Skip Navigation
Skip to Menu Toggle Button
Online Guide to Writing and Research

The Writing Process


Using Your Outline as a Note and Research Trap

Once you have constructed a preliminary outline, it is time to start adding to it and filling it with your own words, opinions, notes, and research. Where does your own writing go and where does the research go? Each paragraph should include your own words, plus solid evidence in the middle. Knowing this will help you determine the placement of information in certain areas in your outline. Before you know it, you’ll be writing a full paper! Click on the tips below to see how to use your outline as a note and research trap:

Write topic sentences for every paragraph first. These topic sentences should support the thesis statement and will be your own writing. Once you have determined the topic of every paragraph, it will make gathering specific research and ideas for each much easier.

Now that you know what topic is covered in each paragraph, conduct strategic research and reading for each paragraph. Be selective about what you will use to support each paragraph’s main idea. The information should add new support and evidence. 

Copy and paste two pieces of evidence into your outline for each paragraph. Underneath, you will paraphrase or summarize. Be sure to keep your own writing and the evidence separate by documenting page numbers, years of publication, authors, and bibliographic information attached to each piece of evidence, whether it is a quote, paraphrase, or summary.

As you add your own voice and notes to each paragraph, be sure the notes are after the topic sentence or after the evidence in the middle. The beginning and end of every paragraph is where you really want to include your own voice. Articulate main ideas in your own words.

Keep in mind that not all evidence will make the cut for your final essay. Two-to-three sentences of each paragraph should be outside support. Use verbatim quotes sparingly.

Remember that this outline is the home for all thoughts, notes, and research collected. It does not have to be perfect. Use different colored fonts to help you separate ideas and organize.


Key Takeaways

  • Think of your outline as the home for all your thinking and gathering.

  • Focus on each section or chunk one at a time and be strategic about the research you choose to use.

  • Use verbatim quotes sparingly.


Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. © 2022 UMGC.
All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing