Marquis Research

Writing a Term Paper Outline: Start From a Template

Starting a term paper from a template is perhaps one of the easiest things to do. The formatting is done for the writer and all he or she has to do is create the masterpiece. It is a helpful tool and can be used repeatedly.

Getting Started

There are many places to find templates on the Internet and in software programs to get the one needed. After the template is selected, some brainstorming should be done on the topic. Start with an opening sentence that grabs the reader. Summarize what the term paper is about; there should be three subtopics that support the main topic. Theses should be supported with complete data and cited appropriately (the format can be APA or MLA, or a few others depending on what is required from the class).

What is the topic?

Choose something you are interested in researching. Don’t make it too broad a topic because a term paper is not a dissertation. Find a way to pare it down into something manageable and interesting. It isn’t always easy, but it is essential. Deciding to write a term paper on the Greenhouse Effect may be too big a topic but melting polar icebergs is a symptom of it and very interesting. Do something different.

Research, Research, Research

Find the key words. What are the hot buttons that will show up in a search of the Internet, scholarly journals, or a library? Then do the research. Spending the time researching and outlining will make filling in that template so easy. If all the information is listed out in an orderly fashion, it is a matter of stringing it together into short and concise sentences.

Develop a Thesis Statement

It is what the writer is going to prove. Find the one piece that sparks interest, take it and run with it. Make sure it is well developed and the idea makes sense. The research is done and all that has to happen now, is filling in the template. Support the thesis in the body of the paper.


Make sure to restate the thesis statement. Make sure one great nugget of information is included in the conclusion that is being recited from before. Then summarize, create the ending. The ending is where the paper leaves the reader thinking.

Using a Template

Most word processing programs have templates written into them. If it didn’t work out that way, a simple Internet search can get you what you need. Make sure it is the format needed. All schools are different; there is MLA or APA and several others that might be selected. Make sure the template selected is the right one and up to date. It is not going to do any good to select a fancy template with all the margins, bibliography, headings and sub-headings inserted if it is 10 years old.


Check the formatting. Make sure when the paper prints it looks like it does on the screen. If it is to be submitted electronically, save it as a PDF and see how it looks. The last thing to check when using a template is deleting all the example material on the pages. There will be no “oops” in a bibliography or in a heading if it is read thoroughly. Do not depend on spell-check to make sure the paper is correct.

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