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Organizing Your Argument
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This page summarizes three historical methods for argumentation, providing structural templates for each.
How can I effectively present my argument?
In order for your argument to be persuasive, it must use an organizational structure that the audience perceives as both logical and easy to parse. Three argumentative methods —the Toulmin Method , Classical Method , and Rogerian Method — give guidance for how to organize the points in an argument.
Note that these are only three of the most popular models for organizing an argument. Alternatives exist. Be sure to consult your instructor and/or defer to your assignment’s directions if you’re unsure which to use (if any).
The Toulmin Method is a formula that allows writers to build a sturdy logical foundation for their arguments. First proposed by author Stephen Toulmin in The Uses of Argument (1958), the Toulmin Method emphasizes building a thorough support structure for each of an argument's key claims.
The basic format for the Toulmin Method is as follows:
Claim: In this section, you explain your overall thesis on the subject. In other words, you make your main argument.
Data (Grounds): You should use evidence to support the claim. In other words, provide the reader with facts that prove your argument is strong.
Warrant (Bridge): In this section, you explain why or how your data supports the claim. As a result, the underlying assumption that you build your argument on is grounded in reason.
Backing (Foundation): Here, you provide any additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant.
Counterclaim: You should anticipate a counterclaim that negates the main points in your argument. Don't avoid arguments that oppose your own. Instead, become familiar with the opposing perspective. If you respond to counterclaims, you appear unbiased (and, therefore, you earn the respect of your readers). You may even want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic.
Rebuttal: In this section, you incorporate your own evidence that disagrees with the counterclaim. It is essential to include a thorough warrant or bridge to strengthen your essay’s argument. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis, your readers may not make a connection between the two, or they may draw different conclusions.
Example of the Toulmin Method:
Claim: Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.
Data1: Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air-polluting activity.
Warrant 1: Due to the fact that cars are the largest source of private (as opposed to industrial) air pollution, switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution.
Data 2: Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.
Warrant 2: Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that the decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.
Data 3: Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.
Warrant 3: The combination of these technologies produces less pollution.
Counterclaim: Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages an inefficient culture of driving even as it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging the use of mass transit systems.
Rebuttal: While mass transit is an idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work. Thus, hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population.
The Rogerian Method (named for, but not developed by, influential American psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers) is a popular method for controversial issues. This strategy seeks to find a common ground between parties by making the audience understand perspectives that stretch beyond (or even run counter to) the writer’s position. Moreso than other methods, it places an emphasis on reiterating an opponent's argument to his or her satisfaction. The persuasive power of the Rogerian Method lies in its ability to define the terms of the argument in such a way that:
- your position seems like a reasonable compromise.
- you seem compassionate and empathetic.
The basic format of the Rogerian Method is as follows:
Introduction: Introduce the issue to the audience, striving to remain as objective as possible.
Opposing View : Explain the other side’s position in an unbiased way. When you discuss the counterargument without judgement, the opposing side can see how you do not directly dismiss perspectives which conflict with your stance.
Statement of Validity (Understanding): This section discusses how you acknowledge how the other side’s points can be valid under certain circumstances. You identify how and why their perspective makes sense in a specific context, but still present your own argument.
Statement of Your Position: By this point, you have demonstrated that you understand the other side’s viewpoint. In this section, you explain your own stance.
Statement of Contexts : Explore scenarios in which your position has merit. When you explain how your argument is most appropriate for certain contexts, the reader can recognize that you acknowledge the multiple ways to view the complex issue.
Statement of Benefits: You should conclude by explaining to the opposing side why they would benefit from accepting your position. By explaining the advantages of your argument, you close on a positive note without completely dismissing the other side’s perspective.
Example of the Rogerian Method:
Introduction: The issue of whether children should wear school uniforms is subject to some debate.
Opposing View: Some parents think that requiring children to wear uniforms is best.
Statement of Validity (Understanding): Those parents who support uniforms argue that, when all students wear the same uniform, the students can develop a unified sense of school pride and inclusiveness.
Statement of Your Position : Students should not be required to wear school uniforms. Mandatory uniforms would forbid choices that allow students to be creative and express themselves through clothing.
Statement of Contexts: However, even if uniforms might hypothetically promote inclusivity, in most real-life contexts, administrators can use uniform policies to enforce conformity. Students should have the option to explore their identity through clothing without the fear of being ostracized.
Statement of Benefits: Though both sides seek to promote students' best interests, students should not be required to wear school uniforms. By giving students freedom over their choice, students can explore their self-identity by choosing how to present themselves to their peers.
The Classical Method of structuring an argument is another common way to organize your points. Originally devised by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (and then later developed by Roman thinkers like Cicero and Quintilian), classical arguments tend to focus on issues of definition and the careful application of evidence. Thus, the underlying assumption of classical argumentation is that, when all parties understand the issue perfectly, the correct course of action will be clear.
The basic format of the Classical Method is as follows:
Introduction (Exordium): Introduce the issue and explain its significance. You should also establish your credibility and the topic’s legitimacy.
Statement of Background (Narratio): Present vital contextual or historical information to the audience to further their understanding of the issue. By doing so, you provide the reader with a working knowledge about the topic independent of your own stance.
Proposition (Propositio): After you provide the reader with contextual knowledge, you are ready to state your claims which relate to the information you have provided previously. This section outlines your major points for the reader.
Proof (Confirmatio): You should explain your reasons and evidence to the reader. Be sure to thoroughly justify your reasons. In this section, if necessary, you can provide supplementary evidence and subpoints.
Refutation (Refuatio): In this section, you address anticipated counterarguments that disagree with your thesis. Though you acknowledge the other side’s perspective, it is important to prove why your stance is more logical.
Conclusion (Peroratio): You should summarize your main points. The conclusion also caters to the reader’s emotions and values. The use of pathos here makes the reader more inclined to consider your argument.
Example of the Classical Method:
Introduction (Exordium): Millions of workers are paid a set hourly wage nationwide. The federal minimum wage is standardized to protect workers from being paid too little. Research points to many viewpoints on how much to pay these workers. Some families cannot afford to support their households on the current wages provided for performing a minimum wage job .
