How to Write an Outline in APA Format

APA Research Paper Outline: Examples and Template

How to Write an Outline in APA Format

There are three commonly used APA examples for an outline, based upon setting sections in a numerical sequence. We have gathered all the templates in this article so you can understand everything clearly. Let’s see how APA formatting style works and how an outline in APA looks.

Here is an example of a simple outline for the topic «Directing a Play for Scholars» looks.

I. Choose a Play

A. Ask other qualified people

B. Think about your own experience

(1) Think about your own school literature courses

(2) Refer to your non-academic knowledge

a) what did your parents advise you

b) your own literature preferences

II. Begin preparation

A. Select actors

1. Invite those you are familiar with

a. Choose those you have had experience working with

(1) Call those who were professional

(2) Give another chance for lesser candidates

2. Invite those you are not familiar with

a. Ask another director

b. Ask a familiar actor for a recommendation

B. Start rehearsal

Full Sentence Outline Format

If you are not quite sure what format and structure to follow when creating an outline for an APA research paper, you should check out the example provided below.

  1. Introduction
    1. What is a full-sentence outline?
    2. Each point of your outline has to be a full-sentence.
      1. It means that each section of your outline has to be a complete sentence
      2. Each section has to consist of one sentence only.
    3. This outline format is best for essays or speeches
      1. Each point leads closer to the main point of your essay
      2. It lets you see what the final essay would look
    4. Why should you use an outline?
      1. It helps you shape your ideas into a final essay or speech
      2. It brings a logical order to your ideas
  2. Main Body
    1. State the main point
      1. Give supporting information to your point
        1. Support your ideas with factual information statistics and citations from relevant sources.
        2. Give more supporting information if there’s any
      2. More support
        1. Give support and back up with your own ideas
        2. Give a brief conclusion to the first point
    2. State the second point
      1. Give supporting information to your point
        1. Support your ideas with factual information statistics and citations from relevant sources.
        2. Give more supporting information if there’s any
      2. More support
        1. Give support and back up with your own ideas
        2. Give a brief conclusion to the first point
  3. Conclusion
    1. Spacing has to be consistent throughout the paper
      1. As long as the outline is coherent
      2. As long as it is easy to read
    2. If you have problems making your outline in Microsoft word
      1. Let us know
      2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The research paper outline examples given above are long-established ways of composing a plan but still comply with APA writing standards.

Need help with writing your APA papers?

Decimal Outline Format

The decimal outline is quite simple. The first paragraph introduces your topic to the audience and makes your point clear.

  • The hook: introduce your audience to the main idea of your paper.
  • Context: introduce the area or field of studies where your research might be applicable.
  • Rationale: tell the audience why your topic is important or relevant.
  • Thesis statement: the claim or the main point you make in your entire writing.
  • Topic sentence: your first claim to support the thesis statement.
  • Explanation: give an explanation or evidence to support your claim.
  • Supporting point: give factual data, statistics, and/or citations from reliable sources to support your claim.
  • Supporting sentences: give as many supporting claims and relevant evidence as you need.
  • Concluding sentence: give a small conclusion to your points.


The conclusion draws the line under all of your points and gives a final statement on why your point or claim is correct.

Concluding points: give concluding points to all the claims you’ve made.

Although some students skip writing an outline for their research papers and underestimate its usefulness, it plays a big role in your success. With a good outline, you increase your chances of writing a high-quality paper. An outline completes several important functions:

  • It helps you to follow the right structure.
  • It contains all the ideas, evidence, and points you should include, so you won’t leave something out.
  • It helps you focus on the task and contributes to a faster writing process.

Tips on Writing an Outline: Bring Some Order to Your Ideas

Most beginner writers think that they are talented enough to just write whatever they want without even trying to organize their thoughts.

True, you might have really brilliant ideas and be a talented writer, but it is nearly impossible to craft a compelling narrative without an outline or at least a mental roadmap for your writing.

