—the outline.

In this guide, our research paper help will explore not only the conventional methods but also the avant-garde tips and examples for crafting an outline for a research paper that transforms your ideas into a compelling narrative, paving the way for academic excellence.

What is Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is essentially a systematic framework that streamlines the structure of your academic document. It's more than just a preliminary step; it's a practical tool designed to enhance the coherence and organization of your ideas. This skeletal structure acts as a guide, ensuring your paper unfolds logically, and your arguments build upon each other. Besides providing clarity for the writer, a well-crafted outline of a research paper also serves as a roadmap for your readers, helping them navigate through the complexities of your study. In essence, when we explore what is a research paper , it's crucial to recognize the outline as the strategic plan—the blueprint—highlighting key elements like the introduction, thesis statement, supporting evidence, and conclusion.

what is research paper outline

It's important to integrate several critical elements essential for the paper's effectiveness and coherence. The role of these components is significant in shaping your research and demands thorough attention during the initial stages of your work. In the sections that follow, we'll delve into the crucial components of an outline for your research paper and share insights to elevate your outlining process for a more robust and effective piece.

Title/Cover Page

It is the opening section to introduce the major details. The length of the recommended title is 60 characters. On the whole, do not miss this information on the title page:

  • Your full name
  • Professor’s name
  • Peers who took part in the investigation (if any)
  • Submission date

A summary is an integral part of the research paper. In college, they call it an abstract. The length of such text should not exceed 250-300 words (1/3 of an A4 page), and a student should include the basic findings, their significance, and a brief conclusion.

Introduction

Experts recommend painstaking the entire research into the investigation’s background. Try to explain why the chosen problem is necessary to analyze and discuss. Mention the results you expected to obtain during the working process and state a hypothesis that should enclose the introduction (it would be the thesis). Also, don’t forget to mention the thesis statement or the topic of your research.

Methodology

List the tools, equipment, & techniques used to carry out a study. This section should make it possible to replicate the investigation step-by-step. The goal of the section is to allow other scientists interested in the same research question to continue the investigation.

Results & Discussion (R&D)

In most cases, master cheap research paper writers combine results and discussion in one huge section. They are interrelated. Start with sharing the findings of the study. Go on interpreting the meaning of the results for the society and provide a short synopsis of the main components: figures and statistical examinations. While adding any visual elements for understanding (graphs, images, etc.), place the numbers next to each of them to provide details in the last section — Appendix.

In the Conclusion part, it is necessary to include:

  • A summary of the results
  • Paraphrased thesis statement
  • Value of the research paper
  • Ways to implement the findings
  • Some forecasts

Explore our article on writing a conclusion for a research paper to master the art of effectively summarizing and concluding your work.

Based on the chosen paper format, develop a full list of references. Each time you cite something, write the source’s details on a separate piece of paper. It will speed up the process in the end.

Structure of a Research Paper Outline

Crafting an effective academic piece is not just about having great ideas; it's about presenting them in a clear and organized manner. The structure of your research paper outline plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal. In this section, we'll explore three popular formats, each offering a unique approach to organizing your thoughts and arguments.

Alphanumeric research paper outline

The alphanumeric outline follows a hierarchical structure, using a combination of numbers and letters to denote different levels of information. For example:

I. Introduction

  • A. Background
  • B. Thesis statement
  • A. Main point 1
  • Supporting detail
  • B. Main point 2
  • III. Conclusion

Full-sentence research paper outline

This format requires complete sentences for each section and subsection. It provides a detailed preview of the content within each part of the outline. Example:

  • A. Provide background information.
  • B. Clearly state the thesis.
  • A. Present the first main point with supporting details.
  • B. Explore the second main point.

