How to Make an Outline for a Position Paper

by Louise Balle

If your instructor asks you to write a position paper, he wants you to take a strong stance on an issue and present your argument. This paper is similar to writing one side of a debate. While making your statements you also have to back them up with research and sources to lend credibility to your paper and convince your audience to accept your position.

Start your position paper with a strong title that expresses your position briefly. Keep the title to 10 words or less. Don't write an "abstract" title or get too creative—just get right to the point. For example, "Why Hybrid Cars Are the Wave of the Future."

Write the introduction. The introduction poses a fact or question for the reader to consider and presents the thesis (main idea). Keep the introduction to about one to two paragraphs.

Outline a general background on the issue you plan to discuss. Here you're not yet presenting your argument—just informing the reader on why the issue is important. Plan a section of about one to four paragraphs.

Present your argument in the next section of the outline. This is the "meat" of your position paper outline. Here you'll state your position clearly and provide statements and facts from your research that supports this opinion on the matter. Include plenty of examples, charts, quotes from experts and other data in this section that will back up your position. This section should be several paragraphs (about one to five depending on your instructor's length requirements).

Finish the outline with a conclusion. Here you'll summarize everything you've presented in the position paper and focus in on one or two points you mentioned that you feel are most relevant. Be careful not to repeat yourself word-for-word in the conclusion. End it with an interesting question or thought for the future regarding the issue.


  • When writing out your outline, use a numbered list. For instance, "1. Title," "2. Introduction," etc. You can then go back and type in your various ideas for the position paper next to each point in the list.
  • Be brief when filling out your outline. Short bullet points beneath each numbered section is fine. You will expand on each point when you're writing the actual paper.

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