How to Write a Perfect Term Paper: Guide with Structure, Outline, Examples

How to Write a Perfect Term Paper: Guide with Structure, Outline, Examples

Writing a term paper is one of the biggest challenges a student can face within the academic years. This assignment requires a lot of persistence, excellent research, and analytical skills, as well as the ability to deliver ideas and thoughts in a clear yet professional way.

But how do you write a term paper if that’s your first time performing this sort of task? Just stick with us, and we’ll show you the easiest and surest way to craft a perfect paper. This A to Z guide will help you find out how to pick a topic, structure your work, and work out an outline so that you could cover all the points of your subject.

Let’s Start With a Simple One - What Is a Term Paper?

Before you learn how to write a college term paper, let’s clarify what it means first. So, this paper is a type of academic assignment that is performed based on intensive research by a student over a specific course by the end of the term. As it’s a formidable task, it usually makes a large part of the final grade for the course.

As it was mentioned earlier, this paper is conducted based on the research of trusted resources and their analysis to suggest the investigation of the topic from a different angle or new viewpoints.

How to Start a Term Paper - Choosing the Topic

So, can you write your paper on a little bit of this and a little bit of that? No, you should pick the topic and stick with it. This academic task aims to encourage you to get deeper into the subject matter and investigate it thoroughly. So, you can’t make a mix of different points in your term paper. 

Selecting a powerful term paper heading is essential because it defines how easily or painfully writing will flow. Stay away from selecting a random topic. We would recommend picking the one that responds to these criteria:

  • not new for you - go with the topic you are already familiar with;
  • exciting for you - select the one you’ll be genuinely thrilled to be writing about;
  • researchable - check if you have enough trusted resources for your paper;
  • innovative - make sure you’ll be able to make your own contribution to the topic investigation;
  • relevant - select the one that is to the point in terms of the course and the current situation in the academic realm.

Stay away from choosing the subject that is too broad or too narrow. In the first case, you won’t be able to cover the whole point, so your paper will look shallow and poorly researched. If you go with a narrow subject, you might not have enough materials to fit the term paper format.

In case your professor hasn’t provided you with the freedom of choice and assigned a topic for you, just look at the unique angles that would enable you to show the subject in a new light.

There Is No Such Thing As Over-Researching 

Do you plan to rush into writing the moment you agree on the topic? Hold on, you can’t succeed this way. So, as you ask us how to write a term paper with ease, here is our answer - do some awesome research first. It will help you to:

  • grasp background knowledge about the topic;
  • pick relevant sources you will cite or refer to in your work;
  • define the unique facets of the subject matter;
  • understand what can set you apart in your paper.

With the knowledge you get equipped with during your research, you’ll also be able to define the length of your work. Make sure you keep it as long as the professor requires, so at this stage, you’ll be able to define if that is possible. This is a sort of a test drive before you initiate writing. If you can’t meet the requirements, it’s still not too late to pick another topic that will allow you to do things the right way.

Get to Know the Structure of Your Paper

If you are wondering what sections your paper should have, let us quickly give you some hints. But let us warn you, the whole structure might depend on the college term paper format or the professor’s requirements. So always check what parts you are supposed to add with your academic supervisor to make sure you write your paper flawlessly.

In brief, any paper can be broken down into the title page, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference list.

The title page can be formatted in different ways, depending on the APA or MLA style. The title page formatted in APA style is a separate page, which includes the basic information like the topic, student name, educational institution, professor’s name, etc. The MLA page includes the student’s and professor’s name, the course number, date, and the title. Then goes the body of the paper on the same page.

The introduction usually gives some background information about the topic, actualizes it, dwells on methods of the research, and introduces a statement, which is the core idea you’ll be developing in your paper.

Then goes the body, which usually contains several chapters that reveal the topic from different angles. It offers an interpretation of resources with your own arguments to support the thesis you’ve made in the introduction.

The conclusion wraps up all the outcomes of the research and shows if the thesis was proved or not. It gives quick summaries of the chapters and reveals the facets of the subject that can be researched by other academicians.

The reference list enumerates the resources you used in your paper. It contains the materials you referred to as a direct citation as well as paraphrased. 

There might be the section of Tables and Figures, which includes graphics and other visual data. You can add Appendix if you would like to add cases or any other information that is critical for understanding the subject matter.

The Next Step - Term Paper Outline

So, now you know what is waiting for you. It looks like a lot of work, and it really is, but do not lose your heart. We are here to make things easier for you, so here it is. Check the final section that would show you how to write a term paper outline.

An outline is a roadmap that would be guiding you from point A to point B. It would be heading you in the right direction so that you stay the course. The outline will give you the sense of structure to make sure you know what every section is about and do not turn your paper into a mess. 

However, just keep in mind that your outline is not set in stone and you are free to modify it unless it agrees with the topic.

Usually, the outline is guided by the structure of the work but in a more structured and detailed way. Let us show you through an example how it works.

Outline Example of Term Paper for College

There is no better way to get to know how things work than to see it by yourself. So, here is an example for you so you could make up your mind about how to outline your paper effectively.

  1.  Introduction
    1. Topic: Political correctness in the newspaper media discourse.
    2. Quick introduction: who investigated the subject, what were the results.
    3. Methods.
    4. Thesis statement: Political correctness is expressed in different grammatical ways and the wording could be broken down into distinguishing semantic cores.
  2.  The concept of political correctness
    1. The historical background of the notion of ‘political correctness.’
    2. The key approaches to defining ‘political correctness.’
    3. Pragmatic functions of political correctness.
  3. Newspaper media discourse as the means of communication
    1. Defining the “discourse” notion.
    2. Types of media.
    3. Features of newspaper media discourse.
  4. Linguistic and semantic aspects of political correctness in newspaper media discourse
    1. The grammatical aspects of politically correct wording in newspaper media discourse.
    2. The semantic core of politically correct terms in newspaper media discourse.
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate the thesis and show how it was revealed.
    2. Summary of sections II, III, and IV.
    3. Further recommendations for research.

How Are You Supposed to Format Your Work?

You should have known how to write a final paper by now, but another question might pop up in your mind - how to format your work?

Formatting is one of the critical elements of your work. The way you lay down your paper might increase your odds for a better grade or reduce some points.

But the truth is that every professor or institution might have their own requirements, so it would be a wise decision to get in touch with your supervisor and figure out what style to use.

Basically, several styles define the way you should format the title page, what font, indent, or spacing to use, and how to cite other materials. You can be offered to use the APA or MLA styles in most cases, but there are some more to consider.

APA is widely used in social sciences, while MLA is a common choice for humanities and liberal arts. But there might be exceptions, so always check before you submit your paper.