Outlines provide a means of organizing your information in a hierarchical or logical order.
For research papers, a formal outline can help you keep track of large amounts of information.
An outline helps you organize your thoughts and makes the actual writing of your paper much easier. The top of your outline should be your introduction with a thesis statement. The subtopics from your note cards will serve as headings for the body outline. Remember that all your subtopics need to relate back to your thesis.