Revising an Argumentative Paper

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Introduction

You’ve written a full draft of an argumentative paper. You’ve figured out what you’re generally saying and have put together one way to say it. But you’re not done. The best writing is revised writing, and you want to re–view, re–see, re–consider your argument to make sure that it’s as strong as possible. You’ll come back to smaller issues later (e.g., Is your language compelling? Are your paragraphs clearly and seamlessly connected? Are any of your sentences confusing?). But before you get into the details of phrases and punctuation, you need to focus on making sure your argument is as strong and persuasive as it can be. This page provides you with eight specific strategies for how to take on the important challenge of revising an argument.

  • Give yourself time.
  • Outline your argumentative claims and evidence.
  • Analyze your argument’s assumptions.
  • Revise with your audience in mind.
  • Be your own most critical reader.
  • Look for dissonance.
  • Try “provocative revision.”
  • Ask others to look critically at your argument.

1. Give yourself time.

The best way to begin re–seeing your argument is first to stop seeing it. Set your paper aside for a weekend, a day, or even a couple of hours. Of course, this will require you to have started your writing process well before your paper is due. But giving yourself this time allows you to refresh your perspective and separate yourself from your initial ideas and organization. When you return to your paper, try to approach your argument as a tough, critical reader. Reread it carefully. Maybe even read it out loud to hear it in a fresh way. Let the distance you created inform how you now see the paper differently.

2. Outline your argumentative claims and evidence.

This strategy combines the structure of a reverse outline with elements of argument that philosopher Stephen Toulmin detailed in his influential book The Uses of Argument . As you’re rereading your work, have a blank piece of paper or a new document next to you and write out:

  • Your main claim (your thesis statement).
  • Your sub–claims (the smaller claims that contribute to the larger claim).
  • All the evidence you use to back up each of your claims.

Detailing these core elements of your argument helps you see its basic structure and assess whether or not your argument is convincing. This will also help you consider whether the most crucial elements of the argument are supported by the evidence and if they are logically sequenced to build upon each other.

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

In what follows we’ve provided a full example of what this kind of outline can look like. In this example, we’ve broken down the key argumentative claims and kinds of supporting evidence that Derek Thompson develops in his July/August 2015 Atlantic feature “ A World Without Work. ” This is a provocative and fascinating article, and we highly recommend it.

Charted Argumentative Claims and Evidence “ A World Without Work ” by Derek Thompson ( The Atlantic , July/August 2015) Main claim : Machines are making workers obsolete, and while this has the potential to disrupt and seriously damage American society, if handled strategically through governmental guidance, it also has the potential of helping us to live more communal, creative, and empathetic lives. Sub–claim : The disappearance of work would radically change the United States. Evidence: personal experience and observation Sub–claim : This is because work functions as something of an unofficial religion to Americans. Sub–claim : Technology has always guided the U.S. labor force. Evidence: historical examples Sub–claim: But now technology may be taking over our jobs. Sub–claim : However, the possibility that technology will take over our jobs isn’t anything new, nor is the fear that this possibility generates. Evidence: historical examples Sub–claim : So far, that fear hasn’t been justified, but it may now be because: 1. Businesses don’t require people to work like they used to. Evidence: statistics 2. More and more men and youths are unemployed. Evidence: statistics 3. Computer technology is advancing in majorly sophisticated ways. Evidence: historical examples and expert opinions Counter–argument: But technology has been radically advancing for 300 years and people aren’t out of work yet. Refutation: The same was once said about the horse. It was a key economic player; technology was built around it until technology began to surpass it. This parallels what will happen with retail workers, cashiers, food service employees, and office clerks. Evidence:: an academic study Counter–argument: But technology creates jobs too. Refutation: Yes, but not as quickly as it takes them away. Evidence: statistics Sub–claim : There are three overlapping visions of what the world might look like without work: 1. Consumption —People will not work and instead devote their freedom to leisure. Sub–claim : People don’t like their jobs. Evidence: polling data Sub–claim : But they need them. Evidence: expert insight Sub–claim : People might be happier if they didn’t have to work. Evidence: expert insight Counter–argument: But unemployed people don’t tend to be socially productive. Evidence: survey data Sub–claim : Americans feel guilty if they aren’t working. Evidence: statistics and academic studies Sub–claim : Future leisure activities may be nourishing enough to stave off this guilt. 2. Communal creativity —People will not work and will build productive, artistic, engaging communities outside the workplace. Sub–claim: This could be a good alternative to work. Evidence: personal experience and observation 3. Contingency —People will not work one big job like they used to and so will fight to regain their sense of productivity by piecing together small jobs. Evidence: personal experience and observation. Sub–claim : The internet facilitates gig work culture. Evidence: examples of internet-facilitated gig employment Sub–claim : No matter the form the labor force decline takes, it would require government support/intervention in regards to the issues of taxes and income distribution. Sub–claim : Productive things governments could do: • Local governments should create more and more ambitious community centers to respond to unemployment’s loneliness and its diminishment of community pride. • Government should create more small business incubators. Evidence: This worked in Youngstown. • Governments should encourage job sharing. Evidence: This worked for Germany. Counter–argument: Some jobs can’t be shared, and job sharing doesn’t fix the problem in the long term. Given this counter argument: • Governments should heavily tax the owners of capital and cut checks to all adults. Counter–argument: The capital owners would push against this, and this wouldn’t provide an alternative to the social function work plays. Refutation: Government should pay people to do something instead of nothing via an online job–posting board open up to governments, NGOs, and the like. • Governments should incentivize school by paying people to study. Sub–claim : There is a difference between jobs, careers, and calling, and a fulfilled life is lived in pursuit of a calling. Evidence: personal experience and observations

Some of the possible, revision-informing questions that this kind of outline can raise are:

  • Are all the claims thoroughly supported by evidence?
  • What kinds of evidence are used across the whole argument? Is the nature of the evidence appropriate given your context, purpose, and audience?
  • How are the sub–claims related to each other? How do they build off of each other and work together to logically further the larger claim?
  • Do any of your claims need to be qualified in order to be made more precise?
  • Where and how are counter–arguments raised? Are they fully and fairly addressed?

For more information about the Toulmin Method, we recommend John Ramage, John Bean, and June Johnson’s book Written Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings.

3. Analyze your argument’s assumptions.

In building arguments we make assumptions either explicitly or implicitly that connect our evidence to our claims. For example, in “A World Without Work,” as Thompson makes claims about the way technology will change the future of work, he is assuming that computer technology will keep advancing in major and surprising ways. This assumption helps him connect the evidence he provides about technology’s historical precedents to his claims about the future of work. Many of us would agree that it is reasonable to assume that technological advancement will continue, but it’s still important to recognize this as an assumption underlying his argument.

To identify your assumptions, return to the claims and evidence that you outlined in response to recommendation #2. Ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this piece of evidence in order to connect this evidence to this claim?” Write down those assumptions, and then ask yourself, “Are these assumptions reasonable? Are they acknowledged in my argument? If not, do they need to be?”

Often you will not overtly acknowledge your assumptions, and that can be fine. But especially if your readers don’t share certain beliefs, values, or knowledge, you can’t guarantee that they will just go along with the assumptions you make. In these situations, it can be valuable to clearly account for some of your assumptions within your paper and maybe even rationalize them by providing additional evidence. For example, if Thompson were writing his article for an audience skeptical that technology will continue advancing, he might choose to identify openly why he is convinced that humanity’s progression towards more complex innovation won’t stop.

4. Revise with your audience in mind.

We touched on this in the previous recommendation, but it’s important enough to expand on it further. Just as you should think about what your readers know, believe, and value as you consider the kinds of assumptions you make in your argument, you should also think about your audience in relationship to the kind of evidence you use. Given who will read your paper, what kind of argumentative support will they find to be the most persuasive? Are these readers who are compelled by numbers and data? Would they be interested by a personal narrative? Would they expect you to draw from certain key scholars in their field or avoid popular press sources or only look to scholarship that has been published in the past ten years? Return to your argument and think about how your readers might respond to it and its supporting evidence.

5. Be your own most critical reader.

Sometimes writing handbooks call this being the devil’s advocate. It is about intentionally pushing against your own ideas. Reread your draft while embracing a skeptical attitude. Ask questions like, “Is that really true?” and, “Where’s the proof?” Be as hard on your argument as you can be, and then let your criticisms inform what you need to expand on, clarify, and eliminate.

This kind of reading can also help you think about how you might incorporate or strengthen a counter–argument. By focusing on possible criticisms to your argument, you might encounter some that are particularly compelling that you’ll need to include in your paper. Sometimes the best way to revise with criticism in mind is to face that criticism head on, fairly explain what it is and why it’s important to consider, and then rationalize why your argument still holds even in light of this other perspective.

6. Look for dissonance.

In her influential 1980 article about how expert and novice writers revise differently, writing studies scholar Nancy Sommers claims that “at the heart of revision is the process by which writers recognize and resolve the dissonance they sense in their writing” (385). In this case, dissonance can be understood as the tension that exists between what you want your text to be, do, or sound like and what is actually on the page. One strategy for re–seeing your argument is to seek out the places where you feel dissonance within your argument—that is, substantive differences between what, in your mind, you want to be arguing, and what is actually in your draft.

A key to strengthening a paper through considering dissonance is to look critically—really critically—at your draft. Read through your paper with an eye towards content, assertions, or logical leaps that you feel uncertain about, that make you squirm a little bit, or that just don’t line up as nicely as you’d like. Some possible sources of dissonance might include:

  • logical steps that are missing
  • questions a skeptical reader might raise that are left unanswered
  • examples that don’t actually connect to what you’re arguing
  • pieces of evidence that contradict each other
  • sources you read but aren’t mentioning because they disagree with you

Once you’ve identified dissonance within your paper, you have to decide what to do with it. Sometimes it’s tempting to take the easy way out and just delete the idea, claim, or section that is generating this sense of dissonance—to remove what seems to be causing the trouble. But don’t limit yourself to what is easy. Perhaps you need to add material or qualify something to make your argumentative claim more nuanced or more contextualized.

Even if the dissonance isn’t easily resolved, it’s still important to recognize. In fact, sometimes you can factor that recognition into how you revise; maybe your revision can involve considering how certain concepts or ideas don’t easily fit but are still important in some way. Maybe your revision can involve openly acknowledging and justifying the dissonance.

Sommers claims that whether expert writers are substituting, adding, deleting, or reordering material in response to dissonance, what they are really doing is locating and creating new meaning. Let your recognition of dissonance within your argument lead you through a process of discovery.

7. Try “provocative revision.”

Composition and writing center scholar Toby Fulwiler wrote in 1992 about the benefits of what he calls “provocative revision.” He says this kind of revision can take four forms. As you think about revising your argument, consider adopting one of these four strategies.

a. Limiting

As Fulwiler writes, “Generalization is death to good writing. Limiting is the cure for generality” (191). Generalization often takes the form of sweeping introduction statements (e.g., “Since the beginning of time, development has struggled against destruction.”), but arguments can be too general as well. Look back at your paper and ask yourself, “Is my argument ever not grounded in specifics? Is my evidence connected to a particular time, place, community, and circumstance?” If your claims are too broad, you may need to limit your scope and zoom in to the particular.

Inserting new content is a particularly common revision strategy. But when your focus is on revising an argument, make sure your addition of another source, another example, a more detailed description, or a closer analysis is in direct service to strengthening the argument. Adding material may be one way to respond to dissonance. It also can be useful for offering clarifications or for making previously implicit assumptions explicit. But adding isn’t just a matter of dropping new content into a paragraph. Adding something new in one place will probably influence other parts of the paper, so be prepared to make other additions to seamlessly weave together your new ideas.

c. Switching

For Fulwiler, switching is about radically altering the voice or tone of a text—changing from the first–person perspective to a third–person perspective or switching from an earnest appeal to a sarcastic critique. When it comes to revising your argument, it might not make sense to make any of these switches, but imaging what your argument might sound like coming from a very different voice might be generative. For example, how would Thompson’s “A World Without Work,” be altered if it was written from the voice and perspective of an unemployed steel mill worker or someone running for public office in Ohio or a mechanical robotics engineer? Re–visioning how your argument might come across if the primary voice, tone, and perspective was switched might help you think about how someone disinclined to agree with your ideas might approach your text and open additional avenues for revision.

d. Transforming

According to Fulwiler, transformation is about altering the genre and/or modality of a text—revising an expository essay into a letter to the editor, turning a persuasive research paper into a ballad. If you’re writing in response to a specific assignment, you may not have the chance to transform your argument in this way. But, as with switching, even reflecting on the possibilities of a genre or modality transformation can be useful in helping you think differently about your argument. If Thompson has been writing a commencement address instead of an article, how would “A World Without Work” need to change? How would he need to alter his focus and approach if it was a policy paper or a short documentary? Imagining your argument in a completely different context can help you to rethink how you are presenting your argument and engaging with your audience.

8. Ask others to look critically at your argument.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to figure out how your argument could improve is to get a second opinion. Of course, if you are a currently enrolled student at UW–Madison, you are welcome to make an appointment to talk with a tutor at our main center or stop by one of our satellite locations. But you have other ways to access quality feedback from other readers. You may want to ask someone else in your class, a roommate, or a friend to read through your paper with an eye towards how the argument could be improved. Be sure to provide your reader with specific questions to guide his or her attention towards specific parts of your argument (e.g., “How convincing do you find the connection I make between the claims on page 3 and the evidence on page 4?” “What would clarify further the causal relationship I’m suggesting between the first and second sub-argument?”). Be ready to listen graciously and critically to any recommendations these readers provide.

Works Cited

Fulwiler, Toby. “Provocative Revision.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 12, no. 2, 1992, pp. 190-204.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, 8th ed., Longman, 2010.

Sommers, Nancy. “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 31, no. 4, 1980, pp. 378-88.

Thompson, Derek. “A World Without Work.” The Atlantic, July/August 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/. Accessed 11 July 2017.

Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument. Updated ed., Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

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Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

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  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips

How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

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It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

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Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays

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1. Select an arguable topic, preferably one which interests, puzzles, or appeals to you.

Make sure your topic is neither too broad--something which warrants a dissertation--nor too limited. Decide what your goals are for the paper. What is your purpose? What opinion, view, or idea do you want to prove? Try to articulate your purpose clearly  before  you begin writing. If you cannot state your purpose clearly, try to freewrite about your topic.

2. Take a position on your topic, and form a thesis statement.

Your thesis must be arguable; it must assert or deny something about your topic. To be arguable, a thesis must have some probability of being true. It should not, however, be generally accepted as true; it must be a statement with which people may disagree. Keep in mind that a thesis contains both an observation and an opinion:

A good way to test the strength of your thesis is to see if it yields a strong antithesis.

Common thesis pitfalls:

  • A thesis expressed as a fragment.
  • A thesis which is too broad.
  • A thesis worded as a question. (Usually the answer to the question yields the thesis)
  • A thesis which includes extraneous information.
  • A thesis which begins with I think or in my opinion.
  • A thesis which deals with a stale or trite issue.
  • A thesis which contains words which lead to faulty generalizations (all, none, always, only, everyone, etc.)

Thesis writing tips:

  • A thesis evolves as you work with your topic. Brainstorm, research, talk, and think about your topic before settling on a thesis. If you are having trouble formulating a thesis, begin freewriting about your topic. Your freewrite may suggest a workable thesis.
  • During the writing process, consider your thesis a  working thesis  and be willing to modify and re-focus it as you draft and revise your paper.
  • Copy your working thesis on an index card and keep it in front of you as you research and write. Having your thesis in plain view may help focus your writing.

3. Consider your audience.

Plan your paper with a specific audience in mind. Who are your readers? Are they a definable group--disinterested observers, opponents of your point of view, etc.? Perhaps you are writing to your classmates. Ask your professor or GSI who you should consider your target audience. If you are not certain of your audience, direct your argument to a general audience.

4. Present clear and convincing evidence.

Strong essays consist of  reasons  supported by  evidence .  Reasons  can be thought of as the main points supporting your claim or thesis. Often they are the answers to the question, "Why do you make that claim?" An easy way to think of  reasons  is to see them as "because phrases." In order to validate your reasons and make your argument successful, support your reasons with ample evidence.

The St. Martin's Guide to Writing  (Axelrod & Cooper, 2nd ed., New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988) lists the following forms of evidence:

  • authorities
  • textual evidence

For most college papers, you will include evidence you have gathered from various sources and texts. Make sure you document your evidence properly. When using evidence, make sure you (1) introduce it properly, and (2) explain its significance. Do not assume that your evidence will speak for itself--that your readers will glean from your evidence that which you want them to glean. Explain the importance of each piece of evidence-- how  it elucidates or supports your point,  why  it is significant. Build evidence into your text, and use it strategically to prove your points.

In addition to using evidence, thoughtful writers anticipate their readers'  counterarguments  Counterarguments include objections, alternatives, challenges, or questions to your argument. Imagine readers responding to your argument as it unfolds. How might they react? A savvy writer will anticipate and address counterarguments. A writer can address counterarguments by  acknowledging ,  accommodating , and/or  refuting  them.

5. Draft your essay.

As is the case with any piece of writing, you should take your argumentative essay through multiple drafts. When writing and revising your drafts, make sure you:

  • provide ample  evidence , presented logically and fairly
  • deal with the  opposing point of view
  • pay particular attention to the organization of your essay. Make sure its structure suits your topic and audience
  • address and correct any  fallacies  of logic
  • include proper  transitions  to allow your reader to follow your argument

6. Edit your draft.

After you have written a developed draft, take off your writer's hat and put on your reader's hat. Evaluate your essay carefully and critically. Exchange a draft of your essay with classmates to get their feedback. Carefully revise your draft based on your assessment of it and suggestions from your peers. For self-assessment and peer response to your draft, you may want to use a peer editing sheet. A peer editing sheet will guide you and your peers by asking specific questions about your text (i.e., What is the thesis of this essay? Is it arguable? Does the writer include ample evidence? Is the structure suitable for the topic and the audience?).

You may also want to avail yourself of the Writing  Drop-In Tutoring  or  By-Appointment Tutoring  at the  Student Learning Center .

Luisa Giulianetti 
Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley
©1996 UC Regents

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  • 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
  • 1 Unit Introduction
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
  • 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
  • 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
  • 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
  • 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
  • 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
  • 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
  • 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
  • Further Reading
  • Works Cited
  • 2.1 Seeds of Self
  • 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
  • 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
  • 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
  • 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
  • 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
  • 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
  • 3.1 Identity and Expression
  • 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
  • 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
  • 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
  • 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
  • 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
  • 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
  • 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
  • Works Consulted
  • 2 Unit Introduction
  • 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
  • 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
  • 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
  • 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
  • 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
  • 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
  • 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
  • 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
  • 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
  • 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
  • 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
  • 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
  • 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
  • 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
  • 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
  • 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
  • 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
  • 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
  • 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
  • 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
  • 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
  • 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
  • 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
  • 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
  • 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
  • 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
  • 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
  • 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
  • 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
  • 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
  • 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
  • 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
  • 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
  • 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
  • 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
  • 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
  • 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
  • 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
  • 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
  • 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
  • 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
  • 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
  • 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
  • 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
  • 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
  • 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
  • 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
  • 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
  • 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
  • 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
  • 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
  • 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
  • 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
  • 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
  • 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
  • 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
  • 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
  • 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
  • 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
  • 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
  • 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
  • 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
  • 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
  • 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
  • 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
  • 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
  • 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
  • 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
  • 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
  • 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
  • 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
  • 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
  • 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
  • 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
  • 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
  • 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
  • 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
  • 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
  • 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
  • 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
  • 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
  • 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
  • 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
  • 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
  • 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
  • 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
  • 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
  • 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
  • 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
  • 3 Unit Introduction
  • 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
  • 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
  • 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
  • 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
  • 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
  • 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
  • 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
  • 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
  • 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
  • 17.1 “Reading” Images
  • 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
  • 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
  • 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
  • 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
  • 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
  • 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
  • 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
  • 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
  • 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
  • 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
  • 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
  • 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
  • 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
  • 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
  • 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  • 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
  • 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
  • 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
  • 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
  • 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
  • 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
  • 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
  • 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
  • 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
  • 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
  • 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
  • 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  • 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
  • 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
  • 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
  • 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate brainstorming processes and tools as means to discover topics, ideas, positions, and details.
  • Apply recursive strategies for organizing drafting, collaborating, peer reviewing, revising, rewriting, and editing.
  • Compose a position argument that integrates the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.
  • Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.
  • Apply or challenge common conventions of language or grammar in composing and revising.

