College Research Paper Outline, Format & Writing Guide

Writing a college paper is a big part of the academic life of most students. There are different types of college papers, however, all college papers are research papers that students write as part of their coursework at the college level. College papers are often assigned by your professor or teacher, but you can also submit them for extra credit if you want additional recognition from your instructors.

This article will guide you on how to head a college paper effectively and accurately. 

Writing paper for college: outline

An outline is a guide for how you will write your paper. It is like a map that shows you where each section of your essay will go and what information it will include.

A good outline can help you stay on track when writing a college essay or research paper because it gives an overview of what information will go where in your piece; this makes it easy to keep track of everything that needs adding or subtracting from an already long document.

The first thing you need to do when writing an outline is deciding what kind of paper it is: an expository (explain), persuasive (convince), or comparison/contrast essay. Then, based on those choices, decide whether or not there will be any thesis statement or topic sentence in the first paragraph; this can help give context as well as structure for later sections of the paper. Once these decisions have been made, create an outline that includes all relevant points from each category above.

An outline typically includes:

  • Brainstorming and selecting a topic
  • Brainstorming some supporting details
  • Labeling your ideas
  • Writing an introduction (usually one paragraph): this should include a hook – to get your reader’s attention. A preview of the main idea, and a thesis statement.
  • Writing your body of supporting ideas (usually three paragraphs – one for each main supporting idea)
  • Writing your conclusion (usually one paragraph): here you restate and reflect on your main idea/thesis, tie your ideas together, and wrap it up in a coherent manner.

How to format college papers

The following is a basic outline for writing a college paper:

  • Title Page (2-3 lines): this is also known as your college paper heading
  • Abstract (1-2 paragraphs)
  • Main Body (5-8 paragraphs)
  • References (1-2 pages)
  • Appendices/Bibliography/Glossary

The first page of your paper should be the title page, which contains the title of your paper and its date. This page also contains information about who you are, where you are from, and what degree you are studying in. If necessary, make sure that this page has correct margins (1 inch) and spacing (1/2 inch).

The abstract is a summary of what is happening in your research paper; it can be as long as 100 words or less depending on how much information needs to be conveyed succinctly without being too long-winded or boring for readers. 

The main body follows logically with each paragraph, beginning with topic sentences followed by supporting arguments until an overall point is reached in the concluding section.

Your references should contain the reliable sources you used during your research. This is an important part of your academic paper as it provides your readers with additional information.

Tips for writing papers in college

Although there are different types of papers in collegeyou can use the same tips to accurately write them satisfactorily. Some of these tips include:

  • Starting with a thesis statement.
  • Using strong evidence to support your thesis.
  • Ensuring the use of the correct writing style guide that is required of you (APA, MLA, or Chicago style format).


The process of writing a college paper is an important one, so you need to master the writing process. The above guide will help you in outlining your paper and write good content that will help you get more marks in your final exam or assignment.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Back to top