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Senior Thesis: The Big, Bad Outline

10 out of 10 seniors who survived Senior Thesis and look back on their thesis experience with awe
and wonder remark, “If you have a fabulous outline, you will have a fabulous paper!”

Outline DUE: ___________________________

Your outline is worth 100 points. Outlines submitted past deadline (anytime after our class time), will
automatically be devalued to 50 points, or half credit, or failing, at BEST.

What your outline needs to look like to EARN full credit:

1. Your fab THESIS STATEMENT (1-3 sentences, typed in full)

2. Minimum of THREE (3) BIG IDEA headings (these are not your paragraphs, but grounding
ideas to help the reader through your paper). These are your roman numerals (I, II, III, and
maybe IV)

3. A GOAL STATEMENT under each BIG IDEA heading, beginning with these words: “To
prove ______________________” – Think, “What do I want to prove in this section?”

4. SUBHEADING (i.e. a breakdown) of each BIG IDEA heading. These are your upper-case
letters (A., B., C.,...). These may be your paragraphs later in your paper. Subheadings
answer how/why you will prove a BIG IDEA heading

5. TEXTUAL EVIDENCE to support BIG IDEA subheading. These are marked visually in your
outline by regular numbers (1., 2., 3., 4.,…). Begin with evidence, in the form of:
a. Quotes with parenthetical citation – typed in FULL
b. Paraphrased evidence with parenthetical citation
c. Specific examples, moments from books
Remember:
 3 primary sources must be represented evenly in each BIG IDEA
 6-8 secondary sources must be represented evenly in the paper

6. A completed WORKS CITED page with SS and PS (proper MLA format).

7. FORMAT. Follow the outline exactly. Size 12 Times New Roman, single-spaced, last name
and page number at the top-right header.

My advice:
1. Return to your thesis to know where to go next.
2. Full sentences [or detailed phrases], not single words.
3. Set up a Microsoft Word Outline format before you begin your outline; it will save you
time at the end. Be cognizant of indents, tabs, spacing, etc. Your outline should look
presentable and professional.
4. Big Idea Headings, Goal Statements, Sub-Headings, and evidence must relate to
and support your thesis. Return to your thesis as you type.

CAVEATS: The outline takes a lot of time and effort. Trust me. Plan ahead.

** If you finish before deadline and would like to “add to” your outline, below each textual evidence, add analysis,
answering: How/why does it help to prove, support, or advance your subheading of big idea? **
A Model Outline: Keep this with you as you type
Notice indentations and be sure to write word-for-word any text in bold

Your Name
Ms. Hurtubise
English 12
13 March 2009

Clever Title

Thesis Statement:

I. BIG IDEA Heading #1: (the first of 3-5 major points in your paper):

GOAL STATEMENT: To prove _______________.

A. Subheading #1 of Big Idea Heading #1: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

B. Subheading #2 of Big Idea Heading #1: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

C. Subheading #3 of Big Idea Heading #1: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

D. … E… F… etc. as needed

II. BIG IDEA Heading #2: (the second of 3-5 major points in your paper):

GOAL STATEMENT: To prove _______________.

A. Subheading #1 of Big Idea Heading #2: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #2
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #2 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed.

B. Subheading #2 of Big Idea Heading #2: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #2
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed.

C. Subheading #3 of Big Idea Heading #2: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #2
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

D. … E… F… etc. as needed

III. Big Idea Heading #3: (the third of 3-5 major points in your paper):

GOAL STATEMENT: To prove _______________.

A. Subheading #1 of Big Idea Heading #3: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #3
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #3 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

B. Subheading #2 of Big Idea Heading #3: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #3
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #1 (MLA par. citation).
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

C. Subheading #3 of Big Idea Heading #3: (this could be the paragraph breakdown…) Answers one way in which you will
prove/show Subheading of Big Idea Heading #3
1. Textual Evidence to prove/support Subheading of Big Idea Heading #3 (MLA par. citation).
a. .
2. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
3. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
4. Textual Evidence… (MLA parenthetical citation).
5. … 6… 7… etc. as needed

D. …E...F… etc. as needed

IV. … V… VI… etc. as needed