Outlining is a very important tool. In order to create the structure of your paper, you need to make sure that you use a detailed outline so that you cover all of the necessary components and so that you and sure all of your ideas come across in a logical fashion. A great outline will save you a tremendous amount of time when it comes to revisions and it might make sure that your ideas are already arranged in the best order before you even write them.
Before you start creating an outline you need to know what you're going to argue in your paper. You need to closely read and analyze primary and secondary academic sources. You should take notes and write down quotes that you might use as evidence. If you can find primary evidence obviously that is better suited to a coherent argument and secondary sources, unless you're writing about a historical event. When you are researching you want to make sure that you take detailed notes which include bibliographic information for every piece of evidence and every fact that you write down. It is often beneficial for students to use different colored notecards. This can help you with your organization and can help prepare you for creating the outline. Many students find that writing down bibliographic information on the card of every quotes or fact saves a great deal of time when it comes to writing the reference page into deciding their sources. You can use one color card for key ideas and one color card for supporting evidence. You might instead want to use one color for a key idea and all of its supporting evidence, and another color for a subsequent key idea and its supporting evidence. The choice is up to you.