Now is the time to try your hand at writing a position argument. Your instructor may provide some possible topics or a singular topic. If your instructor allows you to choose your own topic, consider a general subject you feel strongly about and whether you can provide enough support to develop that subject into an essay. For instance, suppose you think about a general subject such as “adulting.” In looking back at what you have learned while becoming an adult, you think of what you wish you had known during your early teenage years. These thoughts might lead you to brainstorm about details of the effects of money in your life or your friends’ lives. In reviewing your brainstorming, you might zero in on one topic you feel strongly about and think it provides enough depth to develop into a position argument. Suppose your brainstorming leads you to think about negative financial concerns you or some of your friends have encountered. Thinking about what could have helped address those concerns, you decide that a mandated high school course in financial literacy would have been useful. This idea might lead you to formulate your working thesis statement —first draft of your thesis statement—like this: To help students learn how to make sensible financial decisions, a mandatory class in financial literacy should be offered in high schools throughout the country.

Once you decide on a topic and begin moving through the writing process, you may need to fine-tune or even change the topic and rework your initial idea. This fine-tuning may come as you brainstorm, later when you begin drafting, or after you have completed a draft and submitted it to your peers for constructive criticism. These possibilities occur because the writing process is recursive —that is, it moves back and forth almost simultaneously and maybe even haphazardly at times, from planning to revising to editing to drafting, back to planning, and so on.

Summary of Assignment

Write a position argument on a controversial issue that you choose or that your instructor assigns to you. If you are free to choose your own topic, consider one of the following:

  • The legal system would be strengthened if ______________________.
  • The growing use of technology in college classrooms is weakening _____________.
  • For safety reasons, public signage should be _________________.
  • For entrance into college, standardized testing _________________________.
  • In relation to the cost of living, the current minimum wage _______________________.
  • During a pandemic, America __________________________.
  • As a requirement to graduate, college students __________________________.
  • To guarantee truthfulness of their content, social media platforms have the right to _________________.
  • To ensure inclusive and diverse representation of people of all races, learning via virtual classrooms _________________.
  • Segments of American cultures have differing rules of acceptable grammar, so in a college classroom ___________________.

In addition, if you have the opportunity to choose your own topic and wish to search further, take the lead from trailblazer Charles Blow and look to media for newsworthy “trends.” Find a controversial issue that affects you or people you know, and take a position on it. As you craft your argument, identify a position opposing yours, and then refute it with reasoning and evidence. Be sure to gather information on the issue so that you can support your position sensibly with well-developed ideas and evidence.

Another Lens. To gain a different perspective on your issue, consider again the people affected by it. Your position probably affects different people in different ways. For example, if you are writing that the minimum wage should be raised, then you might easily view the issue through the lens of minimum-wage workers, especially those who struggle to make ends meet. However, if you look at the issue through the lens of those who employ minimum-wage workers, your viewpoint might change. Depending on your topic and thesis, you may need to use print or online sources to gain insight into different perspectives.

For additional information about minimum-wage workers, you could consult

  • printed material available in your college library;
  • databases in your college library; and
  • pros and cons of raising the minimum wage;
  • what happens after the minimum wage is raised;
  • how to live on a minimum-wage salary;
  • how a raise in minimum wage is funded; and
  • minimum wage in various U.S. states.

To gain more insight about your topic, adopt a stance that opposes your original position and brainstorm ideas from that viewpoint. Begin by gathering evidence that would help you refute your previous stance and appeal to your audience.

Quick Launch: Working Thesis Frames and Organization of Ideas

After you have decided on your topic, the next step is to arrive at your working thesis. You probably have a good idea of the direction your working thesis will take. That is, you know where you stand on the issue or problem, but you are not quite sure of how to word your stance to share it with readers. At this point, then, use brainstorming to think critically about your position and to discover the best way to phrase your statement.

For example, after reading an article discussing different state-funded community college programs, one student thought that a similar program was needed in Alabama, her state. However, she was not sure how the program worked. To begin, she composed and answered “ reporters’ questions ” such as these:

  • What does a state-funded community college program do? pays for part or all of the tuition of a two-year college student
  • Who qualifies for the program? high school graduates and GED holders
  • Who benefits from this? students needing financial assistance, employers, and Alabama residents
  • Why is this needed? some can’t afford to go to college; tuition goes up every year; colleges would be more diverse if everyone who wanted to go could afford to go
  • Where would the program be available? at all public community colleges
  • When could someone apply for the program? any time
  • How can the state fund this ? use lottery income, like other states

The student then reviewed her responses, altered her original idea to include funding through a lottery, and composed this working thesis:

student sample text To provide equal educational opportunities for all residents, the state of Alabama should create a lottery to completely fund tuition at community colleges. end student sample text

Remember that a strong thesis for a position should

  • state your stance on a debatable issue;
  • reflect your purpose of persuasion; and
  • be based on your opinion or observation.

When you first consider your topic for an argumentative work, think about the reasoning for your position and the evidence you will need—that is, think about the “because” part of your argument. For instance, if you want to argue that your college should provide free Wi-Fi for every student, extend your stance to include “because” and then develop your reasoning and evidence. In that case, your argument might read like this: Ervin Community College should provide free Wi-Fi for all students because students may not have Internet access at home.

Note that the “because” part of your argument may come at the beginning or the end and may be implied in your wording.

As you develop your thesis, you may need help funneling all of your ideas. Return to the possibilities you have in mind, and select the ideas that you think are strongest, that recur most often, or that you have the most to say about. Then use those ideas to fill in one of the following sentence frames to develop your working thesis. Feel free to alter the frame as necessary to fit your position. While there is no limit to the frames that are possible, these may help get you started.

________________ is caused/is not caused by ________________, and _____________ should be done.

Example: A declining enrollment rate in college is caused by high tuition rates, and an immediate freeze on the cost of tuition should be applied.

______________ should/should not be allowed (to) ________________ for a number of reasons.

Example: People who do not wear masks during a pandemic should not be allowed to enter public buildings for a number of reasons.

Because (of) ________________, ___________________ will happen/continue to happen.

Example: Because of a lack of emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) education in public schools, America will continue to lag behind many other countries.

_____________ is similar to/nothing like ________________ because ______________.

Example: College classes are nothing like high school classes because in college, more responsibility is on the student, the classes are less frequent but more intense, and the work outside class takes more time to complete.

______________ can be/cannot be thought of as __________________ because ______________.

Example: The Black Lives Matter movement can be thought of as an extension of the Civil Rights movement from the 1950s and 1960s because it shares the same mission of fighting racism and ending violence against Black people.

Next, consider the details you will need to support your thesis. The Aristotelian argument structure, named for the Greek philosopher Aristotle , is one that may help you frame the draft of your position argument. For this method, use something like the following chart. In Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument, you will find a similar organizer that you can copy and use for your assignment.

Drafting: Rhetorical Appeals and Types of Supporting Evidence

To persuade your audience to support your position or argument, consider various rhetorical appeals— ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos—and the types of evidence to support your sound reasoning. See Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking for more information on reasoning strategies and types of evidence.

Rhetorical Appeals

To establish your credibility, to show readers you are trustworthy, to win over their hearts, and to set your issue in an appropriate time frame to influence readers, consider how you present and discuss your evidence throughout the paper.

  • Appeal to ethos . To establish credibility in her paper arguing for expanded mental health services, a student writer used these reliable sources: a student survey on mental health issues, data from the International Association of Counseling Services (a professional organization), and information from an interview with a campus mental health counselor.
  • Appeal to logos . To support her sound reasoning, the student writer approached the issue rationally, using data and credible evidence to explain the current situation and its effects.
  • Appeal to pathos . To show compassion and arouse audience empathy, the student writer shared the experience of a student on her campus who struggled with anxiety and depression.
  • Appeal to kairos . To appeal to kairos, the student emphasized the immediate need for these services, as more students are now aware of their particular mental health issues and trying to deal with them.

The way in which you present and discuss your evidence will reflect the appeals you use. Consider using sentence frames to reflect specific appeals. Remember, too, that sentence frames can be composed in countless ways. Here are a few frames to get you thinking critically about how to phrase your ideas while considering different types of appeals.

Appeal to ethos: According to __________________, an expert in ______________, __________________ should/should not happen because ________________________.

Appeal to ethos: Although ___________________is not an ideal situation for _________________, it does have its benefits.

Appeal to logos: If ____________________ is/is not done, then understandably, _________________ will happen.

Appeal to logos: This information suggests that ____________________ needs to be investigated further because ____________________________.

Appeal to pathos: The story of _____________________ is uplifting/heartbreaking/hopeful/tragic and illustrates the need for ____________________.

Appeal to pathos: ___________________ is/are suffering from ________________, and that is something no one wants.

Appeal to kairos: _________________ must be addressed now because ________________ .

Appeal to kairos: These are times when ______________ ; therefore, _____________ is appropriate/necessary.

Types of Supporting Evidence

Depending on the point you are making to support your position or argument, certain types of evidence may be more effective than others. Also, your instructor may require you to include a certain type of evidence. Choose the evidence that will be most effective to support the reasoning behind each point you make to support your thesis statement. Common types of evidence are these:

Renada G., a junior at Powell College South, worked as a waitress for 15 hours a week during her first three semesters of college. But in her sophomore year, when her parents were laid off during the pandemic, Renada had to increase her hours to 35 per week and sell her car to stay in school. Her grades started slipping, and she began experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. When she called the campus health center to make an appointment for counseling, Renada was told she would have to wait two weeks before she could be seen.
Here is part of how Lyndon B. Johnson defined the Great Society: “But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”
Bowen Lake is nestled in verdant foothills, lush with tall grasses speckled with wildflowers. Around the lake, the sweet scent of the purple and yellow flowers fills the air, and the fragrance of the hearty pines sweeps down the hillsides in a westerly breeze. Wood frogs’ and crickets’ songs suddenly stop, as the blowing of moose calling their calves echoes across the lake’s soundless surface. Or this was the scene before the deadly destruction of fires caused by climate change.
When elaborating on America’s beauty being in danger, Johnson says, “The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air that we breathe, are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded, our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing.”
Speaking about President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War, noted historian and Johnson biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “It seemed the hole in his heart from the loss of work was too big to fill.”
Charles Blow has worked at the Shreveport Times , The Detroit News , National Geographic , and The New York Times .
When interviewed by George Rorick and asked about the identities of his readers, Charles Blow said that readers’ emails do not elaborate on descriptions of who the people are. However, “the kinds of comments that they offer are very much on the thesis of the essay.”
In his speech, Lyndon B. Johnson says, “The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents.”
To support the need for change in classrooms, Johnson uses these statistics: “Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today’s youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be five million greater than 1960?”
  • Visuals : graphs, photographs, charts, or maps used in addition to written or spoken information.

Brainstorm for Supporting Points

Use one or more brainstorming techniques, such as a web diagram as shown in Figure 10.8 or the details generated from “because” statements, to develop ideas or particular points in support of your thesis. Your goal is to get as many ideas as possible. At this time, do not be concerned about how ideas flow, whether you will ultimately use an idea (you want more ideas than will end up in your finished paper), spelling, or punctuation.

When you have finished, look over your brainstorming. Then circle three to five points to incorporate into your draft. Also, plan to answer “ reporters’ questions ” to provide readers with any needed background information. For example, the student writing about the need for more mental health counselors on her campus created and answered these questions:

What is needed? More mental health counseling is needed for Powell College South.

Who would benefit from this? The students and faculty would benefit.

  • Why is this needed? The college does not have enough counselors to meet all students’ needs.
  • Where are more counselors needed? More counselors are needed at the south campus.
  • When are the counselors needed? Counselors need to be hired now and be available both day and night to accommodate students’ schedules.
  • How can the college afford this ? Instead of hiring daycare workers, the college could use students and faculty from the Early Childhood Education program to run the program and use the extra money to pay the counselors.

Using Logic

In a position argument, the appropriate use of logic is especially important for readers to trust what you write. It is also important to look for logic in material you read and possibly cite in your paper so that you can determine whether writers’ claims are reasonable. Two main categories of logical thought are inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning .

  • Inductive reasoning moves from specific to broad ideas. You begin by collecting details, observations, incidents, or facts; examining them; and drawing a conclusion from them. Suppose, for example, you are writing about attendance in college classes. For three weeks, you note the attendance numbers in all your Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes (specific details), and you note that attendance is lower on Friday than on the other days (a specific detail). From these observations, you determine that many students prefer not to attend classes on Fridays (your conclusion).
  • Deductive reasoning moves from general to specific ideas. You begin with a hypothesis or premise , a general concept, and then examine possibilities that would lead to a specific and logical conclusion. For instance, suppose you think that opportunities for foreign students at your college are inadequate (general concept). You examine the specific parts of that concept (e.g., whether your college provides multicultural clubs, help with language skills, or work-study opportunities) and determine that those opportunities are not available. You then determine that opportunities for foreign students are lacking at your college.

Logical Fallacies and Propaganda

Fallacies are mistakes in logic. Readers and writers should be aware of these when they creep into writing, indicating that the points the writers make may not be valid. Two common fallacies are hasty generalizations and circular arguments. See Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies for more on logical fallacies.

  • A hasty generalization is a conclusion based on either inadequate or biased evidence. Consider this statement: “Two students in Math 103 were nervous before their recent test; therefore, all students in that class must have text anxiety.” This is a hasty generalization because the second part of the statement (the generalization about all students in the class) is inadequate to support what the writer noted about only two students.
  • A circular argument is one that merely restates what has already been said. Consider this statement: “ The Hate U Give is a well-written book because Angie Thomas, its author, is a good novelist.” The statement that Thomas is a good novelist does not explain why her book is well written.

In addition to checking work for fallacies, consider propaganda , information worded so that it endorses a particular viewpoint, often of a political nature. Two common types of propaganda are bandwagon and fear .

  • In getting on the bandwagon , the writer encourages readers to conform to a popular trend and endorse an opinion, a movement, or a person because everyone else is doing so. Consider this statement: “Everyone is behind the idea that 7 a.m. classes are too early and should be changed to at least 8 a.m. Shouldn’t you endorse this sensible idea, too?”
  • In using fear, the writer presents a dire situation, usually followed by what could be done to prevent it. Consider this statement: “Our country is at a turning point. Enemies threaten us with their power, and our democracy is at risk of being crushed. The government needs a change, and Paul Windhaus is just the man to see we get that change.” This quotation appeals to fear about the future of the country and implies that electing a certain individual will solve the predicted problems.

Organize the Paper

To begin, write your thesis at the top of a blank page. Then select points from your brainstorming and reporters’ questions to organize and develop support for your thesis. Keep in mind that you can revise your thesis whenever needed.

To begin organizing her paper on increased mental health services on her college campus, the student wrote this thesis at the top of a page:

student sample text Because mental health is a major concern at Powell College South, students could benefit from expanding the services offered . end student sample text

Next she decided the sequence in which to present the points. In a position or an argument essay, she could choose one of two methods: thesis-first organization or delayed-thesis organization.

Thesis-First Organization

Leading with a thesis tells readers from the beginning where you stand on the issue. In this organization, the thesis occupies both the first and last position in the essay, making it easy for readers to remember.

Introduce the issue and assert your thesis. Make sure the issue has at least two debatable sides. Your thesis establishes the position from which you will argue. Writers often state their thesis as the last sentence in the first paragraph, as the student writer has done:

student sample text The problem of mental health has become front-page news in the last two months. Hill’s Herald , Powell College South’s newspaper, reported 14 separate incidents of students who sought counseling but could not get appointments with college staff. Since mental health problems are widespread among the student population, the college should hire more health care workers to address this problem. end student sample text

Summarize the counterclaims . Before elaborating on your claims, explain the opposition’s claims. Including this information at the beginning gives your argument something to focus on—and refute—throughout the paper. If you ignore counterclaims, your argument may appear incomplete, and readers may think you have not researched your topic sufficiently. When addressing a counterclaim, state it clearly, show empathy for those who have that view, and then immediately refute it with support developed through reasoning and evidence. Squeezing the counterclaims between the thesis and the evidence reserves the strongest places—the opening and closing—for your position.

student sample text Counterclaim 1 : Powell College South already employs two counselors, and that number is sufficient to meet the needs of the student population. end student sample text

student sample text Counterclaim 2 : Students at Powell College South live in a metropolitan area large enough to handle their mental health needs. end student sample text

Refute the counterclaims. Look for weak spots in the opposition’s argument, and point them out. Use your opponent’s language to show you have read closely but still find problems with the claim. This is the way the writer refuted the first counterclaim:

student sample text While Powell College South does employ two counselors, those counselors are overworked and often have no time slots available for students who wish to make appointments. end student sample text

State and explain your points, and then support them with evidence. Present your points clearly and precisely, using Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking to explain and cite your evidence. The writer plans to use a problem-solution reasoning strategy to elaborate on these three points using these pieces of evidence:

student sample text Point 1: Wait times are too long. end student sample text

student sample text Kay Payne, one of the campus counselors, states that the wait time for an appointment with her is approximately 10 days. end student sample text

student sample text Point 2: Mental health issues are widespread within the student community. end student sample text

student sample text In a recent on-campus student survey, 75 percent of 250 students say they have had some kind of mental health issues at some point in their life. end student sample text

student sample text Point 3: The staff-to-student ratio is too high. end student sample text

student sample text The International Accreditation of Counseling Services states that the recommended ratio is one full-time equivalent staff member for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. end student sample text

Restate your position as a conclusion. Near the end of your paper, synthesize your accumulated evidence into a broad general position, and restate your thesis in slightly different language.

student sample text The number of students who need mental health counseling is alarming. The recent news articles that attest to their not being able to schedule appointments add to the alarm. While Powell College South offers some mental health counseling, the current number of counselors and others who provide health care is insufficient to handle the well-being of all its students. Action must be taken to address this problem. end student sample text

Delayed-Thesis Organization

In this organizational pattern, introduce the issue and discuss the arguments for and against it, but wait to take a side until late in the essay. By delaying the stance, you show readers you are weighing the evidence, and you arouse their curiosity about your position. Near the end of the paper, you explain that after carefully considering both pros and cons, you have arrived at the most reasonable position.

Introduce the issue. Here, the writer begins with action that sets the scene of the problem.

student sample text Tapping her foot nervously, Serena looked at her watch again. She had been waiting three hours to see a mental health counselor at Powell College South, and she did not think she could wait much longer. She had to get to work. end student sample text

Summarize the claims for one position. Before stating which side you support, explain how the opposition views the issue. This body paragraph presents evidence about the topic of more counselors:

student sample text Powell College South has two mental health counselors on staff. If the college hires more counselors, more office space will have to be created. Currently Pennington Hall could accommodate those counselors. Additional counselors would allow more students to receive counseling. end student sample text

Refute the claims you just stated. Still not stating your position, point out the other side of the issue.

student sample text While office space is available in Pennington Hall, that location is far from ideal. It is in a wooded area of campus, six blocks from the nearest dorm. Students who would go there might be afraid to walk through the woods or might be afraid to walk that distance. The location might deter them from making appointments. end student sample text

Now give the best reasoning and evidence to support your position. Because this is a delayed-thesis organization, readers are still unsure of your stance. This section should be the longest and most carefully documented part of the paper. After summarizing and refuting claims, the writer then elaborates on these three points using problem-solution reasoning supported by this evidence as discussed in Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking, implying her position before moving to the conclusion, where she states her thesis.

student sample text The International Association of Counseling Services states that one full-time equivalent staff member for every 1,000 to 1,500 students is the recommended ratio. end student sample text

State your thesis in your conclusion. Your rhetorical strategy is this: after giving each side a fair hearing, you have arrived at the most reasonable conclusion.

student sample text According to the American Psychological Association, more than 40 percent of all college students suffer from some form of anxiety. Powell College South students are no different from college students elsewhere: they deserve to have adequate mental health counseling. end student sample text

Drafting begins when you organize your evidence or research notes and then put them into some kind of written form. As you write, focus on building body paragraphs through the techniques presented in Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking that show you how to support your position and then add evidence. Using a variety of evidence types builds credibility with readers. Remember that the recursiveness of the writing process allows you to move from composing to gathering evidence and back to brainstorming ideas or to organizing your draft at any time. Move around the writing process as needed.