That is why it is essential that you write an outline before you start writing your essay or a speech; otherwise, it is easy to get lost in all of your ideas and thoughts and end up with a messy paper that is neither easy nor pleasant to read.

Do Some Research

Unless you know the topic through and through, it is always a good idea to do some reading before you start writing. You need to be confidents in what you are doing and know exactly what you are going to write about.

Each sentence of your paper needs to carry some value, give information to the reader, and not just water it down to the required wordcount.

To achieve that goal, you need to know your topic better than the audience does so you can give them something truly valuable.

Have a Clear Objective

Why are you writing? What do you want to prove, explain, argue, or claim by writing that article? You need to understand that, otherwise, your audience would not understand that either. Write down your main objective and make sure it can be clearly explained in just one sentence.

If your objective is too broad or vague, you are not going to achieve anything.

Of course, if you are working on a huge research paper that encompasses several issues or topics, you can have a broader objective, but if we are talking about an essay or a speech, the objective needs to be as precise and as clear as possible. 

List All of Your Objectives and Points

Include all the important things you want to say in your article in your outline. Make sure it contains all of the points you want to make and all the information you want to introduce to your audience.

This will help you work on your essay once you start writing.

All the main points and all the claims you make need to be included in your outline in a logical order that would make it easier for your readers to follow through.

Reduce the Redundancies

Once your outline is finished, go over it several times and delete all the things that are non-essential or bear no value. Make it as precise and as brief as you can, that way you’ll avoid stuffing your outline with the things that should not be in your final essay. Carve out all of the redundant stuff, all the unnecessary points, and all the things that weigh you down as you write.

Wrap Up

Writing an outline is not that challenging, but the benefits of doing that are just immense. Having an outline, it is much easier for you to write a great essay that hits your objective just right and gives your audience exactly what they came for. Respect your audience’s time and effort and make sure your essay is worth reading.

PapersOwl is the best solution if you are looking for a good paper writing service. You can choose any type of citation style, any academic area, and hire the best writer.


APA Outline Examples in PDF

How to Write an Outline in APA Format

If you’re a beginner in writing a research paper or an essay and your instructor asked you to use the APA format, you may not have the faintest idea what APA means, let alone use the format. If your instructor gives you the APA guidelines then good for you.

If they haven’t, don’t panic. You’re going through the perfect article that will help you get acquainted and familiarize the APA format outline. You may also see essay outline.

24+ Outline Templates in PDF | Word | PSD | Google Docs | Apple Pages — START DOWNLOADING

  • Examples of Topic Outline
  • Research Paper Outline Examples

Most college students or teachers who are majoring in social sciences, such as Psychology, Sociology, History, Linguistics, use the American Psychological Association or APA guidelines for writing research papers and assignments in this field of study.

Other fields of study also use the APA format but not limited to Business, Economics, Nursing, and Criminology. The APA covers the initial title page to bibliography citation page. APA basically provides the basic layout style and outline to correctly write your paper in the APA format.

Of course, other formats are also used by researchers, students, and teachers such as MLA, Harvard, etc. You may also see free outline.

Basic Format to Follow in APA Outline

Follow this format to avoid errors and more revisions in your research paper or essay.

  • The margins of your paper should be one inch from all sides; left, right, bottom, and top.
  • Your font style should be Times New Roman.
  • Your font size should be 12 pt.
  • Your paragraph space should be double-spaced.

    Don’t use single-spaced paragraphs. One reason for this is that your research paper will not look cramped; it is neat and organized to look at. You may also see thesis outline.

  • The first page of your outline should also contain your name, your guide/instructor/professor, the title of your paper, your course and the date you submitted your paper.

    You may also see the script outline.

Some word applications such as Microsoft Word and Kingsoft Office has features mentioned above to help you in formatting your research paper or essay.

