research paper guides

Making A Helpful Outline For A History Research Paper

Nothing can compare with a great outline for making a research paper less challenging. Specifically, for a history research paper, the outline is effective to aid the writer in plotting out their paper and making the writing process quite easy.

Let the Assignment Drive the Outline

Rarely does an instructor allow the student to completely self-determine the research paper topic. Yet, many students do not give the assignment itself adequate attention. Review the assignment sheet and make some initial notes for yourself. This is the time to start brainstorming for ideas on your research paper, if the topics are not specifically provided.

Be cautious at this point as well that the student is fulfilling the requirements of the assignment. For example, if the assignment is required to be written as an autobiography, do not write in third person case. Pay attention to the detailed requirements of the assignment.

Start out with High Level Details

As you begin your outline, do not try to do the entire outline from the top down. Instead, start by developing 3-4 large concepts, to be later developed and fleshed out with additional details. This will prevent the writer from getting bogged down in the details at the wrong point in the process.

If the writer is struggling to develop enough topics, try to begin by simply stating facts about the specific historical event or period that is being researched. This can lead to other facts and topics as the brain wanders and explores the topic or topics at hand.

Work Down on Level at a Time

Once you have three to four main points developed; go back to the top, adding sub-points under each. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary until a working outline is achieved.

Do not dwell on details or attempt to think too far ahead as to what the fleshed out topic will entail. At this point in the process you are simply working on a plan of attack, not the battle.

Tips for Easy Outlining


  • Don’t attempt to compose in the outlining process
  • Feel free to put in items that you may remove later. The more you have to work with the better
  • Do not be restricted only to topics with which the writer is familiar. Remember, this is a research paper, and the writer will be conducting research and discovering new facts
  • Keep outlining until the topic is covered. Again, this is not the step to edit