How to Write a Term Paper: Topics, Examples. Outline

term paper

At the end of every semester, certain college courses require the student to write the "End of the Year Term Paper." Though it may sound daunting, it is just a voluminous research paper that covers a topic learned throughout the semester within the course. However, this is no small task. Some instructors will request a term paper to be a few pages, while others want a 20-page colossal piece of a scientific report! Regardless, knowing how to write a term paper with all its key ingredients is a surefire way to guarantee the best grade possible! Or, if you simply do not have time, get help from a paper writing services such as EssayHub can bring you great results for a fair price!

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What Is A Term Paper?

The term paper definition might sound confusing to newbie learners. But this particular assignment is not as scary as professors depict it. A term paper is a research assignment. It aims to "check" students' knowledge gained throughout the term. In academic reality, the term paper meaning allows your professor to see whether you have mastered the class material. 

The majority of the academic courses are term-long. Hence, students often receive longer-than-a-month deadlines to submit their papers at the end of an academic term.

Students from humanities, which focus mostly on theoretical thinking, are asked to write term papers more often. Yet, this fact does not define term paper as an assignment, which more practical faculties avoid. For instance, as an art student, one will have to write term papers on art history, just like all other students. Hence, knowing how to write a term paper turns into a necessity.


The first thing to know in term paper writing is the variety of term paper formats. Different disciplines have special requirements. Thus asking your professor about the paper specifics is a must in formatting. For instance, using pictures and diagrams or writing an abstract is necessary for some term papers. Other term papers will ask you to use as few pictures as possible, with no need to write a separate abstract.  

The main and most common elements of a college term paper format are as follows:

  • Title Page. Contains information on who wrote the paper, the name of the course, the date, and the teacher's name. 
  • Abstract. A summary of the paper. 
  • Literature Review. The analysis of the research that others have done.
  • Methodology. The discussion of methods and approaches used in the student's research.
  • Results. The bulk of the term paper length contains a discussion of the findings. 
  • Future Recommendations. Here, the researcher might advise those who decide to continue the study.
  • References List. Contains all the sources used in the research. The sources must be academically referenced and alphabetized.

Term Paper Topics

It is surprisingly common to feel the pool of your term paper ideas getting empty when the need to choose a topic for your term paper arises. Most professors will give you a list of possible topics to choose from. If this has not happened, check the following guidelines, which can alleviate the pain of selecting the perfect topic.

  • Originality. Your instructors are tired of repeatedly reading the term papers on the same topics. Add creativity to your topic, something no one has written about, or a topic that has not been properly studied yet. For instance, if you write about technology, one of the most popular topics for term papers, consider space technology and its importance. 
  • The course matters. If your course is about American politics, which makes it a narrow subject, do not write on Middle Eastern politics. Sure, you can suggest a comparative term paper on both. But check with your instructor first: better safe than sorry.
  • Make your paper interesting. The greatest chunk of term papers has been written by students who do not care about the subject much. Regardless of your attitude towards the discipline or the professor, make the topic as interesting as possible. For example, consider how your favorite podcast can deepen the topic and see what happens.

Examples Of Topics

  • Research and analyze Apple's successful marketing and customer satisfaction strategies. What specifically made them so effective? (Business and Marketing)
  • Gun violence in America is drastically higher than in any other First World nation. Why is this, and what can be done to control this issue? (Sociology)
  • Schooling appears as a one-dimensional pathway to academic success. What can be done to level out the playing field for students who are more "street smart"? (Psychology)
  • The topic of legalizing marijuana has been a long and drawn-out battle for many years. What are the pros and cons of legalization for medical and recreational use? What should the final verdict be? (Marijuana 101)

These are just some sample term paper ideas that University Students commonly encounter. Each course will have its list and direction of topics that will greatly vary from these!

Term Paper Outline

Structure and flow are two main aspects that make a term paper great. Regardless of the length, the term paper outline should follow a specific procedure; in other words, there should be an intriguing introduction, an informative body, and an assertive conclusion.


The Introduction should briefly introduce the subject and its importance to society. However, it should NOT talk about specific details or facts that need to be proven by the thesis statement.

Afterward, you should begin scoping into the subject discussed in the body paragraphs. Doing this narrows down the topic and thus gives the reader a clearer view of the content. Finally, the final sentence of the Introduction, commonly referred to as the thesis statement, is the golden line of your entire essay that you strive to defend. Usually, this is an undiscovered point in term papers that needs validation via proof, otherwise known as research and analysis.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are commonly referred to as the "meat" of the essay, and this name has come along for a reason. This part of the essay is strictly used to prove your thesis statement. In a broader context, the body paragraph is the lawyer defending the defendant (thesis statement). He will use every resource to justify the defendant's case. The goal of writing a term paper is to be the most effective lawyer you can be, using research and facts to strengthen your argument.

Depending on the length of the assignment, the body could be between 1 and 100 pages; it all comes down to the depth of the thesis statement you crafted. Also, the body is usually broken into sections, as the thesis should be bulky enough to be logically approachable from various angles. Being able to give a solid and well-defended argument for each section is the ideal way to prove your thesis statement fully!


Lastly, having coherent sounding is an awesome way to earn some style points. The better you can build off previous points, the more constructed your argument is. Also, good transition words can help you jump from one idea to the next while keeping the essay flows well. Just make sure not to flip the switch on the point you were making!

The conclusion should come after you, as the paper writer has stated everything you wanted to say. You have approached the thesis from all the angles you needed to cover and provided an in-depth analysis that logically states why your thesis statement should be taken as fact. After that, only a few more steps are necessary to tie a pretty knot around your work!