Keep in mind that a first draft is just a beginning—you will revise it into a better work in later drafts. Your first draft is sometimes called a discovery draft because you are discovering how to shape your paper: which ideas to include and how to support those ideas. These suggestions and graphic organizer may be helpful for your first draft:

  • Write your thesis at the top of the paper.
  • Compose your body paragraphs: those that support your argument through reasoning strategies and those that address counterclaims.
  • Leave your introduction, conclusion, and title for later drafts.

Use a graphic organizer like Table 10.1 to focus points, reasoning, and evidence for body paragraphs. You are free to reword your thesis, reasoning, counterclaim(s), refutation of counterclaim(s), concrete evidence, and explanation/elaboration/clarification at any time. You are also free to adjust the order in which you present your reasoning, counterclaim(s), and refuting of counterclaim(s).

Develop a Writing Project through Multiple Drafts

Your first draft is a kind of experiment in which you are concerned with ideas and with getting the direction and concept of the paper clear. Do not think that your first draft must be perfect; remind yourself that you are just honing your work. In most serious writing, every phase of the process can be considered recursive, helping you shape the best paper possible.

Peer Review: Critical Thinking and Counterclaims

After you have completed the first draft, begin peer review. Peer reviewers can use these sentence starters when thinking critically about overall strengths and developmental needs.

  • One point about your position that I think is strong is ______ because ________.
  • One point about your position that I think needs more development is _____ because _______.
  • One area that I find confusing is _____________; I was confused about _______.
  • One major point that I think needs more explanation or detail is _______.
  • In my opinion, the purpose of your paper is to persuade readers _______.
  • In my opinion, the audience for your paper is _______.
  • One area of supporting evidence that I think could use more development is _______.
  • One counterclaim you include is ________________.
  • Your development of the counterclaim is __________________ because ________________.

Refuting Counterclaims

Peer reviewers are especially helpful with position and argument writing when it comes to refuting counterclaims. Have your peer reviewer read your paper again and look for supporting points and ideas to argue against , trying to break down your argument. Then ask your reviewer to discuss the counterclaims and corresponding points or ideas in your paper. This review will give you the opportunity to think critically about ways to refute the counterclaims your peer reviewer suggests.

As preparation for peer review, match each of the following arguments with their counterarguments.

Revising: Reviewing a Draft and Responding to Counterclaims

Revising means reseeing, rereading, and rethinking your thoughts on paper until they fully match your intention. Mentally, it is conceptual work focused on units of meaning larger than the sentence. Physically, it is cutting, pasting, deleting, and rewriting until the ideas are satisfying. Be ready to spend a great deal of time revising your drafts, adding new information and incorporating sources smoothly into your prose.

The Revising Process

To begin revising, return to the basic questions of topic ( What am I writing about? ), purpose ( Why am I writing about this topic? ), audience ( For whom am I writing? ), and culture ( What is the background of the people for whom I am writing? ).

  • What is the general scope of my topic? __________________________________
  • What is my thesis? __________________________________________________
  • Does my thesis focus on my topic? ______________________________________
  • Does my thesis clearly state my position? ______________________
  • What do I hope to accomplish in writing about this topic? ____________________
  • Do all parts of the paper advance this purpose? ____________________________
  • Does my paper focus on my argument or position? _________________________
  • What does my audience know about this subject? _______________________
  • What does my audience need to know to understand the point of my paper? _______________________________________________________________

What questions or objections do I anticipate from my audience? ___________

________________________________________________________________

  • What is the culture of the people for whom I am writing? Do all readers share the same culture? ________________________________________________________

How do my beliefs, values, and customs differ from those of my audience?

____________________________________________________________________

  • How do the cultures of the authors of sources I cite differ from my culture or the culture(s) of my audience? ______________________________________________

Because of the recursivity of the writing process, returning to these questions will help you fine-tune the language and structure of your writing and target the support you develop for your audience.

Responding to Counterclaims

The more complex the issue, the more opposing sides it may have. For example, a writer whose position is that Powell College South Campus should offer daycare to its students with children might find opposition for different reasons. Someone may oppose the idea out of concern for cost; someone else may support the idea if the daycare is run on a volunteer basis; someone else may support the idea if the services are offered off campus.

As you revise, continue studying your peer reviewer’s comments about counterclaims. If you agree with any counterclaim, then say so in the paragraph in which you address counterclaims. This agreement will further establish your credibility by showing your fairness and concern for the issue. Look over your paper and peer review comments, and then consider these questions:

  • In what ways do you address realistic counterclaims? What other counterclaims should you address? Should you add to or replace current counterclaims?
  • In what ways do you successfully refute counterclaims? What other refutations might you include?
  • Are there any counterclaims with which you agree? If so, how do you concede to them in your paper? In what ways does your discussion show fairness?

After completing your peer review and personal assessment, make necessary revisions based on these notes. See Annotated Student Sample an example of a student’s argumentative research essay. Note how the student

  • presents the argument;
  • supports the viewpoint with reasoning and evidence;
  • includes support in the form of facts, opinions, paraphrases, and summaries;
  • provides citations (correctly formatted) about material from other sources in the paper;
  • uses ethos, pathos, and logos throughout the paper; and
  • addresses counterclaims (dissenting opinions).

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Argumentative Essays

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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

What is an argumentative essay?

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Please note : Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important ( exigence ) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support.

Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis ( warrant ).

However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.

A complete argument

Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.

The five-paragraph essay

A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.

Longer argumentative essays

Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.

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Readers' Corner

Writing a Strong Argumentative Essay: Techniques and Strategies

Mastering the Art of Persuasion

Table of contents

Choose a debatable topic, conduct thorough research, develop a thesis statement, organize your ideas, use persuasive language, address counterarguments, edit and revise.

In a world where opinions are constantly being voiced and debated, the ability to construct a well-crafted argumentative essay is more important than ever. This type of essay challenges the writer to present a clear and concise argument, supported by evidence and critical thinking. Whether you’re a student tackling an assignment or a professional looking to persuade your audience, the art of crafting a compelling argumentative essay is a skill that can be honed and mastered with practice and perseverance.

In this article, we will explore the techniques and strategies necessary to create a strong argumentative essay that effectively communicates your message and convinces your readers to see things from your perspective. So, let’s dive in and discover the power of a well-constructed argument.

Choosing a debatable topic is an essential part of writing a strong argumentative essay. To choose a suitable topic, start by brainstorming a list of potential issues that interest you. Then, evaluate each topic to determine if it is debatable and has enough substance to support a compelling argument.

When evaluating a potential topic, consider its relevance and significance in society, the availability of reliable sources and evidence to support your argument, and the opposing viewpoints and arguments that may exist. Additionally, it’s crucial to choose a topic that you are passionate about and interested in researching and exploring further.

Once you have identified a debatable topic, refine your focus by developing a clear thesis statement that presents your argument and establishes the scope of your essay. This will guide your research and writing and provide a strong foundation for your argumentative essay. Remember, a debatable topic is the foundation of a strong argumentative essay, and choosing the right one can make all the difference in the success of your writing.

Conducting thorough research is a crucial step in writing a strong argumentative essay. It’s important to gather as much information as possible to support your argument and anticipate counterarguments. To begin your research, start by brainstorming keywords related to your topic and conducting a search in academic databases, such as JSTOR or Google Scholar.

As you gather information, keep track of your sources and take detailed notes on the information you find. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ensure you have all the necessary information to make a compelling argument. Additionally, be sure to critically evaluate your sources to ensure they are credible and reliable.

When conducting research, it’s also important to consider multiple perspectives on the topic. Don’t just look for sources that support your argument, but also seek out sources that present differing opinions. This will help you to anticipate counterarguments and address them effectively in your essay.

Overall, conducting thorough research is a time-consuming but necessary step in crafting a strong argumentative essay. Take the time to gather and evaluate information from a variety of sources, and organize your thoughts effectively to make a compelling argument.

Developing a strong thesis statement is one of the important steps in writing a successful argumentative essay. The thesis statement is the central argument or claim that you will be making in your essay. It should be clear, concise, and specific. A well-crafted thesis statement helps guide your writing and ensures that your essay has a clear focus and direction.

To develop a thesis statement, start by identifying the topic of your essay and the main argument you want to make. Then, consider what evidence or support you have to back up your argument. This could include facts, statistics, expert opinions, or personal experiences. Use this information to craft a clear and concise statement that summarizes your argument in a single sentence.

It’s important to remember that your thesis statement should be debatable. This means that it should express an opinion or position that is open to debate or discussion. Avoid making statements that are too broad or general, such as “smoking is bad for your health.” Instead, make a specific argument, such as “smoking should be banned in all public spaces to protect the health of non-smokers.” Your thesis statement should also be relevant to your audience and the context of your essay.

The next step in writing an effective argumentative essay is to organize your ideas around your thesis statement. Once you have conducted thorough research and developed a clear thesis statement, it’s time to start organizing your thoughts and ideas in a way that makes sense and effectively supports your argument.

One effective technique for organizing your ideas is to create an outline. Start by identifying the main points you want to make in your essay and then organize them into a logical sequence. This will help you stay focused and on track as you write your essay, ensuring that you don’t stray too far off topic or leave out important information.

When creating your outline, consider using bullet points or numbered lists to break down your ideas into more manageable sections. This will make it easier to see how your argument is developing and identify any areas that may need further development or clarification.

Another important aspect of organizing your ideas is to consider the opposing viewpoints and potential counterarguments to your argument. By addressing these counterarguments and providing evidence to refute them, you can strengthen your own argument and show that you have considered all perspectives on the topic.

In addition, be sure to use transitional phrases and sentences throughout your essay to connect your ideas and ensure that your argument flows smoothly from one point to the next. This will help your reader follow your thought process and understand how your argument is developing. By organizing your ideas effectively, you can create a clear and compelling argumentative essay that persuades your reader to take your side.

Now, let’s talk about using persuasive language to make your argumentative essay even more powerful. To persuade your readers, you need to use language that is both strong and convincing. You want your readers to feel your passion and conviction, and to be swayed by your argument.

One way to use persuasive language is to use strong, emotive words that evoke a strong emotional response in your readers. For example, instead of saying “people should recycle,” you could say “it’s crucial that we all do our part to save the planet by recycling.” This kind of language helps to grab your reader’s attention and make them more invested in your argument.

Another important aspect of persuasive language is to use clear and concise sentences. Long, convoluted sentences can confuse your readers and make your argument harder to follow. Instead, try to break your ideas down into clear, concise statements that are easy to understand. This will help your readers to follow your argument more easily and to stay engaged with your essay.

Finally, it’s important to use persuasive language throughout your essay, not just in your introduction or conclusion. Make sure that every sentence you write is crafted to help make your argument more convincing. With these strategies in mind, you’ll be able to use persuasive language to create a powerful and convincing argumentative essay.

When writing an argumentative essay, it’s important to anticipate and address potential counterarguments that may weaken your position. By acknowledging opposing viewpoints and offering compelling responses, you can strengthen your argument and demonstrate your credibility as a writer.

One effective strategy for addressing counterarguments is to research the opposing viewpoints thoroughly and understand the underlying reasons and evidence that support them. By doing so, you can identify the key areas where your argument and the opposing argument differ and craft a compelling response that is based on sound evidence and reasoning.

Another strategy is to use the “agree and qualify” approach. In this approach, you acknowledge the validity of the opposing argument to some extent and then explain how your argument offers a more complete or nuanced perspective. This approach can be particularly effective in demonstrating your objectivity and credibility as a writer, as well as in building a stronger overall argument.

Ultimately, addressing counterarguments is an essential component of writing a successful argumentative essay. By anticipating and responding to opposing viewpoints, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, build credibility, and craft a more compelling and persuasive argument.

Editing and revising your argumentative essay is a critical step to ensure that your arguments are persuasive, your ideas are organized coherently, and your writing is clear and concise. Here are some techniques and strategies to help you edit and revise your essay effectively:

Take a break: Before you start editing, take a break from your essay. Come back to it with a fresh mind and look at it from a different perspective. This will help you identify areas that need improvement.

Review for clarity and coherence: Review your essay for clarity and coherence. Make sure your ideas flow logically and your arguments are easy to follow. You can use transition words and phrases to connect your thoughts and create a smooth and coherent flow.

Eliminate irrelevant information: Eliminate any information that is not relevant to your argument. Your essay should be focused on your thesis statement and supporting arguments, and irrelevant information will only distract the reader from your main points.

Check for consistency: Check for consistency in your argument. Ensure that you have used the same terminology throughout the essay, and that your arguments are consistent with your thesis statement.

Proofread for grammar and spelling errors: Proofread your essay for grammar and spelling errors. Use grammar and spell-check tools to identify and correct any errors. Additionally, read your essay out loud to catch any errors that you may have missed.

Get feedback: Ask someone else to read your essay and provide feedback. Another person can offer a fresh perspective and identify areas that need improvement. Consider their feedback and make any necessary changes to your essay.

By following these techniques and strategies, you can effectively edit and revise your argumentative essay, ensuring that it is persuasive, organized, and clear.

In conclusion, writing a strong argumentative essay requires a combination of effective techniques and strategies. Choosing a debatable topic, conducting thorough research, developing a clear and concise thesis statement, organizing your ideas effectively, using persuasive language, addressing counterarguments, and revising and editing your work are all essential elements of crafting a compelling argumentative essay.

By employing these techniques and strategies, you can not only write a strong argumentative essay, but also engage your readers and persuade them to see your point of view. Remember to keep your focus on the topic, avoid fallacious arguments, and present your arguments logically and convincingly. With practice and dedication, you can master the art of writing a strong argumentative essay and succeed in any academic or professional setting . So go ahead and start writing your own argumentative essay today!

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You'll no doubt have to write a number of argumentative essays in both high school and college, but what, exactly, is an argumentative essay and how do you write the best one possible? Let's take a look.

A great argumentative essay always combines the same basic elements: approaching an argument from a rational perspective, researching sources, supporting your claims using facts rather than opinion, and articulating your reasoning into the most cogent and reasoned points. Argumentative essays are great building blocks for all sorts of research and rhetoric, so your teachers will expect you to master the technique before long.

But if this sounds daunting, never fear! We'll show how an argumentative essay differs from other kinds of papers, how to research and write them, how to pick an argumentative essay topic, and where to find example essays. So let's get started.

What Is an Argumentative Essay? How Is it Different from Other Kinds of Essays?

There are two basic requirements for any and all essays: to state a claim (a thesis statement) and to support that claim with evidence.

Though every essay is founded on these two ideas, there are several different types of essays, differentiated by the style of the writing, how the writer presents the thesis, and the types of evidence used to support the thesis statement.

Essays can be roughly divided into four different types:

#1: Argumentative #2: Persuasive #3: Expository #4: Analytical

So let's look at each type and what the differences are between them before we focus the rest of our time to argumentative essays.

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays are what this article is all about, so let's talk about them first.

An argumentative essay attempts to convince a reader to agree with a particular argument (the writer's thesis statement). The writer takes a firm stand one way or another on a topic and then uses hard evidence to support that stance.

An argumentative essay seeks to prove to the reader that one argument —the writer's argument— is the factually and logically correct one. This means that an argumentative essay must use only evidence-based support to back up a claim , rather than emotional or philosophical reasoning (which is often allowed in other types of essays). Thus, an argumentative essay has a burden of substantiated proof and sources , whereas some other types of essays (namely persuasive essays) do not.

You can write an argumentative essay on any topic, so long as there's room for argument. Generally, you can use the same topics for both a persuasive essay or an argumentative one, so long as you support the argumentative essay with hard evidence.

Example topics of an argumentative essay:

  • "Should farmers be allowed to shoot wolves if those wolves injure or kill farm animals?"
  • "Should the drinking age be lowered in the United States?"
  • "Are alternatives to democracy effective and/or feasible to implement?"

The next three types of essays are not argumentative essays, but you may have written them in school. We're going to cover them so you know what not to do for your argumentative essay.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays are similar to argumentative essays, so it can be easy to get them confused. But knowing what makes an argumentative essay different than a persuasive essay can often mean the difference between an excellent grade and an average one.

Persuasive essays seek to persuade a reader to agree with the point of view of the writer, whether that point of view is based on factual evidence or not. The writer has much more flexibility in the evidence they can use, with the ability to use moral, cultural, or opinion-based reasoning as well as factual reasoning to persuade the reader to agree the writer's side of a given issue.

Instead of being forced to use "pure" reason as one would in an argumentative essay, the writer of a persuasive essay can manipulate or appeal to the reader's emotions. So long as the writer attempts to steer the readers into agreeing with the thesis statement, the writer doesn't necessarily need hard evidence in favor of the argument.

Often, you can use the same topics for both a persuasive essay or an argumentative one—the difference is all in the approach and the evidence you present.

Example topics of a persuasive essay:

  • "Should children be responsible for their parents' debts?"
  • "Should cheating on a test be automatic grounds for expulsion?"
  • "How much should sports leagues be held accountable for player injuries and the long-term consequences of those injuries?"

Expository Essay

An expository essay is typically a short essay in which the writer explains an idea, issue, or theme , or discusses the history of a person, place, or idea.

This is typically a fact-forward essay with little argument or opinion one way or the other.

Example topics of an expository essay:

  • "The History of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell"
  • "The Reasons I Always Wanted to be a Doctor"
  • "The Meaning Behind the Colloquialism ‘People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones'"

Analytical Essay

An analytical essay seeks to delve into the deeper meaning of a text or work of art, or unpack a complicated idea . These kinds of essays closely interpret a source and look into its meaning by analyzing it at both a macro and micro level.

This type of analysis can be augmented by historical context or other expert or widely-regarded opinions on the subject, but is mainly supported directly through the original source (the piece or art or text being analyzed) .

Example topics of an analytical essay:

  • "Victory Gin in Place of Water: The Symbolism Behind Gin as the Only Potable Substance in George Orwell's 1984"
  • "Amarna Period Art: The Meaning Behind the Shift from Rigid to Fluid Poses"
  • "Adultery During WWII, as Told Through a Series of Letters to and from Soldiers"

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There are many different types of essay and, over time, you'll be able to master them all.

A Typical Argumentative Essay Assignment

The average argumentative essay is between three to five pages, and will require at least three or four separate sources with which to back your claims . As for the essay topic , you'll most often be asked to write an argumentative essay in an English class on a "general" topic of your choice, ranging the gamut from science, to history, to literature.

But while the topics of an argumentative essay can span several different fields, the structure of an argumentative essay is always the same: you must support a claim—a claim that can reasonably have multiple sides—using multiple sources and using a standard essay format (which we'll talk about later on).

This is why many argumentative essay topics begin with the word "should," as in:

  • "Should all students be required to learn chemistry in high school?"
  • "Should children be required to learn a second language?"
  • "Should schools or governments be allowed to ban books?"

These topics all have at least two sides of the argument: Yes or no. And you must support the side you choose with evidence as to why your side is the correct one.

But there are also plenty of other ways to frame an argumentative essay as well:

  • "Does using social media do more to benefit or harm people?"
  • "Does the legal status of artwork or its creators—graffiti and vandalism, pirated media, a creator who's in jail—have an impact on the art itself?"
  • "Is or should anyone ever be ‘above the law?'"

Though these are worded differently than the first three, you're still essentially forced to pick between two sides of an issue: yes or no, for or against, benefit or detriment. Though your argument might not fall entirely into one side of the divide or another—for instance, you could claim that social media has positively impacted some aspects of modern life while being a detriment to others—your essay should still support one side of the argument above all. Your final stance would be that overall , social media is beneficial or overall , social media is harmful.

If your argument is one that is mostly text-based or backed by a single source (e.g., "How does Salinger show that Holden Caulfield is an unreliable narrator?" or "Does Gatsby personify the American Dream?"), then it's an analytical essay, rather than an argumentative essay. An argumentative essay will always be focused on more general topics so that you can use multiple sources to back up your claims.

Good Argumentative Essay Topics

So you know the basic idea behind an argumentative essay, but what topic should you write about?

Again, almost always, you'll be asked to write an argumentative essay on a free topic of your choice, or you'll be asked to select between a few given topics . If you're given complete free reign of topics, then it'll be up to you to find an essay topic that no only appeals to you, but that you can turn into an A+ argumentative essay.

What makes a "good" argumentative essay topic depends on both the subject matter and your personal interest —it can be hard to give your best effort on something that bores you to tears! But it can also be near impossible to write an argumentative essay on a topic that has no room for debate.

