How to Write a Term Paper: The Ultimate Guide and Tips

Are you tired of getting average grades for your term papers? Well, that’s good that you’re here! It may be true that some excellent writing and time-management skills can help you create an impressive piece, but it’s not necessary. Most of the assignments have similar outlines, whether it’s a term paper or a Master’s thesis

Below, you can find a step-by-step guide with clear instructions to follow. Moreover, there are plenty of examples that you’re welcome to use. Also, since the format is universal, it can fit any course you’re taking. So after working through this article, you won’t need to be stressed about term papers anymore!

❓  What Is a Term Paper?

A term paper is considered the most practical evaluation of the knowledge you gained over the course’s academic term. It would be quite a big chunk of your final grade. 

A term paper is the most practical evaluation of the knowledge you gained over the course's academic term.

This paper is typically a written assignment a few pages long that requires some type of research work. Long story short, it helps the teachers see how well you understood the materials and what skills you learned during the course, so it’s unlikely you can avoid it. And just like any other written assignment, it has to be your original work, which discusses a particular topic, most likely defined by your teacher.

👣 How to Write a Term Paper Step by Step

STEP #1 Choose a topicThe key is to find the issue you are genuinely interested in. This way, you can avoid boredom and burnout during the writing process. And don’t forget to narrow the topic down. You shouldn’t leave it too generalized.
STEP #2 Do some researchA good understanding of the topic is necessary for writing a successful term paper. Therefore, you might need to spend some time in the library since online resources might not be enough. The only rule here is to pick trustworthy ones.
STEP #3 Write down a thesis statementAt this stage, you should find an idea that stands out for you. Your thesis statement should clearly present this idea and your opinion about it. However, it’s normal to alter it throughout the writing process.
STEP #4 Create an outlineAn outline is our guideline, which you can refer to at any time. It gives you the much-needed direction whenever you feel lost and saves you time.
STEP #5 Make your first draftIt doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s the first version of your term paper. Don’t waste your precious time on correcting every mistake. The purpose of this step is to finally put everything together.
STEP #6 Edit & proofreadNow, check the formatting instructions, read your paper at least twice, and pay attention to punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

💡 Choosing a Topic for a Term Paper

Before you begin writing, you have to choose your topic. Even though your professor might assign you one, there is a good chance you can choose your own or at least narrow the focus of the broader topic your professor gives. When choosing your topic, do the following:

✔️Choose an exciting topicSelect a topic in which you are interested, one that gets you excited!
✔️Start from a broader areaIf you can’t figure out a narrowed-down topic, then start with something broader and begin writing. You might find that a narrower topic reveals itself to you.
✔️Talk to your professorIf you need help or guidance when choosing a topic, you can talk with your professor. You can also share ideas with classmates until you choose one that works for you.
✔️Formulate a problemWhen you settle on a topic, consider it in the form of a question or a problem that requires solving, which will help you focus your research and intriguingly present your paper.

🔬 Doing Your Research

Your research needs to be conducted in an organized manner, and you need to refer to authoritative sources. When doing your research, keep the following in mind:

🌐 Start from the catalogs and bibliographies When starting your search for sources, check your library catalog, bibliographies in journals and professional papers, and sources suggested by your instructor.
🌐 Read public sources Start by reading through some public sources that discuss your topic and then referring to the references listed in those sources.
🌐 Use primary sources Use primary sources, as opposed to secondary sources. If a reference is made to a particular source, go to the source itself. Don’t reference the source that referenced the source. Great primary sources include books, journals, government publications, and other professional documents.
🌐 Search for the most recent studies Be sure to use the most recent sources first and work your way back in time.

When doing your research, it is best if you create systems for doing the following:

  • Taking notes
  • Keeping a bibliography
  • Organizing material in order of most important to least important

Formulating Your Term Paper Thesis Statement

The thesis statement has to be very specific and clear about your position regarding the topic. Moreover, it is not the place for vague phrases. Compare the following sets of statements to find out why the first examples are too general and need more specification.

TOO BROAD 🙁JUST OK 🙂
Social networks can be both beneficial and harmful to people.Even though social media is the fastest way to exchange information, not all pieces of the news posted there can be trusted.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of the most beloved classic novels.In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen masterfully develops the idea of prejudice as the most destructive yet natural human flaw in the example of the main character, Elizabeth Bennet.
Cars are bad for the environment, so we should use bicycles more.Since traditional gas cars produce too many emissions, it would be beneficial for the Earth’s ozone layer if the drivers chose to use bicycles, public transport, or electric vehicles more often.

📑 Making a Term Paper Outline

Once you have done all of the above, you can then tackle how to write a term paper outline. When creating your outline, keeping the following in mind:

  • Firmly establish your topic and state the reason for its significance.
  • State why the research material is relevant.
  • Establish your thesis statement.
  • Determine how to plan the organization of your paper and create an outline.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers up some great information on how to prepare to write your term paper. Aside from a very creative title that clearly states what the paper will be about, the parts of a term paper are as follows:

  • Introduction. Here you will provide your thesis statement, your objective, and how you will approach the research and analysis you provide in your paper.
  • Body. Here you will provide a detailed discussion of your research sources and make your analysis. 
  • Conclusion. Here you will summarize the information and analysis you presented in the paper’s body and discuss your findings, conclusions, and further research on the topic.
  • References. Here you need to list all the sources used in the text according to your professor’s referencing style. Refer to this MLA college research paper example, APA term paper format, or Chicago style guide for information on different referencing styles.

