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Learning to Make a Term Paper Format, Structure, and Outline

These days, term paper writing is inevitable for every student in college. In other words, term papers have become part and parcel of the academic life of students. The sad part of it is that term paper writing can be depressing and complicated for some students. This is due to the fact that most of them lack knowledge of term paper format, structure, etc., writing skills and experience required to come up with high quality pieces of writing. Apart from that, many students often have their hands full most of the times. They often have to juggle between work, family, academics and social life, the situation which is in fact very demanding. Of course, writing skills can be mastered you will say. It’s true, but such a process requires much time which students usually are short of due to tight deadlines. You may also say that one’s knowledge can be broadened and it’s also true. We all keep learning, and we make mistakes which are part of the learning process. Still, when it goes about academic papers, mistakes can cost too much, i.e. your grades. Not a single student wants to risk their grades. For this reason, they would just prefer to buy term papers online as it is convenient and affordable nowadays.

If you access Essays-Expert.com, you will be able to not only benefit from an efficient term paper writing service but also get broad guidelines on how to write a term paper up to standard. We understand that some students want to try to produce quality term papers on their own and we want to help them make the writing process easier. In this article, you will find useful tips and clear steps on making a worthy term paper outline, creating a coherent structure, and applying the right format. Here, you will also find explicit writing instructions and helpful hints on choosing a good topic for your academic work.

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What Is a Term Paper and Why Is It Needed?

Before starting writing a term paper, it is first necessary to find its clear definition to understand what such an academic work implies. So, a term paper is a scholarly piece of writing assigned to students at the end of a semester. Its purpose is to help professors assess students’ knowledge, i.e. see whether they have learnt and understood the course material. Performing the function of a scientific report on a specific matter or discussion of a particular subject, a term paper requires extensive research, detailed analysis, and, of course, appropriate expertise. Such a project has to be objective, reasonable, coherently organized and well written. Remember that your term paper is a direct reflection of your knowledge of a specific subject.

Term Papers and Research Papers: What’s the Difference?

These two terms are often used interchangeably though there is a clear distinction between them. Of course, these two academic works have much in common, yet they are different. Let’s see what the peculiarities of these papers are and how to differentiate between them.

A research paper is the project of a scholarly character that requires students to address a specific question demonstrating deep awareness of theoretical and methodological aspects. As to a term paper, it requires students to make a reasonable interpretation of the collected topic-related material to show that they fully understand the matter under consideration and can transform their thoughts into a consistent piece of writing.

Below, is a table clearly illustrating the major differences between these two pieces of writing:

Research paper

Term paper

It is usually assigned at the beginning of a term

It is usually assigned either at the middle of a term or at its end

Its purpose is to resolve a specific issue or respond to a hypothesis

Its purpose is to evaluate students’ knowledge after studying some topic

It includes a hypothesis

It supports a thesis statement

Usually, it does not impact the final grade

It influences the course grade considerably

It cannot be presented in the form of term paper

It can be presented in the form of research paper

It cannot be shorter than ten pages

It can be even one page in length

It usually has a long reference list

It doesn’t usually include appendices

Considering these points, it will be easier for you to distinguish between these papers and, as a result, create a work that fully corresponds its purpose.

Clear Directions on How to Write a Term Paper

The term paper writing process consists of several stages. Each of them requires special attention as the final outcome depends on it. So, what are the steps involved in the procedure of creating a good term paper?

  1. Select a topic. The main point is to find the matter which you consider appealing and catchy. In this case, you won’t feel bored while writing. An essential factor to remember is that your topic has to be specific, i.e. narrow. Generalization should be avoided.
  2. Conduct in-depth research. Creating a solid term paper is possible only if you are fully conversant with the topic. To gather enough material about the subject, you may browse different online resources and go to the library to look through some books, encyclopedias, etc. The only rule which you have to stick to is to use credible sources.
  3. Create a thesis statement. At this point, you are to detect the idea which you’d like to build your paper around and include it in a thesis statement together with your viewpoint on it. Throughout the term paper writing process, your thesis statement can be altered, so don’t be afraid of it since it’s an absolutely normal practice.
  4. Prepare a term paper outline. This is your roadmap which you can refer to an any stage of the process. It will help you stay on the chosen track and cover all points.
  5. Make the first draft. Since this is the first version of your work, it may not be perfect. At this stage, you should not waste your time on spotting and correcting mistakes. The key goal of this step is to put the collected information together.
  6. Do editing and proofreading. Now, it’s time to make a thorough check of your piece of writing. Read the composed text a couple of times and see whether instructions have been followed. Check the formatting, grammar, spelling, punctuation. Ensure there are no typos in your work.

