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How to Write a Term Paper

Being a college student is a challenge itself, but sometimes it becomes even more demanding. Often, you have exceptionally bright feelings when you face the task of a term paper writing.

It is the most sophisticated job you’ll do in a college before the dissertation. The results of this tremendous independent job will illustrate how well you’ve absorbed the contents of the courses. Also, it will prove plenty of other qualities like your research skills, critical thinking and writing skills, and so on.

The task is difficult, and if it is your first term paper – you will definitely need help with it. Let’s start with this article, where we’ve collected all helpful tips to do the term paper easier. 

What is Term Paper?

Let’s first clarify the term paper definition. Knowing its distinctive features will help you to cope with the job. 

A term paper is an original written work where you need to explore some topics. It can be some subject research and arguing, or a description and analysis of some event. You compose this paper at the end of the semester to illustrate your academic progress and achievements.

This task is crucial. The grade you’ll get for this paper will be a significant part of the semester score, and you can’t fail your term paper. Each element of a term paper is essential.

What Parts Term Paper Usually Includes?

Usually, an academic term paper is another version of a research paper – just more massive and complex. It has the same structure as any college essay. But the main thing you need to take into consideration when writing a term paper is that you have to care about more elements in your term paper. 

  1. A title page is the cover of your term paper. It provides essential information about the work: the title, your name, and your professor’s name, and your specialization. Check the requirements to the paper – they must include the format criteria for the title page like the font and its size, spacing, and so on.  
  2. A table of contents is necessary for a term paper due to its size. You organize the information accurately, and the table of contents illustrates the structure. On paper, it will be a list of all chapters and their page numbers. 
  3. An abstract is a concise description of your intentions for this paper. You define the topic, its importance, and what exactly aspects you will discuss. Also, you state your research methods – it is mandatory for academic work.
  4. The introduction is the area where you put a general description of your topic and the explanation of its actuality. As always, you should include your thesis statement in the introduction.
  5. The body of a term paper is the central part of the work. It is your research on the thesis statement and all your claims, proofs, and reasoning.  
  6. Conclusions/results are a summary of all your work. You once again state your findings and relate them to the thesis statement. If you had the task to research some idea/concept or argue it – the conclusion should demonstrate how well you’ve coped with the job. 
  7. Discussion is your “afterword” – you add your point of view about the results of your work. It is also the right place to consider the future examinations of the topic and why they would be useful. 
  8. A bibliography is a list of all sources you used for writing a research paper. There are two critical circumstances:
  1. Bibliography list must include each reference, even those where you cite a couple of words.
  2. It must be formatted correctly according to the definite academic style.

Outlining Your Paper

Being an academic work, a term paper must have an excellent structure with flawless logic links. All the fragments must be connected together and correlate with the thesis statement. 

It means that you need an excellent term paper outline. 

An outline is a “test model” of your thesis paper. It is not a draft, but a structure with elements which you can change, replace, and reconnect. It is an excellent tool to visualize your term paper. If you have ideas only, the outline will help you to incarnate them and build that piece of “fragments.”

To outline your term paper, you will need to dedicate some time to it, but it is worth spending time. The resulting outline should become a definite vision for you to turn it into words.  

When you create this outline for the term paper, focus on the following tasks: 

  • Define the main idea of the work: why do you write the term paper? 
  • Compose the thesis statement – it is the exact issue that you will prove. 
  • Sort all the collected information and note all your ideas. 
  • Organize your thought and build a rough plotline with a sequence of arguments.
  • Consider the order of all elements and try other combinations to find a suitable one.
  • Check the logic sequences. The thesis statement must be the central line, and the rest of the claims and reasoning must relate to it. The order of elements must be direct: each next section must come from the previous one. Make sure that each event has its cause, and it is evident in your text.

If you have difficulties with the outline, you can consult your professor or other students. It is reasonable to ask for help, in this way you can understand the job better.

Your outline will look like a multi-level list. It will have the main entries – your chapters. The chapters will have secondary headings, and under headings, you will also use the minor divisions for particular statements and their support.

A draft of an outline could be as follows: 

  • Introduction: you explain why you took the topic.

Thesis statement: you formulate it. Don’t be afraid to change it in the process – it is a regular practice.

  • Body:

Chapter I: The first chapter usually illustrates the history of the problem. 

Subheading 1.

Argument 1.1.

Argument 1.2. 

Argument 1.3. 

Subheading 2. 

Argument 2.1.

Argument 2.2.

Chapter II: Your exploration of the topic

Subheading 1.

Claims and arguments 1.1.

Claims and arguments 1.2.

Subheading 2.

Claims and arguments 2.1.

Claims and arguments 2.2.

Chapter III: Effects of the problem you investigate (same structure)

Chapter IV: Potential solutions (Same structure)

Conclusion: Your summary of the work and its results. Restatement of the thesis – how did you prove it? 