Statement of Background (Narratio): Currently, millions of American workers struggle to make ends meet on a minimum wage. This puts a strain on workers’ personal and professional lives. Some work multiple jobs to provide for their families.
Proposition (Propositio): The current federal minimum wage should be increased to better accommodate millions of overworked Americans. By raising the minimum wage, workers can spend more time cultivating their livelihoods.
Proof (Confirmatio): According to the United States Department of Labor, 80.4 million Americans work for an hourly wage, but nearly 1.3 million receive wages less than the federal minimum. The pay raise will alleviate the stress of these workers. Their lives would benefit from this raise because it affects multiple areas of their lives.
Refutation (Refuatio): There is some evidence that raising the federal wage might increase the cost of living. However, other evidence contradicts this or suggests that the increase would not be great. Additionally, worries about a cost of living increase must be balanced with the benefits of providing necessary funds to millions of hardworking Americans.
Conclusion (Peroratio): If the federal minimum wage was raised, many workers could alleviate some of their financial burdens. As a result, their emotional wellbeing would improve overall. Though some argue that the cost of living could increase, the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.
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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples
An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.
There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.
The essay writing process consists of three main stages:
- Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
- Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
- Revision: Check the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.
Table of contents
Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.
The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay .
For example, if you’ve been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you’ll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.
Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:
- Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
- Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
- Do your research: Read primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
- Come up with a thesis: The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
- Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.
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The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.
1. Hook your reader
The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.
Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
2. Provide background on your topic
Next, it’s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don’t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.
3. Present the thesis statement
Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:
As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.
4. Map the structure
In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.
The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Write your essay introduction
The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.
Length of the body text
The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.
To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.
That idea is introduced in a topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.
After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.
Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.
See the full essay example
The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :
- Returns to your thesis
- Ties together your main points
- Shows why your argument matters
A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.
What not to include in a conclusion
To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes are:
- Including new arguments or evidence
- Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)
- Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”
Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.
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My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).
My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.
My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.
I use paragraphs to structure the essay.
I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.
Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.
I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.
My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.
I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.
I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.
I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.
My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .
My essay has an interesting and informative title.
I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).
Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.
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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.
Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
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 .
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Argumentative Essay – Outline, Form, and Examples
What is an argumentative essay?
An argumentative essay requires the writer to investigate a specific topic by collecting and evaluating evidence to establish a position on the subject matter.
When preparing to compose a good argumentative essay, utilize the following steps:
Step 1: Select a topic.
Step 2: Identify a position.
Step 3: Locate appropriate resources.
Step 4: Identify evidence supporting the position. ( NOTE: If there is little evidence in support of the claim, consider re-examining the main argument.)
When gathering evidence, use credible sources . To determine the credibility of the source, consider authority, currency, accuracy, and objectivity:
Who is the author ? Are they an expert in the field? Has a reputable publisher published the work?
How current is the information in the source? Does the currency of the source matter? Does the age of the source impact the content? Is there newer information that disproves the source’s information?
Can other sources verify the accuracy of the information? Does the information contradict that found in other commonly accepted sources?
Is there any evidence of bias, or is the source objective ? Is the research sponsored by an organization that may skew the information?
The following are typically recognized as providing appropriate, credible research material:
Peer-reviewed journals/research papers
Writers should avoid using the following sources:
Social media posts
Step 5: Utilize the research to determine a thesis statement that identifies the topic, position, and support(s).
Step 6: Use the evidence to construct an outline, detailing the main supports and relevant evidence.
Argumentative essay outline
After gathering all of the necessary research, the next step in composing an argumentative essay focuses on organizing the information through the use of an outline:
Background Information: Include any background information pertinent to the topic that the reader needs to know to understand the argument.
Thesis: State the position in connection to the main topic and identify the supports that will help prove the argument.
Identify evidence in support of the claim in the topic sentence
Explain how the evidence supports the argument
Evidence 3 (Continue as needed)
Support 2 (Continue as needed)
Review main supports
Invite the audience to take a specific action.
Identify the overall importance of the topic and position.
How to write an argumentative essay
Regardless of the writer’s topic or point of view, an argumentative essay should include an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, a conclusion, and works cited.
Analysis of evidence
Review of main ideas
Call to action
Argumentative essay introduction
The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper and introduces the argument. In general, the first paragraph(s) should attract the reader’s attention, provide relevant context, and conclude with a thesis statement.
To attract the reader's attention , start with an introductory device. There are several attention-grabbing techniques, the most common of which consist of the following:
The writer can emphasize the topic’s importance by explaining the current interest in the topic or indicating that the subject is influential.
Pertinent statistics give the paper an air of authority.
There are many reasons for a stimulating statement to surprise a reader. Sometimes it is joyful; sometimes it is shocking; sometimes it is surprising because of who said it.
An interesting incident or anecdote can act as a teaser to lure the reader into the remainder of the essay. Be sure that the device is appropriate for the subject and focus of what follows.
Provide the reader with relevant context and background information necessary to understand the topic.
Conclude with a thesis statement that identifies the overall purpose of the essay (topic and position). Writers can also include their support directly in the thesis, which outlines the structure of the essay for the reader.
Avoid the following when writing the introduction to argumentative writing:
Starting with dictionary definitions is too overdone and unappealing.
Do not make an announcement of the topic like “In this paper I will…” or “The purpose of this essay is to….”
Evidence supporting or developing the thesis should be in the body paragraphs, not the introduction.
Beginning the essay with general or absolute statements such as “throughout history...” or “as human beings we always...” or similar statements suggest the writer knows all of history or that all people behave or think in the same way.
Argumentative essay thesis
The thesis statement is the single, specific claim the writer sets out to prove and is typically positioned as the last sentence of the introduction . It is the controlling idea of the entire argument that identifies the topic, position, and reasoning.
When constructing a thesis for an argumentative paper, make sure it contains a side of the argument, not simply a topic. An argumentative thesis identifies the writer’s position on a given topic. If a position cannot be taken, then it is not argumentative thesis:
Topic: Capital punishment is practiced in many states.
Thesis: Capital punishment should be illegal.
While not always required, the thesis statement can include the supports the writer will use to prove the main claim. Therefore, a thesis statement can be structured as follows:
TOPIC + POSITION (+ SUPPORTS)
No Supports: College athletes (TOPIC) should be financially compensated (POSITION).
