Examples Of Mla Outlines For Research Papers

The following two sample research papers are typical of the papers that might be submitted in different kinds of courses.

Reading these papers will help you learn about organizing an argument and working with sources. The papers also demonstrate the use of MLA style to document sources and the formatting of the margins, line spacing, and other physical attributes of a printed paper. The MLA’s guidelines on formatting papers appear elsewhere on this site.

The sample papers were written by MLA staff members who are experienced college teachers. You may find that the writing and documentation seem polished. Because the sample papers serve as models, we aimed to make them free of errors in grammar and documentation. Nevertheless, we hope that the papers usefully represent good student work.



This paper, on Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series, shows you how to incorporate figures into your text, style a block quotation, and cite a variety of sources. Read about block quotations in the MLA Handbook (1.3.2–3, 1.3.7).


This paper, on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and the courtship novel, features examples of how to use notes in MLA style, cite a dictionary definition, and more.

It is told that the mode of writing of an outline for the research paper is a necessary thing to understand. However, the point is in comprehending of a reason why one should draw it up at all. Evidently, in some cases the outline could be a requirement for paper, but what creates this aureole of necessity for such a thing?

Importance of the outline

Outline`s first assisting aim is in breaking information down into smaller pieces of a sense. Simplified navigation through text is great, but after navigation goes part that is more valuable: managing and applying of this information. 

Talking about dissertations or any other kinds of papers with numerous amounts of pages, the presence of outline or simply plan is an obvious thing to be. It must be quite hard to navigate through the enormous text without visual structure support. Concerning less weighty papers, outline helps to concentrate on the key aspects that are under the survey.

Having writing plan in small papers is not vital, because its main goal is simply to structure the text, and Modern Language Association (MLA) writing standard doesn`t demand it in research papers. It still doesn`t mean that intentional omission of plan of whole survey is a sensible decision. It helps to follow all formal aspects of the research study.

As sometimes it is the requirement, there should be special way of formatting it. Here the most used technique exactly is the MLA writing standard. It provides coherent set of rules that guides you composing the plan.


Everything has its start and for the outline, this start is a thesis statement. It usually includes two or three and, sometimes, even a single sentence. It is not important how many words would you use for the thesis in contrast to the sense of these words. Thesis statement aims to reflect the main idea of survey and to set accents on what research is about.

After opening part of plan – thesis statement – usually goes the body of the work. In order to make it more convenient to write, MLA writing standard proposes to divide subsequent thoughts into chapters. Important to know, that all information divided into chapters should support thesis statement.

As every chapter needs a structural designation, MLA formatting advices are the following.

  • Headings of sections are numbered with roman numerals (I, II, III).
  • If these sections are hereinafter subdivided, Capitalized letters are used (A, B, C).
  • For next level go Arabic numerals (1,2,3),
  • and small letters (a, b, c) for the last subdivision of the section.

The page numeration of MLA research paper uses small roman numerals (i, ii, iii). MLA standard also recommends writing plan in accomplished sentences.

Thinking of a reader

Initial outline of the research paper consists of separate sections, which are united by a single logic of a study. It is also worth noting, because absence of consecution in plan dooms all the work to failure.

The simple example of using writing plan is referring to previously aligned ideas of the author while losing sight of the main thought of research. While writing the research paper author concentrates on his own ideas, but outline gives a chance to think about a reader. Information included in writing plan helps readers to orient themselves throughout the structure of study. Still being not compulsory to use, the outline shows only pros of efforts spent on its creation.


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