As we said earlier, a good argumentative essay topic will be one that has the potential to reasonably go in at least two directions—for or against, yes or no, and why . For example, it's pretty hard to write an argumentative essay on whether or not people should be allowed to murder one another—not a whole lot of debate there for most people!—but writing an essay for or against the death penalty has a lot more wiggle room for evidence and argument.

A good topic is also one that can be substantiated through hard evidence and relevant sources . So be sure to pick a topic that other people have studied (or at least studied elements of) so that you can use their data in your argument. For example, if you're arguing that it should be mandatory for all middle school children to play a sport, you might have to apply smaller scientific data points to the larger picture you're trying to justify. There are probably several studies you could cite on the benefits of physical activity and the positive effect structure and teamwork has on young minds, but there's probably no study you could use where a group of scientists put all middle-schoolers in one jurisdiction into a mandatory sports program (since that's probably never happened). So long as your evidence is relevant to your point and you can extrapolate from it to form a larger whole, you can use it as a part of your resource material.

And if you need ideas on where to get started, or just want to see sample argumentative essay topics, then check out these links for hundreds of potential argumentative essay topics.

101 Persuasive (or Argumentative) Essay and Speech Topics

301 Prompts for Argumentative Writing

Top 50 Ideas for Argumentative/Persuasive Essay Writing

[Note: some of these say "persuasive essay topics," but just remember that the same topic can often be used for both a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay; the difference is in your writing style and the evidence you use to support your claims.]

body_fight

KO! Find that one argumentative essay topic you can absolutely conquer.

Argumentative Essay Format

Argumentative Essays are composed of four main elements:

  • A position (your argument)
  • Your reasons
  • Supporting evidence for those reasons (from reliable sources)
  • Counterargument(s) (possible opposing arguments and reasons why those arguments are incorrect)

If you're familiar with essay writing in general, then you're also probably familiar with the five paragraph essay structure . This structure is a simple tool to show how one outlines an essay and breaks it down into its component parts, although it can be expanded into as many paragraphs as you want beyond the core five.

The standard argumentative essay is often 3-5 pages, which will usually mean a lot more than five paragraphs, but your overall structure will look the same as a much shorter essay.

An argumentative essay at its simplest structure will look like:

Paragraph 1: Intro

  • Set up the story/problem/issue
  • Thesis/claim

Paragraph 2: Support

  • Reason #1 claim is correct
  • Supporting evidence with sources

Paragraph 3: Support

  • Reason #2 claim is correct

Paragraph 4: Counterargument

  • Explanation of argument for the other side
  • Refutation of opposing argument with supporting evidence

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

  • Re-state claim
  • Sum up reasons and support of claim from the essay to prove claim is correct

Now let's unpack each of these paragraph types to see how they work (with examples!), what goes into them, and why.

Paragraph 1—Set Up and Claim

Your first task is to introduce the reader to the topic at hand so they'll be prepared for your claim. Give a little background information, set the scene, and give the reader some stakes so that they care about the issue you're going to discuss.

Next, you absolutely must have a position on an argument and make that position clear to the readers. It's not an argumentative essay unless you're arguing for a specific claim, and this claim will be your thesis statement.

Your thesis CANNOT be a mere statement of fact (e.g., "Washington DC is the capital of the United States"). Your thesis must instead be an opinion which can be backed up with evidence and has the potential to be argued against (e.g., "New York should be the capital of the United States").

Paragraphs 2 and 3—Your Evidence

These are your body paragraphs in which you give the reasons why your argument is the best one and back up this reasoning with concrete evidence .

The argument supporting the thesis of an argumentative essay should be one that can be supported by facts and evidence, rather than personal opinion or cultural or religious mores.

For example, if you're arguing that New York should be the new capital of the US, you would have to back up that fact by discussing the factual contrasts between New York and DC in terms of location, population, revenue, and laws. You would then have to talk about the precedents for what makes for a good capital city and why New York fits the bill more than DC does.

Your argument can't simply be that a lot of people think New York is the best city ever and that you agree.

In addition to using concrete evidence, you always want to keep the tone of your essay passionate, but impersonal . Even though you're writing your argument from a single opinion, don't use first person language—"I think," "I feel," "I believe,"—to present your claims. Doing so is repetitive, since by writing the essay you're already telling the audience what you feel, and using first person language weakens your writing voice.

For example,

"I think that Washington DC is no longer suited to be the capital city of the United States."

"Washington DC is no longer suited to be the capital city of the United States."

The second statement sounds far stronger and more analytical.

Paragraph 4—Argument for the Other Side and Refutation

Even without a counter argument, you can make a pretty persuasive claim, but a counterargument will round out your essay into one that is much more persuasive and substantial.

By anticipating an argument against your claim and taking the initiative to counter it, you're allowing yourself to get ahead of the game. This way, you show that you've given great thought to all sides of the issue before choosing your position, and you demonstrate in multiple ways how yours is the more reasoned and supported side.

Paragraph 5—Conclusion

This paragraph is where you re-state your argument and summarize why it's the best claim.

Briefly touch on your supporting evidence and voila! A finished argumentative essay.

body_plesiosaur

Your essay should have just as awesome a skeleton as this plesiosaur does. (In other words: a ridiculously awesome skeleton)

Argumentative Essay Example: 5-Paragraph Style

It always helps to have an example to learn from. I've written a full 5-paragraph argumentative essay here. Look at how I state my thesis in paragraph 1, give supporting evidence in paragraphs 2 and 3, address a counterargument in paragraph 4, and conclude in paragraph 5.

Topic: Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?

Paragraph 1

It is almost impossible to go through life without encountering a situation where your loyalties to different people or causes come into conflict with each other. Maybe you have a loving relationship with your sister, but she disagrees with your decision to join the army, or you find yourself torn between your cultural beliefs and your scientific ones. These conflicting loyalties can often be maintained for a time, but as examples from both history and psychological theory illustrate, sooner or later, people have to make a choice between competing loyalties, as no one can maintain a conflicting loyalty or belief system forever.

The first two sentences set the scene and give some hypothetical examples and stakes for the reader to care about.

The third sentence finishes off the intro with the thesis statement, making very clear how the author stands on the issue ("people have to make a choice between competing loyalties, as no one can maintain a conflicting loyalty or belief system forever." )

Paragraphs 2 and 3

Psychological theory states that human beings are not equipped to maintain conflicting loyalties indefinitely and that attempting to do so leads to a state called "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance theory is the psychological idea that people undergo tremendous mental stress or anxiety when holding contradictory beliefs, values, or loyalties (Festinger, 1957). Even if human beings initially hold a conflicting loyalty, they will do their best to find a mental equilibrium by making a choice between those loyalties—stay stalwart to a belief system or change their beliefs. One of the earliest formal examples of cognitive dissonance theory comes from Leon Festinger's When Prophesy Fails . Members of an apocalyptic cult are told that the end of the world will occur on a specific date and that they alone will be spared the Earth's destruction. When that day comes and goes with no apocalypse, the cult members face a cognitive dissonance between what they see and what they've been led to believe (Festinger, 1956). Some choose to believe that the cult's beliefs are still correct, but that the Earth was simply spared from destruction by mercy, while others choose to believe that they were lied to and that the cult was fraudulent all along. Both beliefs cannot be correct at the same time, and so the cult members are forced to make their choice.

But even when conflicting loyalties can lead to potentially physical, rather than just mental, consequences, people will always make a choice to fall on one side or other of a dividing line. Take, for instance, Nicolaus Copernicus, a man born and raised in Catholic Poland (and educated in Catholic Italy). Though the Catholic church dictated specific scientific teachings, Copernicus' loyalty to his own observations and scientific evidence won out over his loyalty to his country's government and belief system. When he published his heliocentric model of the solar system--in opposition to the geocentric model that had been widely accepted for hundreds of years (Hannam, 2011)-- Copernicus was making a choice between his loyalties. In an attempt t o maintain his fealty both to the established system and to what he believed, h e sat on his findings for a number of years (Fantoli, 1994). But, ultimately, Copernicus made the choice to side with his beliefs and observations above all and published his work for the world to see (even though, in doing so, he risked both his reputation and personal freedoms).

These two paragraphs provide the reasons why the author supports the main argument and uses substantiated sources to back those reasons.

The paragraph on cognitive dissonance theory gives both broad supporting evidence and more narrow, detailed supporting evidence to show why the thesis statement is correct not just anecdotally but also scientifically and psychologically. First, we see why people in general have a difficult time accepting conflicting loyalties and desires and then how this applies to individuals through the example of the cult members from the Dr. Festinger's research.

The next paragraph continues to use more detailed examples from history to provide further evidence of why the thesis that people cannot indefinitely maintain conflicting loyalties is true.

Paragraph 4

Some will claim that it is possible to maintain conflicting beliefs or loyalties permanently, but this is often more a matter of people deluding themselves and still making a choice for one side or the other, rather than truly maintaining loyalty to both sides equally. For example, Lancelot du Lac typifies a person who claims to maintain a balanced loyalty between to two parties, but his attempt to do so fails (as all attempts to permanently maintain conflicting loyalties must). Lancelot tells himself and others that he is equally devoted to both King Arthur and his court and to being Queen Guinevere's knight (Malory, 2008). But he can neither be in two places at once to protect both the king and queen, nor can he help but let his romantic feelings for the queen to interfere with his duties to the king and the kingdom. Ultimately, he and Queen Guinevere give into their feelings for one another and Lancelot—though he denies it—chooses his loyalty to her over his loyalty to Arthur. This decision plunges the kingdom into a civil war, ages Lancelot prematurely, and ultimately leads to Camelot's ruin (Raabe, 1987). Though Lancelot claimed to have been loyal to both the king and the queen, this loyalty was ultimately in conflict, and he could not maintain it.

Here we have the acknowledgement of a potential counter-argument and the evidence as to why it isn't true.

The argument is that some people (or literary characters) have asserted that they give equal weight to their conflicting loyalties. The refutation is that, though some may claim to be able to maintain conflicting loyalties, they're either lying to others or deceiving themselves. The paragraph shows why this is true by providing an example of this in action.

Paragraph 5

Whether it be through literature or history, time and time again, people demonstrate the challenges of trying to manage conflicting loyalties and the inevitable consequences of doing so. Though belief systems are malleable and will often change over time, it is not possible to maintain two mutually exclusive loyalties or beliefs at once. In the end, people always make a choice, and loyalty for one party or one side of an issue will always trump loyalty to the other.

The concluding paragraph summarizes the essay, touches on the evidence presented, and re-states the thesis statement.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay: 8 Steps

Writing the best argumentative essay is all about the preparation, so let's talk steps:

#1: Preliminary Research

If you have the option to pick your own argumentative essay topic (which you most likely will), then choose one or two topics you find the most intriguing or that you have a vested interest in and do some preliminary research on both sides of the debate.

Do an open internet search just to see what the general chatter is on the topic and what the research trends are.

Did your preliminary reading influence you to pick a side or change your side? Without diving into all the scholarly articles at length, do you believe there's enough evidence to support your claim? Have there been scientific studies? Experiments? Does a noted scholar in the field agree with you? If not, you may need to pick another topic or side of the argument to support.

#2: Pick Your Side and Form Your Thesis

Now's the time to pick the side of the argument you feel you can support the best and summarize your main point into your thesis statement.

Your thesis will be the basis of your entire essay, so make sure you know which side you're on, that you've stated it clearly, and that you stick by your argument throughout the entire essay .

#3: Heavy-Duty Research Time

You've taken a gander at what the internet at large has to say on your argument, but now's the time to actually read those sources and take notes.

Check scholarly journals online at Google Scholar , the Directory of Open Access Journals , or JStor . You can also search individual university or school libraries and websites to see what kinds of academic articles you can access for free. Keep track of your important quotes and page numbers and put them somewhere that's easy to find later.

And don't forget to check your school or local libraries as well!

#4: Outline

Follow the five-paragraph outline structure from the previous section.

Fill in your topic, your reasons, and your supporting evidence into each of the categories.

Before you begin to flesh out the essay, take a look at what you've got. Is your thesis statement in the first paragraph? Is it clear? Is your argument logical? Does your supporting evidence support your reasoning?

By outlining your essay, you streamline your process and take care of any logic gaps before you dive headfirst into the writing. This will save you a lot of grief later on if you need to change your sources or your structure, so don't get too trigger-happy and skip this step.

Now that you've laid out exactly what you'll need for your essay and where, it's time to fill in all the gaps by writing it out.

Take it one step at a time and expand your ideas into complete sentences and substantiated claims. It may feel daunting to turn an outline into a complete draft, but just remember that you've already laid out all the groundwork; now you're just filling in the gaps.

If you have the time before deadline, give yourself a day or two (or even just an hour!) away from your essay . Looking it over with fresh eyes will allow you to see errors, both minor and major, that you likely would have missed had you tried to edit when it was still raw.

Take a first pass over the entire essay and try your best to ignore any minor spelling or grammar mistakes—you're just looking at the big picture right now. Does it make sense as a whole? Did the essay succeed in making an argument and backing that argument up logically? (Do you feel persuaded?)

If not, go back and make notes so that you can fix it for your final draft.

Once you've made your revisions to the overall structure, mark all your small errors and grammar problems so you can fix them in the next draft.

#7: Final Draft

Use the notes you made on the rough draft and go in and hack and smooth away until you're satisfied with the final result.

A checklist for your final draft:

  • Formatting is correct according to your teacher's standards
  • No errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Essay is the right length and size for the assignment
  • The argument is present, consistent, and concise
  • Each reason is supported by relevant evidence
  • The essay makes sense overall

#8: Celebrate!

Once you've brought that final draft to a perfect polish and turned in your assignment, you're done! Go you!

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Be prepared and ♪ you'll never go hungry again ♪, *cough*, or struggle with your argumentative essay-writing again. (Walt Disney Studios)

Good Examples of Argumentative Essays Online

Theory is all well and good, but examples are key. Just to get you started on what a fully-fleshed out argumentative essay looks like, let's see some examples in action.

Check out these two argumentative essay examples on the use of landmines and freons (and note the excellent use of concrete sources to back up their arguments!).

The Use of Landmines

A Shattered Sky

The Take-Aways: Keys to Writing an Argumentative Essay

At first, writing an argumentative essay may seem like a monstrous hurdle to overcome, but with the proper preparation and understanding, you'll be able to knock yours out of the park.

Remember the differences between a persuasive essay and an argumentative one, make sure your thesis is clear, and double-check that your supporting evidence is both relevant to your point and well-sourced . Pick your topic, do your research, make your outline, and fill in the gaps. Before you know it, you'll have yourself an A+ argumentative essay there, my friend.

What's Next?

Now you know the ins and outs of an argumentative essay, but how comfortable are you writing in other styles? Learn more about the four writing styles and when it makes sense to use each .

Understand how to make an argument, but still having trouble organizing your thoughts? Check out our guide to three popular essay formats and choose which one is right for you.

Ready to make your case, but not sure what to write about? We've created a list of 50 potential argumentative essay topics to spark your imagination.

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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Courtney scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology. She is passionate about bringing education and the tools to succeed to students from all backgrounds and walks of life, as she believes open education is one of the great societal equalizers. She has years of tutoring experience and writes creative works in her free time.

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Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You (+ Free Formula)

Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You (+ Free Formula)

Table of contents

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Meredith Sell

Have you ever been asked to explain your opinion on a controversial issue? 

  • Maybe your family got into a discussion about chemical pesticides
  • Someone at work argues against investing resources into your project
  • Your partner thinks intermittent fasting is the best way to lose weight and you disagree

Proving your point in an argumentative essay can be challenging, unless you are using a proven formula.

Argumentative essay formula & example

In the image below, you can see a recommended structure for argumentative essays. It starts with the topic sentence, which establishes the main idea of the essay. Next, this hypothesis is developed in the development stage. Then, the rebuttal, or the refutal of the main counter argument or arguments. Then, again, development of the rebuttal. This is followed by an example, and ends with a summary. This is a very basic structure, but it gives you a bird-eye-view of how a proper argumentative essay can be built.

Structure of an argumentative essay

Writing an argumentative essay (for a class, a news outlet, or just for fun) can help you improve your understanding of an issue and sharpen your thinking on the matter. Using researched facts and data, you can explain why you or others think the way you do, even while other reasonable people disagree.

Free AI argumentative essay generator > Free AI argumentative essay generator >

argumentative essay

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an explanatory essay that takes a side.

Instead of appealing to emotion and personal experience to change the reader’s mind, an argumentative essay uses logic and well-researched factual information to explain why the thesis in question is the most reasonable opinion on the matter.  

Over several paragraphs or pages, the author systematically walks through:

  • The opposition (and supporting evidence)
  • The chosen thesis (and its supporting evidence)

At the end, the author leaves the decision up to the reader, trusting that the case they’ve made will do the work of changing the reader’s mind. Even if the reader’s opinion doesn’t change, they come away from the essay with a greater understanding of the perspective presented — and perhaps a better understanding of their original opinion.

All of that might make it seem like writing an argumentative essay is way harder than an emotionally-driven persuasive essay — but if you’re like me and much more comfortable spouting facts and figures than making impassioned pleas, you may find that an argumentative essay is easier to write. 

Plus, the process of researching an argumentative essay means you can check your assumptions and develop an opinion that’s more based in reality than what you originally thought. I know for sure that my opinions need to be fact checked — don’t yours?

So how exactly do we write the argumentative essay?

How do you start an argumentative essay

First, gain a clear understanding of what exactly an argumentative essay is. To formulate a proper topic sentence, you have to be clear on your topic, and to explore it through research.

Students have difficulty starting an essay because the whole task seems intimidating, and they are afraid of spending too much time on the topic sentence. Experienced writers, however, know that there is no set time to spend on figuring out your topic. It's a real exploration that is based to a large extent on intuition.

6 Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay (Persuasion Formula)

Use this checklist to tackle your essay one step at a time:

Argumentative Essay Checklist

1. Research an issue with an arguable question

To start, you need to identify an issue that well-informed people have varying opinions on. Here, it’s helpful to think of one core topic and how it intersects with another (or several other) issues. That intersection is where hot takes and reasonable (or unreasonable) opinions abound. 

I find it helpful to stage the issue as a question.

For example: 

Is it better to legislate the minimum size of chicken enclosures or to outlaw the sale of eggs from chickens who don’t have enough space?

Should snow removal policies focus more on effectively keeping roads clear for traffic or the environmental impacts of snow removal methods?

Once you have your arguable question ready, start researching the basic facts and specific opinions and arguments on the issue. Do your best to stay focused on gathering information that is directly relevant to your topic. Depending on what your essay is for, you may reference academic studies, government reports, or newspaper articles.

‍ Research your opposition and the facts that support their viewpoint as much as you research your own position . You’ll need to address your opposition in your essay, so you’ll want to know their argument from the inside out.

2. Choose a side based on your research

You likely started with an inclination toward one side or the other, but your research should ultimately shape your perspective. So once you’ve completed the research, nail down your opinion and start articulating the what and why of your take. 

What: I think it’s better to outlaw selling eggs from chickens whose enclosures are too small.

Why: Because if you regulate the enclosure size directly, egg producers outside of the government’s jurisdiction could ship eggs into your territory and put nearby egg producers out of business by offering better prices because they don’t have the added cost of larger enclosures.

This is an early form of your thesis and the basic logic of your argument. You’ll want to iterate on this a few times and develop a one-sentence statement that sums up the thesis of your essay.

Thesis: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with cramped living spaces is better for business than regulating the size of chicken enclosures.

Now that you’ve articulated your thesis , spell out the counterargument(s) as well. Putting your opposition’s take into words will help you throughout the rest of the essay-writing process. (You can start by choosing the counter argument option with Wordtune Spices .)

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Counterargument: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with too small enclosures will immediately drive up egg prices for consumers, making the low-cost protein source harder to afford — especially for low-income consumers.

There may be one main counterargument to articulate, or several. Write them all out and start thinking about how you’ll use evidence to address each of them or show why your argument is still the best option.

3. Organize the evidence — for your side and the opposition

You did all of that research for a reason. Now’s the time to use it. 

Hopefully, you kept detailed notes in a document, complete with links and titles of all your source material. Go through your research document and copy the evidence for your argument and your opposition’s into another document.

List the main points of your argument. Then, below each point, paste the evidence that backs them up.