Supports: College athletes (TOPIC) should be financially compensated (POSITION) because they sacrifice their minds and bodies (SUPPORT 1), cannot hold
Argumentative essay body paragraphs
Body paragraphs can be of varying lengths, but they must present a coherent argument unified under a single topic. They are rarely ever longer than one page, double-spaced; usually they are much shorter.
Lengthy paragraphs indicate a lack of structure. Identify the main ideas of a lengthy paragraph to determine if they make more sense as separate topics in separate paragraphs.
Shorter paragraphs usually indicate a lack of substance; there is not enough evidence or analysis to prove the argument. Develop the ideas more or integrate the information into another paragraph.
The structure of an argumentative paragraph should include a topic sentence, evidence, and a transition.
The topic sentence is the thesis of the paragraph that identifies the arguable point in support of the main argument. The reader should know exactly what the writer is trying to prove within the paragraph by reading the first sentence.
The supporting evidence and analysis provide information to support the claim. There should be a balance between the evidence (facts, quotations, summary of events/plot, etc.) and analysis (interpretation of evidence). If the paragraph is evidence-heavy, there is not much of an argument; if it is analysis-heavy, there is not enough evidence in support of the claim.
The transition can be at the beginning or the end of a paragraph. However, it is much easier to combine the transition with the concluding observation to help the paragraphs flow into one another. Transitions in academic writing should tell the reader where you were, where you are going, and relate to the thesis.
Some essays may benefit from the inclusion of rebuttals to potential counterarguments of the writer’s position.
Argumentative essay conclusion
The conclusion should make readers glad they read the paper. It can suggest broader implications that will not only interest readers but also enrich their understanding in some way. There are three aspects to follow when constructing the conclusion: rephrase the thesis, synthesize information, and call the reader to action.
Rephrased the thesis in the first sentence of the conclusion. It must be in different words; do not simply write it verbatim.
Synthesize the argument by showing how the paper's main points support the argument.
Propose a course of action or a solution to an issue. This can redirect the reader's thought process to apply the ideas to their life or to see the broader implications of the topic.
Avoid the following when constructing the conclusion:
Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as "in conclusion," "in summary," or "in closing;" although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as trite in writing
Introducing a new idea or subtopic in the conclusion
Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper
Argumentative essay examples
Examples of argumentative essays vary depending upon the type:
Academic essays differ based upon the topic and position. These essays follow a more traditional structure and are typically assigned in high school or college. Examples of academic argumentative essay topics include the following:
Advantages or disadvantages of social media
Benefit or detriment of homework
Violence in video games
Argumentative literary essays are typically more informal and do not follow the same structure as an academic essay. The following are popular examples of argumentative literary essays:
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf
“Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell
“Thoughts for the Times on War and Death” by Sigmund Freud
“Does the Truth Matter? Science, Pseudoscience, and Civilization” by Carl Sagan
“Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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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:
- 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.
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write an a+ argumentative essay.
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 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 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?"
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'"
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"
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.]
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
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.
"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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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
Once you've brought that final draft to a perfect polish and turned in your assignment, you're done! Go you!
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.
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.
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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Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
- M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
- B.A., History, Armstrong State University
To be effective, an argumentative essay must contain elements to help persuade the audience to see things from your perspective. These components include a compelling topic, a balanced assessment, strong evidence, and persuasive language.
Find a Good Topic and Point of View
To find a good topic for an argumentative essay, consider several issues and choose a few that spark at least two solid, conflicting points of view. As you look over a list of topics , find one that really piques your interest, as you'll be more successful if you're passionate about your topic.
Once you have selected a topic you feel strongly about, make a list of points for both sides of the argument. When shaping an argument you'll have to explain why your belief is reasonable and logical, so list points you can use as evidence for or against an issue. Ultimately, determine your side of the argument and make sure you can back up your point of view with reasoning and evidence. Work against the opposing point of view and prove why your stance is correct.
One of your essay's first objectives will be to assess both sides of your issue. Consider strong arguments for both your side, as well as the "other" side—in order to shoot their statements down. Provide evidence without drama; sticking to the facts and clear examples that support your stance.
You may look for research that provides statistics on your topic that support your reasoning, as well as examples of how your topic impacts people, animals, or even the Earth. Interviewing experts on your topic can also help you structure a compelling argument.
Write the Essay
Once you've given yourself a solid foundation of information, begin to craft your essay. An argument essay, as with all essays, should contain three parts: the introduction , the body, and the conclusion . The length of paragraphs in these parts will vary depending on the length of your essay assignment.
As in any essay, the first paragraph of your argument essay should introduce the topic with a brief explanation of your topic, some background information, and a thesis statement . In this case, your thesis is a statement of your position on a specific controversial topic.
Present Both Sides of the Controversy
The body of your essay should contain the meat of your argument. Go into more detail about the two sides of your topic and state the strongest points of the counter-side of your issue.
After describing the "other" side, present your own viewpoint and then provide evidence to show why your position is the correct one. Work to discredit the other side using some of the information you discovered in your research. Choose your strongest evidence and present your points one by one. Use a mix of evidence, from statistics to other studies and anecdotal stories.
A strong conclusion can help summarize your point of view and reinforce with your reader why your stance is the best option. You might consider reserving one overwhelmingly shocking statistic for the conclusion, one that leaves no room for doubt in your reader's mind. At the very least, use this final paragraph or two as an opportunity to restate your position as the most sensible one.
When writing your essay, consider these tips to help craft the most rational and poignant argument for your readers. Avoid emotional language that can sound irrational. Know the difference between a logical conclusion and an emotional point of view.
Don't fabricate evidence and don't use untrustworthy sources for evidence, and be sure to cite your sources .
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How to Write an Argumentative Essay: The Only Guide You Need
An argumentative essay is the most popular type of academic writing in school and college. But the more you write, the more questions remain on how to write an argumentative essay because of tons of details to consider.
Our professional writers craft dozens of argumentative essays daily. So we asked them to answer all your FAQs and share expert tips to help you polish argumentative essay writing skills once and for all.
And here it goes:
Your ultimate guide on writing argumentative essays, with topics to choose, claims to consider, structure to cover, and examples to check for getting a better idea of how to write an argumentative essay.