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Making the Right Term Paper Outline

An outline is one of the aspects that deserves special attention since arranging your thoughts in a proper manner is one of the imperative steps towards success, i.e. the preparation of a winning work in the appropriate format. Essentially, you have to join together the material collected in the course of research with the ideas developed at the brainstorming stage and transform them into a detailed term paper outline. Actually, an outline is the tool that helps you keep your ideas connected and guide you through the writing procedure making it hassle-free.

It is necessary to admit that you create such a plan mostly for yourself to know where to move in when writing a term paper and how to format it well. However, your professor may ask you to submit an outline before your start creating your work to see how you intend to develop your thesis statement, etc. Your outline should include the chosen topic and the main aspects and sub concepts you are going to discuss.

When creating your outline, you should keep in mind the following steps:

  • Arrange your notes, thoughts and arguments into separate groups each united by a particular idea
  • Reassess a thesis statement to see whether it conveys the key message
  • Determine the fundamental points that back up your working thesis
  • Add ideas that support those fundamental points
  • Connect the supportive points/ideas with the material collected at the research stage
  • Organize all the points/ideas to establish a smooth flow of information
  • Check whether all the presented ideas are research enough
  • Revise your ideas/points to make sure they can help you create a top-notch term paper

Establishing a Correct Term Paper Format

It goes without saying that each academic work should be structured and formatted accordingly. Usually, professors state what structural elements a piece of writing has to include. If not, you can either study the term paper samples available on the web or follow our algorithm presented below. Term papers include typical structural components regardless of the topic they are based on and the number of words they include. Here are the principal sections:

  • Title page. It has to include your name, the course number, date, and professor’s name.
  • Abstract. It has to be produced on a separate page and placed before an introductory unit. Usually, such a piece includes several sentences highlighting your scholarly project. Strive to make it engaging to arouse readers’ interest.
  • Introduction. Its first sentence should contain your thesis statement. In this section, you need to demonstrate the importance of your project and present the major problems it is concentrated on.
  • Body. This is the central part of your work. Here, you are need to illustrate the major aspects of your topic, show the key issues and their solutions, present valid arguments and concrete facts.
  • Conclusion. It presents the results of your investigation and sums up the primary points discussed in your paper. In this section, you also need to restate your thesis.
  • References. This page is named differently depending on the citation style. It has to include the sources you are mentioning in your text. This structural element has to be arranged according to the format indicated by your professor, i.e. MLA, APA, etc.

Now, you are aware of the basic steps that should be taken when creating term papers, the main structural elements and the principles of preparing an outline. So, now, it’s time to talk about the term paper format, an aspect that also demands scrupulous attention.

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How to Format a Term Paper: Choosing a Citation Style

Once you have decided on the topic for your term paper and done comprehensive research on it, and created an outline, you then need to write your paper in the right format. In some cases, professors specify the citation style which students ought to use but even then, an understanding of the specifics of a particular format is imperative.

The specifications and details that characterize each term paper format are mind-boggling and, to be honest, many students are often frustrated by it. Using the wrong breadth of spacing between the lines, for example, can be detrimental to your grade. It is helpful to go through term paper samples arranged in different formats. This may give you a better understanding of the requirements for each citation style.

There are three formats that are commonly used by students across the board and each is best suited for specific areas of study. APA or American Psychological Association style, for instance, works well for term papers in social sciences. Some of the unique characteristics of this format are the use of the term List of References in place of Bibliography and the application of single spacing. When it goes about this style, it is crucial that you understand the difference between ‘p’ and ‘pp’.

This style established criteria for:

  • arranging written material
  • making the right writing style
  • organizing citations
  • preparing the content for publishing in specific disciplines

The Modern Language Association format or MLA is best suited for the term papers related to the areas of liberal arts and humanities. This particular format lays emphasis on page standards such as margin inches on all sides, etc.