If you’re writing about chicken enclosures, maybe you found evidence that shows the spread of disease among birds kept in close quarters is worse than among birds who have more space. Or maybe you found information that says eggs from free-range chickens are more flavorful or nutritious. Put that information next to the appropriate part of your argument. 

Repeat the process with your opposition’s argument: What information did you find that supports your opposition? Paste it beside your opposition’s argument.

You could also put information here that refutes your opposition, but organize it in a way that clearly tells you — at a glance — that the information disproves their point.

Counterargument: Outlawing the sale of eggs from chickens with too small enclosures will immediately drive up egg prices for consumers.

BUT: Sicknesses like avian flu spread more easily through small enclosures and could cause a shortage that would drive up egg prices naturally, so ensuring larger enclosures is still a better policy for consumers over the long term.

As you organize your research and see the evidence all together, start thinking through the best way to order your points.  

Will it be better to present your argument all at once or to break it up with opposition claims you can quickly refute? Would some points set up other points well? Does a more complicated point require that the reader understands a simpler point first?

Play around and rearrange your notes to see how your essay might flow one way or another.

4. Freewrite or outline to think through your argument

Is your brain buzzing yet? At this point in the process, it can be helpful to take out a notebook or open a fresh document and dump whatever you’re thinking on the page.

Where should your essay start? What ground-level information do you need to provide your readers before you can dive into the issue?

Use your organized evidence document from step 3 to think through your argument from beginning to end, and determine the structure of your essay.

There are three typical structures for argumentative essays:

  • Make your argument and tackle opposition claims one by one, as they come up in relation to the points of your argument - In this approach, the whole essay — from beginning to end — focuses on your argument, but as you make each point, you address the relevant opposition claims individually. This approach works well if your opposition’s views can be quickly explained and refuted and if they directly relate to specific points in your argument.
  • Make the bulk of your argument, and then address the opposition all at once in a paragraph (or a few) - This approach puts the opposition in its own section, separate from your main argument. After you’ve made your case, with ample evidence to convince your readers, you write about the opposition, explaining their viewpoint and supporting evidence — and showing readers why the opposition’s argument is unconvincing. Once you’ve addressed the opposition, you write a conclusion that sums up why your argument is the better one.
  • Open your essay by talking about the opposition and where it falls short. Build your entire argument to show how it is superior to that opposition - With this structure, you’re showing your readers “a better way” to address the issue. After opening your piece by showing how your opposition’s approaches fail, you launch into your argument, providing readers with ample evidence that backs you up.

As you think through your argument and examine your evidence document, consider which structure will serve your argument best. Sketch out an outline to give yourself a map to follow in the writing process. You could also rearrange your evidence document again to match your outline, so it will be easy to find what you need when you start writing.

5. Write your first draft

You have an outline and an organized document with all your points and evidence lined up and ready. Now you just have to write your essay.

In your first draft, focus on getting your ideas on the page. Your wording may not be perfect (whose is?), but you know what you’re trying to say — so even if you’re overly wordy and taking too much space to say what you need to say, put those words on the page.

Follow your outline, and draw from that evidence document to flesh out each point of your argument. Explain what the evidence means for your argument and your opposition. Connect the dots for your readers so they can follow you, point by point, and understand what you’re trying to say.

As you write, be sure to include:

1. Any background information your reader needs in order to understand the issue in question.

2. Evidence for both your argument and the counterargument(s). This shows that you’ve done your homework and builds trust with your reader, while also setting you up to make a more convincing argument. (If you find gaps in your research while you’re writing, Wordtune Spices can source statistics or historical facts on the fly!)

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

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3. A conclusion that sums up your overall argument and evidence — and leaves the reader with an understanding of the issue and its significance. This sort of conclusion brings your essay to a strong ending that doesn’t waste readers’ time, but actually adds value to your case.

6. Revise (with Wordtune)

The hard work is done: you have a first draft. Now, let’s fine tune your writing.

I like to step away from what I’ve written for a day (or at least a night of sleep) before attempting to revise. It helps me approach clunky phrases and rough transitions with fresh eyes. If you don’t have that luxury, just get away from your computer for a few minutes — use the bathroom, do some jumping jacks, eat an apple — and then come back and read through your piece.

As you revise, make sure you …

  • Get the facts right. An argument with false evidence falls apart pretty quickly, so check your facts to make yours rock solid.
  • Don’t misrepresent the opposition or their evidence. If someone who holds the opposing view reads your essay, they should affirm how you explain their side — even if they disagree with your rebuttal.
  • Present a case that builds over the course of your essay, makes sense, and ends on a strong note. One point should naturally lead to the next. Your readers shouldn’t feel like you’re constantly changing subjects. You’re making a variety of points, but your argument should feel like a cohesive whole.
  • Paraphrase sources and cite them appropriately. Did you skip citations when writing your first draft? No worries — you can add them now. And check that you don’t overly rely on quotations. (Need help paraphrasing? Wordtune can help. Simply highlight the sentence or phrase you want to adjust and sort through Wordtune’s suggestions.)
  • Tighten up overly wordy explanations and sharpen any convoluted ideas. Wordtune makes a great sidekick for this too 😉

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Words to start an argumentative essay

The best way to introduce a convincing argument is to provide a strong thesis statement . These are the words I usually use to start an argumentative essay:

  • It is indisputable that the world today is facing a multitude of issues
  • With the rise of ____, the potential to make a positive difference has never been more accessible
  • It is essential that we take action now and tackle these issues head-on
  • it is critical to understand the underlying causes of the problems standing before us
  • Opponents of this idea claim
  • Those who are against these ideas may say
  • Some people may disagree with this idea
  • Some people may say that ____, however

When refuting an opposing concept, use:

  • These researchers have a point in thinking
  • To a certain extent they are right
  • After seeing this evidence, there is no way one can agree with this idea
  • This argument is irrelevant to the topic

Are you convinced by your own argument yet? Ready to brave the next get-together where everyone’s talking like they know something about intermittent fasting , chicken enclosures , or snow removal policies? 

Now if someone asks you to explain your evidence-based but controversial opinion, you can hand them your essay and ask them to report back after they’ve read it.

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How to Revise an Argumentative Essay: The Complete Guide

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by  Antony W

April 7, 2022

how to revise argumentative essay

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your argumentative essay. Your  argument’s title  is on point, you have a strong  introduction for the argument , with a powerful  hook  that easily grabs the reader’s attention, and an  arguable thesis statement .

Throughout the body section, you’ve structured your assignment so that every paragraph addresses its own idea, beginning with a topic sentence and ending with a closing link that transition to the next consecutive paragraph.

Your essay even  addresses the opposing point of views  and ends with a very strong  conclusion . Your essay has addressed the issue in the prompt, and you now feel confident enough to submit it for review.

However, there’s one more thing you need to do before you can have your instructor look at your paper. You have to revise the essay thoroughly. So in this guide, you’ll learn  how to revise an argumentative essay  to give it a more refined touch than what it already has.

How to Revise An Argumentative Essay

Take a break from writing.

While you can do everything in one sitting, it’s not always the best thing to do if you want to earn full marks.

Take a break from the essay as soon as you finish writing the conclusion. A 24 hour break isn’t bad, although you can relax for a couple of hours if you have a strict deadline to beat.

Taking a break has a benefit: 

It gives you the opportunity to refresh your mind, which could yield some great ideas and arguments different from what you already have in your essay.

In the end, you come back to your paper as a critical thinker who’s ready to read the essay from the standpoint of a reader, not a writer.

When you come back to working on your paper, read the essay carefully word by word, this time from a reader’s perspective.

Use Revise Outline to Review Your Claims and Evidence

In reverse outlining, you take away all the supporting writing and leave your paper with the main ideas. The approach allows you to assess if your ideas features the logical sequence of points and it helps to determine the success of your paper.

Reverse  outlining your argumentative essay  allow you to:

  • See if your paper meets its goals
  • Find places to analyze or expand
  • Look for gaps in your structure where readers may otherwise find your organization somehow weak

To reverse outline your argumentative essay, take a separate blank piece of paper and start organizing your thoughts.

  • Write your main claim at the top, or simply the thesis statement, right at the top
  • Follow this with all the sub claims that you made in your paper
  • Write down all the evidences that you used to support each claim

Since reverse outlining allows you to detail the core elements of your arguments in the most basic form possible, it becomes easy to see whether your argument would be convincing without the supporting writing.

Again, you’re able to look at your evidence more critically to determine if they’re sufficient to support the most crucial elements in the essay.

This revision technique raises a few important questions that you can use to refine your argumentative essay:

  • Does your argument provide sufficient evidence to support your claim?
  • How well has the essay addressed the  counterarguments  presented?
  • Do you need to qualify any of your claims to make it more precise?

Look Into the Assumptions of Your Arguments

As you  write your argumentative essay , you’ll find yourself making implicit and explicit assumptions to connect your audience to your claims. Should this the case, you should read your argumentative essay to identify the assumptions you make about a piece of evidence. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the assumptions that I have made on a claim in my argumentative essay reasonable?
  • Can my readers acknowledge the assumptions that I make in my argumentative writing?
  • Should I leave the assumptions in my argumentative essay if my target audience doesn’t acknowledge them?

It’s uncertain if readers will openly recognize and share your assumptions, and especially if they don’t accept certain knowledge, value or beliefs.

So if you’ve explicitly or implicitly made assumptions in your work, account for them and, if possible, provide more evidence to validate these assumptions.

Revise Your Argumentative Essay with Your Audience in Mind

It’s important to think about your audience when revising your paper, and especially in relation to the evidence you use in your argumentative essay.

Since  you already know who will be reading your paper anyway, you need to identify the kind of evidence that they’ll find more persuasive.

  • Do they need numbers and statistics?
  • Are they looking for evidence draw from certain scholars in the field you’re trying to explore?
  • Or will the essay be more convincing if it included personal narratives?

It’s going to take some time to figure out how exactly your readers may respond to your arguments.

And that can go a long way to make it easy for you to include the right supporting evidence in your work.

Let Someone Else Read Your Argumentative Essay

Sometimes playing the  devil’s advocate  in an argumentative essay that you’ve written yourself can be somewhat hard.

Should that be the case, it’s best to find someone more objective to read your paper.

This kind of approach is helpful because it helps you think about how you may handle opposing point of views when they arise.

Quite too often, another objective reader will certainly embrace a more skeptical attitude and will help you identify gaps that can help you improve your writing.

In this situation, questions such as truth and the burden of proof will easily arise. Allowing them to be hard on your arguments can give you helpful criticism, which you can use to either expand, clarify, or remove an issue from your argument.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

What is an Argumentative Essay? How to Write it (with Examples)

Argumentative Essay

We define an argumentative essay as a type of essay that presents arguments about both sides of an issue. The purpose is to convince the reader to accept a particular viewpoint or action. In an argumentative essay, the writer takes a stance on a controversial or debatable topic and supports their position with evidence, reasoning, and examples. The essay should also address counterarguments, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the topic.

Table of Contents

  • What is an argumentative essay?  
  • Argumentative essay structure 
  • Argumentative essay outline 
  • Types of argument claims 

How to write an argumentative essay?

  • Argumentative essay writing tips 
  • Good argumentative essay example 

How to write a good thesis

Frequently asked questions, what is an argumentative essay.

An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents a coherent and logical analysis of a specific topic. 1 The goal is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or opinion on a particular issue. Here are the key elements of an argumentative essay: 

  • Thesis Statement : The central claim or argument that the essay aims to prove. 
  • Introduction : Provides background information and introduces the thesis statement. 
  • Body Paragraphs : Each paragraph addresses a specific aspect of the argument, presents evidence, and may include counterarguments. 
  • Evidence : Supports the main argument with relevant facts, examples, statistics, or expert opinions. 
  • Counterarguments : Anticipates and addresses opposing viewpoints to strengthen the overall argument. 
  • Conclusion : Summarizes the main points, reinforces the thesis, and may suggest implications or actions. 

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Argumentative essay structure

Aristotelian, Rogerian, and Toulmin are three distinct approaches to argumentative essay structures, each with its principles and methods. 2 The choice depends on the purpose and nature of the topic. Here’s an overview of each type of argumentative essay format.

Argumentative essay outline

An argumentative essay presents a specific claim or argument and supports it with evidence and reasoning. Here’s an outline for an argumentative essay, along with examples for each section: 3  

1.  Introduction : 

  • Hook : Start with a compelling statement, question, or anecdote to grab the reader’s attention. 

Example: “Did you know that plastic pollution is threatening marine life at an alarming rate?” 

  • Background information : Provide brief context about the issue. 

Example: “Plastic pollution has become a global environmental concern, with millions of tons of plastic waste entering our oceans yearly.” 

  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position. 

Example: “We must take immediate action to reduce plastic usage and implement more sustainable alternatives to protect our marine ecosystem.” 

2.  Body Paragraphs : 

  • Topic sentence : Introduce the main idea of each paragraph. 

Example: “The first step towards addressing the plastic pollution crisis is reducing single-use plastic consumption.” 

  • Evidence/Support : Provide evidence, facts, statistics, or examples that support your argument. 

Example: “Research shows that plastic straws alone contribute to millions of tons of plastic waste annually, and many marine animals suffer from ingestion or entanglement.” 

  • Counterargument/Refutation : Acknowledge and refute opposing viewpoints. 

Example: “Some argue that banning plastic straws is inconvenient for consumers, but the long-term environmental benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.” 

  • Transition : Connect each paragraph to the next. 

Example: “Having addressed the issue of single-use plastics, the focus must now shift to promoting sustainable alternatives.” 

3.  Counterargument Paragraph : 

  • Acknowledgement of opposing views : Recognize alternative perspectives on the issue. 

Example: “While some may argue that individual actions cannot significantly impact global plastic pollution, the cumulative effect of collective efforts must be considered.” 

  • Counterargument and rebuttal : Present and refute the main counterargument. 

Example: “However, individual actions, when multiplied across millions of people, can substantially reduce plastic waste. Small changes in behavior, such as using reusable bags and containers, can have a significant positive impact.” 

4.  Conclusion : 

  • Restatement of thesis : Summarize your main argument. 

Example: “In conclusion, adopting sustainable practices and reducing single-use plastic is crucial for preserving our oceans and marine life.” 

  • Call to action : Encourage the reader to take specific steps or consider the argument’s implications. 

Example: “It is our responsibility to make environmentally conscious choices and advocate for policies that prioritize the health of our planet. By collectively embracing sustainable alternatives, we can contribute to a cleaner and healthier future.” 

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Types of argument claims

A claim is a statement or proposition a writer puts forward with evidence to persuade the reader. 4 Here are some common types of argument claims, along with examples: 

  • Fact Claims : These claims assert that something is true or false and can often be verified through evidence.  Example: “Water boils at 100°C at sea level.”
  • Value Claims : Value claims express judgments about the worth or morality of something, often based on personal beliefs or societal values. Example: “Organic farming is more ethical than conventional farming.” 
  • Policy Claims : Policy claims propose a course of action or argue for a specific policy, law, or regulation change.  Example: “Schools should adopt a year-round education system to improve student learning outcomes.” 
  • Cause and Effect Claims : These claims argue that one event or condition leads to another, establishing a cause-and-effect relationship.  Example: “Excessive use of social media is a leading cause of increased feelings of loneliness among young adults.” 
  • Definition Claims : Definition claims assert the meaning or classification of a concept or term.  Example: “Artificial intelligence can be defined as machines exhibiting human-like cognitive functions.” 
  • Comparative Claims : Comparative claims assert that one thing is better or worse than another in certain respects.  Example: “Online education is more cost-effective than traditional classroom learning.” 
  • Evaluation Claims : Evaluation claims assess the quality, significance, or effectiveness of something based on specific criteria.  Example: “The new healthcare policy is more effective in providing affordable healthcare to all citizens.” 

Understanding these argument claims can help writers construct more persuasive and well-supported arguments tailored to the specific nature of the claim.  

If you’re wondering how to start an argumentative essay, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the argumentative essay format and writing process.

  • Choose a Topic: Select a topic that you are passionate about or interested in. Ensure that the topic is debatable and has two or more sides.
  • Define Your Position: Clearly state your stance on the issue. Consider opposing viewpoints and be ready to counter them.
  • Conduct Research: Gather relevant information from credible sources, such as books, articles, and academic journals. Take notes on key points and supporting evidence.
  • Create a Thesis Statement: Develop a concise and clear thesis statement that outlines your main argument. Convey your position on the issue and provide a roadmap for the essay.
  • Outline Your Argumentative Essay: Organize your ideas logically by creating an outline. Include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis.
  • Write the Introduction: Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention (a quote, a question, a surprising fact). Provide background information on the topic. Present your thesis statement at the end of the introduction.
  • Develop Body Paragraphs: Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to the thesis. Support your points with evidence and examples. Address counterarguments and refute them to strengthen your position. Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs.
  • Address Counterarguments: Acknowledge and respond to opposing viewpoints. Anticipate objections and provide evidence to counter them.
  • Write the Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your argumentative essay. Reinforce the significance of your argument. End with a call to action, a prediction, or a thought-provoking statement.
  • Revise, Edit, and Share: Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Check for grammatical and spelling errors. Share your essay with peers, friends, or instructors for constructive feedback.
  • Finalize Your Argumentative Essay: Make final edits based on feedback received. Ensure that your essay follows the required formatting and citation style.

Argumentative essay writing tips

Here are eight strategies to craft a compelling argumentative essay: 

  • Choose a Clear and Controversial Topic : Select a topic that sparks debate and has opposing viewpoints. A clear and controversial issue provides a solid foundation for a strong argument. 
  • Conduct Thorough Research : Gather relevant information from reputable sources to support your argument. Use a variety of sources, such as academic journals, books, reputable websites, and expert opinions, to strengthen your position. 
  • Create a Strong Thesis Statement : Clearly articulate your main argument in a concise thesis statement. Your thesis should convey your stance on the issue and provide a roadmap for the reader to follow your argument. 
  • Develop a Logical Structure : Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point of evidence that contributes to your overall argument. Ensure a logical flow from one point to the next. 
  • Provide Strong Evidence : Support your claims with solid evidence. Use facts, statistics, examples, and expert opinions to support your arguments. Be sure to cite your sources appropriately to maintain credibility. 
  • Address Counterarguments : Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and counterarguments. Addressing and refuting alternative perspectives strengthens your essay and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the issue. Be mindful of maintaining a respectful tone even when discussing opposing views. 
  • Use Persuasive Language : Employ persuasive language to make your points effectively. Avoid emotional appeals without supporting evidence and strive for a respectful and professional tone. 
  • Craft a Compelling Conclusion : Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and leave a lasting impression in your conclusion. Encourage readers to consider the implications of your argument and potentially take action. 

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Good argumentative essay example

Let’s consider a sample of argumentative essay on how social media enhances connectivity:

In the digital age, social media has emerged as a powerful tool that transcends geographical boundaries, connecting individuals from diverse backgrounds and providing a platform for an array of voices to be heard. While critics argue that social media fosters division and amplifies negativity, it is essential to recognize the positive aspects of this digital revolution and how it enhances connectivity by providing a platform for diverse voices to flourish. One of the primary benefits of social media is its ability to facilitate instant communication and connection across the globe. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram break down geographical barriers, enabling people to establish and maintain relationships regardless of physical location and fostering a sense of global community. Furthermore, social media has transformed how people stay connected with friends and family. Whether separated by miles or time zones, social media ensures that relationships remain dynamic and relevant, contributing to a more interconnected world. Moreover, social media has played a pivotal role in giving voice to social justice movements and marginalized communities. Movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #ClimateStrike have gained momentum through social media, allowing individuals to share their stories and advocate for change on a global scale. This digital activism can shape public opinion and hold institutions accountable. Social media platforms provide a dynamic space for open dialogue and discourse. Users can engage in discussions, share information, and challenge each other’s perspectives, fostering a culture of critical thinking. This open exchange of ideas contributes to a more informed and enlightened society where individuals can broaden their horizons and develop a nuanced understanding of complex issues. While criticisms of social media abound, it is crucial to recognize its positive impact on connectivity and the amplification of diverse voices. Social media transcends physical and cultural barriers, connecting people across the globe and providing a platform for marginalized voices to be heard. By fostering open dialogue and facilitating the exchange of ideas, social media contributes to a more interconnected and empowered society. Embracing the positive aspects of social media allows us to harness its potential for positive change and collective growth.
  • Clearly Define Your Thesis Statement:   Your thesis statement is the core of your argumentative essay. Clearly articulate your main argument or position on the issue. Avoid vague or general statements.  
  • Provide Strong Supporting Evidence:   Back up your thesis with solid evidence from reliable sources and examples. This can include facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, or real-life examples. Make sure your evidence is relevant to your argument, as it impacts the overall persuasiveness of your thesis.  
  • Anticipate Counterarguments and Address Them:   Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to strengthen credibility. This also shows that you engage critically with the topic rather than presenting a one-sided argument. 

