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How to Write a Term Paper: Writing Guide with Outline & Format

Academic papers come in different forms. This means that while the structure and processes of writing academic papers might be the same, there are some significant changes that make an academic paper fall under a given category. This guide highlights term paper guidelines you should know. Keep reading to find out more.

What is a term paper?

Let’s first of all, understand the term paper definition before we highlight the processes of writing a compelling term paper.

A term paper is an academic form of writing where students do research on a given topic during an academic term. The term paper is quite significant in a student’s academic life as it contributes to the final grade.

Again, you can describe a term paper as a written assignment for a college or school course to show the student’s progress during the active term.

Parts of a term paper

A good term paper should have different sections, with each section presenting useful information in a presentable manner. The following are the basic sections of a term paper.

  1. Cover page

On the cover page, include your name, course number, tutor’s name, and deadline date, all centered.

  1. Abstract

The abstract’s main purpose is to describe your work, showing the reader the direction of your paper and why the topic is of significance to the point you decided to do research.

  1. Introduction

Begin with a statement topic in the introduction, explaining the importance of the problem you need to research and how you plan to find solutions to the problem.

  1. Main body

The main body of the term paper should have relevant points from your research, in every point, including information about the topic for the reader to comprehend what you are discussing.

  1. Results

Under the results section of a term paper, explain to the reader why you believe the points you’ve addressed in your paper concerning the topic. Include your perception about the topic after you’ve done the research. Has your perception about the matter changed or remained the same? In any case, give reasons based on what you included in the introduction.

  1. Discussion

This is the final part of a term paper. Here, you simply summarize and conclude the topic. Start with an opening question, or include a statement directing the reader to do more research about the problem in question.

How long should a term paper be?

Having described the parts of a term paper, you may wonder about the required length for a term paper.  

While the length of any research paper varies based on the complexity of the topic and the tutor’s guidelines, an average term paper should be between 10 and 15 pages long, including references, about 7 to 12.

How to write a term paper: pro tips

In this segment, you will learn how to start a term paper to make it captivating and to draw the reader’s attention into reading to the end. Such tips include:

1. Read the guidelines

Before you consider starting the research, make sure you read and understand the guidelines set by your teacher to ensure everything falls in place.

2. Choose a researchable topic

The basis of a good term paper is the topic you choose. Therefore, based on your subject or course, select a topic you can get good research materials.

3. Create a term paper outline

An outline is a roadmap describing what you should include in the different sections of a research paper. Creating an outline will save you more time and enable you to include all the relevant sections without forgetting any crucial information

4. Understand the term paper format

Usually, the requirements will state the format to use. However, consider the length and citation style. The citation can be in the form of MLA or APA. APA is common for social science papers, and it includes the author’s name, the title of the book, publication year, publisher, and location.

The MLA includes the publication name, the date, and the location. APA is common in humanities and liberal art papers.


Are you in the process of writing a term paper? Be sure to review the insights highlighted in this guide for a compelling paper.

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