APA Outline Examples

Looking at the basic APA outline format guidelines and examples, do not forget that:

  • The Roman numerals are used for the main headings in your outline (I, II, III, IV).
  • Capital letters are used for the subheadings (A, B, C, D, E).
  • For your sub-headings in your first subheadings, you should use Arab numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
  • Lowercase letters for more subheadings, if applicable use a, b, c, d, e.
  • If you need another subheading under the one mentioned above, use Arab numerals in parenthesis.

    (1), (2), (3), (4), (5).

If this seems baffling, refer to the examples of APA outline formats below.

Radio Outline Format Example


File Format

Size: 40 KB


APA Style Template Example


File Format

Size: 35 KB


APA Essay Outline Example


File Format

Size: 41 KB


Writing an APA Outline Format

Having a good outline has more chances of you presenting a well-written research paper or essay.

Making an APA outline is the first thing to do in creating a structure on what will be written in the paper and how it is written.

There is a grammatical format that you have to follow while writing your paper to make it sound credible. Having a sloppy grammar makes your paper less impressive. Here are some tips:

1. Observe the use of parallelism

Parallelism means the use of consecutive verbal constructions in a sentence that corresponds to the grammatical structure. In this format, this refers to the structure between the headings and sub-headings.

Once you’ve established your structure, it must be consistent with all your headings and subheadings. If you start your headings with a verb, then your subheadings should start with a verb.

If you use a noun, then all your headings and sub-headings must use nouns. You may also see write a speech outline.


Your headings are: “Choose Companies” and “Prepare Resume”.  The words “choose” and “prepare” are both verbs. Now you must make sure to make your other headings and sub-headings have verbs in them.

Your sub-headings are: “Visit and evaluate company’s offices” and “Visit and evaluate companies websites”.

See the consistent use of a verb? That is parallelism.

2. The use of coordination is vital between your headings

All your headings must be equal in significance or importance of each other. The rule applies to sub-headings as well, but their information may be less significant than the headings. You may also see a speech outline.


I. Choose Companies

A. Visit and evaluate companies offices.

B. Visit and evaluate companies websites.

1. Look for positions, benefits, and salary.

2. Note important reviews from employees from review sites.

3. Make use of subordination

Subordination is the relationship between the headings and the sub-headings. The headings usually have general information while the information contained in the sub-headings are more specific, and so on to more sub-headings. The subordination is created using Arabic numerals. You may also see the program outline.


A. Describe an ideal man

1. Hollywood Celebrity

2. Acquaintance

See that the category of the ideal man is general and Hollywood celebrities and acquaintances are quite specific.

4. To organize your outline you should use division

Each heading must have at least two or three divisions. However, if you have too many divisions, you need to use another heading or sub-heading. You may also see a biography outline.


A. Prepare resume

1. List educational attainments.

2. List work experience.

3. List volunteer experience.

5. Your headings should always use Roman Numerals (I, II, III, etc.) when you list them

For example, if you are writing research for The Foundation of Mugs, your heading must look this:

I. The Foundation of Mugs

Don’t forget to always use Roman Numerals while writing your main headings. Your heading is the first and basic step in formatting your APA outline. You may also see the chapter outline.

6. Next is the subheading

The subheading follows the main heading. When listing them use a capital letter of the English alphabet. In the example above, your heading was “The Foundation of Mugs”. Suppose your subheading is “History of Mugs” then it should be listed using the English alphabet. Start with the capital letter A. You may also see the presentation outline.


A. History of Mugs

Hence your headings and subheadings must look this:

I. Foundation of Mugs.
A. History of Mugs.

7. Add more than one subheading to your main heading

If you to add more than one subheading to your main heading, just by adding the next English alphabet in capital letters in the next subheading. Example: If you  to add a second subheading to your main heading, “Foundation of Mugs”, you may write this:

B. Designs and Functions of Mugs to the Society

Your heading and subheading will look this:

I. Foundation of MugsA. History of Mugs

B. Designs and Functions of Mugs to the Society

Use Arab numerals (1,2,3 and so on). If you want to add another subheading “Decoration” under heading B, you may write it this:

1.  Decoration

Your outline would now look something this:

I. Foundation of MugsA.History of MugsB. Designs and Functions of Mugs to the Society

1. Decoration

Finally, if there are still more subheadings you want to add under your last subheadings, use lower case letters. If there are still subheadings you want to add under the last subheading, use Arab numerals in parenthesis. You may also see the course outline.