First, restate the thesis statement assertively and confidently. This shows the reader that you have full faith in your own words and that what you stated makes clear and logical sense! Next, summarize your main arguments in a couple of sentences. In other words, take each of your attack angles and shorten them to about a sentence each; this gives your reader a recap of what you proved throughout your essay. Finally, provide an overall concluding statement. This should be a sentence that states the significance of the point proven in your essay and what its effects are on society. In other words, take it from a theoretical setting and place it into a real-world application. This gives your essay LIFE!

How To Write A Term Paper?

Ever wondered how to start a term paper and could not define the first step? You are not alone in this challenge. Starting a term paper for the first time might sound terrifying and discouraging. Your frustration might even make you buy a term paper, which is cool. But isn't it cooler to learn how to write a term paper yourself? 

  1. Brainstorming. This is the actual research when it comes to academic papers writing. Write down the first ideas which come into your mind or draw them. Pick the boldest yet most original ideas. Consult academic bases like Jstor for credible academic research. 
  2. Title page. A properly organized term paper title page includes the name of the author (student's name), the teacher's name, the date, the course, and the title. Depending on the paper's format, which is usually MLA or APA, the organization of your information on the title page will differ.
  3. Outline. After writing a term paper proposal with the goals and objectives of the study, create an outline. It is the structure of your paper with the main elements like the Introduction, the main chapters, and the conclusion. 
  4. Finally, the actual writing process. Start writing with the Literature Review. It is the easiest part since you should summarize the findings of the studies. Put them in a bigger discussion by comparing the results in all sources. The next part of a term paper is Methodology, a comparatively short section. Mention the methods and approaches used in the research.

Meanwhile, the Results section will take approximately half of the paper. In the quest on how to write term paper, focus on this section. The Results must contain your actual findings. Make sure they are well-organized and clear to the reader. Finish with Future Recommendations and References List. 

Additional elements. In some cases, you will be required to add a separate term paper introduction and conclusion along with the abstract. Both the Abstract and Introduction usually go before the Literature Review. Meanwhile, the conclusion part ends the paper and appears before the References List. Briefly introduce the reader to the topic in the Introduction and finish it with the thesis statement. Summarize the findings in the Conclusion part. 

Further, summarize the methods and results in the Abstract. Add keywords below it. These parts can change in the term paper structure depending on how you arrange the information in the previous chapters. We highly recommend you write both the Introduction and Conclusion as the last thing.

How To Format A Term Paper In APA Style?

As a rule of thumb, students specializing in nursing and psychology are required to write academic term papers in APA format. To edit the term paper according to the APA format, follow the guidelines: 

  • The "Running Head" and the paper's title appears on the Cover Page. Other pages should contain only the paper's title in the Header. The paper's title is in capitalized letters in all term paper samples.
  • The in-text citations contain parentheses. Use them after closing the direct citation with inverted commas. Here, mention the author's name, the publication year, and the page on which the information might be found. A proper in-text citation would look like this (Brown, 1992, p.457).
  • An APA format term paper contains a References List (shortly References). Use the Citation Machine, an online application that cites all necessary resources. 

How To Format A Term Paper In MLA Style?

This particular style is especially popular among students specializing in humanities and arts. Less cumbersome than the APA format, the MLA style has some rules to follow anyway.

  • No need for a separate Title page. Simply write down your name, the professor's name, the subject, and the date in the left corner before the title. 
  • No need for Running heads. Instead, mention a "Last name: the page number" in the upper right corner of each page. 
  • The list of sources in all term paper examples goes as a Works Cited page instead of References as in the APA-formatted papers.
  • The in-text citations are simple. Just mention the author's name and the page number, like in the example (Freeman 67). 
  • Citing the resources is really challenging. But don't fall into despair! There are plenty of free online applications like Citation Machine, which will cite the sources for you.
  • Most college term papers have specific requirements in each case. Your instructor will tell you the details on font and other elements. Use a 12-point Times New Roman font to be safe in case of vague or no instructions. Also, use the 1" margins to frame the text. As for the indentation, make it ½ inch. The same tip goes for the APA format.

How To Choose Sources?

Searching for the most effective sources is a top priority. Before writing term papers, find all the sources you need. They will serve as a base for composing the Literature Review chapter. But how to choose the most credible and effective sources? 

  • Use only reliable databases. Jstor and Google Scholar are great examples of credible databases. They both contain the latest peer-reviewed articles yet make your research quick.
  • Be careful with the site's address. Links in .gov, .org, and .edu are reliable sources to extract the information from. Avoid sources like news portals, blogs, and Wikipedia. They often contain personal opinions but lack proper evidence. 
  • Aim for unbiased research. Often, the authors write through the lens of their political and social beliefs. For your term paper sample, you want the least biased sources. Check the information on the author and decide whether they are worth trusting. 
  • Search for sources not older than five years. The research field constantly changes. Yet you need the latest studies, especially if you write a term paper in science. 
  • Stick to the topic. Remember that your term paper essay must discuss the topic you have chosen. The article may be great. But it is a mismatch for your paper if the source only slightly touches the topic. 

Mistakes To Avoid

Students can make a few mistakes in a rush to follow the deadline and get the best points. 

  • "DIY" attitude. Writing a term paper might feel like a burden, especially if it is your first term paper ever. Do not be afraid to ask your instructor for term paper help when you feel stuck. 
  • Plagiarism. You will use a lot of sources for your future research. Refer to all sources you have used to avoid plagiarism. 
  • Facts and statistics. Use as much evidence as possible since you need to persuade your reader of your point.
  • Thesis statement. The best term paper example will contain a well-organized thesis statement that explores a narrowed-down topic. Polish and proofread it, and you are good to go. 

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