The length of an argumentative essay can vary, but it typically falls within the range of 1,000 to 2,500 words. However, the specific requirements may depend on the guidelines provided.

You might write an argumentative essay when:  1. You want to convince others of the validity of your position.  2. There is a controversial or debatable issue that requires discussion.  3. You need to present evidence and logical reasoning to support your claims.  4. You want to explore and critically analyze different perspectives on a topic. 

Argumentative Essay:  Purpose : An argumentative essay aims to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a specific point of view or argument.  Structure : It follows a clear structure with an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, counterarguments and refutations, and a conclusion.  Tone : The tone is formal and relies on logical reasoning, evidence, and critical analysis.    Narrative/Descriptive Essay:  Purpose : These aim to tell a story or describe an experience, while a descriptive essay focuses on creating a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing.  Structure : They may have a more flexible structure. They often include an engaging introduction, a well-developed body that builds the story or description, and a conclusion.  Tone : The tone is more personal and expressive to evoke emotions or provide sensory details. 

  • Gladd, J. (2020). Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays.  Write What Matters . 
  • Nimehchisalem, V. (2018). Pyramid of argumentation: Towards an integrated model for teaching and assessing ESL writing.  Language & Communication ,  5 (2), 185-200. 
  • Press, B. (2022).  Argumentative Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide . Broadview Press. 
  • Rieke, R. D., Sillars, M. O., & Peterson, T. R. (2005).  Argumentation and critical decision making . Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. 

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Impact

writer should revise an argumentative essay for ideas and

Unraveling the threads of persuasive prowess, it's intriguing to note that legal minds, in the heart of courtroom battles, rely heavily on the art of argumentation. Lawyers, often hailed as modern-day rhetoricians, strategically construct persuasive narratives to sway judges and juries. This underscores the real-world impact of effective argumentation, where the stakes are high, and every word carries weight. As we embark on our exploration of argumentative essays, much like lawyers building cases, we'll learn to structure our essays with precision, anticipate counterarguments, and present a compelling narrative.

Short Description

In this exploration, we'll define the argumentative essay, providing you with expert tips and step-by-step guidance to enhance your persuasive writing skills. You'll discover the power of well-structured essays, learn effective techniques to support your stance and explore real-world examples that bring theory to life. Whether you're a seasoned writer or just beginning your writing journey, join our argumentative essay writer on a journey into the heart of argumentative writing. Learn how definitions come to life, tips turn into skills, and enhance your writing adventure!

What Is an Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays thrive on issues that elicit diverse opinions. This is a genre of writing where the author presents a stance on a particular issue or topic and supports it with evidence, reasoning, and examples. The chosen topic should be one where reasonable people can disagree. The primary aim is not just to express a personal opinion but to persuade the audience to adopt the writer's point of view.

The language used in these essays is often persuasive and authoritative, similar to when learning how to write persuasive essay . Writers aim to convince readers of the validity of their perspectives. Let's consider an essay addressing the topic of online education. The writer might assert:

  • 'Online education is a more flexible and accessible mode of learning compared to traditional classrooms.'

This thesis sets the stage for the subsequent exploration of reasons, evidence, and examples supporting this viewpoint. Additionally, these essays rely on factual information, statistics, research findings, and concrete examples to support the author's claims.

And if the thought of crafting such an essay feels like a dragon to slay, worry not – there are expert writers out there ready to champion your cause. If the notion strikes you to cry out, ' Write essay for me !' let the scribes of wisdom weave your narrative with the finesse of literary wizards.

Argumentative Essay Examples

Below you can find some good argumentative essay examples from our argumentative essay writing service . The first essay talks about the value that comes with the freedom of being able to strike for public workers.

Argumentative Essay Example ‍

The second essay from our dissertation writing services discusses the importance of economic equality in a nation, alongside possible repercussions and potential threats if not met.

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Argumentative Essay Outline

Knowing how to structure an argumentative essay demands more than just strong opinions; it requires a well-organized framework that guides both the writer and the reader through a logical progression of ideas. In this section, we'll delve into the intricacies of argumentative essay outlines, exploring three distinct approaches: the Aristotelian (Classic) method, the Toulmin model, and the Rogerian strategy. Each approach brings its unique framework, offering writers diverse tools to build convincing and well-structured arguments.

argumentative essay outline

Aristotelian (Classic)

The Aristotelian, or Classic, argumentative essay structure follows a traditional structure inspired by Aristotle's rhetorical theory. This method comprises three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction:

  • Hook: Engage the reader with a compelling opening.
  • Background: Provide context to the issue.
  • Thesis: Clearly state your position on the topic.
  • Logos (Logical Appeal): Present evidence, facts, and logical reasoning.
  • Ethos (Ethical Appeal): Establish credibility by incorporating authoritative sources.
  • Pathos (Emotional Appeal): Appeal to the reader's emotions for added persuasion.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize key points.
  • Reinforce the thesis.
  • Provide a thought-provoking closing statement.

Developed by philosopher Stephen Toulmin, this model emphasizes the components of an argument and their interrelation. Here's what this outline should look like according to our dissertation writing services :

  • State the main argument or thesis.
  • Offer evidence and support for the claim.
  • Explain the connection between the claim and evidence.
  • Provide additional support for the warrant.
  • Acknowledge the limitations or scope of the argument.
  • Address opposing viewpoints and counterarguments.

The Rogerian approach to an argumentative essay, inspired by psychologist Carl Rogers, focuses on finding common ground and promoting understanding.

  • Establish a neutral tone.
  • Acknowledge the complexity of the issue.
  • Present the issue from multiple perspectives.
  • State your position while acknowledging opposing arguments.
  • Discuss areas of agreement and shared concerns.
  • Present your viewpoint with empathy.
  • Emphasize shared goals and potential compromises.
  • Encourage further dialogue.

Argumentative Essay Structure

Understanding how to write an argumentative essay involves a well-thought-out structure that guides both the writer and the reader through a coherent and persuasive journey. Here's a breakdown of the essential components: introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

1. Introduction: The introduction serves as the gateway to your argumentative essay, capturing the reader's attention and providing context for the issue at hand.

  • Hook: Engage your audience with a captivating opening. Example: 'In an era dominated by technology, the impact on human relationships cannot be ignored.'
  • Background: Offer a brief overview of the topic to provide context. Example: 'As virtual communication tools continue to reshape how we connect, the dynamics of interpersonal relationships undergo a profound transformation.'
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state your position on the issue. Example: 'This essay contends that while technology enhances accessibility, it concurrently challenges the depth and authenticity of face-to-face interactions.'

2. Thesis Statement: The thesis statement is the anchor of your essay, succinctly encapsulating your main argument.

Example: 'Online education is a more flexible and accessible mode of learning compared to traditional classrooms.'

3. Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs constitute the core of your argumentative essay, presenting evidence, analysis, and supporting details.

  • Topic Sentence: Introduce the main point of the paragraph. Example: 'One key advantage of online education is its flexibility, allowing learners to customize their study schedules.'
  • Evidence: Provide facts, statistics, or examples to support your point. Example: 'According to a study by XYZ, 78% of online learners reported higher satisfaction with the flexibility offered by virtual courses.'
  • Analysis: Explain the significance of the evidence and how it supports your thesis. Example: 'This flexibility not only accommodates diverse learning styles but also caters to individuals with busy schedules, making education more inclusive.'

4. Conclusion: The conclusion wraps up your essay, summarizing key points and reinforcing your thesis while leaving a lasting impression.

  • Summary: Recap the main arguments made in the essay. Example: 'In conclusion, the flexibility of online education addresses the diverse needs of learners in today's fast-paced world.'
  • Thesis Reinforcement: Restate your thesis in a compelling way. Example: 'Embracing the adaptability of online education is not just a technological shift but a fundamental transformation in how we approach learning.'
  • Closing Statement: End with a thought-provoking remark or a call to action. Example: 'As we navigate the future of education, embracing flexibility may pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible learning landscape.'

Building a Compelling Argumentative Essay Thesis

Constructing an impactful thesis statement is the cornerstone of a persuasive, argumentative essay. Here's a step-by-step guide to crafting a thesis that captivates readers and sets the tone for your entire essay.

Pose a Question and Provide a Response

Engage your readers from the start by posing a thought-provoking question related to your topic. Follow it up with a clear and assertive response that establishes your stance.

Example : Can increased reliance on technology truly enhance our interpersonal connections? In this essay, we contend that while technology facilitates communication, it simultaneously challenges the depth and authenticity of face-to-face interactions.

Present an Argument, Then Challenge It

A good argumentative essay should start with your primary argument in a direct and assertive manner. However, add depth to your thesis by acknowledging potential counterarguments. This demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the issue and strengthens your overall position.

Example : While advocates argue that social media fosters global connectivity, it is essential to recognize the potential drawbacks. This essay asserts that the pervasive use of social platforms may lead to superficial relationships and hinder genuine human connection.

Outline Key Points for Clarity and Impact

Provide a brief roadmap of the main points you will explore in your essay. This not only clarifies your intentions but also prepares your reader for the arguments to come.

Example : Exploring the impact of technology on interpersonal relationships, we will delve into the challenges posed by virtual communication, analyze the role of face-to-face interactions, and consider potential solutions for a harmonious coexistence between the virtual and real worlds.

By adding these steps from our experts in research paper help to your thesis-building process, you establish a base that not only clearly expresses your standpoint but also captivates readers with interesting questions, challenges, and key points that will unfold in your essay.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Quick Steps

Here's a deeper dive into each step that goes into your writing process. By incorporating them, you'll navigate the complexities of argumentative writing with finesse, producing a piece that not only communicates your viewpoint effectively but also engages and persuades your audience.

how to write argumentative essay

Generating Ideas

The ideation phase is crucial for developing a strong foundation for your argumentative essay. Consider conducting extensive research to understand various perspectives on the topic. Engage in freewriting or mind mapping to explore different angles. Generating a pool of ideas allows you to select the most compelling arguments when you move to the next steps.

Getting Ready

Preparation is key before diving into the writing process. Organize your thoughts and argumentative essay topics into a coherent structure. Craft a concise thesis statement that is not only clear but also sets the tone for the entire essay. This preparatory stage is an opportunity to refine your focus, ensuring that each subsequent paragraph serves the central argument.

Putting Pen to Paper

As you begin drafting, remember to maintain a logical flow in your essay. Craft an engaging introductory paragraph that introduces the topic and states your thesis. In the body paragraph section, delve into each argument with supporting evidence and examples. Address potential counterarguments to showcase a comprehensive understanding of the issue. This step is about giving substance to your ideas and constructing a persuasive narrative.

Perfecting Your Work

The review and refinement phase is where you elevate your argument essay from a draft to a polished piece of writing. Assess the coherence of your arguments, ensuring that each paragraph contributes meaningfully to your overall thesis. Consider the clarity of your language and the effectiveness of your evidence. This stage allows you to hone the persuasiveness of your essay.

Polishing the Final Product

Meticulous proofreading is the final touch that transforms your essay into a refined and impactful work. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Verify the consistency of your writing style and refine any areas that may be unclear. In the concluding paragraph, reiterate your thesis with a thought-provoking statement to leave a lasting impression. This attention to detail ensures that your argumentative essay is not only compelling but also a testament to your writing prowess.

Essential Argumentative Essay Tips

Mastering the art of argumentative academic essays involves honing key skills to make your case compelling and persuasive. Here are essential tips on writing an argumentative essay to enhance your writing prowess:

Strengthen Your Case with Solid Facts

The foundation of a convincing argument lies in factual evidence. Support your assertions with well-researched data, statistics, and examples. According to our essay writing help , a robust argumentative essay is built on a bedrock of reliable information, demonstrating your understanding of the topic and reinforcing the credibility of your stance.

Example : Citing data from reputable environmental agencies, it is evident that there has been a significant increase in carbon emissions over the past decade.

Take Charge with Language

While learning how to write an argumentative essay, remember that the language you use in your essay plays a pivotal role in influencing your reader. Adopt a tone that is assertive yet respectful. Clearly articulate your points and use persuasive language to guide your audience through your reasoning. Words have the power to evoke emotions and shape perceptions, so choose them wisely to strengthen your argument.

Example : Undoubtedly, the ramifications of climate change are far-reaching, demanding immediate action to mitigate the environmental crisis.

Employ Tools for Effective Writing

Equip yourself with writing tools that enhance the effectiveness of your argumentative essay. Similar to the approach when mastering how to write an explanatory essay , ensure that your essay has a clear structure with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Use transitional phrases to create a seamless flow between ideas. Additionally, employ rhetorical devices to add flair to your writing and make your arguments more memorable.

Example : Transitioning from the impact of deforestation to potential solutions, the essay navigates through a spectrum of strategies, each aiming to strike a balance between ecological preservation and human needs.

In this guide, we've covered the essentials of crafting compelling argumentative essays. From generating ideas to polishing the final product, we explored effective strategies, outlined key structures, and shared tips for constructing powerful theses. Armed with insights into language, facts, and writing tools, you're now equipped to create impactful essays that captivate and persuade. Your journey into the art of persuasive expression begins here, offering a roadmap for confident and compelling argumentative writing.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Step By Step Guide

10 May, 2020

9 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

Being able to present your argument and carry your point in a debate or a discussion is a vital skill. No wonder educational establishments make writing compositions of such type a priority for all students. If you are not really good at delivering a persuasive message to the audience, this guide is for you. It will teach you how to write an argumentative essay successfully step by step. So, read on and pick up the essential knowledge.

argumentative essay

What is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a paper that gets the reader to recognize the author’s side of the argument as valid. The purpose of this specific essay is to pose a question and answer it with compelling evidence. At its core, this essay type works to champion a specific viewpoint. The key, however, is that the topic of the argumentative essay has multiple sides, which can be explained, weighed, and judged by relevant sources.

Check out our ultimate argumentative essay topics list!

This essay often explores common questions associated with any type of argument including:

Common questions associated with an argument

Argumentative VS Persuasive Essay

It’s important not to confuse argumentative essay with a persuasive essay – while they both seem to follow the same goal, their methods are slightly different. While the persuasive essay is here to convince the reader (to pick your side), the argumentative essay is here to present information that supports the claim.

In simple words, it explains why the author picked this side of the argument, and persuasive essay does its best to persuade the reader to agree with your point of view.

Now that we got this straight, let’s get right to our topic – how to write an argumentative essay. As you can easily recognize, it all starts with a proper argument. First, let’s define the types of argument available and strategies that you can follow.

Types of Argument

Types of Argument

When delving into the types of argument, the vocabulary suddenly becomes quite “lawyerish”; and that makes sense since lawyers stake their whole livelihood on their ability to win arguments. So step into your lawyer shoes, and learn about the five kinds of arguments that you could explore in an argumentative paper:

Claims of cause and effect

This paper focuses on answering what caused the issue(s), and what the resulting effects have been.

Claims of definition

This paper explores a controversial interpretation of a particular definition; the paper delves into what the world really means and how it could be interpreted in different ways.

Claims of Fact

This argumentative paper examines whether a particular fact is accurate; it often looks at several sources reporting a fact and examines their veracity.

Claims of Policy

This is a favorite argumentative essay in government and sociology classes; this paper explores a particular policy, who it affects, and what (if anything) should be done about it.

Claims of Value

This essay identifies a particular value or belief and then examines how and why it is important to a particular cohort or a larger, general population.

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress. Joseph Joubert

Argument Strategies

Argument Strategies

When mulling over how to approach your argumentative assignment, you should be aware that three main argument strategies exist regarding how exactly to argue an issue: classical, Rogerian, Toulmin.

Classical Argument

This argument structure dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this strategy, the arguer introduces the issue, provides context, clearly states their claim, provides key arguments backed by lots of evidence, and nullifies opposing arguments with valid data.

Rogerian Argument

Hate conflict? This may be the argumentative paper strategy for you. At its core, this strategy works to identify compromise aspects for both sides; this approach works to find commonality and an ultimate agreement between two sides rather than proclaiming a winner or loser. The focus in this argument is compromise and respect of all sides.

Toulmin Argument

Remember Spock? This is his type of strategy; the Toulmin approach focuses solely on logic to persuade the audience. It is heavy on data and often relies on qualities to narrow the focus of a claim and strengthen the writer’s stance. This approach also tends to rely on exceptions, which clearly set limits on the parameters of an argument, thus making a particular stance easier to agree with.

With that in mind, we can now organize our argument into the essay structure.

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Argumentative essay Example

Organizing the argumentative essay outline.

Organizing the Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay follows the typical essay format: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, the body paragraphs are structured a bit differently from other body paragraphs. Surely, not something you can see in a cause and effect essay outline .

While the introduction should still begin with an attention-grabbing sentence that catches the reader’s interest and compels him or her to continue reading and provides key background information, the following paragraphs focus on specific aspects of the argument.

Let’s begin with the introduction.

Related Post: How to write an Essay Introduction ?

Introduction Paragraph

As its name suggests, this paragraph provides all the background information necessary for a reader unfamiliar with the argumentative essay topic to understand what it’s about. A solid introduction should:

  • Begin with a descriptive title that communicates your position regarding the topic
  • Rhetorical question
  • Personal anecdote
  • Provide necessary background, including definitions of any relevant words
  • End with a thesis statement that communicates your position
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Body Paragraphs

Support the thesis statement

Body paragraphs can range in size from six to fifteen or more sentences. The goal of these paragraphs is to support the thesis statement. Recommended areas of focus for the body paragraphs within an argumentative paper include:

  • Identifying and explaining the problem
  • Identifying the two (or more) sides to the problem
  • Exploring the side the writer believes is more appropriate than the others
  • Shooting down the other sides, with evidence
  • Recommending a course of action for the reader

One important way how this essay differs from other kinds is its specific nature. At the end of reading such an essay, the audience should clearly understand the issue or controversy and have enough information to make an informed decision regarding the issue. But what compels an audience make an informed decision? Several things!

  • Authoritative sources (experts in their field)
  • Real-world examples
  • Attributable anecdotes

Conclusion

In this paragraph, often the shortest of all the paragraphs, the writer reviews his or her most compelling reasons for taking a particular stance on an issue. The persuasion should be strong here, and the writer should use combative language including examples such as:

  • “then” statements
  • There can be no doubt
  • Without immediate action
  • Research strongly supports

It is also appropriate to refute potential opposition in the conclusion. By stating the objections readers could have, and show why they should be dismissed; the conclusion resonates more strongly with the reader.

Check our guide if you have any other questions on academic paper writing!

Argumentative Essay Sample

Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own argumentative essay. Link:  Argumentative essay on white rappers’ moral rights to perform .

Remember : the key to winning any argument should be reliable sources — the better, the more trustworthy your sources, the more likely the audience will consider a viewpoint different from their own.

And while you may feel a deep passion towards a particular topic, keep in mind that emotions can be messy; this essay should present all sides to the argument respectfully and with a clear intention to portray each of them fairly.

Let the data, statistics, and facts speak loudly and clearly for themselves. And don’t forget to use opinionated language — using such diction is a must in any strong argumentative writing!

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Revising & Editing

Revising and editing, learning objectives.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify major areas of concern in the draft essay during revising and editing.
  • Use peer reviews and editing checklists to assist revising and editing.
  • Revise and edit the first draft of your essay and produce a final draft.

Revising and editing are the two tasks you undertake to significantly improve your essay. Both are very important elements of the writing process. You may think that a completed first draft means little improvement is needed. However, even experienced writers need to improve their drafts and rely on peers during revising and editing. You may know that athletes miss catches, fumble balls, or overshoot goals. Dancers forget steps, turn too slowly, or miss beats. For both athletes and dancers, the more they practice, the stronger their performance will become. Web designers seek better images, a more clever design, or a more appealing background for their web pages. Writing has the same capacity to profit from improvement and revision.

Understanding the Purpose of Revising and Editing

Revising and editing allow you to examine two important aspects of your writing separately, so that you can give each task your undivided attention.