I. Foundation of MugsA.History of MugsB. Designs and Functions of Mugs to the Society1. Decorationa. Transfer Printing

(1) Method of Transfer Printing

The Importance of Public Control: Sample Outline


File Format

Size: 213 KB


I Wll Build My Church: Sample APA Outline


File Format

Size: 59 KB


The Purdue OWL: Sample APA Outline


File Format

Size: 63 KB


Using an APA format as your outline might be confusing at first but once you have familiarize yourself with the format, then it is easier for you to organize your topics and sub-topics you want to discuss in your essay or research paper. You may also see book outline.

Types of Outline and Examples

Outlines are the organization of ideas that provides a visual structure of the hierarchy and how the contents in your composition relate to each other. Deductively, outlines are classified into three types.

1. Alphanumeric Outlines

Alphanumeric outlines are the most popular outline type. These incorporate a prefix, which could be a letter or a number, before each topic that helps to cite them.

Moreover, this type of outline follows a certain format in organizing the ideas the characters used as the prefix.

Accordingly, an alphanumeric outline formatting follows this order:

  • Roman Numerals
  • Capitalized Letters
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Lowercase Letters

Respectively, the principal topics are encoded after the Roman Numerals while the most inferior ideas are preceded by the lowercase letters. To illustrate this outline, here are some samples of an alphanumeric outline.

College Application Process Alphanumeric Outline


File Format

Size: 33 KB


For people with minimal knowledge or for some who are just new to this topic, constructing a simple outline could be burdensome. If you are one of them, you may doubt yourself during the whole creating process. To help you understand what an alphanumeric outline is composed of, you may refer to this basic alphanumeric outline sample.

Simple Alphanumeric Outline


File Format

Size: 11 KB


This sample is another alphanumeric outline to give you a broader overview of what this outline is. You may check this comprehensible sample to easily gather some basic knowledge.

2. Full-Sentence Outlines

the alphanumeric outline, the same organizational format is applied; however, in the full-sentence outlines, a complete sentence must be written at each level.

In comparison to the preceding type, this outline records the complete thought of the content which gives a modest advantage in the writing process of a paper.

Furthermore, using the full-sentence outline allows you to transfer concepts directly and easily to your composition.

Here are some examples of the full-sentence outline to help you visualize what it looks .

Basic Full-Sentence Outline


File Format

Size: 5 KB


Though there are only a few differences between an alphanumeric outline and a full-sentence outline, you might still need a sample to illustrate these variations. See this simple full-sentence outline sample to learn more.

Full-Sentence Outline Example


File Format

Size: 612 KB


If you can’t get enough of one example, then this could satisfy you. This example contains several outline samples for you to relate on. To give you a brief easy-to-understand guide, simply read this one.

3. Decimal Outlines

Similar to the alphanumeric outline and full-sentence outline, the decimal outline utilizes the same format but just with the use of decimals to note each heading and subheading.

Accordingly, the primary heading is marked by a digit “1,” and the subheadings will be noted as “1.1” and so on. Moreover, decimals may be composed of particular thoughts or in complete sentences.

With this outline, one could present an in-depth categorization of the relationship and hierarchy of ideas.

General Decimal Outline


File Format

Size: 2 KB


If you hate mathematics, this outline type might intimidate you. Despite its utilization of decimals, this outline type doesn’t differ that much from others. Nonetheless, you might still need to see that little difference, and this sample could show you that. Take advantage of this to learn more.


Добавить комментарий

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: