Need to Write APA Research Paper Outline? Find Out How with Experts' Help!

November 09, 2022

Some students reject the idea of writing APA research paper outline because they want to focus on their actual essay from the beginning. This is a mistake. Outlines have the power to give clarity to your work, refine it, and tie your ideas together. It doesn’t mean that it has no drawbacks: yes, it takes extra time, but it also speeds up your final writing process. You need to know the main functions of outlines, their purpose, and strategies for creating them. Find your answers below!

Why You Should Maintain Accurate APA Outline Format

Every professional research paper writer knows how many different academic formats exist. As a student, you’re probably aware of this, too: APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago — all these multiple styles help keep an essay organized. We decided to focus on APA in particular because it’s the most common format among colleges. It might seem difficult at first: endless rules on how to cite sources, make a reference list, and format sections and titles can be confusing. But trust us, it is easy to learn how to use APA and format your essays correctly.

Try APA outline format templates online or ask your professors to give you one. Pay careful attention to the rules. Use the author’s last name and the year of publication when citing your information; put book titles in italics and names of articles in quotation marks. You might struggle when formatting your first papers, but soon enough, it’ll become a habit. Later you won’t even have to check the template. APA will help your essay look organized, neat, and comprehensive — your text will benefit from it a lot.

The Point of APA Format Outline for Research Paper

When people who do their jobs writing papers for money receive orders from clients, they know how to craft a perfect outline and an equally flawless essay. But students themselves might be facing troubles, especially if they lack experience. The key to high-quality writing is understanding what you need to do, so let’s figure out what an outline even is. The outline is a plan of an essay that covers the most important themes and gives a writer directions. It can have lots of details or just a couple of lines, but either way, when writing a paper, you’ll have to expand all your ideas. Here are the main reasons to complete an outline for each research paper.

  • Outline links thesis with central ideas. Research paper outline requires you to create a thesis. This is the main statement that describes your entire work. It has to express the key idea, voice your argument and demonstrate evidence that proves it. When you craft your thesis, you can see which points and sub-points you’ll need to explore on its basis — this makes establishing connections a simple process.
  • Outline helps writers stay on topic. When writing a paper, multiple students forget about their initial plans. They go with the flow, start developing one idea, then abandon it and focus on another thought. APA paper outline removes this threat. After you complete it, start working on the essay itself. You consult your outline repeatedly and follow the direction it sets. Every time you start losing track, you can go back to it and restore your balance.
  • Outline separates content into manageable sections. A common mistake students make without an outline for an APA research paper is confusing paragraph sizes. They make some of them enormous while others end up having a sentence or two. This isn’t the right approach. If you want your essay to look good, paragraphs should have a similar size; for increasing readability, you should follow typical academic rules. A paragraph shouldn’t exceed 200 words, but it also shouldn’t have less than three sentences. By developing specific ideas for each section, you’ll be able to treat your ideas equally.
  • Outline provides clarity. A research paper outline APA format ensures a high level of readability. Readers enjoy clarity — with outlines, writers can achieve it quickly. You plan in advance what topics you’re going to explore, how many of them your paper is going to have, what size they should be, etc. Without an outline, you might be playing a guessing game — this could make your paper underdeveloped or bad looking.
  • Outline allows seeing gaps. Another strength of outline for a research paper is that it gives writers an opportunity to recognize that their plan has problems. If you read a thesis and sections you decided to explore — see that something is missing, you can correct it by expanding or editing your plan. If there are too many points, you could throw the least relevant of them out.

These are not the only benefits outlines have to offer, but we presented the major ones. You’ll see the value after creating the first outline, and writing an essay centered on it. If you’re interested, the next section of research paper APA outline guide is for you.

Brief Template for Your Paper Outline

If you pay to write research paper on your topic, you can ask for an outline, too. Then you’ll see what it should comprise. Just recreate it later on when working on another essay. But paying money is not necessary. We devised a short outline template just for you:

Introduction Hook

Paragraph 1:

Opening sentence
Closing lines

Paragraph 2:

Same structure



Restating thesis

Outlining gaps and clarifying relevance

Giving Explanation for Each Template Part

Now that students saw how to write a research paper outline APA, it’s time to explain what every aspect means and which info they should include. Check this table. We explained each element from the template above.


Hook. Think about a sentence that would instantly draw your audience’s attention. It could be a shocking fact, a bold statement, a piece of statistics, etc.

Background. Specify how your topic came to be in your research paper outlines. One sentence would be enough — it’ll serve like a hint for you to expand on later.

Relevance. Why is this research paper topic important? Come up with a short explanation. You can make it longer or more refined later, but you need to have an approximate idea at this stage. This could make the writing process simpler.

Thesis. This is the last sentence of introduction that should be authoritative and convincing. Make it argumentative and very specific. It needs to touch on every major issue you’re exploring. Unlike other sections, this one should be complete, so provide a full thesis.


Paragraph 1:

a) Opening sentence related to thesis. When you use APA style to format research papers, don’t forget about opening lines. Every paragraph should start with them. Such a sentence must be a direct call-back to the thesis, plus it should outline the essence of the information present in this paragraph.

b) Quote. Use a relevant quote from a credible academic source. Try to pick something meaningful and average in length. Don’t forget to cite an author and year; research paper APA format outline also requires a page number in case of direct quotes.

c) Explanation of the quote. Make it clear why you selected this quote as well as what it implies. Never assume your readers will understand your reasons without you explaining them, no matter how obvious they might seem.

d) Closing sentence. Conclude the paragraph by summarizing what you achieved in it. Another option includes creating a transitional sentence that logically leads readers to the next section.
Repeat the same model for other body paragraphs. Specifics might vary but the essence should stay the same.


