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How To Structure A Term Paper?

Academic writing


Structure and format are crucial for tutors when it comes to assessing the paper. Your assignment might be great within the content, however, if it does not meet the basic requirements in terms of formatting and outline, you will probably fail to get a good mark. Thus, let’s scrutinize all the steps for writing a term paper thoroughly so that you are headed in a right direction from the very beginning of a paper completion.


Here are several recommendations on how to start a term paper and what should be done beforehand:

  • Start writing as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than postponing everything until the last moment, doing a work last night before a submission day being half-asleep and then getting anxious about the results. You are keenly aware that this assignment will result in either a pass or fail of a course. Not to retake the course again, start writing the paper as soon as it is assigned. In such a way, you will have enough time to complete it, submit to the professor, and revise if any changes are needed.
  • Check the assignment thoroughly. When you are given guidelines for writing a term paper, check them to make sure you understand all the requirements. Usually, such guidelines indicate how many pages or words the assignment should take, what formatting is required, what are the preferable sources, the date of submission, and, in some cases, the list of topics to choose from. These are the major points of every rubric, however, the instructions can include more details depending on the subject.
  • Do a proper research on the topic. Look through various sources, articles, and materials available to see what has already been written on the matter. This will help you to figure out what themes are particularly interesting for investigation and ultimately determine how to title a term paper. Note that you have to search for most current information, especially if the disciplines in question are medicine or science. These areas are developing very fast, and, therefore, the data is becoming obsolete very fast. Nevertheless, if the research is on social sciences, for example, you will probably have to include a review of the older literature to show the history of the particular subject.
  • Choose a topic, which you would personally like to learn more about. The right choice of a theme is a pledge of writing a good paper. First of all, you should be interested in the theme chosen. Being interested in the topic you are writing on, you will not treat the assignment as a heavy burden. In addition, as you probably noticed, practically any term paper guide recommends narrowing the topic down. At the same time, make sure you will be able to find enough arguments and examples to support your thesis. For example, if you are writing on criminal affairs, choose juvenile delinquency as a topic. Alternatively, if the subject is journalism, you may investigate whether journalists should reveal their anonymous communicants to make their reports more credible.
  • Make an outline. This is one of the most important steps on completing a term paper successfully. Therefore, it is vital to elaborate a detailed outline with all the major points to keep to, so you will not miss anything significant.
  • Think of a background story. A relevant story helps to grasp the substance of your work better. Some sources advise adding a quotation of an eminent person or even an anecdote if it is appropriate. Moreover, you can refer to a legend or myth if it matches the topic and can clearly convey your ideas. Besides, you can include an interesting fact or statistics.
  • Define unfamiliar terms or phrases. This is particularly important for complicated technical subjects. Make sure you understand all the terms and can use them skillfully. If applicable, provide your readers with the definitions of some terms.

As soon as you read the above-mentioned recommendations, the question of how to begin term paper will not be so daunting. Take this first step to get ready for the completion of the work itself, and you will see that it is not as tough as it looks.


Term paper structure comprises quite a few sections. Let’s review them in detail:

  1. Cover or title page. The structure of a cover page will depend on the type of formatting. However, be it an APA, MLA, or any other format, it certainly will include a title itself, your name, the name of the class (course), the name of your tutor and the date written in the mid of the page. If a subtitle is required, it has to be put directly under the main title.
  2. Table of contents. It is a plan of your paper, which includes headings and subheadings of each section with page numbers put near respective points. Obviously, this table is the last thing to create. Nevertheless, mind that it should follow the title page.
  3. It is a brief summary, which usually takes half of a page or more and reveals the aim of your work, the research methods you used, and your main arguments. All in all, you will have to write the most crucial information on the whole work in a few sentences.
  4. Many students struggle when it comes to writing an introduction part. How to write term paper introduction properly? This is a crucial question since you have to make this part an interesting one so that a reader wants to continue reading the whole writing piece. There are several aspects, which should be considered before setting to work. We provided them here below for you to know how to write introduction for term paper. Among them are:
  • The background study of your research and the literature review.
  • The general statement of the research question and the main purpose of your work.
  • The indication of the methods used and the data obtained.
  • The thesis statement, which is the last and the most significant sentence of this part.
  • Sometimes, if the subject is particularly tough, especially when it relates to the exact sciences, it is preferable to include the term definitions.

It is important to note that the background has to convey what has already been investigated and achieved in the chosen sphere. Also, you have to explain your choice of the topic and why it is necessary to study it. Generally, background information provides a brief summary of what has already been done on the topic and shows the gap in research that you are willing to fill in. In addition, it emphasizes how your study can contribute to further investigations.