Decimal research paper outline

The decimal outline employs a numerical system, using decimals to indicate the hierarchy of information. Each level is a subcategory of the preceding level. For instance:

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background
  • 1.2 Thesis statement
  • 2.1 Main point 1
  • 2.1.1 Supporting detail
  • 2.1.2 Supporting detail
  • 2.2 Main point 2

3.0 Conclusion

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Research Paper Outline Formats: MLA and APA

Mla research paper outline.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) research paper format provides a standardized approach to documenting and formatting academic writing. Creating an MLA research paper outline is an essential step in organizing your thoughts and ensuring a cohesive structure for your scholarly work. Here's an in-depth guide to crafting an MLA outline:

MLA Research Paper Outline by EssayPro

  • A. Background information
  • C. Purpose of the study
  • A. First Main Point
  • Supporting detail or evidence
  • a. Sub-detail
  • b. Sub-detail
  • B. Second Main Point
  • C. Third Main Point (if applicable)

III. Counterargument (if applicable)

  • A. Acknowledge opposing views
  • B. Refute or address counterarguments

IV. Conclusion

  • A. Summarize main points
  • B. Restate thesis
  • C. Implications for future research

V. Works Cited

  • A. List of sources cited in the paper
  • Book citations
  • Journal article citations
  • Other relevant sources

Formatting Tips:

  • Ensure your research paper outline is double-spaced.
  • Use a legible 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Apply consistent formatting throughout the document, including indents and headings.
  • Follow MLA guidelines for citing sources both in the outline and the final paper.

Key Considerations:

  • Tailor your research paper outline to the specific requirements of your work.
  • Be concise and clear in writing your outline sections.
  • Consider including any necessary background information to provide context when you write an outline for a research.
  • Ensure that each main point and supporting detail aligns with the central thesis.

Need more info? Check our full guide - HOW TO CITE A RESEARCH PAPER USING MLA FORMAT .

APA Research Paper Outline

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is widely used in the social sciences, and creating an APA format research paper outline is crucial for maintaining a standardized structure. Here's a comprehensive guide to crafting an APA outline template for research paper.

 Template for Building an Outline in APA, from EssayPro

I. Title Page

  • A. Title of the research paper
  • B. Author's name
  • C. Institutional affiliation
  • D. Running head and page number (top right corner)

II. Abstract

  • A. Brief summary of the research paper
  • B. Keywords (optional)

III. Introduction

IV. Literature Review

  • A. Overview of relevant literature
  • B. Identification of gaps in existing research
  • C. Theoretical framework (if applicable)

V. Methodology

  • A. Participants
  • B. Procedure
  • C. Materials
  • D. Data analysis

VI. Results

  • A. Presentation of research findings
  • B. Use of tables and figures (if applicable)

VII. Discussion

  • A. Interpretation of results
  • B. Implications of the findings
  • C. Limitations and suggestions for future research

VIII. Conclusion

  • C. Practical applications or recommendations

IX. References

  • Use a 12-point, Times New Roman font.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Double-space the entire document.
  • Create a running head in the header section.
  • Use transitions between sections for smooth reader navigation.
  • Integrate sources seamlessly, labeling each for reader guidance.
  • Seek feedback to refine the clarity and effectiveness of your APA outline for research paper.
  • Strategically employ APA heading levels for hierarchical organization.

By adhering to these guidelines, you'll master how to cite a research paper and ensure a standardized and professional presentation of your work in the social sciences. This meticulous approach not only enhances the clarity of your writing but also showcases your commitment to academic standards.

Goals and Benefits of a Research Paper Outline

Starting your paper without a roadmap is akin to setting sail without a compass—directionless and prone to drift. Crafting a well-structured research paper outline serves as a strategic tool with distinct goals and manifold benefits, transforming the daunting task of research writing into a purposeful journey.

research paper outline

Clarity in Purpose:

  • A well-crafted outline for a research paper establishes the groundwork for your study by clearly defining its purpose. It forces you to distill the essence of your research, ensuring that every section contributes meaningfully to the overarching goals of your paper.

