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GU-Q: HIST 308 - Empires

Why make an outline?

Use an outline to give your writing structure

A well-developed outline lays the foundation for the writing process of your research paper. Once you've developed your outline with the important sections and subsections, you will be able to use the outline as the framework for the task of completing the writing process.

It's also a good way to get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the research that is still in development. This is helpful when thinking of arguments that need to be developed in support of a historical question or in defense of a criticism that exists within the literature on a historical question.

An important thing to remember is that you should not include too much detail in the outline, but enough to give a full sense of the arguments and issues that will be covered by the written research paper. Ask your professor about how much detail is required!


An effective outline includes:

  1. the research question introduced in the prospectus
  2. a working thesis
  3. the main idea of each section, often including evidence from both primary and secondary sources (ask if citations are necessary)