How to write a case study: case study outline and examples

It is the end of the week and you are looking forward to a weekend of resting but in your last class, your administrator gives you a case study assignment. Do you know how to write a case study? Do you know how to formulate a case study outline? This article will teach you all the important steps to follow when creating a case study outline. Using that, you can complete your paper fast and carry on with your original weekend plans.

What is a case study?

The universal case study definition is that it is an advanced category of research that examines an issue or problem and comes up with possible solutions. You can assess an event, a place, a phenomenon, a situation or a personality and come up with a constructive conclusion for your case study. Case studies are done for subjects or courses that do not perform laboratory experiments or use quantitative methods.

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A case study can be part of an academic task or a promotional tool used in businesses to sell their idea. To write a case study that illuminates your educational skills, you need to be a critical thinker and have good analytical skills. Continue reading this article to find out how you can possess both and become an expert at writing case studies.

What is the difference between a case study and a research paper?

Before you learn how to write a case study, you need to understand what the unique features and characteristics of a case study are. A case study and research have several common features and might be mistaken for each other, here is how you will know the difference between the two.

Both the research paper and a case study point you towards a specific problem or issue but case studies take it further. When writing a case study, you are required to use multiple research methods to collect in-depth information about the problem. You are expected to pay attention to the smallest detail and examine everything critically.

While a research paper does not require a full introduction of the general topic you are discussing, a case study does. All information is important in a case study including a full introduction of the topic and the general idea of your case. At the same time, while a case study does not require citing other works and giving your personal opinions, a research paper does.

Writing a case study is likened to storytelling. You look at the issue or problem as the protagonist or main character of the story and your duty is to develop the “story” to a point the protagonist is defeated. To successfully write a case study you need to have an introduction, rising action, a climax which propels change, falling action and a solution. In research, you examine the issue from your own perspective and do not need to give solutions or recommendations.

The most effective research method used for case studies is very practical. If for instance you are examining a personality, you have to interact with people who possess that personality. You have to immerse yourself into their life, day to day activity and schedule. This provides a lot of firsthand information that can make your paper authentic, real and relevant.

You can go through a sample case study and research separately to look at the differences.

Types of case study

Like essays and research papers, the case study has a variety of types which vary depending on the kind of research, the kind of information you convey and the topic you choose. The most common types of case studies include;

Problem oriented case study

As the name suggests, the main focus of these case studies is a real life or theoretical problem. You need to immerse yourself into the situation to understand it fully and solve it. Such case studies are the best at examining socio economic challenges. Before you present the problem to your superiors, you need to full understand it and have recommendations to offer.

Historical case study

Historical case studies are the best to learn from since there is a large pool of sources with different perspectives. They focus on studying the events and occurrences of a specific time period in different perspectives and how they relate in today’s world. How do these occurrences apply and fit in to the modern world?

Critical case study

Critical case studies recognize the statement, “for every action there is a reaction.” They examine the problem, issue, place, event or personality from a cause and effect perspective. A critical case study will help you understand why something happened and what the result of its happening was.

Illustrative case study

Also known as instrumental case studies, illustrative case studies focus on the effects without the causes. The aim of these case studies is to study and describe an event or phenomenon and identify the outcomes and lessons learned from it. Instead of focusing on the causes and effects, illustrative case studies focus on effects and lessons learned.

Collective case study

Collective case studies are also known as cumulative or multiple case studies. These case studies are done and written for comparative purposes. You collect information with varying perspectives from different sources and platforms and use them to provide comparisons. One phenomenon applied in different situations can have multiple outcomes.

How to write a case study outline

To write a good and informative case study, it is important to know how to create a case study outline. Your administrator can use your outline to see whether you are on the right track and guide you before you begin writing. They can identify potential problems or challenges and help you maneuver them so that you will not have to re write your paper. An outline will also help you organize your thoughts better, work faster and have the right structure for your paper.

Before you begin formulating your case study outline, you need to research and collect relevant information. This should be done using credible sources such as journal, books and authoritative periodicals. As you go through your sources, write down the key ideas and critical information you come across. Once this is done, come up with a thesis statement that will guide you and keep you on track as you prepare your outline.