Table of Contents:
- Types of claims in an essay
- Types of arguments in an essay
- Argumentative essay topics
- Argumentative essay format
- Argumentative essay outline
- How to start an argumentative essay
- Writing an argumentative essay
- How to write a conclusion for an argumentative essay
- Argumentative essay examples
- Frequently asked questions
What Is an Argumentative Essay?
The goal is to convince a reader that your position is correct. For that, you:
- State a clear, persuasive thesis in your essay introduction.
- Explain this thesis in the essay’s body, using evidence and addressing counterarguments when appropriate.
- Conclude by tieing all the main points together, showing why your argument matters, and leaving readers with a strong impression and food for thought.
Writing an argumentative essay is a typical assignment in schools and colleges. The goal is to teach you critical thinking, information research and evaluation, and meaningful thought expression. Every essay type in college is more or less argumentative.
Types of Claims in an Essay
Once you know what you want to argue, it will be easier to understand what argument types to choose and how to represent them. So, before you start writing an argumentative essay, you need to decide on a claim you’ll use as a thesis statement.
What is a claim in an essay?
A claim is your opinion stated as if it’s a fact. But for it to become a fact, you need to back up this claim with logic and evidence.
There’s a difference between a claim and a fact-based statement that’s obvious and not requiring any arguments to prove it. When choosing a claim for your argumentative essay, make sure it’s not a mere statement.
How to write a claim in essays?
Think of it as a thesis statement where you present the main idea of your essay in the form of an argument. You can format it like a fact, a definition, value, cause-effect, or a policy.
- Fact: State something that’s true or false.
- Definition: Write a dictionary definition of what you want to argue and present your interpretation of it.
- Value: Specify the importance of your claim.
- Cause and effect: Explain what causes your claim and what impact it brings.
- Policy: State why readers should care and what they need to do about your claim after reading the essay.
Whatever claim type you choose, your goal will be to argue for it in your argumentative essay effectively.
Types of Arguments in an Essay
Argumentation matters in this essay type most: You should be unbiased and rely on evidence and logic, not emotions, assumptions, or exaggeration.
Once you’ve decided on a claim and stated a thesis for your argumentative essay, think of the arguments type you’ll use to prove it. Choosing them beforehand will help outline your essay accordingly.
Two main types of argumentation exist to represent in your essay: Toulmin and Rogerian. Both consist of four steps, and the first one is a common approach in academic writing. That’s what they look like:
- Toulmin arguments: Make a claim -> Provide the evidence -> Explain how it supports your claim -> Provide a rebuttal (opposing opinion) to show you’ve considered alternatives
- Rogerian arguments: Discuss the opposing opinion and what it gets right -> Highlight the problem with this position -> Present your claim -> Suggest a compromise (what elements of your position could be beneficial for opponents)
Some experts specify one more type of argumentation in an essay:
- Classical (Aristotelian) arguments: Present an existed idea -> Make your claim on it -> Provide the evidence to convince that your opinion is the right one.
This one is the most popular approach to making arguments in essays because it’s simple yet effective. Here you don’t bombard the reader with tons of information but outline facts clearly and concisely.
You are welcome to choose any of these three types of arguments for your essay. But whatever approach you take, your paper should have a clear structure: outlining and formatting it, you’ll need to write an introduction, a body, and understand how to conclude an essay .
More on that below.
Getting Prepared for Writing an Argumentative Essay
OK, we believe that now you’re ready to write your argumentative essay. But before you start writing an introduction, let’s find out a few more critical elements to consider for your paper to become A-worthy:
- How to choose good topics for your argumentative essay
- What format to consider when writing argumentative essays
- How to craft a stellar outline for your argumentative essay
Here we go!
Argumentative Essay Topics
Suppose a teacher hasn’t assigned any particular topic for your argumentative essay. In that case, it means they want to check your critical thinking skills and give you a chance to choose writing about something that interests you.
Plus, the way you discuss arguments and prove your point of view allows a teacher to see your research, writing and analyzing skills.
Choosing good argumentative essay topics is often challenging for students because they aren’t sure if what they decide is… well, argumentative enough to discuss in essays.
Good argumentative essay topics are those debatable (with at least two conflicting points of view), compelling , and with solid evidence . Also, it would help if your chosen topic was something of your interest:
Writing about something you know and what bothers you, it will be easier for you to shape arguments, decide on points, and find evidence for it.
Here go some tips that will help you choose topics for argumentative essays:
- Write about something on what you have and can express your opinion.
- Make sure you have enough arguments and evidence to support this topic in your writing.
- Avoid issues that are too difficult to debate or those too emotionally charged. It can be challenging to discuss them with a clear mind.
- Don’t be afraid to take controversial topics that your peers would avoid.
- Think of the audience who could read your essay : Would it be interesting for them to discuss your topic; what might they think of it? (It will help you decide on arguments to use to persuade them to agree with your position.)
Argumentative Essay Format
Keep in mind that the number of arguments and counterarguments you use in essays isn’t hard-set. Feel free to change it if necessary:
- two arguments vs. one counterargument;
- three arguments vs. two counterarguments;
- one argument vs. one counterargument
— all are OK to consider unless your assignment states otherwise.
But given the structure of a standard 5-paragraph essay , let’s leave our argumentative essay format at that:
- Introduction + thesis
- 1-st paragraph (here you’ll use an argument to support the thesis)
- 2-nd paragraph (here goes another argument to support the thesis)
- 3-rd paragraph (counterargument)
Based on this format, you can craft an outline for your argumentative essay.
Argumentative Essay Outline
Now that you’ve decided on your argumentative essay’s topic and format, it’s high time to write an outline.
It’s a kind of plan for your essay:
With a detailed essay outline at hand, you won’t miss anything from its structure. Also, it will be easier to write an essay: You can start with any paragraph, “building” your paper step by step.
Here’s an argumentative essay outline template you can use:
How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Step by Step
Finally, it’s time to start writing an argumentative essay. Below is your detailed guide on how to write an argumentative essay step by step:
How to Start an Argumentative Essay
Like any other type of academic paper, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction.
The essay introduction serves to hook a reader, provide background information on your issue, and present your thesis statement . In more extended essays, you can also use the introduction to summarize the structure of your paper.
