Paper Outline AssignmentFinal paper project – paper outline assignment

by John Bandler

This page is about the course paper outline assignment. By now, you have already submitted a paper topic, and received feedback. Now you can incorporate that feedback and continue the process of researching and building your paper, by refining your topic, summary paragraph, creating an outline, and continuing your research.

As before, the basics are on this page, with links to documents with more detailed instructions and a template for your submission. I walk through it in the video at the bottom.

You might decide to use your prior submission as your template, just remember to give it a new filename and incorporate all of these instructions and the new requirements.

In sum

In sum, you are building upon your paper topic assignment submission. Then, follow the outline assignment instructions, my feedback, do additional research and thought and improve, focus, and outline your paper. Refine and adjust your paper title and introductory summary paragraph, outline your main points, further your research, and show all of it to yourself and me in the outline you submit. Follow the template to ensure your submission contains:

  • Paper title (refined and improved)
  • A single paragraph summarizing your proposed paper (refined and improved)
  • An outline with 5-7 bullet points, and accompanying explanation, to show you have worked to organize your research, thoughts, and points
  • A list of references you have reviewed thus far starting with materials in the syllabus and expanding significantly from there
  • Student reflection: School resources consulted, comments or questions for me.

The goal is to do enough work that you will be at mile marker 16 in our marathon analogy.Paper Project Process Marathon 2023-5 (4) Outline

An outline template with some limited instructions

Here is the Word document as a template. Again, remember not to start from scratch but copy in the work you did for that last assignment and keep improving and editing it, incorporating my feedback.

I recommend the template because sometime students overlook some instructions. Just remember to start from your prior work, incorporate feedback and improve it and edit it.

(Alternatively, you could also use your prior submission as a template, give it an updated filename, keep improving it, and follow other instructions as per the template and this page, but I find some students overlook some requirements when they do it that way.)


An outline is the next step of your paper project. We do an outline before we start writing a draft so we can organize our thoughts, pick the main points we are making, and get feedback. For more, see the Paper Project Overview page.

In my analogy of running (or walking) a marathon, consider submission of the final paper at the end of the semester as completion of the marathon, reaching the finish line. This submission should bring you to mile marker 16. If your outline submission is not far along, you will have further to go for the next steps, and it is harder for me to give helpful feedback.

Instructions and submission content

  • Researching, writing, and editing are important skills. This is your learning opportunity.
  • Do research and thought before submission.
  • Refine your prior submission. Don't rest on your laurels, it can be improved.
  • Have some fun and learn.
  • You will submit an outline with 5-7 points (including introduction and conclusion)
  • Title
    • Improved from your prior submission and incorporates feedback
    • A wonderful, crisp title that informs the reader about what the paper is about
    • Communicate clearly. General rule, choose clarity, don’t be overly clever or cute
    • Topic needs to be relevant to the course
  • 1. Introduction (your first point in the outline, your first section in the paper)
    • A single paragraph summarizing your proposed paper
    • Improved from your prior submission and incorporates feedback
    • A paragraph of no more than 250 words that is crisp, well proofread and edited, and introduces the paper to your reader. Improved from your prior submission
    • This can eventually be one of your paper's introductory paragraphs
    • Do not introduce or summarize broad concepts, such as the Internet, cybercrime, etc.
    • Your introduction can have a hint of conclusion
  • 2. Bullet point - your first main outline point after the introduction
    • The bullet point crisply states the point and communicates it to the reader
    • The bullet point will eventually be turned into a section header
    • This bullet point should be devoted to summarizing what the current law is in this area
    • Include a sentence or two to explain more about this point
    • This is an outline, not a draft, so keep the text light
    • You need to come up with the bullet point (don't write the words "bullet point")
  • 3. Bullet point - next outline point
    • Another point on law?
    • Brief summary
  • 4. Bullet point - next outline point
    • Brief summary
  • x. Another bullet point (if needed)
    • Brief summary
  • x. Another bullet point (if needed)
    • Brief summary
  • x. Conclusion (don't break new ground)
  • References: A list of references you have reviewed thus far
    • Leave this in place for subsequent submissions, including the final paper, updating with each submission
    • List the references you have reviewed, starting with materials on our syllabus, and expanding from there
    • Research should be substantial by now and nearly complete, building on your prior submission
    • Don’t worry too much about citation form yet, but try improve it, and provide enough information so I can find it, including title, author, publication, page, link
    • Read what you have listed
    • Start with anything relevant listed on the syllabus, including coursebook and articles
    • Start with the highest priority and most foundational laws
    • List relevant laws or regulations, or cases (your paper is about law so you need to identify them
  • Student reflection comments and questions
    • Leave this in place for subsequent submissions, including the final paper.
    • List any consultations with school library and writing center, including date, time, person consulted
    • How did this submission go for you, and how has the overall process gone thus far for you?
    • Feel free to ask a question or explain anything you are wrestling with, challenges, successes, etc.
    • Did you read this webpage?
    • Did you watch the video at bottom?

More details and reminders

  • You have already submitted a proposed title, summary, and initial references.
  • You reviewed my feedback and then continued your research and refinement.
  • Submit an outline as indicated above (don't submit a draft paper)
  • Submit a clean, polished outline
    • Don't submit your rough notes, don't include prior titles or prior summaries
    • This is academic coursework and a formal submission
    • Evolve your work
  • Refine your title and summary for clarity and as your research and thinking progresses. Your summary paragraph will eventually be an introductory paragraph in your paper.
  • Add to your references as you continue your research and outline.
  • An outline includes
    • Introduction
    • A number of points (with the early points should state what the law is)
    • Conclusion
  • An outline is an outline, like a skeleton. It is not a draft, nor a lengthy compilation of notes, nor text copied from elsewhere
  • Citation rules apply to all submissions (if you copy, you must quote and cite, or it is plagiarism)
  • As always, put in effort and the learning is in the process.
  • The final paper will not be long, so don’t try to cover too much.
    • Undergraduate and graduate: Max 2,000 words (about 8 pages) not including citations, references, comments.
    • Law school: Max 3,000 words (about 12 pages) not including citations, references, comments.
  • Consult my resources linked to on this page
  • Have a good filename for your submission, such as STUDENTNAME PaperOutlineAssign 2023-xx-xx
  • Submit as a DOCX, DOC, PDF. Don't use formats the learning management system doesn't like, such as Pages, DOCT, etc.

Research resources include

Writing resources include

Paper project phases

Other links

Watch me walk through these instructions in a short video

Posted 6/26/2022 based on years of teaching. Updated 1/29/2024