Streamlined Organization:

  • One of the primary goals of an outline is to streamline the organization of your ideas. By delineating the key components—introduction, main points, evidence, and conclusion—it provides a systematic structure that prevents your paper from becoming a chaotic jumble of thoughts.

Enhanced Focus and Efficiency:

  • When you write an outline for a research paper, it acts as a focal point, directing your attention to the core objectives of your study. It serves as a roadmap, guiding you through each section with precision and efficiency, eliminating the risk of veering off course into tangential or irrelevant details.

Seamless Transitions:

  • Achieving a seamless flow from one section to another is a distinctive benefit of a well-crafted outline. It allows for the strategic placement of transitions, ensuring that your ideas connect coherently and enabling readers to follow your argument with ease.

Time Management and Planning:

  • Crafting an outline isn’t just a preparatory step; it's a time-management strategy. It compels you to allocate time effectively to each section, preventing procrastination and facilitating a more structured and manageable writing process.

Revision and Refinement:

  • The iterative nature of outlining allows for continuous revision and refinement. It enables you to assess the coherence of your research paper topics , identify gaps in logic, and refine your arguments before delving into the full paper, saving time and effort in the long run.

Thesis Alignment:

  • Perhaps most crucially, an outline ensures that every main point and supporting detail aligns harmoniously with the central thesis. This alignment not only strengthens the overall argument but also reinforces the thesis as the guiding force behind your research.

Research Paper Outline Example

Also, check the free research paper outline template example: Developing an Attention-Grabbing Resume! The example is written according to APA writing style guidelines - the rules of the game may be different for other formats.

Things to Remember

  • An outline is like an action plan which guides you through the writing process.
  • You need to write an outline if your research paper is more than 1000 words in length.
  • Basically, the outline contains three main sections: the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion.
  • The outline format depends on the type of academic assignment (MLA, APA), adapting to the specific guidelines relevant to all the ideas you'll present.
  • Before developing a research paper outline, read the latest version of the manual according to the chosen format of the research paper.

To gain a deeper understanding of the initial stages of academic writing, delve into our article exploring how to start a research paper , providing you with essential steps and methodologies.

Need Help with CREATING AN OUTLINE?

For those moments when you're unsure how to outline a research paper, and it feels like an unsolved maze, let our paper writing service be your academic GPS!

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MLA Format Sample Paper, with Cover Page and Outline

Here is a sample paper in MLA format that has both the cover page and the outline pages . This paper has 10 pages so if you are under a slow Internet connection, please wait a few seconds for all of the pages to load. This paper is current with the latest MLA manual.

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Title Page

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Outline Page 1

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Outline Page 2

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Page 1

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Page 2

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Page 3

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Page 4

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Page 5

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, Works Cited

mla sample paper

MLA Format Sample Paper, End of Sample Paper.

– Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006).

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Types of Outlines and Samples

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Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase Letters

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

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Easy Guide on MLA Research Essay Outlines

Table of Contents

Academic life is full of challenges that are meant to cultivate our skills and character. Research papers and essays are among the challenges that test a student’s patience and dedication. This is mostly because of the work and thought required to accomplish them.

Fortunately, we are not without tools. Outlines are one of the ways to simplify any writing task. If you want to learn how to write an  MLA research essay outline , you’re in the right place.

eyeglasses with gray frames on the top of notebook

What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is an overview of all topics relevant to your essay. An outline gives writers a clear view of how each topic relates to the other and shows the flow of your ideas. It is an organizational technique common among all writers across all writing styles.

It is particularly useful for research papers, given the scope and depth of the topics they usually cover. Understanding the importance of research outlines is essential to creating quality work.

The Importance of Essay Outlines

Outlines are important for all forms of writing because they allow writers to frame their words to suit the flow of their topics . It allows them to keep the essence of their topics in mind, allowing them to set up different sections to accommodate their ideas.

The seamless transition between topics is essential for a coherent piece, and it’s a simple but effective way to keep readers engaged. 