Here’s an example of how a typical argumentative essay introduction looks like (taken from Scribbr):
And here go your practical tips on how to start an argumentative essay:
First, consider the main issue and why people should care. You can use the BAM technique for that:
- B — background: how you’ll engage your reader. You can use a fact, quotation, or rhetorical question here, and it will serve as an essay hook .
- A — argument, aka a brief explanation of your opinion. It’s a thesis statement of your argumentative essay.
- M — main points: here, you explain what you’ll do in your essay. These main points will be the basis of your three topic sentences in your essay body paragraphs.
Here’s the example:
Second, generate your thesis statement . You have three methods for doing that:
- Turn it into a question — and answer it.
- State an argument that contrasts with your belief — and refute it.
- Introduce your point — and briefly outline it.
Writing an Argumentative Essay
After the introduction, an essay body comes. That’s where you’ll develop your arguments, with each paragraph covering its own point and evidence to it.
NB! Each paragraph of your argumentative essay must contribute to your thesis, so please don’t include any irrelevant information. Remember that your goal is to convince (persuade) the reader to agree with your claim.
In the standard 5-paragraph essay, your paper body will take three paragraphs: two — for arguments to support your claim, and one — for a counterargument. If you are going to write a more extended essay, the number of paragraphs can vary.
Points to remember when writing an argumentative essay:
- One paragraph = one argument (idea)
- Each paragraph shows the progression from a general statement (your topic sentence) to a more specific topic.
- Forget about your creativity for a moment. Make sure you follow the structure of argumentative essay paragraphs precisely.
- Use linkers to connect sentences for better coherence: “This shows,” “however,” “for example,” “it’s because,” “more than that,” and others.
- Don’t start sentences with words like “and,” “because,” “so,” and “but.” Use them as linkers within a sentence.
- Try to keep each paragraph 4-5 sentences long. The PEEL structure can help with that:
Point: your topic sentence summarizing the main idea of the paragraph.
Elaboration: the additional information you give to support the topic sentence; here, you explain why it’s relevant to your essay question.
Example: your evidence to support the topic sentence. (Use a fact, a personal experience, or a description.)
Link: your link back to the topic sentence; it shows how your point answers the question. (You can use transition words or phrases here.)
How to Write a Conclusion for an Argumentative Essay
While some essay writing guides say it’s OK to copy out the question or thesis statement in your conclusion, it’s a wrong strategy. That’s how to write a conclusion for an argumentative essay to get an A:
- Start it with a linking phrase (“In conclusion,” “To sum up,” etc.)
- Admit that the counterargument is partly true.
- Restate your opinion and say why it’s essential.
- Recommend a future action to the reader or ask a hypothetical question. Some good ideas for the final sentence of your argumentative essay are a call to action or a rhetorical question.
Please don’t conclude your essay with only one line, and don’t copy out your introduction. Rephrase your thesis statement by using synonyms or changing word order. Your conclusion needs to be as long as your essay paragraphs were.
The example of rephrasing a thesis statement for your conclusion:
And here goes the argumentative essay conclusion example (please check the above introduction from Scribbr as a reference):
OK, and one more thing:
Types of references to choose for evidence in your argumentative essays:
- Use accurate facts.
- Don’t ignore statistics and examples that illustrate your points.
- Try definitions, explanations (how and why), and examples.
- Consider narratives : stories that illustrate your issues can help create a picture in readers’ minds.
- It’s worth using expert testimonials and interviews.
- Support your points with personal experiences if you have any.
- Surveys can also come in handy.
- Sources like books, magazines, newspapers, journal articles, government documents, and any library resources are OK to use when writing an argumentative essay, too.
- And remember about internet documents that don’t fall into any of the above types of references.
Argumentative Essay Examples
We know that students look for argumentative essay examples online to understand this assignment better and visually learn how to write an argumentative essay.
Indeed, it’s better to see once than read or hear twice.
The below argumentative essay examples will help you understand the nature of this paper type better:
- Argumentative Paper Sample , by Writing Center
- Essay on school-family partnerships , by Bid4Papers
- Exploring the Argumentative Essay Structure with an Example , by The University of Queensland
Frequently Asked Questions
And the last but not least, here go the answers to the most frequent questions students ask when communicating with our writers about argumentative essay. We hope they’ll help you understand this essay type better and improve your writing skills for getting even higher grades on it!
What is the goal of an argumentative essay?
The goal of an argumentative essay is to persuade the reader that your claim (thesis statement) is accurate. For that, you need to use facts, data, statistics, examples, testimonials, and any other kinds of references.
What is a claim in an argumentative essay?
A claim in an essay is your thesis statement , where you represent the opinion you ‘re going to argue . Using an essay maker can help you to come up with a strong argument and evidence for readers to believe you . It needs to be something that requires argument ation and evidence for readers to believe you .
How to write a thesis for an argumentative essay?
- Choose a topic.
- Turn it into a question and pick a side you’re going to defend in your essay.
- Summarize it in 1-2 sentences, stating an argument and explaining why you agree/disagree, and represent it in the introductory paragraph of your argumentative essay.
Can I use “you” in an argumentative essay?
Yes, you can. Actually, it’s a preferable format to use in argumentative essays because they belong to formal academic writing. Sometimes it’s OK to use first-person pronouns (I, we, us) in essays, too, but make sure it’s appropriate and doesn’t sound self-centered or selfish. Otherwise, it will look like you’re unaware or don’t care about alternative opinions on the topic.
What are the features of an argumentative essay?
The main features of an argumentative essay are: (1) A researchable and debatable topic and claim, (2) Strong evidence to support the claim, (3) A definite structure to present arguments and counterarguments, (4) Persuasive writing style and tone of voice, and (5) A compelling conclusion.
What is the difference between a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay?
The core difference is that persuasive essays try to convince readers by using personal opinions and emotions. In contrast, argumentative essays need to use logic, facts, statistics, and other existing evidence for it. Plus, argumentative essays acknowledge opposing views and appeal to readers’ minds. At the same time, persuasive essays appeal to emotions and may not admit any counterarguments.
Can I get help with writing an argumentative essay?