Starting with Your Paper

Even professional writers claim that the most challenging part of any job is to start it. However, before you start writing a term paper itself, you need the preparation. The outline emerges from the information you collect. 

So, to start the term paper writing process, you have to collect the data. But before you go to the library or launch Google, you have to choose the right topic. 

Selecting a Topic

If you are allowed to select the topic yourself, consider it your great advantage. However, first, you should refer to the term paper requirements. Scrutinize them and pay attention to your professor’s demands. It is not rare that students focus on the general term paper criteria and neglect their professors’ notes. As a result, they compose term papers that won’t meet the expectations.  

Thus, your first step is to get familiar with the professor’s requirements. Read and realize each detail and consult the professor to clarify any vague points. Then you can choose the topic: 

  • It should be attractive to you and your audience;
  • It must match the task requirements;
  • It must also be understandable for you – you will need to research and analyze it;
  • It must be realistic for you to study it – check if there are academic sources on the subject;
  • It should be useful for you in the future, as you might turn one of the term papers into the base of the dissertation. 

Conducting a Research

Even if you know much about the topic, you need the research for several reasons:

  • To understand the problem in the context, particularly the historical background;
  • To learn about the current status of the problem investigations;
  • To collect reliable evidence to support your thesis;
  • To compile the bibliography. 

Your sources can be different. Of course, you should refer to the scholarly recognized books and articles. However, for some topics, you may find other options even more helpful. For instance, refer to the debates, public discussions, and interpretations of some ideas in public.

For every resource where you get the information, note the exact location of the reference. It can be a published or digital text, a video, podcasts, and so on. Compile the list of works cited, as it is crucial for your work. 

How to Write a Term Paper – 11 Steps

Step-by-step guides and checklists were always among the favorite tools for the work organization. Writing is a consequence of steps. You can compile a list of your own, and mark the steps you’ve already performed:

  1. Select the topic that will give you preference. 
  2. Run in-depth research on the subject. 
  3. Develop your thesis statement. 
  4. Outline your term paper to get the detailed “sketch.” 
  5. Compose the introduction. Remember that you need to make it catchy, as its goal is to explain to your audience what your work is about and why they should care about it.
  6. Compose the body part – explore the subject and prove your claims with arguments. 
  7. Make a conclusion about your work. By the way, you can compose the introductory part together with the outcomes – it is more efficient. You already have the text and can define the right approach to the topic presentation.
  8. The last part of a term paper you write is the abstract – put it first in the ready document.
  9. Check all quotes in the text and compile the list of works cited at the end. 
  10. Read and revise the tern paper several times. Edit is and proofread to fix all minor errors. 
  11. Create the title of your term paper. It should be informative and attention-grabbing. 

Formatting Your Term Paper

Formatting a paper according to the necessary style criteria is obligatory for all types of work. Depending on the task requirements, you can use either APA or MLA term paper format. 

APA format is the default for most colleges and universities irrelevant to the subject. If there is a difference in scopes, the MLA format is for papers written on the Humanities like literature. The APA format is for works on social studies (history, sociology, psychology) as well as for articles on educational and business topics.

In any case, if the definite format requirement is not present in the task description, it’s better if you clarify this issue with your professor. 

Formatting styles are similar in fonts, spacing, and indents: 

  • Font type: Times New Roman
  • Font size: 12 pt
  • Margins: 1 inch (for them all)
  • Spacing: double-spaced

But APA and MLA are different when it comes to citations and bibliography. You need to be extra careful with these elements, as they are crucial for your term paper. The absence is equated with plagiarism. 

Let’s review how you format your term paper correctly. 

In APA Style

  • The bibliography list is named References, and it does not have any specific formatting or quotation marks. The sorting is alphabetical by author.
  • The source in the References is the following sequence: 

Author, Initials. (year of publication) Title of the source – italicized. City of publication, state: Publishers

, e.g., Patton, M. Q. (2019) Blue marble evaluation: premises and principles. New York, NY: The Guilford Press

  • In-text citation: (Author’s last name, year of publication, page number)

e.g., (Patton, 2019, p.67)

In MLA Style

  • The bibliography list is called Works Cited. No quotation marks or any text formatting, and the sorting is alphabetical by author.  
  • The source in the Works Cited has the following format: 

First name, last name. Title of the sources – italicized. Publisher, year of publishing, e.g., Weir, Andy. The Martian. Broadway Books, 2014

  • In-text citation: (Author’s last name, page number)

e.g., (Weir, 115)


We hope that this article will help you to master the basics of how to write a term paper even if you never had such a task before. As you see, it is not any mission impossible – you only need to prepare well and take your time. 

However, if you still have trouble or suffer from a lack of time, we can help you. We are the best term paper writing service, and we’ve been supporting students with academic writing for many years. Our writers have Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, and they are more than capable of doing the job for the highest grade.

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