  1. Body. This is the most extended part of the term paper structure, which includes many points for consideration. Basically, the logical organization of body paragraphs is of the uttermost importance. There should be a clear linkage between its sections. The subheadings should not be abrupt, since it may lead to the interruptions in the flow of thoughts. So how to structure a term paper main body sections?
  • Literature review. This section is designated to give an overview of sources pertaining to the topic. These sources have to be divided thematically and encompass the overview of the subject, problem or theory in question. Also, you have to explain how each work has contributed to the area of research and what similarities and differences it has as compared to other studies.
  • The methodology part aims to explain how the data of research was obtained and what methods were used to analyze it. The number of techniques and procedures for each sphere of investigation may be rather vast. Thus, it is necessary to explain why you have used the particular ones clearly. However, there is no need explain every step taken because a person whom you will submit the work to is definitely familiar with the method used and only needs to see that you understood its application. Moreover, an overly detailed methodology description will take a lot of space in body paragraphs, which is unwanted. If it is a survey with numerous questions, it is preferable to put it into an appendix, but make sure to refer to it in the methodology section.
  • The obtained results must correspond to the aim set at the begging of the work since any contradictions may negate the whole writing. In case there are many results, it is better to put them on tables or graphs and give a fuller explanation in the appendix as well.
  • Here, you will have to explain your findings and how your research proves the main argument. This section, as well as the previous one, has to be linked to the introduction part.

These steps in writing a term paper are the most significant ones, thus, pay special attention to their completion. If the obtained results go against the thesis statement or the method chosen will be inappropriate, you will most likely fail to get a high score.

  1. Conclusion. This part gives a summary and evaluation of the whole work and states how the work can benefit further investigations. Sometimes, this section may include recommendations as to what improvements can be made while working on the same or similar research.
  2. Reference list. Arrange the sources cited in alphabetical order. Pay special attention to the format since the right reference list, as a significant part of a structure of term paper, contributes greatly to the final mark. Moreover, it makes your work look professional and shows your attitude towards paper completion.

Consider the above-given recommendation to grasp how a structure of a term paper should generally look like.

The best way to get how to structure the work properly is to look through the examples. Your professor will most likely provide you with a term paper outline example structure, which is actually the most reliable template since your professor will assess the work according to his idea of the right structure. Sure, you can surf the Internet to see different ways of outlining the work, however, it would be better to stick to the one given by your tutor.


The following term paper guidelines provide directions on how to complete a respective assignment excellently.

  • Set a research timeframe. After doing a proper research and reading a bulk of materials on the topic, you may tie oneself into a knot when realizing that a lot of time is gone now and you are only about to set down to work. Thus, try spending no more than one-third of the whole time on collecting and processing sources.
  • Make the general writing style precise and objective. Make sure to use the terms and definitions correctly. Also, pay special attention to grammar and spelling, and proofread the work carefully before submission. Try to imagine yourself a demanding tutor who is willing to find the deficiencies or read what you have written aloud, and if you find yourself stumbling while reading, that is not a good sing for sure. Details are especially important for this type of writing; for instance, try to reduce superfluous words. It is better to use a single but intelligible word instead of a long, abstruse phrase. Also, do not be repetitive; that is to say, avoid sentences that restate the same idea.
  • Avoid plagiarism. References are essential for any academic writing since they help to back up your statements and opinions. Nevertheless, all the quotes have to be cited for you not to be accused of plagiarizing other’s ideas and academic fraud respectively. Thus, while searching for relevant information, take notes of the sources not to forget where the cited parts are from.
  • Add notes. Though notes are rarely used now, they are preferred when additional content has to be provided. Notes can be added when either these materials are not strictly relevant to the matter discussed but still substantial to be mentioned or if they give, explain, or supplement some specific and detailed information, which would be redundant to speak of in the body paragraphs. They can be of two types: footnotes, used at the each page’s foot, and endnotes, used at the end of each chapter or before the reference list.

Add appendices. Depending on the subject, appendices can comprise various maps, charts, graphs, statistics, surveys and so on. Similarly to notes, appendices are sometimes obligatory to add if the information is too detailed to include in the body but still necessary to mention. In such a way, you will have to refer to the respective appendix in the text.


Each subject has its own peculiarities and assignment requirements for each are rather different as well. If we take History as an example, it becomes clear without saying that you will have to do a lot of reading before getting down to work due to the immense number of topics. At this very moment, it is almost impossible to look through all the sources available, and thus, there is always a high probability of leaving out some essential information related to the topic. One more serious shortcoming about the subject is a presumable inaccuracy of sources. The records on one and the same historical event may not coincide. All these points have to be taken into account.

For instance, if your work deals with the scrutiny of American Indians, which is undoubtedly a fascinating theme to write on, you may look through a “term paper resorce guide to native American history” available on the Internet. A Term Paper Resource Guide to American Indian History provides 100 topic ideas with a short description and suggested sources to each of these topics.


If you are struggling with writing a term paper, guidelines and recommendations provided in the article will definitely stand you in good stead. Nevertheless, more often than not, students lack time and insight of the subject matter. In such instances, our custom writing service would gladly help you with assignment completion. The writers who work with us are real experts in their disciplines. They know how to meet the requirement of most demanding professors and make your work perfect in terms of content, structure, and language. Moreover, our writing service is available 24/7 and offers assistance to everyone who seeks proficient writers and high-quality papers.


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