Sure, you can. It’s OK to have difficulty with choosing topics or claims for your argumentative essay, as well as arguments to represent for their evidence. Teachers understand that and are open to communication, so don’t hesitate to email them with questions. Your peers with good writing skills can also assist you with how to write an argumentative essay. Or, you can ask Bid4Papers writers anytime when you feel pressed for assignments and are afraid of failing the structure or missing deadlines.
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Regards! Great information!
You actually said this very well. What about writing a good compare and contrast essay?
Actually, I was going to write a new blog post on this topic soon. 🙂 So, stay tuned!
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Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.
The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.
Answering Questions: The Parts of an Essay
A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.
It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)
"What?" The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.
"How?" A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.
"Why?" Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.
Mapping an Essay
Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.
Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:
- State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
- Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
- Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is . . ." Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay.
Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.
Signs of Trouble
A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").
Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
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How to perfect your prompt writing for ChatGPT, Midjourney and other AI generators
Lecturer in Business Analytics, University of Sydney
Marcel Scharth does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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Generative AI is having a moment. ChatGPT and art generators such as DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney have proven their potential, and now millions are wracking their brains over how to get their outputs to look something like the vision in their head.
This is the goal of prompt engineering: the skill of crafting an input to deliver a desired result from generative AI.
Despite being trained on more data and computational resources than ever before, generative AI models have limitations . For instance, they’re not trained to produce content aligned with goals such as truth, insight, reliability and originality.
They also lack common sense and a fundamental understanding of the world, which means they can generate flawed (and even nonsensical) content.
As such, prompt engineering is essential for unlocking generative AI’s capabilities. And luckily it isn’t a technical skill. It’s mostly about trial and error, and keeping a few things in mind.
Read more: AI art is everywhere right now. Even experts don't know what it will mean
First, let’s use ChatGPT to illustrate how prompt engineering can be used for text outputs. If it’s used effectively, ChatGPT can generate essays , computer code , business plans , cover letters , poetry , jokes , and more.
Since it’s a chatbot, you may be inclined to engage with it conversationally. But this isn’t the best approach if you want tailored results. Instead, adopt the mindset that you’re programming the machine to perform a writing task for you.
Create a content brief similar to what you might give a hired professional writer. The key is to provide as much context as possible and use specific and detailed language. You can include information about:
- your desired focus, format, style, intended audience and text length
- a list of points you want addressed
- what perspective you want the text written from, if applicable
- and specific requirements, such as no jargon .
If you want a longer piece, you can generate it in steps. Start with the first few paragraphs and ask ChatGPT to continue in the next prompt. If you’re unsatisfied with a specific portion, you can ask for it to be rewritten according to new instructions.
But remember: no matter how much you tinker with your prompts, ChatGPT is subject to inaccuracies and making things up . So don’t take anything at face value. In the example below, the output mentions a “report” that doesn’t exist. It probably included this because my prompt asked it to use only reliable sources .
Midjourney is one of the most popular tools for art generation, and one of the easiest for beginners . So let’s use it for our next example.
Unlike for text generation, elaborate prompts aren’t necessarily better for image generation. The following example shows how a basic prompt combined with a style keyword is enough to create a variety of interesting images. Your style keyword may refer to a genre, art movement, technique, artist or specific work.
The following images were based on the prompt leopard on tree followed by different style keywords. These were (from the top left clockwise) synthwave , hyperrealist , expressionist and in the style of Zena Holloway . Holloway is a British photographer known for capturing her subjects in ethereal and somewhat surreal scenes, most often underwater.
You can also add keywords relating to:
- image qualities, such as “beautiful” or “high definition”
- objects you want pictured
- and lighting and colours.
With Midjourney, you can even use certain specific commands for different features, including ––ar or ––aspect to set the aspect ratio , ––no to omit certain objects, and ––c to produce more “unusual” results. This command accepts values between 0-100 after it, where the default is 0 and 100 leads to the most unusual result.
You can also use ––s or ––stylize to generate more artistic images (at the expense of following the prompt less closely).
The following example applies some of these ideas to create a fantasy image with a dreamlike and futuristic look. The prompt used here was dreamy futuristic cityscape, beautiful, clouds, interesting colors, cinematic lighting, 8k, 4k ––ar 7:4 ––c 25 ––no windows.
Midjourney accepts multiple prompts for one image if you use a double colon. This can lead to results such as the image below, where I provided separate prompts for the owl and plants. The full prompt was oil painting of an ethereal owl :: flowers, colors :: abstract :: wisdom ––ar 7:4 .
A more advanced type of prompting is to include an image as part of the prompt. Midjourney will then take the style of that image into account when generating a new one.
A good way to find inspiration and ideas is to explore the Midjourney gallery and style libraries .
A career of the future?
As generative AI models enter everyday life, prompting skills are likely to become more in-demand , especially from employers looking to get results using AI generators.
Some commentators are asking if becoming a “prompt engineer” may be a way for professionals such as designers, software engineers and content writers to save their jobs from automation, by integrating generative AI into their work. Others have suggested prompt engineering will itself be a career.
It’s hard to predict what role prompt engineering will play as AI models advance.
But it’s almost a given that more sophisticated generators will be able to handle more complex requests, inviting users to stretch their creativity. They will likely also have a better grasp of our preferences, reducing the need for tinkering.
Read more: No, the Lensa AI app technically isn’t stealing artists' work – but it will majorly shake up the art world
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How To Write An Argumentative Essay: Step By Step Guide
With argumentative essays, the student must explore his stance on an issue and think about possible rebuttals to this claim. Otherwise, the argumentative essay is incomplete.
However, all forms of essay writing follow a specified format, and they all need an outline. So, let’s examine how to write an argumentative essay . This guide will also cover essay examples and useful writing tips to present a convincing argument.
What is an Argumentative Essay?
An argumentative essay is a form of writing that explores the writer’s viewpoint on any topic. The writer must outline their opinion in the opening paragraphs to give the reader a better understanding of their stance on the issue.
Despite similarities with other forms of writing like persuasive essays, argumentative essays go beyond convincing the reader that your point is superior. You also need to explore different existing viewpoints on the issue and refute them. Besides, you must support all your claims with irrefutable evidence based on fact.
For example, if the argumentative essay topic focuses on police brutality, your paper should support and refute these claims simultaneously.