  • When you revise , you take a second look at your ideas. You might add, cut, move, or change information in order to make your ideas clearer, more accurate, more interesting, or more convincing.
  • When you edit , you take a second look at how you expressed your ideas. You add or change words. You fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You improve your writing style. You make your essay into a polished, mature piece of writing, the end product of your best efforts.

How do you get the best out of your revisions and editing? Here are some strategies that writers have developed to look at their first drafts from a fresh perspective. Try them throughout this course; then keep using the ones that bring results.

  • Take a break. You are proud of what you wrote, but you might be too close to it to make changes. Set aside your writing for a few hours or even a day until you can look at it objectively.
  • Ask someone you trust for feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Pretend you are one of your readers. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied? Why?
  • Use the resources that your college provides. Find out where your school’s writing lab is located and ask about the assistance they provide online and in person.

Many people hear the words critic , critical , and criticism and pick up only negative vibes that provoke feelings that make them blush, grumble, or shout. However, as a writer and a thinker, you need to learn to be critical of yourself in a positive way and have high expectations for your work. You also need to train your eye and trust your ability to fix what needs fixing. For this, you need to teach yourself where to look.

Creating Unity and Coherence

Following your outline closely offers you a reasonable guarantee that your writing will stay on purpose and not drift away from the controlling idea. However, when writers are rushed, are tired, or cannot find the right words, their writing may become less than they want it to be. Their writing may no longer be clear and concise, and they may be adding information that is not needed to develop the main idea.

When a piece of writing has unity , all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense. When the writing has coherence , the ideas flow smoothly. The wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and from paragraph to paragraph.

Reading your writing aloud will often help you find problems with unity and coherence. Listen for the clarity and flow of your ideas. Identify places where you find yourself confused, and write a note to yourself about possible fixes.

Creating Unity

Sometimes writers get caught up in the moment and cannot resist a good digression. Even though you might enjoy such detours when you chat with friends, unplanned digressions usually harm a piece of writing.

Mariah stayed close to her outline when she drafted the three body paragraphs of her essay she tentatively titled “Digital Technology: The Newest and the Best at What Price?” But a recent shopping trip for an HDTV upset her enough that she digressed from the main topic of her third paragraph and included comments about the sales staff at the electronics store she visited. When she revised her essay, she deleted the off-topic sentences that affected the unity of the paragraph.

Read the following paragraph twice, the first time without Mariah’s changes, and the second time with them.

Nothing is more confusing to me than choosing among televisions. It confuses lots of people who want a new high-definition digital television (HDTV) with a large screen to watch sports and DVDs on. Cross-out: You could listen to the guys in the electronic store, but word has it they know little more than you do. They want to sell you what they have in stock, not what best fits your needs. End cross-out. You face decisions you never had to make with the old, bulky picture-tube televisions. Screen resolution means the number of horizontal scan lines the screen can show. This resolution is often 1080p, or full HD, or 768p. The trouble is that if you have a smaller screen, 32 inches or 37 inches diagonal, you won't be able to tell the difference with the naked eye. Cross-out: The 1080p televisions cost more, though, so those are what the salespeople want you to buy. They get bigger commissions. End cross-out. The (crossed-out) other (end cross-out) important decision you face as you walk around the sales floor is whether to get a plasma screen or an LCD screen. Cross-out: Now here the salespeople may finally give you decent info. End cross-out. Plasma flat-panel television screens can be much larger in diameter than their LCD rivals. Plasma screens show truer blacks and can be viewed at a wider angle than current LCD screens. Cross-out: But be careful and tell the salesperson you have budget constraints. End cross-out. Large flat-panel plasma screens are much more expensive than flat-screen LCD models. Don't (cross-out) let someone make you (end cross-out) buy more television than you need!

When you reread your writing to find revisions to make, look for each type of problem in a separate sweep. Read it straight through once to locate any problems with unity. Read it straight through a second time to find problems with coherence. You may follow this same practice during many stages of the writing process.

Writing at Work

Many companies hire copyeditors and proofreaders to help them produce the cleanest possible final drafts of large writing projects. Copyeditors are responsible for suggesting revisions and style changes; proofreaders check documents for any errors in capitalization, spelling, and punctuation that have crept in. Many times, these tasks are done on a freelance basis, with one freelancer working for a variety of clients.

Creating Coherence

Careful writers use transitions to clarify how the ideas in their sentences and paragraphs are related. These words and phrases help the writing flow smoothly. Adding transitions is not the only way to improve coherence, but they are often useful and give a mature feel to your essays. Table 7.3 “Common Transitional Words and Phrases” groups many common transitions according to their purpose.

Table 7.3 Common Transitional Words and Phrases

After Maria revised for unity, she next examined her paragraph about televisions to check for coherence. She looked for places where she needed to add a transition or perhaps reword the text to make the flow of ideas clear. In the version that follows, she has already deleted the sentences that were off topic.

Many writers make their revisions on a printed copy and then transfer them to the version on-screen. They conventionally use a small arrow called a caret (^) to show where to insert an addition or correction.

Finally, nothing is more confusing to me than choosing among televisions. It confuses lots of people who want a new high-definition digital television (HDtelevision) with a large screen to watch sports and DVDs on. There's a good reason for this confusion: you face decisions you never had to make with the old, bulky picture-tube televisions. The first big decision is the screen resolution you want. Screen resolution means the number of horizontal scan lines the screen can show. This resolution is often 1080p, or full HD, or 768p. The trouble is that if you have a smaller screen, 32 inches or 37 inches diagonal, you won't be able to tell the difference with the naked eye. The second important decision you face as you walk around the sales floor is whether to get a plasma screen or an LCD screen. Along with the choice of display type, a further decision buyers face is screen size and features. Plasma flat-panel television screens can be much larger in diameter than their LCD rivals. Plasma screens show truer blacks and can be viewed at a wider angle than current LCD screens. However, large flat-panel plasma screens are much more expensive than flat-screen LCD models. Don't buy more television than you need!

Being Clear and Concise

Some writers are very methodical and painstaking when they write a first draft. Other writers unleash a lot of words in order to get out all that they feel they need to say. Do either of these composing styles match your style? Or is your composing style somewhere in between? No matter which description best fits you, the first draft of almost every piece of writing, no matter its author, can be made clearer and more concise.

If you have a tendency to write too much, you will need to look for unnecessary words. If you have a tendency to be vague or imprecise in your wording, you will need to find specific words to replace any overly general language.

Identifying Wordiness

Sometimes writers use too many words when fewer words will appeal more to their audience and better fit their purpose. Here are some common examples of wordiness to look for in your draft. Eliminating wordiness helps all readers, because it makes your ideas clear, direct, and straightforward.

  • Sentences that begin with There is or There are Wordy: There are two major experiments that the Biology Department sponsors. Revised: The Biology Department sponsors two major experiments.
  • Sentences with unnecessary modifiers. Wordy: Two extremely famous and well-known consumer advocates spoke eloquently in favor of the proposed important legislation. Revised: Two well-known consumer advocates spoke in favor of the proposed legislation.
  • Sentences with deadwood phrases that add little to the meaning. Be judicious when you use phrases such as in terms of , with a mind to , on the subject of , as to whether or not , more or less , as far as…is concerned , and similar expressions. You can usually find a more straightforward way to state your point. Wordy: As a world leader in the field of green technology, the company plans to focus its efforts in the area of geothermal energy.A report as to whether or not to use geysers as an energy source is in the process of preparation. Revised: As a world leader in green technology, the company plans to focus on geothermal energy.A report about using geysers as an energy source is in preparation.
  • Sentences in the passive voice or with forms of the verb  to be . Sentences with passive-voice verbs often create confusion, because the subject of the sentence does not perform an action. Sentences are clearer when the subject of the sentence performs the action and is followed by a strong verb. Use strong active-voice verbs in place of forms of to be , which can lead to wordiness. Avoid passive voice when you can. Wordy: It might perhaps be said that using a GPS device is something that is a benefit to drivers who have a poor sense of direction. Revised: Using a GPS device benefits drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
  • Sentences with constructions that can be shortened. Wordy: The e-book reader, which is a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.My over-sixty uncle bought an e-book reader, and his wife bought an e-book reader, too. Revised: The e-book reader, a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.My over-sixty uncle and his wife both bought e-book readers.

Choosing Specific, Appropriate Words

Most college essays should be written in formal English suitable for an academic situation. Follow these principles to be sure that your word choice is appropriate.

  • Avoid slang. Find alternatives to bummer , kewl , and rad .
  • Avoid language that is overly casual. Write about “men and women” rather than “girls and guys” unless you are trying to create a specific effect. A formal tone calls for formal language.
  • Avoid contractions. Use do not in place of don’t , I am in place of I’m , have not in place of haven’t , and so on. Contractions are considered casual speech.
  • Avoid clichés. Overused expressions such as green with envy , face the music , better late than never , and similar expressions are empty of meaning and may not appeal to your audience.
  • Be careful when you use words that sound alike but have different meanings. Some examples are allusion/illusion , complement/compliment , council/counsel , concurrent/consecutive , founder/flounder , and historic/historical . When in doubt, check a dictionary.
  • Choose words with the connotations you want. Choosing a word for its connotations is as important in formal essay writing as it is in all kinds of writing. Compare the positive connotations of the word proud and the negative connotations of arrogant and conceited .
  • Use specific words rather than overly general words. Find synonyms for thing , people , nice , good , bad , interesting , and other vague words. Or use specific details to make your exact meaning clear.

Now read the revisions Mariah made to make her third paragraph clearer and more concise. She has already incorporated the changes she made to improve unity and coherence.

Finally, nothing confuses buyers more than purchasing a new high-definition digital television (HDTV), and with good reason. The first big decision involves screen resolution, which means the number of horizontal scan lines the screen can show. This resolution is often expressed as 1080p, or full HD, or as 768p, which is half that. The trouble is that on a smaller 32-inch or 37-inch diagonal screen, viewers will not be able to tell the difference between them with the naked eye. The second important decision is whether to get a plasma screen or an LCD screen. Plasma flat-panel television screens can be much larger in diameter than their LCD rivals. Plasma screens show deeper blacks and can be viewed at a wider angle than current LCD screens. However, large flat-panel plasma screens are much more expensive than flat-screen LCD models. Only after buyers are totally certain they know what they want should they open their wallets.

Completing a Peer Review

After working so closely with a piece of writing, writers often need to step back and ask for a more objective reader. What writers most need is feedback from readers who can respond only to the words on the page. When they are ready, writers show their drafts to someone they respect and who can give an honest response about its strengths and weaknesses.

You, too, can ask a peer to read your draft when it is ready. After evaluating the feedback and assessing what is most helpful, the reader’s feedback will help you when you revise your draft. This process is called peer review .

You can work with a partner in your class and identify specific ways to strengthen each other’s essays. Although you may be uncomfortable sharing your writing at first, remember that each writer is working toward the same goal: a final draft that fits the audience and the purpose. Maintaining a positive attitude when providing feedback will put you and your partner at ease. The box that follows provides a useful framework for the peer review session.

Questions for Peer Review

Title of essay: ____________________________________________

Date: ____________________________________________

Writer’s name: ____________________________________________

Peer reviewer’s name: _________________________________________

  • This essay is about____________________________________________.
  • Your main points in this essay are____________________________________________.
  • What I most liked about this essay is____________________________________________.
  • Point: ____________________________________________Why: ____________________________________________
  • Where: ____________________________________________Needs improvement because__________________________________________
  • Where: ____________________________________________Needs improvement because ____________________________________________
  • The one additional change you could make that would improve this essay significantly is ____________________________________________.

One of the reasons why word-processing programs build in a reviewing feature is that workgroups have become a common feature in many businesses. Writing is often collaborative, and the members of a workgroup and their supervisors often critique group members’ work and offer feedback that will lead to a better final product.

Using Feedback Objectively

The purpose of peer feedback is to receive constructive criticism of your essay. Your peer reviewer is your first real audience, and you have the opportunity to learn what confuses and delights a reader so that you can improve your work before sharing the final draft with a wider audience (or your intended audience).

It may not be necessary to incorporate every recommendation your peer reviewer makes. However, if you start to observe a pattern in the responses you receive from peer reviewers, you might want to take that feedback into consideration in future assignments. For example, if you read consistent comments about a need for more research, then you may want to consider including more research in future assignments.

Using Feedback from Multiple Sources

You might get feedback from more than one reader as you share different stages of your revised draft. In this situation, you may receive feedback from readers who do not understand the assignment or who lack your involvement with and enthusiasm for it.

You need to evaluate the responses you receive according to two important criteria:

  • Determine if the feedback supports the purpose of the assignment.
  • Determine if the suggested revisions are appropriate to the audience.

Then, using these standards, accept or reject revision feedback.

Editing Your Draft

If you have been incorporating each set of revisions as Mariah has, you have produced multiple drafts of your writing. So far, all your changes have been content changes. Perhaps with the help of peer feedback, you have made sure that you sufficiently supported your ideas. You have checked for problems with unity and coherence. You have examined your essay for word choice, revising to cut unnecessary words and to replace weak wording with specific and appropriate wording.

The next step after revising the content is editing. When you edit, you examine the surface features of your text. You examine your spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation. You also make sure you use the proper format when creating your finished assignment.

Editing often takes time. Budgeting time into the writing process allows you to complete additional edits after revising. Editing and proofreading your writing helps you create a finished work that represents your best efforts. Here are a few more tips to remember about your readers:

  • Readers do not notice correct spelling, but they do notice misspellings.
  • Readers look past your sentences to get to your ideas—unless the sentences are awkward, poorly constructed, and frustrating to read.
  • Readers notice when every sentence has the same rhythm as every other sentence, with no variety.
  • Readers do not cheer when you use there , their , and they’re correctly, but they notice when you do not.
  • Readers will notice the care with which you handled your assignment and your attention to detail in the delivery of an error-free document.

The last section of this book offers a useful review of grammar, mechanics, and usage. Use it to help you eliminate major errors in your writing and refine your understanding of the conventions of language. Do not hesitate to ask for help, too, from peer tutors in your academic department or in the college’s writing lab. In the meantime, use the checklist to help you edit your writing.

Editing Your Writing

  • Are some sentences actually sentence fragments?
  • Are some sentences run-on sentences? How can I correct them?
  • Do some sentences need conjunctions between independent clauses?
  • Does every verb agree with its subject?
  • Is every verb in the correct tense?
  • Are tense forms, especially for irregular verbs, written correctly?
  • Have I used subject, object, and possessive personal pronouns correctly?
  • Have I used who and whom correctly?
  • Is the antecedent of every pronoun clear?
  • Do all personal pronouns agree with their antecedents?
  • Have I used the correct comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs?
  • Is it clear which word a participial phrase modifies, or is it a dangling modifier?

Sentence Structure

  • Are all my sentences simple sentences, or do I vary my sentence structure?
  • Have I chosen the best coordinating or subordinating conjunctions to join clauses?
  • Have I created long, overpacked sentences that should be shortened for clarity?
  • Do I see any mistakes in parallel structure?

Punctuation

  • Does every sentence end with the correct end punctuation?
  • Can I justify the use of every exclamation point?
  • Have I used apostrophes correctly to write all singular and plural possessive forms?
  • Have I used quotation marks correctly?

Mechanics and Usage

  • Can I find any spelling errors? How can I correct them?
  • Have I used capital letters where they are needed?
  • Have I written abbreviations, where allowed, correctly?
  • Can I find any errors in the use of commonly confused words, such as to / too / two ?

Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle but wrote principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.

Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.

If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, a classmate, or a peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.

Remember to use proper format when creating your finished assignment. Sometimes an instructor, a department, or a college will require students to follow specific instructions on titles, margins, page numbers, or the location of the writer’s name. These requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style guides, especially when citations of sources are included.

To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.

Key Takeaway

  • Revising and editing are the stages of the writing process in which you improve your work before producing a final draft.
  • During revising, you add, cut, move, or change information in order to improve content.
  • During editing, you take a second look at the words and sentences you used to express your ideas and fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  • Unity in writing means that all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong together and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense.
  • Coherence in writing means that the writer’s wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and between paragraphs.
  • Transitional words and phrases effectively make writing more coherent.
  • Writing should be clear and concise, with no unnecessary words.
  • Effective formal writing uses specific, appropriate words and avoids slang, contractions, clichés, and overly general words.
  • Peer reviews, done properly, can give writers objective feedback about their writing. It is the writer’s responsibility to evaluate the results of peer reviews and incorporate only useful feedback.
  • Remember to budget time for careful editing and proofreading. Use all available resources, including editing checklists, peer editing, and your institution’s writing lab, to improve your editing skills.

1.Answer the following two questions about Mariah’s paragraph in “Creating Unity” above:

  • Do you agree with Mariah’s decision to make the deletions she made? Did she cut too much, too little, or just enough? Explain.
  • Is the explanation of what screen resolution means a digression? Or is it audience friendly and essential to understanding the paragraph? Explain.

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

2. Now start to revise the first draft of the essay you wrote. Reread it to find any statements that affect the unity of your writing. Decide how best to revise.

3. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph in “Creating Coherence.”

  • Do you agree with the transitions and other changes that Mariah made to her paragraph? Which would you keep and which were unnecessary? Explain.
  • What transition words or phrases did Mariah add to her paragraph? Why did she choose each one?
  • What effect does adding additional sentences have on the coherence of the paragraph? Explain. When you read both versions aloud, which version has a more logical flow of ideas? Explain.

4. Now return to the first draft of the essay you wrote and revise it for coherence. Add transition words and phrases where they are needed, and make any other changes that are needed to improve the flow and connection between ideas.

5. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph:

  • Read the unrevised and the revised paragraphs aloud. Explain in your own words how changes in word choice have affected Mariah’s writing.
  • Do you agree with the changes that Mariah made to her paragraph? Which changes would you keep and which were unnecessary? Explain. What other changes would you have made?
  • What effect does removing contractions and the pronoun you have on the tone of the paragraph? How would you characterize the tone now? Why?

6. Now return once more to your essay in progress. Read carefully for problems with word choice. Be sure that your draft is written in formal language and that your word choice is specific and appropriate.

7. Exchange essays with a classmate and complete a peer review of each other’s draft in progress. Remember to give positive feedback and to be courteous and polite in your responses. Focus on providing one positive comment and one question for more information to the author.

8. Work with two partners. Go back to #3 in this lesson and compare your responses about Mariah’s paragraph with your partners’. Recall Mariah’s purpose for writing and her audience. Then, working individually, list where you agree and where you disagree about revision needs.

9. With the help of the checklist, edit and proofread your essay.

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Argumentative essay.

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Directions:

For this essay, you will choose a controversial current events topic  (click here for a list of great topics)  and write an essay that argues  your POSITION  on that topic. For example, maybe you argue for eating a strictly vegetarian diet because of the various health benefits. Your purpose in this essay is to convince your audience (individuals who may not agree with you) why it is in their best interest to consider your point of view. You do this by not just stating your opinion, but by constructing a well-thought-out, logical argument that is supported by outside sources. These sources need to be "reliable" so I suggest using sources from the BC Online Library. Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source! You must integrate at least 2 outside sources to support your argument. 

Your Essay must be: 

- 900-1000 words

-Include proper MLA formatting and citations 

-Include a Works Cited page (last page) 

-A minimum of 6 paragraphs with a separate paragraph that discusses the "counterargument" and presented your rebuttal. 

What Is An Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is one that focuses on supporting one side of an argument. When a writer decides to write an argumentative essay, it is advisable that they weigh both sides' arguments carefully before picking a side to support. Being able to understand and support one side makes it easier to write an argumentative essay. A well structured essay will clearly bring out the arguments needed to convince a reader. It is these arguments and stands that make argumentative essays the most interesting to read.

Instructions (7 steps)

1. Pick Your Topic

Select the topic on which you want to base your essay and evaluate each side before settling on one. Make sure the topic is one that is arguable, meaning it should have two opposing sides to it. Evaluating both sides of the fight is important as it creates a sense of conviction on what is correct and will go a long way in making your argument easier to make. You also need to come up with your thesis statement. This will give a clear indication as to what the essay is going to cover.

Try to stick to contemporary topics that resonate with people today. This will make your essay more relevant and stir more interest from readers. If you are being given freedom to pick your own topics, it might be easier to choose a topic already close to your heart. This will make it easier for you to formulate your case and you will already be familiar with the opposing sides' views and how to handle them.

