How to Write a Term Paper: A Brief, No-Crap Guide for Students


During your time in high school and then college or university, you will need to craft lots of most various papers – from simple essays to full-fledged theses. Term papers take a prominent place among them as it’s hard to overestimate their significance for a good grade. In this post, I share my experience about how to put together an A-worthy term paper fast and how to do that even if the odds seem to be completely against you. The steps in writing a term paper presented below are universal, meaning that all students – from beginners to seniors – can find helpful tips and hints to get the job done within the required time frame.

The Basics: What Is a Term Paper

I generalized over a dozen of encyclopedia and dictionary articles about term papers, combined them with my own experience, and did my best to synthesize the most complete term paper definition. So, my interpretation is the following: a term paper is a written assignment school or college students typically have to accomplish at the end of a semester on a subject that they studied during a term, which is meant to represent their understanding of the course material and achievement during a term.

Additional term paper characteristics include:

  • Variable paper type – in the vast majority of cases, it is an extended research paper; however, it also could be an essay, report, or the like;
  • Various aims – describe an event or a concept, argue a point;
  • Significant course grade weight;
  • The average length of at least 1500 words (5-6 typed pages), often more.

In any case, when thinking, “How am I going to write my essay and what type should it be?” remember that a term assignment must be an original work discussing a topic related to the course subject in this particular term in detail.

How to Write a Good Term Paper – A 7-Step Guide

For starters, here’s a short 7-step guide from professional term paper writers to crafting a great piece. It is based on their recommendations, feedback from students, and my own experience.

  1. Come up with an interesting topic (in case a teacher didn’t provide topics to choose from).
  2. Research the subject thoroughly.
  3. Think through the paper structure.
  4. Create a detailed term paper outline.
  5. Write a term paper – main part first, then conclusion and introduction.
  6. Format your term paper.
  7. Revise, proofread, and edit the draft if necessary.

Considering that about 90% of term papers require in-depth research, one can hardly expect to craft a term paper from top to bottom in one night. Thinking something like “Ah, I know the subject well enough and will write my assignment in a couple of hours” might get you in big trouble. Hence, it’s important to start working on it as early as you can.

Now let’s briefly look at each stage and point out the main things worth your close attention.

1.     Figure Out the Term Paper Topic

Often, a teacher provides several term paper topics to choose from, along with writing instructions and formatting requirements. This makes the entire writing process much easier as you know where to apply your efforts from the very start. Yet, sometimes, teachers want students to come up with their own topics. If you already have some ideas, you might articulate a topic single-handedly.

However, if inspiration fails you, there are two easily accessible tools to help you out – topic generators and sample directories. The latter might be even more effective as they are usually categorized by paper types and subjects.

2.     Perform Term Paper Research

Well, it must be thorough. Respectively, it’s time-consuming, so manage your time wisely, don’t wait till the last night. Meticulously review all your class notes and ask peers for theirs. Google relevant articles; sorting them by date or publication source (for example, academic journals in Google Scholar) can be really useful. Don’t be lazy and visit your college or university library to read subject-specific literature. Keep in mind that your sources must be credible, and don’t forget to make notes for references throughout the entire research.

3.     Think Through the Term Paper Structure

Below, you will find the example term paper structure based on generally accepted elements you should consider when building your work’s skeleton and decide on whether you need all of them or not:

  • Title page
  • Table of contents (optional)
  • Abstract (optional)
  • Main parts of a term paper:
    • term paper introduction
    • descriptive or explanatory paragraphs
    • analysis and argument sections
    • conclusion/summary/results
    • discussion (optional)
  • Bibliography

Depending on the structure you select for your term paper, you will get a better idea of how to put together a meaningful outline on the next step.

4.     Create the Term Paper Outline

Basically, outlining a paper means determining what exactly each section will be about. How to write a term paper outline? It’s quite simple: just take the main body section from your structure draft and briefly describe what you are going to write in each of them. Ideally, add prospective headings and subheadings; if anything changes, you can adjust them later.

Once completed, the outline becomes a template of your term paper that defines its presentation format. Keep it in front of you at all times and follow it closely to ensure the integrity of the future piece.

5.     Write Your Term Paper

Well, just start typing the text according to the outline. State a thesis and explain the significance of the topic in the introduction. Describe the issue in detail and introduce your arguments in the body sections. Present the findings of your research and the results of your analysis in the conclusion. Stay focused, follow the plan, and keep putting letters in words, words in sentences, and sentences in paragraphs. Create the title and reference pages.

6.     Use an Appropriate Term Paper Format

Sometimes, freshmen confuse the writing format with the writing style. Though often used as synonyms, these are different things. A writing style is how you write, what words you choose, and how you build sentences. A writing format defines what and how you place on a title page, how you organize content, and how you cite sources in the text or list sources you’ve used. In other words, a writing style may help you figure out how to start a term paper, while a writing format tells you what alignment and spacing should be there. It’s the latter we are talking about in this section.

As a rule, the required term paper format is mentioned in the requirements your high school, college, or university teacher gives out along with the assignment. At the same time, you must know that formats differ depending on the academic course you study. For instance, APA (American Psychological Association) is typically used in papers on social sciences, while MLA (Modern Language Association) is standard for liberal arts and humanities. Explaining all the differences between these styles and showing how to put citations in the text is impossible in this post. It might be a good idea to check free term paper examples online to see variations.

You can explore the most popular formats by visiting, for example, the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Apart from full manuals, this website also offers free citation generators. They allow you to select the source type and paste its basic data – and then create a sample citation automatically.

7.     Revise and Improve the Term Paper

When you put the last dot in your term paper, it doesn’t mean that it’s finished. Ideally, you should re-focus on something else and let the paper sit for a day or at least several hours. Then, re-read it, proofread, and edit to improve the content flow if necessary.

You will hardly find a better tool for proofreading purposes than Grammarly. Grammar and punctuation checks, text clarity, engagement, and delivery – these are the main things this handy utility helps you audit. When it comes to general text readability, we suggest you use Hemingway App – a simple yet effective tool to find hard-to-read sentences and words you should avoid using.

All in all, this step-by-step scheme, if applied within the right time frame, should help you craft a decent term paper. In case for some reason you cannot put it together, there’s another option – addressing our custom writing service. Our experienced authors can craft any type of term paper sample exclusively for you really fast and according to the highest academic standards. This solution isn’t meant for all students, but those who prioritize the result will appreciate it accordingly.


If the vast majority of term papers are research papers, what is the difference between them?

While many research papers and term papers are similar in their structure and content presentation, they are different in the research depth and data required to support your ideas. Yet, the main distinction is that crafting a regular research paper lets you write on a topic outside of the general course subject. At the same time, a term paper traditionally focuses primarily on the subject matter specifically considered during the course.

How long should a term paper be?

There is no definite standard for the term paper size as it mostly depends on the subject, topic, and teacher’s requirements. At the same time, a typical term paper can hardly be less than 5-7 pages long, which is somewhere around 1500-2000 words.

Is ordering a term paper online legal?

In the US, there are no federal regulations that prohibit custom writing services operations. Naturally, educational institutions see their activity as such that violates the principles of academic integrity. On the other hand, online services clearly state that the materials they provide should be used for research and reference purposes only and mustn’t be submitted as students’ works unchanged.

Can your writing service craft other academic works apart from term papers?

Yes, services cover the full range of academic papers. Customers just need to tell us, “Do homework for me” or “Write my dissertation” – and we will find a properly qualified expert to get the job done!