Research Paper on Google: Creating an Outline

Writing a research paper is a multi-step process that intimidates many students. Fortunately, many teachers will walk their students through each step, until the students prove that they can do it on their own. After students have created an idea and done some initial research, one of the most challenging steps is creating the outline. Fortunately, if you are creating your research paper using Google and their free apps, there are many convenient tools that you can use to get the job done.

Many years ago, outlining was a skill that was taught in most English classes. Now, it is not taught as often. Some students will develop their own outlining style and some never do. In many classrooms, teachers give their students graphic organizers for the planning stages of writing a research paper.

If you use the Google Docs application for your research paper and outline, you can work collaboratively with classmates and your teacher. Some teachers will set up outline templates, especially if they are working with students who are new to research papers. Since Google allows users to share documents and folders, teachers can also show their students samples. Many teachers will leave comments to help students along the way. Students can ask questions through the comments and chat options, so they can work with their teachers at any time of the day.

Creating an outline is easier than most people think. The key is remember that you can always change it, which is why it is easier to write one on a computer, rather than on paper. Each outline should contain:

  • Organizational cues: These are things like Roman numerals, Arabic numbers, and letters. In a traditional outline, the Roman numerals are the major topics, and the details get Arabic numbers, lowercase Roman numerals, and letters. If you create an outline on Google docs, the program will instantly apply the cues.
  • Parallel structure: When you craft an outline, it is helpful to use parallel structure in each cue. For example, if you use gerunds (words that end in -ing) in all of your subheadings, that is parallel structure.
  • Short phrases or single words: Outlines are not paragraphs, so they do not need to be written in complete sentences. Keep the information that you put in them short. Use the actual paper to expand on the ideas.
  • Do not get frustrated: It is just an outline. It is a planning tool, that is all. If you make a mistake or you want to reorganize, just do it.