2. Focus the Topic

Many controversial topics that people have long taken opposing views on tend to be very broad and would require thousands of pages of analysis to fully explore, such as, abortion. It is easier to focus on a specific aspect of the topic in order to make coherent arguments, such as should minors have a say when it comes to having an abortion.

3. Know Your Audience

When it comes to the actual style of writing to be used, it is helpful to know who will be the primary reader. If the essay is part of an academic assignment then the teacher or professor will be the audience. In such an event, they would expect to see a professionally written essay with lots of evidence to back up your thesis statement. If the essay is to go up on a public forum read by mainly young people then a more relaxed approach can be used and colloquial language used to some measure.

4. Conduct Research

Be sure to study and collect as much information as you can to make your case. Ina an argumentative essay, the writer should present at least three solid arguments in his favour and two from the opponent's side. He or she should however still be able to refute the opponent's arguments. In getting the right information to present in the essay, try to source information from books, magazines, journals, newspapers, reports and online resources. Be careful in the choice of websites you rely on for information as there are many wildly inaccurate articles.

5. Make your case

In arguing your case, ensure you have lots of solid evidence to lean on and that you have interpreted and applied it correctly to clearly show that your side has the upper hand. Ensure your line of reasoning is sound and that the steps you have taken to reach your conclusion are clear and understandable. A teacher will be more impressed by how you make your case than the choice of topic or sides.

6. Draft Your Essay

Essay Format       

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Introduce your reader to the topic you intend to pursue. Give a brief background on the controversies involved and how opposing sides view the issue.  Indicate your thesis statement here. Your thesis statement asserts your POSITION on the topic and is NEVER a fact that in not debatable. See this for help writing your thesis statement: 

Paragraph 2-5 (or more): Body Paragraphs

This section will normally be made up of about three-five paragraphs. The first three paragraphs should expound on why you believe your side is the right one. Each paragraph should have its own reason and should be backed up with evidence. Cite at least 2 outside sources to support your ideas. This can be done by including quotes -  According to (insert author's last name ".........."

by paraphrasing - According to (Insert author's last name here) ____________(paraphrase)

The remaining paragraph is to be used to give the opposing side a hearing. The writer should take at least one main argument from the opponents' side and provide a rebuttal that nullifies their argument. In essence, this part is about using the opponent's arguments against themselves.

Paragraph 5 (or 6): Conclusion

The conclusion should cover all the earlier points made briefly and reiterate the writers' position as indicated in the introduction. All the sections of the essay should support the thesis statement meaning you do not have to expound much in the conclusion.

7. Proofread and Revise  Once you have completed your essay, take the time to go through the entire document, and ensure you have all your grammar and spelling in check. Also, ensure that the way you have structured and put down the essay is convincing and fluent. If you have the chance to do so, give the essay to a friend to read through and offer you a critique of your work. Give yourself at least a day before reviewing the work again and revise any areas you feel are in need of reworking.

1. Arrangement

When arranging your points in the main body, always arrange them in the order of weakest to strongest. This usually produces the biggest impact on the reader.

Use an outline to chart the direction of your essay. This is especially important when doing research. You can fill in the key points and data gained from the research and use it later when you finally sit down to write your first draft of the essay.

2. Resources

As you take down arguments and evidence, use your resources carefully. Do not copy and paste entire sections or you may wind up accused of plagiarism. Draw the relevant information from your resources and write them in your own words in the essay.

3. Do not use

Do not choose weak arguments from the opponent's side to win your case. This weakens the body of your essay. Choose from their main arguments and come up with strong rebuttals that convincingly counter their premise or at the very least offer a workable solution.

4. Weak Arguments

If you risk using a weak argument from your opponent, be prepared to have your entire essay challenged as by a classmate or even the teacher as he or she marks your paper.

5. Cite your Sources

Be sure to always cite your sources. When doing your research ensure you take down bibliographies and internet addresses accordingly. It is always important to acknowledge the source of your information and data. Use MLA style formatting and citations in this essay.

6. Facts  No matter how passionate you may be about the topic under discussion, please try to keep your arguments impartial and based in facts.

Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet –Print this out and use to plan your essay.

Print this out or copy/paste into a word document to show to your instructor after completing it.

Paragraph one: Introduction

Attention getter: _______________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Explain the topic/background knowledge: __________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________

State your claim/thesis statement: __________________________________________________________________

Paragraph Two: Body 1

Topic Sentence: reason 1 __________________________________________________________________

Supporting detail:_____________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: __________________________________________________________________

Concluding sentence: __________________________________________________________________ Choose one or two details and elaborate or tell more.

Paragraph Three : Body 2

Topic sentence/ reason 2_______________________________________________________________

Supporting detail:______________________________________________________________

Concluding sentence:____________________________________________________________ Choose one or two details and elaborate or tell more.

Paragraph Four:  Body 3

Topic sentence/ reason 3_______________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: _________________________________________________________________

Supporting detail: _____________________________________________________________

Paragraph   Five Counter Argument : Body 3 Counter argument: __________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ Rebuttal (Why are they wrong?): __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Restate thesis: ________________________________________________________________

Summarize reasons:

Powerful ending: _______________________________________________________________

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Revising Persuasive Essays

Once you finish a first draft of your persuasive essay, set it aside for awhile. When you return to it, you can see it anew. That's what revising means—seeing your work with new eyes. When you revise, you look at your essay from your reader's perspective to make sure your writing includes compelling details and flows smoothly. These activities will help you revise.

Revising for Order for Importance

What is the best way to organize the supporting reasons in a persuasive essay? In most cases, you should lead up to your best reason. This leaves readers with your strongest point clearly in mind. The writer of the "Lost in a Crowd" essay organizes his thoughts so that the most important reason comes last.

Overcrowded hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms make it very hard to teach and to learn.

Supporting Reasons

Overcrowded halls set students up for trouble.

The school cafeteria can be just as distracting.

Students suffer the most in overcrowded classrooms.

Note: Transition words and phrases can help you signal order of importance. As you revise, look for opportunities to add transitions to show the relationship between your ideas.

the main reason

most importantly

the biggest reason

in addition

furthermore

Organize your reasons.

Study the following opinions and supporting reasons. Number the reasons in the best order, 1 being the least convincing and 3 the most convincing. The first one has been done for you. (There may be more than one way to arrange the reasons, depending on your own experience and understanding of each topic.) Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

Supporting Reasons:

  • The addition of vending machines would greatly improve student morale. 2
  • Vending machines would cut down on tardiness because students wouldn’t have to stop at the store. 1
  • Students who can’t drink milk would have an alternative. 3

Revising to Consider Objections

When you answer an objection in your persuasive essay, you should do so in a fair, logical, and polite manner. The fifth paragraph in “Lost in the Crowd” fairly concedes that fixing overcrowded schools may cost money. But the writer also says the initial cost will benefit the local economy in the future. 

Evaluate objections.

Review these paragraphs. Mark each as fair or unfair, deciding if the writer uses fair and respectful language when discussing opposing ideas. If the paragraph is unfair, rewrite it to make it fair and respectful. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

It's true that adding a bike lane to all major roads in our city would be a significant expense, but we could take measures to lessen the burden on taxpayers. For example, we could apply for federal grants or ask for funds from private donors. Overall, adding bike lanes is worth the expense, for it will protect cyclists, lessen car traffic, and improve the quality of life.

Some people say bicyclists break too many rules of the road, and adding more cyclists to the road will just cause more problems. That's an absurd argument. By that logic, no one should be able to use roads. After all, some car drivers break the rules, too. Should we ban cars from the road, too?

A common argument against bike lanes is that they are bad for businesses with storefronts on city streets, but studies actually show that streets that prioritize walking and biking have proven to boost local retail sales by 10-25 percent in cities around the world. So our local businesses may in fact receive an economic boost with the addition of bike lanes.

Check your essay for objections.

Check your essay to make sure you answer objections. If you do, evaluate your responses for fairness. If you don't mention any objections, introduce one or two somewhere in your essay. Then refute, address, or concede each one.

Revising with a Peer Response

Share your writing..

Have a partner read your essay and then respond to it by completing this form. A responder should try to list at least one strong point for each part and, if at all possible, one thing to improve. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

Peer Response Sheet

Revising in Action

When you revise, you add, take out, rewrite, and rearrange your writing to make it clearer. Here are revisions to one student’s essay.

Paragraph Before Revising

Editing

A response to an objection is revised for fairness and a transition is added.

Editing

Paragraph After Revising

Editing

Revise with a checklist.

Read each line in the checklist. When you can answer each question with a yes , check it off. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

  • Does my essay deal with a relevant and debatable topic?
  • Is my opinion clearly developed with strong reasons?
  • Do details (facts, examples, explanations, . . .) explain the reasons?

Organization

  • Will my beginning paragraph get readers interested?
  • Does the beginning paragraph state my opinion clearly?
  • Do the middle paragraphs follow order of importance?
  • Do I sound sincere and interested in the topic?
  • Do I answer objections in a fair and polite manner?

Word Choice

  • Have I used specific nouns and active verbs?

Sentence Fluency

  • Do my sentences flow smoothly from one to another?
  • Do I use transitions to connect ideas?

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52 Argumentative Essays Ideas that are Actually Interesting

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What’s Covered:

How to pick a good argumentative essay topic, elements of a strong argumentative essay, argumentative essay idea example topics.

Are you having writer’s block? Coming up with an essay topic can be the hardest part of the process. You have very likely encountered argumentative essay writing in high school and have been asked to write your own. If you’re having trouble finding a topic, we’ve created a list of 52 essay ideas to help jumpstart your brainstorming process! In addition, this post will cover strategies for picking a topic and how to make your argument a strong one. Ultimately, the goal is to convince your reader. 

An argumentative essay tasks the writer with presenting an assertion and bolstering that assertion with proper research. You’ll present the claim’s authenticity. This means that whatever argument you’re making must be empirically true! Writing an argumentative essay without any evidence will leave you stranded without any facts to back up your claim. When choosing your essay topic, begin by thinking about themes that have been researched before. Readers will be more engaged with an argument that is supported by data.

This isn’t to say that your argumentative essay topic has to be as well-known, like “Gravity: Does it Exist?” but it shouldn’t be so obscure that there isn’t ample evidence. Finding a topic with multiple sources confirming its validity will help you support your thesis throughout your essay. If upon review of these articles you begin to doubt their worth due to small sample sizes, biased funding sources, or scientific disintegrity, don’t be afraid to move on to a different topic. Your ultimate goal should be proving to your audience that your argument is true because the data supports it.

The hardest essays to write are the ones that you don’t care about. If you don’t care about your topic, why should someone else? Topics that are more personal to the reader are immediately more thoughtful and meaningful because the author’s passion shines through. If you are free to choose an argumentative essay topic, find a topic where the papers you read and cite are fun to read. It’s much easier to write when the passion is already inside of you!

However, you won’t always have the choice to pick your topic. You may receive an assignment to write an argumentative essay that you feel is boring. There is still value in writing an argumentative essay on a topic that may not be of interest to you. It will push you to study a new topic, and broaden your ability to write on a variety of topics. Getting good at proving a point thoroughly and effectively will help you to both understand different fields more completely and increase your comfort with scientific writing.

Convincing Thesis Statement

It’s important to remember the general essay structure: an introduction paragraph with a thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A strong thesis statement will set your essay up for success. What is it? A succinct, concise, and pithy sentence found in your first paragraph that summarizes your main point. Pour over this statement to ensure that you can set up your reader to understand your essay. You should also restate your thesis throughout your essay to keep your reader focused on your point.

Ample Research

A typical argumentative essay prompt may look like this: “What has been the most important invention of the 21st century? Support your claim with evidence.” This question is open-ended and gives you flexibility. But that also means it requires research to prove your point convincingly. The strongest essays weave scientific quotes and results into your writing. You can use recent articles, primary sources, or news sources. Maybe you even cite your own research. Remember, this process takes time, so be sure you set aside enough time to dive deep into your topic.

Clear Structure

If the reader can’t follow your argument, all your research could be for nothing! Structure is key to persuading your audience. Below are two common argumentative essay structures that you can use to organize your essays.

The Toulmin argument and the Rogerian argument each contain the four sections mentioned above but executes them in different ways. Be sure to familiarize yourself with both essay structures so that your essay is the most effective it can be.

The Toulmin argument has a straightforward presentation. You begin with your assertion, your thesis statement. You then list the evidence that supports your point and why these are valid sources. The bulk of your essay should be explaining how your sources support your claim. You then end your essay by acknowledging and discussing the problems or flaws that readers may find in your presentation. Then, you should list the solutions to these and alternative perspectives and prove your argument is stronger.

The Rogerian argument has a more complex structure. You begin with a discussion of what opposing sides do right and the validity of their arguments. This is effective because it allows you to piece apart your opponent’s argument. The next section contains your position on the questions. In this section, it is important to list problems with your opponent’s argument that your argument fixes. This way, your position feels much stronger. Your essay ends with suggesting a possible compromise between the two sides. A combination of the two sides could be the most effective solution.

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  • How many Supreme Court Justices should there be?
  • Should there be different term limits for elected officials?
  • Should the drinking age be lowered?
  • Does religion cause war?
  • Should the country legalize marijuana?
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  • Should maternity leave be longer?
  • Should smoking be banned?
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  • Should birth control be free?
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  • Should everyone have internet access?
  • Should internet access be free?
  • Should the police force be required to wear body cams?
  • Should social media companies be allowed to collect data from their users?
  • How has the internet impacted human society?
  • Should self-driving cars be allowed on the streets?
  • Should athletes be held to high moral standards?
  • Are professional athletes paid too much?
  • Should the U.S. have more professional sports teams?
  • Should sports be separated by gender?
  • Should college athletes be paid?
  • What are the best ways to increase safety in sports?

Where to Get Your Argumentative Essay Edited for Free

Once you’ve chosen an argumentative essay idea and a structure to support it, make sure that you visit the free CollegeVine Peer Essay Review Tool to make your essay A+ worthy. CollegeVine has helped thousands of students improve their writing and impress admissions officers and teachers. With our tool, you can submit a draft and get feedback from a peer—for free!

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  1. How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step By Step

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  2. How To Write a Compelling Argumentative Essay: Expert Tips & Guide

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  3. How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step

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  5. Steps To Write An Argumentative Essay

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  6. How to organize it

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  1. What is an Argumentative Essay?

  2. argumentative essay formatting

  3. Argumentative Writing Part 1

  4. Argumentative essay examples I Essay writing online

  5. How to write a Cause-and-Effect essay by Amer Al Hasani

  6. Argumentative Essay Check Your Sources

COMMENTS

  1. Revising an Argumentative Paper

    1. Give yourself time. The best way to begin re-seeing your argument is first to stop seeing it. Set your paper aside for a weekend, a day, or even a couple of hours. Of course, this will require you to have started your writing process well before your paper is due.

  2. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  3. Revision Strategies

    A revision strategy. A post-draft outline is the outline of an essay you have drafted. Creating a post-draft outline allows you to see the main ideas of each paragraph of your essay and is an excellent revision strategy. A writing process presentation brought to you by the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab. Start With Your Draft

  4. A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

    Once you identify what that argument is, the "one-idea rule" can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing. For instance, let's say you're writing an essay.

  5. Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays

    1. Select an arguable topic, preferably one which interests, puzzles, or appeals to you. Make sure your topic is neither too broad--something which warrants a dissertation--nor too limited. Decide what your goals are for the paper. What is your purpose? What opinion, view, or idea do you want to prove?

  6. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument

    Compose a position argument that integrates the writer's ideas with those from appropriate sources. Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress. Apply or challenge common conventions of language or grammar in composing and revising. Now is the time to try your hand at writing a position argument.

  7. Argumentative Essays

    The five-paragraph essay. A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may ...

  8. Writing a Strong Argumentative Essay: Techniques and Strategies

    Choosing a debatable topic is an essential part of writing a strong argumentative essay. To choose a suitable topic, start by brainstorming a list of potential issues that interest you. Then, evaluate each topic to determine if it is debatable and has enough substance to support a compelling argument. When evaluating a potential topic, consider ...

  9. How to Write an A+ Argumentative Essay

    Though every essay is founded on these two ideas, there are several different types of essays, differentiated by the style of the writing, how the writer presents the thesis, and the types of evidence used to support the thesis statement. Essays can be roughly divided into four different types: #1: Argumentative. #2: Persuasive. #3: Expository.

  10. Argumentative Essay Examples to Inspire You [+Formula]

    Structure of an argumentative essay. Writing an argumentative essay (for a class, a news outlet, or just for fun) can help you improve your understanding of an issue and sharpen your thinking on the matter. Using researched facts and data, you can explain why you or others think the way you do, even while other reasonable people disagree.

  11. How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

    These steps will help you get your point across clearly and concisely: 1. Turn the topic into a question and answer it. Set up a big question in the title of your essay or within the first few sentences. Then, build up to answering that question in your thesis statement.

  12. How to Revise an Argumentative Essay: The Complete Guide

    To reverse outline your argumentative essay, take a separate blank piece of paper and start organizing your thoughts. Write your main claim at the top, or simply the thesis statement, right at the top Follow this with all the sub claims that you made in your paper Write down all the evidences that you used to support each claim

  13. What is an Argumentative Essay? How to Write it (with Examples)

    An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents a coherent and logical analysis of a specific topic. 1 The goal is to convince the reader to accept the writer's point of view or opinion on a particular issue. Here are the key elements of an argumentative essay: Thesis Statement: The central claim or argument that the essay aims to prove.

  14. How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Impact

    1. Introduction: The introduction serves as the gateway to your argumentative essay, capturing the reader's attention and providing context for the issue at hand. Hook: Engage your audience with a captivating opening. Example: 'In an era dominated by technology, the impact on human relationships cannot be ignored.'.

  15. PDF HOW TO WRITE AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY

    INTRO: explain your thesis (be precise but do not present evidence yet) BODY -Paragraph #1 -Topic sentence argument (main argument of the paragraph) -Specific examples to support the topic sentence argument -Paragraph #2, and so on for other body paragraphs Same as Paragraph #1

  16. Argumentative Essay: Topics, Outline and Writing Tips

    The goal of these paragraphs is to support the thesis statement. Recommended areas of focus for the body paragraphs within an argumentative paper include: Identifying and explaining the problem. Identifying the two (or more) sides to the problem. Exploring the side the writer believes is more appropriate than the others.

  17. Revising and Editing

    Understanding the Purpose of Revising and Editing. Revising and editing allow you to examine two important aspects of your writing separately, so that you can give each task your undivided attention. When you revise, you take a second look at your ideas. You might add, cut, move, or change information in order to make your ideas clearer, more ...

  18. PDF Argumentative Essay: Revision Checklist REVISION CHECKLIST

    Directions: Find, highlight, and revise these elements in your informational article. **If you don't have one of these things, ADD it!**. _____ The essay includes an attention-grabbing hook. _____ The essay includes an introduction paragraph that clearly defines the topic and your position on it. _____ At least three pieces of supporting ...

  19. Revising Your Argument

    Revising Your Argument Revising Your Argument Just as you would revise and edit any piece of writing, you'll want to be sure to spend time revising and editing your argument. First, it's important to remember that revising and editing are different steps in the process.

  20. Argumentative essay

    An argumentative essay is one that focuses on supporting one side of an argument. When a writer decides to write an argumentative essay, it is advisable that they weigh both sides' arguments carefully before picking a side to support. Being able to understand and support one side makes it easier to write an argumentative essay.

  21. Revising Persuasive Essays

    Revising Persuasive Essays Once you finish a first draft of your persuasive essay, set it aside for awhile. When you return to it, you can see it anew. That's what revising means—seeing your work with new eyes. When you revise, you look at your essay from your reader's perspective to make sure your writing includes compelling details and flows smoothly. These activities will help you revise ...

  22. 52 Argumentative Essays Ideas that are Actually Interesting

    If you're having trouble finding a topic, we've created a list of 52 essay ideas to help jumpstart your brainstorming process! In addition, this post will cover strategies for picking a topic and how to make your argument a strong one. Ultimately, the goal is to convince your reader.

  23. Writing an Argumentative Essay about an Ethical Issue

    To improve the logic and flow of the essay, the writer should revise sentence 5 by Adding the transition "however" at the beginning to connect the ideas better. One reason a strong argumentative essay includes a counterclaim is that