In academia, argumentative essay writing is one of the most common assignments for students in the arts and humanities. Besides, the standard structure of argumentative essays is the bedrock of the famous 5-paragraph writing style.
5 Types of Argument Claims
The argument claim describes the prevailing viewpoint in your argument — the theory you support. Before outlining your view, you need to select presentation criteria to dictate the paper’s tone and direction. Here are the five types of argument claims:
The fact claim focuses on answering a ‘yes or no’ question. This claim uses concrete evidence to determine the veracity of the paper’s central claim. Often, the fact claim is used when the argumentative essay topic is a question .
When using the definition claim, you should only focus on the standard definition of the word or expression. All forms of personal and contextual interpretation should not appear in the paper.
The value claim stresses the importance of the topic of discussion. What is the relevance to society? This type of claim is often used for existential problems affecting humans in general or a specific group.
- Cause and effect
As the name suggests, the cause and effect claim focuses on an issue and the reasons it occurred. In essence, the essay establishes a connection between an event and an outcome.
This claim assertion technique is used in politics. For argumentative essay writing, the policy claim should address the relevance of the discussion, the affected parties, and the best policy moving forward.
Making a convincing argument relies on your ability to strategize. You need to acquaint yourself with the facts of the matter and choose a winning strategy to express your ideas.
Think of lawyers in the courtroom; they spend hours preparing their arguments and studying the adversary. And in the end, they come up with a strategy to counter the opponent’s most vital points. Politicians also use this technique.
So, let’s go through the three main argument strategies to use in your argumentative essay.
– The Classical Approach (Aristotelian)
The classical approach is named after the great philosopher Aristotle. This argumentative strategy involves a straight-line expression of your argument.
First, you start with your main claim and convince the reader that your stance is the only valid one. Then, you have to offer context and provide evidence-backed data to counter any rebuttals from your opponent. This strategy is the most straightforward since it follows a linear chain of action.
Also, the classical approach appeals to the credibility (ethos) of the claim and the logic (logos) of thinking. At the same time, you can appeal to the reader’s emotions (pathos) with vivid imagery. And most importantly, you can make a time-sensitive appeal (kairos) by calling the reader to immediate action.
– The Rogerian Strategy
This argumentative strategy was developed by Carl Rogers and became popular through the works of Young and Pike. This strategy’s central ideology focuses on compromise — the ability to reach a middle ground and avoid further conflict with your adversary.
In life, the Rogerian strategy is often applied when negotiating with family and friends. For example, if you want to visit Paris and your partner wants to see Venice, the Rogerian method will help you plan a trip that covers both destinations.
Therefore, this Rogerian strategy is not the best approach in an academic setting. Even if you are ready to reach a compromise, your opponent may not have the same motivations. Besides, you have to yield some ground to come to a sensible resolution, which contrasts the entire essence of argumentation.
– The Toulmin Style
This argumentative approach was developed by Stephen Toulmin. The central theme involves coming up with a claim and backing it up. So, we can divide this strategy into three components: claim, grounds, and backing.
The claim is your main opinion, usually an event that occurred somewhere. The grounds of the argument refer to a collection of facts and evidence supporting the original claim. Finally, the backing refers to additional data that corroborates the main claim without conceding to the opposition.
Choose one of these three approaches to present an opinion relevant to the argumentative essay topic. And if you are unsure about the best approach, use the classic method.
How to Choose a Topic for an Argumentative Essay
Most teachers hand out argumentative essay topics to students. Sometimes, they provide an array of topics from which students can choose. However, some teachers allow students to flex their creative muscles and choose topics on their own. If you are left with the herculean task of selecting a fascinating essay topic, here are some tricks to help you come out unscathed.
– Choose a topic that interests you
Regardless of the essay writing genre, always choose a topic that interests you. If you are into sports, look for sports-related argumentative essay topics . Selecting a topic that you don’t care about will always reflect in the paper’s quality. The entire argument will lack inspiration and passion.
Besides, writing on a topic that you find interesting helps you to explore the topic even more. It also reduces the amount of work needed to complete the assignment. So, always outline your interests when choosing a topic, and tailor your research to them.
– Research hot-button issues
Another easy way to come up with a relevant topic is by addressing hot-button issues. For example, topics related to animal rights and climate change are the subject of debates in politics and even at dinner parties. As a result, you can find enough material to structure your argumentative essay.
Besides, controversy sells. Readers want a topic that will strike all the emotional chords for them. So, choosing a controversial topic piques the reader’s interest and earns you maximum points in your essay. Most importantly, focus on hot-button issues related to your field of study.
– Search for trending topics
Trending topics are always a reliable go-to when you are struggling with creative ideas for your argumentative paper. By focusing on trending topics, you will come up with relevant issues for arguments. At the same time, you will fulfill the emotional aspect of argumentation since most trending issues are controversial.
Besides, writing about popular issues gives you access to enough materials. You can also select your topic from any form of media.
Here are some reliable sources for argumentative essay topics:
- Internet forums (Medium, Quora, Twitter, etc.)
A common theme for argumentative essays is the current COVID pandemic and its effects on social interactions.
– Find topics with arguable sides
When choosing essay topics, students often forget that they need to argue both sides. Therefore, the topic you choose must be arguable . In simpler terms, people should be able to look at it and agree or disagree instantly. Hence, the need to choose controversial topics for your argumentative essay.
“The earth is flat.”
No one (in their right mind) will argue with this assertion. And even if they do, no evidence can support this stance.
“Climate change will lead to armageddon.”
Now, this topic is debatable since scientists are conflicted about the long-term impacts of climate change.
Avoid broad topics
You might think that choosing broad topics provides you with more content for your argumentative essay. But the reverse is the case: broad topics extend the area you need to cover in your paper. And since you have a word count restriction, you can’t express your ideas to the best of your ability.
Therefore, choose a topic that provides you with enough material. Some topics make you think, “How am I supposed to find evidence to support that?”
Stay away from these ‘unresearchable’ argumentative topics.
Argumentative Essay Outline
With a clear understanding of the topic, you can now focus your efforts on brainstorming. Conduct extensive research on the issue to gather enough information for all sides of the argument. After collecting the data and supporting evidence, you need to create a plan for your paper. This plan is called an argumentative essay outlin e .