Outlines go a long way in simplifying research papers. If you’re working on an MLA research essay, an outline should be your first priority. The need for an outline only increases with the complexity of topics. 

How to Write an MLA Research Essay Outline

Writing a research outline isn’t as difficult as it initially seems. Research essays share the same basic components of any essay type with a few additions. Below is a simple MLA research essay outline sample you can use as the basis for your own:

I. Introduction:

  • Introductory Sentence
  • Transition Sentence to Thesis

II. Thesis:

  • Description of the Paper
  • First Argument
  • Second Argument
  • Third Argument

III. Body Paragraph 1:

  • Explanation
  • Transition Sentence

IV. Body Paragraph 2:

V. Body Paragraph 3:

  • Transition Sentence:

VI. Conclusion:

  • Summary of the Paper:
  • Conclusive Sentence:

VII. Citation:

Don’t forget to retain MLA formatting standards. Transition sentences ensure a smooth transition from one topic to another. 

Take note that your outline should also include a brief explanation of your paragraph and supporting sentences. You don’t always have to write full sentences in your outline, but this is imperative when working with a group.

Outlines are the key to a well-written essay because they help writers organize their thoughts . Outlines improve all forms of writing, not just in terms of logical flow but also in overall quality. By spending less time thinking about how one topic relates to another, writers have more time to focus on the finer aspects of writing.

Never overlook the importance of a good research paper outline, especially when working on lengthy assignments and complex topics. Frame your words well, and present your ideas in a sequence that allows one topic to prepare readers for the next. Good luck, writer!

Easy Guide on MLA Research Essay Outlines

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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IMAGES

  1. FREE 9+ Sample MLA Outline Templates in PDF

    sample mla research paper outline

  2. 38 Free MLA Format Templates (+MLA Essay Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

    sample mla research paper outline

  3. MLA Sample Paper

    sample mla research paper outline

  4. Mla Format Outline Template

    sample mla research paper outline

  5. FREE 6+ Sample MLA Outline Templates in PDF

    sample mla research paper outline

  6. 38 Free MLA Format Templates (+MLA Essay Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  2. Research: Setting up your MLA formatted document

  3. MLA Style Research بحث بطريقة MLA

  4. Sample MLA Research Paper Video

  5. Online Workshop on Research Paper Writing & Publishing Day 2

  6. Writing a Research Paper : Structure of a research paper outline

COMMENTS

  1. MLA Sample Paper

    Purdue OWL Research and Citation MLA Style MLA Formatting and Style Guide MLA Sample Paper MLA Sample Paper This resource contains a sample MLA paper that adheres to the 2016 updates. To download the MLA sample paper, click this link. Cite your source automatically in MLA Cite Using citation machines responsibly Powered by

  2. PDF Formatting a Research Paper

    Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Fig. 1. The top of the first page of a research paper.

  3. How to write an outline in MLA format

    An outline in MLA format should have the following: 1-inch margins, with double spacing 12-point font, left-aligned text center-aligned title with capitalized words using headline case For help writing your essay, , or other project, check out these Features of an outline Following are the basic elements that need to be included in any outline.

  4. MLA Format

    Knowledge Base MLA Style MLA format for academic papers and essays MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template Published on December 11, 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on January 17, 2024 by Jack Caulfield. The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for creating MLA citations and formatting academic papers.

  5. How to Write a Research Paper in MLA Format with Examples

    Learn How to Write a Research Paper in MLA Format with Samples Updated 19 May 2023 This guide will help you learn how to format and structure your research paper based on MLA format guidelines. We shall focus on general formatting guidelines and essential MLA research paper structure.

  6. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023. A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process, providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized. A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  7. MLA Sample Paper

    MLA Sample Paper #2. See below for an example paper or click below to download it as a Word Document. The MLA header should be one inch from the top and left margins. The heading and the entire paper should be double spaced. Eli YaffarabeProfessor Rapheor.