✍️ Drafting Your Term Paper

When you have your thesis statement and an outline ready, it’s time to put it all together. Try not to highlight too many ideas. It’s better to focus on a single central issue and analyze it from different points of view.

Another aspect you should attend to is that any writing assignment needs to have at least three supporting arguments. You might include only two, but it’s only in case if you’re writing an argumentative paper. So the third point should show an alternative perspective.

Usually, you would want to place your thesis statement at the end of the introduction. However, it may depend on the type of writing. If you’re asked to address multiple issues at the same time, you can use a so-called “delayed thesis” and place it right before the conclusion.

Need more advice on the subject? Check out our article on the best academic writing sources. Also, you should always remember that the draft version of your term paper doesn’t have to be perfect. 

🔍 Editing Your Term Paper

It is the stage where you can add the final touch to your term paper. You need to check the writing for the correct spelling, grammar, style, word choice, and sentence structure. If you skip this step, your whole work might lose its credibility!

Give it some time, and don’t do editing as soon as you finish the draft. Put it away for one day, which gives you a fresh look. Reading it out loud might also help since it’s easier to find a mistake when something just doesn’t sound right. If something seems off, unclear, or weird, mark the spot and come back to fix it after you are done reading the whole paper.

Try to identify your typical mistake. Most writers would make the same error over and over again in their writing. Also, keep some handout materials on grammar and punctuation at hand. Knowing the rules and having them available is extremely helpful.

😺 Term Paper Topics

There are so many types of papers you can write, and your choices depend on the courses you are taking. Whether you are in history, science, computer science, psychology, or another field of study, you will likely be required to write a term paper.

To help you get a better idea of what to write, what follows are descriptions and examples of college term paper topics you might be required to write. You can use these as a benchmark so you can get a better feel for what you need to produce for your professor.

Technology

Do you know the history of the Internet? Did you know the United States government invented it for military use? However, these days, everyone worldwide has access to the Internet, providing people with the ability to stay connected, shop, work, and more.

When writing a research paper on the topic of the Internet for your technology course, you will be able to learn so much about the World Wide Web, including the inner workings of the vast network that keeps us all connected. Here are some specific term paper topics from which you can choose when you are selecting a topic about the Internet.

  • The pathologic use of the Internet. Millions of people feel they can’t live without the Internet. The absolute dependence so many people have on the Internet is a serious psychological issue that would make an excellent topic for your paper. As part of your paper, you can provide suggestions on how to prevent our youth from becoming addicted.
  • Internet ethics. There are many ethical issues you can focus on because there is so much questionable or downright immoral content out there, such as pornography or websites that incite racial and religious conflict.
  • Software piracy and other forms of Internet crime. You can focus on the various types of Internet crime and what is being done to deal with them. You can also offer suggestions for ways to improve regulations and fight Internet crime.

Psychology

One of the biggest problems in psychology is the extent to which child abuse occurs. The abuse of a child often leads to one or more mental illness types and psychological issues that can plague a child through to adulthood. Child abuse makes a fascinating and relevant topic in today’s society.

When writing about child abuse, always begin with an introduction to what child abuse is, but you will want to narrow down your topic to something with a unique focus. Some areas of focus you might want to consider include:

  • Changes in the prevalence of child abuse over the last 100 years. For this, you can take a look at the statistical data on child abuse. Any government or other official website devoted to child abuse will contain all the latest and historical statistics on the problem. You can focus on this data and make a case for if and how child abuse has changed over time.
  • The different types of child abuse. You can take an in-depth look at the various types of child abuse, how they are classified, and what signs are apparent when child abuse is happening. You can narrow your focus to one type of abuse, such as emotional, which is perhaps more difficult to recognize.
  • The prevention of child abuse. Many methods have been proposed and initiated to prevent child abuse. You can conduct an in-depth study of these methods, discuss what works and what doesn’t, and what other potential ideas for child abuse prevention exist. 

History

History provides us with a wealth of dates, events, and personalities, and these make great topics for term papers. Let’s consider topics for an American history course. Below are some general topics on the history of the United States.

  • Your favorite period in American history. This might be the Civil War or World War II.
  • Your favorite president or the president you believe had the most effect on the United States’ development, either in a positive or negative way.
  • A particular event that is significant in American history. Expand on how it affected the development of the country.

Other interesting American history paper topics include:

  • The Bill of Rights and how it sowed the seeds of the American Constitution
  • Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemming
  • The causes and effects of the Monroe Doctrine
  • The peculiarities of the formation of the Confederacy
  • The Suffragette movement and its effects
  • How the League of Nations was a dream that failed
  • The Korean War and how it was a confrontation between two superior nations

Ultimately, you need to come up with a point in history, an event, or a person and narrow down your topic to one that gives you a unique take on American history and will provide the reader with information that will make them consider American history in a new light.

As you can see, there are many potential topics from which to choose when deciding on a topic for your paper. This sampling just scratches the surface of what you can do. Chances are you will need to write papers for more than one of your classes, so be sure to check out the links above and do some serious research into potential topics.

🔗 References

Comments (6)

John Ndiritu
John Ndiritu

A term paper is a marvelous way out for students who take their first steps in mastering writing skills. Thank you for covering each and every point of suggestion.

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thank you for your kind words, John!

Tori Erickson
Tori Erickson

Wonderful, very helpful information on writing term papers on child abuse! Thank you very much for it!

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Glad you liked it, Tori!

Natalie Navarrete
Natalie Navarrete

Thanks a lot for your post on writing child abuse term papers. Keep this great help up! Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thanks for your warm feedback, Natalie!