This style sets standards for:

  • formatting and page layout
  • stylistic aspects (footnotes, abbreviations, etc.)
  • citing resources
  • preparing a piece of writing for publishing in some areas

Last but not least, we have the Turabian format, which is preferred for the term papers created in political sciences, history and theology. Unlike the APA format, in Turabian, the Bibliography is used in place of the List of References. This format unlike APA and MLA is mostly unique for the lack of any precise requirements on the title page.

This citation style established written standards for:

  • page layout and formatting
  • stylistic aspects (footnotes, quotes, etc.)
  • citation of sources
  • preparing writing for publishing

It’s clear that one has to be fully aware of the specifics of each style to organize their term papers as well as other works correctly. For you to learn the peculiarities of mentioned styles quickly, we have prepared the so-called guide that will help you comprehend how to write a term paper in APA, MLA, and Turabian.


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How to Write a Term Paper in APA Format

The texts arranged in APA are much easier for comprehension due the structural peculiarities intrinsic to this format. Let’s see what the technical and structural features of term papers or other projects produced in APA are.

Here are the fundamental aspects to keep in mind:

  • Title page. The title of your work has to be written in uppercase and lowercase letter and centered in the upper half of the page. It should be created in boldface. Abbreviations should be avoided. A title page as well as the rest of the text has to be double-spaced. The titles (e.g. Dr.) or degrees (e.g. Ph.D.) should not be used alongside the author’s name.
  • Abstract. It should contain the page header. The word “Abstract” ought to be placed on the first line of the page, centered and bold (no italics, quotation marks or underlining).
  • Body. The text should be left-aligned. No hyphenation at the end of lines should be made.
  • Reference list. It should be placed at the end of your paper and give readers information about the used sources. This page should be labeled “References” written in bold and centered at the top of the page (no quotation marks are to be applied).
  • Margins. 1" margins should be applied on all sides.
  • Page header. It’s also known as “running head” and should be located at the top of every page.
  • Fonts. According to APA, the following types of fonts can be used: 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, as 12-point Times New Roman, 10-point Computer Modern, 11-point Georgia.

It is essential to follow all rules to arrange your work in APA appropriately.

Formatting Term Papers in MLA

Owing to this style, readers can navigate the text easily and understand it fully due to the cues relating to borrowed material and sources. When writing term papers or any other works in MLA, one has to pay close attention to the following aspects:

  • Double spacing is to be applied and a legible font such as Times New Roman, for example, should be used. As to the font size, 12 pt. ought to be applied.
  • After periods of other punctuation marks, one space should be left unless otherwise specified by your professor.
  • 1 inch margins are to be established on all sides.
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented 0,5" from the left margin. Using the “Tab” button is very convenient in this case.
  • In the upper right-hand corner, a header that numbers all pages consecutively ought to be created. It should be right-aligned and placed 0,5" from the top.
  • The endnotes, if any, should be provided on a separate page preceding the Works Cited page. This section should be labeled Notes, centered and unformatted.

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Arranging Term Papers in Turabian

Owing to this citation style, readers can find the information they are interested in quickly and browse the entire work efficiently. They can easily track the writers’ ideas and understand whether he/she is aware of all the ins and outs of the discussed subject.

General guidelines to stick to:

  • Double spacing is to be applied to all text except for notes, block quotations, bibliography entries, figure captions, and table titles.
  • Page numbers should begin in the header of the first page with Arabic number 1.
  • Lengthy works should include subheadings.
  • 1 inch margins should be applied on all sides.
  • The preferred font is Times New Roman or Courier.
  • The font size shouldn’t be less than 10 pt. It is advisable to apply 12 pt.
  • The title, if the title page is required, should be centered a third of the way down the page. Student’s name, class data, and date should be placed a few lines later. The subtitle is to be ended with a colon and placed on the line below the title. Apply double spacing to each line on the title page.
  • Titles in the body section should be capitalized.
  • The page with the sources should be labeled either “Bibliography” (for Notes and Bibliography style) or “References” (for the Author-Date style).

Doing research and putting your data together is a hard job, not talking about the formatting. Let’s face it, even the brightest students encounter challenges when it comes to formatting mid-term papers.

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