  8. PDF Sample Outline for an MLA Paper (Orlov)

    This sample follows the style guidelines in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009). Sample Outline for an MLA Paper (Orlov) Marginal annotations indicate MLA-style formatting and effective writing. ... Outline uses standard format and is written in complete sentences. Source: Hacker/Sommers (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin ...

  9. MLA Formatting and Style Guide

    Purdue OWL Research and Citation MLA Style MLA Formatting and Style Guide MLA Formatting and Style Guide MLA Formatting and Style Guide The following overview should help you better understand how to cite sources using MLA 9 th edition, including how to format the Works Cited page and in-text citations.

  10. General Format

    Purdue OWL Research and Citation MLA Style MLA Formatting and Style Guide MLA General Format MLA General Format MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.

  11. MLA 9th Template & Paper Sample

    Sample Papers You are going to love this! Save this template somewhere safe or e-mail it to yourself. Then resave it immediately with the name of your new document. This will keep your template safe and ready to reuse again for future assignments. This template will be sufficient for most student MLA papers.

  12. How to Write an Outline in MLA Format

    You will need to write an outline in two cases: 1) if you want to present work which has been already written, or 2) if you are starting work on a research paper and need to plan its contents and structure. The outline is also helpful when you need to analyze your idea in general and to check if the thesis and arguments you use are coherent enough.

  13. Research Paper Format

    Formatting an APA paper. The main guidelines for formatting a paper in APA Style are as follows: Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial. Set 1 inch page margins. Apply double line spacing. If submitting for publication, insert a APA running head on every page. Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

  14. LibGuides: Formatting and Outlining in MLA: Outlining in MLA

    Formatting and Outlining in MLA: Outlining in MLA. Standardized formatting for papers and outlines.

  15. Sample Essays: Writing with MLA Style

    Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited. If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus, you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023. Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition

  16. MLA Sample Paper from OWL Purdue

    Research Methods; Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Writing Centers; Creative Writing; ... Need Help? Sample Paper Formatted in MLA Style from OWL Purdue. Sample MLA Paper. Below is a sample paper from OWL Purdue formatted to MLA Standards << Previous: Citation Help; Next: ENG 322 >> Last Updated: Dec 11, 2023 3:02 PM; URL: https://mc.libguides ...

  17. How to Write a Research Paper Outline: Detailed Guide

    MLA Research Paper Outline. The Modern Language Association (MLA) research paper format provides a standardized approach to documenting and formatting academic writing. Creating an MLA research paper outline is an essential step in organizing your thoughts and ensuring a cohesive structure for your scholarly work. Here's an in-depth guide to ...

  18. MLA Format Sample Paper, with Cover Page and Outline

    by Stephen on October 2, 2012 Here is a sample paper in MLA format that has both the cover page and the outline pages. This paper has 10 pages so if you are under a slow Internet connection, please wait a few seconds for all of the pages to load. This paper is current with the latest MLA manual. MLA Format Sample Paper, Title Page

  19. Types of Outlines

    Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline. Decimal Outlines The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole.

  20. Outlining

    There are no APA or MLA rules about how to structure and format the outline itself. Outlines can be structured in different ways—very detailed or less detailed; Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, bullet points, or a combination of these. ... General Content & Structure for a Research Paper Outline. The following is one way an outline can be ...

  21. Argumentative Essays: MLA Sample Argumentative Papers

    For sample papers in MLA 8th or 9th ed., please ask a librarian or check the Documenting Sources in MLA Style: 2016 Update: A Bedford/St. Martin's Supplement pp. 30-41, at Skyline College Library's Ready Reference shelf. Last Updated:

  22. Easy Guide on MLA Research Essay Outlines

    Writing a research outline isn't as difficult as it initially seems. Research essays share the same basic components of any essay type with a few additions. Below is a simple MLA research essay outline sample you can use as the basis for your own: I. Introduction: Introductory Sentence. Transition Sentence to Thesis.