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How to Set Up a Report With an Outline & a Bibliography


By creating an outline before writing your report, you construct an effective way to organize your ideas. In an outline, you list your thoughts in a clear, tiered manner. At the end of your outline, a bibliography serves as a list of all the sources you used in your outline. It can also include other relevant sources that may be used in later research. There are several formats to follow when setting up a report with an outline and bibliography.

Outline Structure

The basic format for writing an outline is alternating series of number and letters. The most common order is roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals and then lowercase letters. If your outline hierarchy goes beyond this, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses.

Outline Topics

An outline serves as the framework for an essay. Your outline should describe the topic, purpose, intended audience and thesis statement of your report. Your outline can be written with just keywords and thoughts or complete sentences. Ask your teacher which format he prefers.

Bibliography Structure

At the end of your outline should be your bibliography. The bibliography should start on a separate page from your outline. Bibliography entries are formatted depending on the type of publication, such as books, websites or articles. Additionally, there are several accepted bibliography formats, so ask your professor which he prefers. Regardless of style, arrange your list alphabetically by the author’s last name. Bibliography entries should feature the author, title and facts about the publication, such as city of publication, publisher’s name, year of publication and how and when you accessed the information.

General APA Format

According to the sixth edition of the APA manual, format your bibliography with the author’s last name, a comma, author's first name and a period. Type the publication year in parentheses. Place a period outside of the closing parenthesis. Then type the book title in italics, followed by period. Next, type the city of publication, a colon, the publishing company and a period.

General MLA Format

According to the Seventh edition of the MLA handbook, write the author’s last name, a comma, his first name and then a period. Next, place the title of the book in italics, followed by a period. Then, type the city of publication followed by a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma, the publication year and a period. Finally, write what medium you accessed this information; examples include print, online, film, television or magazine. End with a period.

General Chicago Format

The Chicago style for bibliographies is the most relaxed. You have several different acceptable ways to write each citation, according to the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. For a basic example of how to list a book, write the author’s last name, a comma, author's first name and a period. Write the title in italics, followed by a period. Type the city of publication, a colon, the publishing company, a comma, the year of publication and then a period.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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