Research Paper: Outlining

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12331

You're doing your research and finding all kinds of great stuff to put in your paper. But how are you going to remember and organize the details? You don't have to write it all out; learn to outline!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What famous person is portrayed in this outline? Would it be easier to tell if more details were filled in?

  • Did you guess that the famous person in the outline is George Washington?

He is someone we could recognize even from an outline. In this lesson, you will learn how to use the notes you gather to create an outline for your research paper. This outline will help you to organize your notes and structure your paper in a way that will make it easy to read and enjoy.

When you selected your topic, you created some questions using a KWL chart to help focus your information gathering. If you missed, or need to review, the previous Research Paper series Related Lesson, find it in the right-hand sidebar.

You will start to compile notecards during your research. Before you start writing your notecards, take out a piece of paper and pencil. While watching Creating Note Cards for Research, from Irvid1, pay close attention to the three types of notecards that are mentioned and write down what you should include on each one:

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You saw that the three types of notecards are:

  1. Paraphrase card This is where you write two or three sentences and change about 50% of the words but keep key phrases and sentences. Make sure to include the source and page number.
  2. Direct quotation card On this card, you will write the exact wording that was in the source. You should only include a line or two. Remember to put quotation marks around the words and include the source and page number.
  3. Summary card On this card, you are summing up several paragraphs and writing the summary in your own words. Remember to list the source and page number.

You will still write your question on the top line of the card no matter what type you use. If you have extra notes that do not have a question, just write "Idea" at the top.

Remember, whatever type of card you complete, always list the source of your information and the page number that has the information on it. Discuss each of the types of cards with your teacher or parent to make sure you understand each one.

  1. Using index cards, write one of those questions at the top of each index card. Make a card for every question you wrote.
  2. When you complete your research and find an answer in your reading, write the answer on the index card. If it is a direct quotation from a book, you should write the name of the source (book, encyclopedia, website, etc.) and the page number that the quotation was on. This will help you when you have to cite your sources at the end of this unit.
  3. If you find information that it interesting but doesn't seem to go with any of your questions, you can still use it in your paper. Just remember that you will write that information on a notecard as well, putting only one idea per card and including your source information.
  4. The next thing you want to do is organize your note cards. If you numbered your questions in the specific order you want to write about them in your paper, then put them in order numerically. If you did not number your questions, put the questions in order by placing similar questions with answers together.

Continue to the Got It? section to practice writing notecards.

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