Basic Elements Of A Good APA Research Paper Outline

The basic elements of a good APA research paper outline are going to be quite similar to any other. You want to have an organizational plan for how your final piece is going to look, and in order to have that you need to visualize all of the different components you are going to include, in what order you want to include them, what function they serve, and what evidence or information you want to include where. In order to better understand the purpose it serves, it shall be referred to as the “organizational chart”.

For this particular format, the organizational chart should contain a rough sketch of exactly what your final product will look like. In other words, there should be one short section in the organizational chart for each section you are going to have in your final piece. In accordance with this format, this means you need the following:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review/Background
  • Methodology/Materials
  • Results/Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

These should each serve as a heading or primary letter, number, or bullet point on your organizational chart. Now, within each of these major components, you will likely have many sub sections you want to include and for each of these there should be a subsequent bullet point, number, letter, or other place holder to indicate what information you are going to put there.

One thing you can do is to write out these items as the bullet points and leave three or four blank lines beneath each, so that you can fill in the content as you go along. The content might change too, and the order of the information inside of each of the aforementioned headings might change as a result. It is unlikely, however, that the main headings will change because then it would no longer be in alignment with the format requirements.

**It is important to note that there is no set template or requirement for the way your organizational chart should look. You are free to use whatever method of organization works best for you. Some students prefer to write out long sentences, essentially completing the majority of their work at this part of the process while others prefer short bullet points and fragmented sentences. You should play around with any method or format or design that you choose and see which one works best for you**

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