Here is a simple outline you can use to write your case study;

Title page

There are several crucial details that you should ensure you include on your title page. The design and format of your title page will depend on the referencing case analysis format you are using. You can also consult with your administrator or institution to find out the recommended title page format and avoid losing marks. The details that you should include on your title page are;

  • A case study title
  • Your full name
  • The name of your course
  • The full name of your academic administrator
  • The name of the educational institution you are part of
  • The date of submission

Your title should be brief and captivating to capture your reader’s interest. It should also include the words “case study” in it and should be 5-9 words long.


Your introduction should be a paragraph long and give a brief summary of the general concept you will look into. Begin by giving your statement of the issue. This is a hook sentence to entice your reader and capture their curiosity. After this, you can use statistics and facts to present the problem and show how dire it is.

Once you state the problem, you need to define the terms you have used. This helps the reader keep up in case you have used technical terms. Include your thesis statement and give a reason as to why this case study paper is important and relevant.


For your body to be considered complete, you need to include all the elements of a case study. These are;

  • Background information that explains why you chose this topic
  • Literature review highlighting the views of other writers on the topic
  • Methodology where you explain the research methods you used
  • presentation of findings and the outcomes of the study
  • Discussion to explain your findings in detail
  • Solutions giving several possible ways of dealing with the problem
  • Recommendations to present the best solution among the options

Ensure that each paragraph brings out a new point based on the topic. You can use a case study template to write so that you remember to include eall the sections. This keeps your paper organized, well-structured and easy to understand. Depending on your institution, sometimes the recommendations come after the conclusion.


Use your conclusion to give a compelling argument concerning the topic and the points you have discussed. Restate your thesis statement and paraphrase the answer in summary. Remember to also summarize the key points you discussed and finish with a concluding statement that will encourage your reader to continue thinking about the topic. You can go further to include a call to action and encourage your reader to be part of the solution.

Reference list

Whenever you write an essay, you draw inspiration and collect information from other writers that covered the topic before you. When you do this, it is important to give the writers credit, this is where the bibliography or reference list comes in.

Create a list of all the sources you have used as evidence or inspiration at the end of your document. Use the reference styles such as APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard or Turabian according to the recommendation given within your institution.

Finalizing your case study

Some students think that the work is done after they finish drafting. They forget that finalizing your document is a step just as important as the writing process. This is what separates mediocre writing form professional writing. Once you have finished writing your case study draft from the case study outline, you need to polish your document by following these steps;

  • Read to check and ensure that you have followed the correct case study format and included all the important sections
  • Re-read to ensure that you have used a consistent writing style for referencing and citation
  • Revise the grammatical, punctuation, spelling, structural and formatting errors you might have overlooked
  • Proofread to make sure that you have fixed all the errors
  • Remember to check for inconsistencies and irrelevant details
  • Confirm that your thesis statement is in line with the rest of your paper
  • Ensure that the sources you used as evidence are credible, productive and relevant

Things to avoid when writing a case study analysis

  • Avoid overgeneralizing your information and go straight to the point
  • Giving recommendations without considering and studying all the possible solutions and outcomes
  • Failing to analyze the limitations you encountered during and after the study and how you overcame them
  • Stating a point or presenting an argument without evidence to justify and back it up
  • Not interrelating your study with a relevant theory in you field of study
  • Giving vague details as part of the solutions
  • Forgetting to include a solutions and recommendation section
  • Failing to finalize and edit your document to clear the present errors

Tips on how to write a case study

To make your paper more authentic and realistic, talk about the challenges you experienced during and after the study. This shows that like any other good research, there were some hitches but you managed to overcome them and complete your case study.

Include data such as percentages, figures and awards to give your paper a personal touch and better credibility. Presenting such information shows that you value accuracy and did not just ballpark your findings. You can also include the solutions suggested by other scholars and examine whether they were a success or not.

Abstracts inform your readers about your case study and tells them what to expect. It is like a generalized summary of your paper that gives just enough information to keep your reader interested. Always come up with a sound, brief and solid abstract that will give your readers a good opinion and motivation to read on. look at an example of a case study abstract to understand what is required of you.

Ensure that your case study answers questions such as;

  • How are your results and findings related to existing results from previous studies?
  • Does our paper provide information that will deepen the current understanding of the topic?
  • Did you get the expected results or were they different, and why?
  • What other possible alternatives, interpretations and explanation of your results exist?
  • Were the research methods you used the most effective or the easiest to access?

In conclusion

To write a comprehensive case study, you need to come up with a detailed case study outline with all your key information. This article has given you all the important tricks and steps to become a case study expert. In case you need more guidance, clarification or assistance, feel free to contact us.

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