Restating thesis. Every APA style research paper outline template will tell students to repeat the thesis in the conclusion. But make certain you do it by using new words. Never copy sentences word by word since it’s a form of plagiarism.

Indicating gaps and relevance. Be honest about your possible shortcomings. What did your research miss? What problems or gaps did you encounter? Underline the importance of your findings and share advice for other researchers who might be interested in the same subject.

Comprehensive APA Research Paper Outline Example

You saw what structure an outline should have from a detailed template we’ve devised. But how about a real example? If you need it on a personalized topic, drop us a line with the words, “Could you write my assignment for me today?” But in case you’d like to see a general sample, here you go. Our team prepared an APA outline example on the topic “Interview with the Vampire TV Show as a Refreshing Adaptation of Classics.”


Hook that intrigues readers: “People who did not read the books and only watched the movie know that the vampires Lestat and Louis shared a romantic relationship.”

Background: “Anne Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire in 1973. The movie appeared in 1994 and it was vague in its portrayals of the characters.”

Relevance: “Rice’s book is iconic and new adaptation gives people a chance to see what it truly was about.”

Thesis: “Interview with the Vampire series is an effective adaptation of Anne Rice’s book that explores the characters’ true relationship and the toxicity it involves, and unlike many other shows, it proved to be successful.”


Paragraph 1:

a) Opening sentence. “New TV show focuses on the specifics of a romantic relationship that Louis shared with Lestat.”

b) Quote. “This show is bold in its portrayal of character dynamics unlike the movie preceding it” (Aleen, 2022).

c) Explanation. “It is difficult to understand why characters in the movie travel together and what they want from each other. The show does not shy away from exploring these aspects.”

d) Closing sentence. “Therefore, the show provides more insights into the nature of protagonists’ relationship.”

Paragraph 2:

a) Opening sentence. “Lestat, Claudia and Louis share toxic dynamics.”

b) Quote. “By trying to stop Louis from living with a monster, Claudia herself shows her monstrous nature” (Jekins, 2022).

c) Explanation. “Claudia wants to help Louis escape his abuser, but in the process, she hurts him herself by urging him to kill the man he loves.”

d) Closing sentence. “All characters have complex bonds coupled with abusive dynamics.”

Paragraph 3:

a) Opening sentence. “Shows like ‘Sherlock’ failed to adapt the original as well as ‘Interview’ has done it.”

b) Quote. “Season 4 of Sherlock lost its soul entirely and focused on mentioning relevant names and events from stories rather than exploring them” (Morgan, 2020).

c) Explanation. “As an example, the show did not explore an essential story of three Garridebs. It simply picked three random men, dangled them, and killed them within a minute.”

d) Closing sentence. “One show demonstrated respect for source material; the second show did not.”


Thesis restatement. “Interview with the Vampire depicted intricate romantic and toxic relationships Anne Rice portrayed in her books, and its reception has been positive, which cannot be said about other TV adaptations.”

Gaps and implications. “This TV show only has 1 season so far. It is vital to track its development to see whether it manages to preserve the same level of quality.”
Note that this isn’t a hard illustration of how to write a research paper outline. Students could choose any format they like unless their professor gave them concrete directions. Generally, outlines are divided into topic and sentence categories, but if you write it for yourself, there is no need to follow any rules. Do what you like — just as long as your plan stays clear to you and assists you in real essay writing.

Standards of APA Formatting for Research Papers

Now we shall see an APA paper outline format example. Numerous students find it concerning because even looking at templates doesn’t often help. They want details and specifics. We collected them in one place.

  • Title page. APA format requires a title page in every essay. Students should ascertain they add it and include relevant info into it. It includes their full name, professor’s name, title, course name. Some variations might exist, so we suggest clarifying them with your teacher before you begin writing.
  • Abstract. Every APA research paper outline template is going to have an abstract. Most other styles don’t require it while in APA it works on an optional basis. Ask the professor about it. Generally, abstracts are no more than 200 words long, and they involve keywords that help describe what your research is about.
  • Font. Times New Roman, 12-point font is the most acceptable choice. When you outline format for APA research papers, you should select the same font. Don’t try to be original and use overly large as well as small letters. Avoid colors, too, because this could only result in trouble for you. Black is standard — stick to it.
  • Spacing. Most APA papers are double-spaced. This creates the best distance between words and lines, making your text easily readable. Exceptions are possible, though! Sometimes professors ask for single spacing. Remember to change your settings in this case.
  • Numerals. If students try to find research paper outline example to see which numbers they should use, relax. Roman and Arabic numerals are both acceptable in APA papers — you cannot go wrong here.
  • Headings / Subheadings. First-level titles should be bold and centered, each word starting with a capital letter. Second-level titles are flushed left. Third-level titles are also flushed left. They come in italics in addition to bold fonts.
  • Margins. Place page numbers in the right upper corner of your research paper. As for margins themselves, create a 1-inch distance from all sides.

Create Outlines for the Best Essay Writing and Ask for Help in Urgent Cases

We gave you an opportunity to see APA outline format example in all its forms. There are short templates, explanations for each part, and a sample of what an informal outline could look like. Follow these rules and you’ll witness how simple and effective your research writing might be. If you encounter any problems or need more advice, contact us any time! We’re online 24/7 and we’ll be happy to give you a hand. Our writers could craft a great outline or a paper itself at your request — just explain what you want and we’ll do it.