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The Basic Outline of a Paper
The following outline shows a basic format for most academic papers. No matter what length the paper
needs to be, it should still follow the format of having an introduction, body, and conclusion. Read over
what typically goes in each section of the paper. Use the back of this handout to outline information for
your specific paper.
I. Introduction
The introduction should have some of the following elements, depending on the type of paper:
Start with an attention grabber: a short story, example, statistic, or historical
context that introduces the paper topic
Give an overview of any issues involved with the subject
Define of any key terminology need to understand the topic
Quote or paraphrase sources revealing the controversial nature of the subject
(argumentative papers only)
Highlight background information on the topic needed to understand the direction
of the paper
Write an antithesis paragraph, presenting the primary opposing views
(argumentative paper