Along with formulating a hypothesis, creating an outline is an indispensable part of preparing to write a history research paper. An outline is an organizational tool that summarizes the ideas and evidence that one plans to discuss in a speech or piece of writing. By presenting this information concisely and in a logical order, an outline serves as a kind of "road map" that can make the actual process of writing a paper much easier.
1. Write your thesis statement. First, formulate the hypothesis that you plan to focus on in your paper and write it out in a short, declarative statement. This thesis statement should make up the first major heading of your outline and be included in your paper's introduction.
2. Organize your material. Once you have settled on a thesis statement, organize logically the material that you wish to present in the paper. Determine what information belongs in the introduction, what should make up the body of the paper, and what to put in the conclusion.
3. Summarize the main ideas. Identify and briefly summarize the main ideas that you plan to use to support your thesis statement. Each of these main ideas should serve as a major heading in your outline and be labeled with a Roman numeral.
4. List the supporting details. As you summarize each main idea, identify the details or facts that support it and list them as subheadings in your outline. Make sure to order the subheadings logically and label them with descending levels of letters and numbers.
5. Put your outline to use. When you write your paper, structure it according to your outline. Each major heading, for instance, might form the basis of a topic sentence that begins a paragraph. Corresponding subheadings would then indicate the content of each paragraph. In a more lengthy paper, each subheading might constitute the basis of an entire paragraph.