When trying to outline a MLA research paper, it is important to note the specific rules associated with the format. Below is a list of 5 components to a successful outline template for an MLA research paper:

  1. Thesis statement. The most important aspect of any outline is your thesis statement. In MLA format, your thesis statement will usually appear at the end of your first paragraph. This should be the first thing you see at the top of your outline. Your statement should be written in complete sentences and include your main point as well as your reasoning for believing that point.
  2. Topic sentences. Typical MLA research papers will include a minimum of 3 body paragraphs. This means you should have at least 3 topic sentences in your outline denoted by roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.). Each topic needs to be a complete sentence that lets the reader know what you will be talking about in that paragraph.
  3. Discussion points. Under each topic sentence you should have at least 3 discussion points. These will be denoted by capitalized letters in alphabetical order (A, B, C, etc.). Just like everything else in your outline, these should be written in complete sentences. The discussion points will serve as evidence for the main point of each paragraph. Do not include in-text citations even if you reference a specific person or study.
  4. Explanations of discussion points. For each discussion point you need 1-2 sentences explaining the relevance of each point. These are denoted by numeric values in increasing order and appear beneath each discussion point.
  5. Formatting. There are a few formatting rules specific to MLA outlines. Pages should be numbered with small roman numerals. The document should be titled “Outline” and not the paper’s full title; this will be reserved for the title page and the beginning of the text. Make sure you indent the document properly after each bullet point. Each time you move from a topic sentence to a discussion point, or a discussion point to an explanation, you need to indent on the next line.

Lastly, when developing an outline in MLA for your research paper, try and make sure that you have an equal amount of discussion points/explanations between paragraphs. You don’t want to end up with a paper that is stronger or weaker in some areas.