Part 4 Semester Project
How to Create an Outline
To create an outline:
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Part 4 Semester Project
- Place your thesis statement at the beginning as part of your introduction.
- List the major points that support your thesis. Label them in Roman Numerals (I, II, III, etc.).
- List supporting ideas or arguments for each major point. Label them in capital letters (A, B,
- If applicable, continue to sub-divide each supporting idea until your outline is fully developed.
Label them 1, 2, 3, etc., and then a, b, c, etc.
I. major point A (argument)
- minor point
- minor point
II. major point B (argument)
- minor point
- minor point
II. major point C (argument)
- minor point
- minor point
Continue this pattern as you develop your essay.
• Outlines provide a means of organizing your information in an hierarchical or logical
• For research papers, a formal outline can help you keep track of large amounts of
• For writers, outlining the draft of your paper allows for a double check on organization,
paragraph unity and paragraph cohesion.
Outlining your first draft by listing each paragraph’s topic sentence can be an easy way to ensure that
each of your paragraphs is serving a specific purpose in your paper. You may find opportunities to
combine or eliminate potential paragraphs when outlining—first drafts often contain repetitive ideas or
sections that stall, rather than advance, the paper’s central argument.
Additionally, if you are having trouble revising a paper, making an outline of each paragraph and its
topic sentence after you have written your paper can be an effective way of identifying a paper’s
strengths and weaknesses.
The example below should be considered just that: an example, not a template. It is very likely that you
will have many more than 5 paragraphs. Paragraphs should be unified – everything in the paragraph
should address to topic sentence.
The following outline is for a 5-7 page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and
health. Review the other sections of this page for more detailed information about each component of this
A. Current Problem: Educational attainment rates are decreasing in the United States while
healthcare costs are increasing.
B. Population/Area of Focus: Unskilled or low-skilled adult workers
C. Key Terms: healthy, well-educated
Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (cite sources) and general susceptibility to
depression (cite sources), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a
higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.
A. Historical Employment Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were frequently unionized and
adequately compensated for their work (cite sources).
B. Historical Healthcare Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were often provided adequate
healthcare and benefits (cite sources).
C. Current Link between Education and Employment Type: Increasingly, uneducated workers work in
unskilled or low-skilled jobs (cite sources).
D. Gaps in the Research: Little information exists exploring the health implications of the current
conditions in low-skilled jobs.
III. Major Point A: Conditions of employment affect workers’ physical health.
A. Minor Point 1: Unskilled work environments are correlated highly with worker injury (cite sources).
Detail point a. appropriate tools are often missing
Detail point b. often there is not training for specific
B. Minor Point 2: Unskilled work environments rarely provide healthcare or adequate injury recovery
time (cite sources).
IV. Major Point B: Conditions of employment affect workers’ mental health
A. Minor Point 1: Employment in a low-skilled position is highly correlated with dangerous levels of
stress (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Stress is highly correlated with mental health issues (cite sources).
Detail point a. high levels of depression
Detail point b. irregular hours lead to employment uncertainty
V. Major Point C: Physical health and mental health correlate directly with one another.
A. Minor Point 1: Mental health problems and physical health problems are highly correlated (cite
Detail point a. high levels comorbidity: substance use disorders (alcohol and drugs)
Detail point b. workplace toxins lead to mental health issues
B. Minor Point 2: Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources)
VI. Major Point D: People with more financial worries have more stress and worse physical health.
A. Minor Point 1: Many high-school dropouts face financial problems (cite sources).
B. Minor Point 2: Financial problems are often correlated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such
unhealthy food choices, overconsumption/abuse of alcohol, chain smoking, abusive relationships,
etc. (cite sources).
A. Restatement of Thesis: Students who drop out of high school are at a higher risk for both mental
and physical health problems throughout their lives.
B. Next Steps: Society needs educational advocates; educators need to be aware of this situation
and strive for student retention in order to promote healthy lifestyles and warn students of the
risks associated with dropping out of school.
MORE → →
Your introduction provides context to your readers to prepare them for your paper’s argument or
purpose. An introduction should begin with discussion of your specific topic (not a broad background
overview) and provide just enough context (definitions of key terms, for example) to prepare your readers
for your thesis or purpose statement.
Sample Introduction/Context: If the topic of your paper is the link between educational attainment and
health, your introduction might do the following: (a) establish the population you are discussing, (b) define
key terms such as healthy and well-educated, or (c) justify the discussion of this topic by pointing out a
connection to a current problem that your paper will help address.
A thesis or purpose statement should come at the end of your introduction and state clearly and concisely
what the purpose or central argument of your paper is. The introduction prepares your reader for this
statement, and the rest of the paper follows in support of it.
Sample Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (Smith, 2010) and general susceptibility to
depression (Jones, 2011), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk
for physical and mental health problems later in life.
After the initial introduction, background on your topic often follows. This paragraph or section might
include a literature review surveying the current state of knowledge on your topic or simply a historical
overview of relevant information. The purpose of this section is to justify your own project or paper by
pointing out a gap in the current research which your work will address.
Sample Background: A background section on a paper on education and health might include an
overview of recent research in this area, such as research on depression or on decreasing high school
Major & Minor Points
Major points are the building blocks of your paper. Major points build on each other, moving the paper
forward and toward its conclusion. Each major point should be a clear claim that relates to the central
argument of your paper.
Sample Major Point: Employment and physical health may be a good first major point for this sample
paper. Here, a student might discuss how dropping out of high school often leads to fewer employment
opportunities, and those employment opportunities that are available tend to be correlated with poor work
environments and low pay.
Minor points are subtopics within your major points. Minor points develop the nuances of your major
points but may not be significant enough to warrant extended attention on their own. These may come in
the form of statistics, examples from your sources, or supporting ideas.
Sample Minor Point: A sample minor point of the previous major point (employment and physical health)
might address worker injury or the frequent lack of health insurance benefits offered by low-paying
The rest of the body of your paper will be made up of more major and minor points. Each major point
should advance the paper’s central argument, often building on the previous points, until you have
provided enough evidence and analysis to justify your paper’s conclusion.
More Major and Minor Points: In this paper, more major points might include mental health of high
school dropouts, healthcare access for dropouts, and correlation between mental and physical health.
Minor topics could include specific work environments, job satisfaction in various fields, and correlation
between depression and chronic illness.
Your conclusion both restates your paper’s major claim and ties that claim into a larger discussion. Rather
than simply reiterating each major and minor point, quickly revisit your thesis statement and focus on
ending the paper by tying your thesis into current research in your field, next steps for other researchers,
your broader studies, or other future implications.
Sample Conclusion: For this paper, a conclusion might restate the central argument (the link between
lack of education and health issues) and go on to connect that discussion to a larger discussion of the
U.S. healthcare or education systems.