The outline provides structure to your paper. It also saves you time when working on time-sensitive assignments. And most importantly, an essay outline provides you with an arrangement framework for your points.
For argumentative essays, the outline contains at least five paragraphs — the basis of the standard essay structure.
Let’s take a look at the standard argumentative essay structure .
The introductory paragraph
Every essay starts with the introduction, making it the most crucial part of the argumentative essay format . This section previews the paper by providing background information on the topic. Besides, the argumentative essay introduction eliminates all elements of neutrality, stating the writer’s intentions to support a specific side of the argument.
As a result, you need a well-crafted thesis statement that captures the central theme covered in the paper. The thesis statement is often concise, with a maximum of two sentences. You can also place it at the end of the introduction.
The body section
This is the paper’s main section because it contains the source of information and the main arguments. Also, the body paragraphs examine two sides of the writer’s viewpoint. In essence, you have at least three sections or paragraphs dedicated to each point.
Here are the main paragraphs that make up the body.
This paragraph expresses the author’s main argument in detail. Depending on the paper’s size, this section can contain two or more paragraphs linked by transitional phrases.
- The rebuttal
This section presents opposing viewpoints to the main claim. In essence, the rebuttal counters the thesis presented in the introduction.
- The counterclaim
This section reaffirms the thesis and counters the rebuttal.
All three sections must appear in the body of a full-fledged argumentative essay. Also, you must start every paragraph with a topic sentence. Don’t forget to use linking verbs to establish a relationship between paragraphs. And most importantly, provide supporting evidence and citations for your points.
In this section, the student should restate the central ideas presented in the paper. A standard argumentative essay conclusion always starts by rehashing the thesis statement. However, you cannot introduce new ideas in the conclusion.
Argumentative Essay Examples
You can choose a myriad of topics for your essay based on the specific subject. But if you’ve hit a brick wall in your selection, here are some excellent examples to choose from based on earlier recommendations:
Controversial argumentative essay examples
- Gender-based discrimination is prevalent in Silicon Valley.
- Is the COVID-19 vaccine harmful to society?
- CTE is a significant problem in all contact sports
- Is police brutality warranted or an appropriate response to high crime rates?
- Should all states legalize late-term abortion?
Trending argumentative essay topics
- Is homeschooling better than traditional schools?
- Will artificial intelligence replace humans in the workplace?
- Should exotic pets be domesticated?
- Are zoos a violation of animal rights?
- War as a tool for world peace.
Fact-based argumentative essay topics
- Racial discrimination is responsible for police brutality.
- The racial quota is a slap in the face of meritocracy.
- Fast food is responsible for obesity.
- The criminalization of Cannabis is responsible for all drug wars.
- High taxation is harmful to the local economy.
Useful Tips for Argumentative Essay Writing
Every outstanding argumentative essay relies on persuasion. You need to convince the reader that your opinion is the ultimate truth. However, false evidence and poor grammar affect the credibility of your claims. So, let’s consider some essential tips when writing a convincing argumentative paper.
- Choose an arguable topic
If the teacher allows you to select your preferred topic, make sure you choose an issue with arguable sides. After all, an argumentative essay’s entire essence is to explore all the sides of the problem and confirm your viewpoint. So, look for topics that interest you and are relevant to your field of study.
- Focus on controversial issues
Nobody wants to spend time reading a bland, uninspired essay. So, while searching for topics, focus on hot-button issues. But don’t choose controversial topics for kicks. Ensure that the topic is related to your field. Moreover, pay more attention to issues that ignite your passion. This emotional connection improves your argument and makes the paper more engaging.
- Take a stance you can support
When choosing an emotionally-charged topic, avoid those that are limited in scope. You don’t have to select the ‘progressive’ side of every argument. Identify your interests and beliefs and focus your opinions on them. By doing so, you will give yourself more wiggle room to express your ideas better.
- Consider your audience
Writing an argumentative essay for your peers is different because you can use an informal and conversational style. But since your audience is the teacher, you can only use formal language. Therefore, adapt your writing style to your audience to earn higher marks. And as a rule, stay away from informal expressions in academic writing at all costs.
- Gather convincing evidence
Personal experience and opinions have no place in argumentative writing, no matter how painful and convincing. Only evidence from authoritative sources is acceptable when supporting your claim. Therefore, your research should focus on academic material and resources from acclaimed authors. You can also rely on the works of recognized experts in the field to back your claims. Stay away from Wikipedia, Quora, and other open-source platforms.
- Outline your essay
As you gather your points, arrange them into a framework for your essay. This technique helps you to develop a relevant outline for your paper without much stress. Besides, the outline forms the basis of your argumentative essay and saves you tons of hours spent on arranging your ideas. Eventually, this outline will help you come up with a preliminary draft.
- Write a captivating title and intro
Why is a title essential when writing an argumentative essay? First of all, using a question title allows the reader to take a stance right away. And if the topic is emotionally-charged, you have your reader by the hook. And as far as hooks are concerned, use them in your essay. Add essay hooks in the introduction alongside a well-written thesis statement.
- Mind the formatting
Every academic writing assignment follows a specified format. The only exception is narrative essays that feature personal accounts. When writing your argumentative essay, use the formatting style specified by the teacher. Remember that APA writing style needs an abstract, while the MLA doesn’t need one. If you don’t know the differences between writing formats, consult the official style guides for more clarity.
- Conclude by restating the thesis
The conclusion paragraph should always restate the thesis. For a more comprehensive conclusion, summarize every paragraph in the essay. Always be careful not to introduce any new ideas in the conclusion paragraph. And most importantly, keep it short and straight to the point.
- End with a call to action
The last point in the conclusion should always call the reader to act on something. Since the point of an argument is to convince others that your opinion is the most logical, you should sign off by calling them over to your side. At the same time, you can highlight a moral lesson from the text.
- Edit the final draft
Editing is the final frontier in any writing task. This stage of writing allows you to analyze your ideas and grammar. At the same time, you can adjust the writing structure or use a more impactful tone. When you are satisfied with the final draft, you can now submit your paper.
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How to Write a Persuasive Essay
The ancient art of rhetoric dates back to the Classical period of ancient Greece, when rhetoricians used this persuasive form of public speaking to address their fellow citizens in the Greek republics. As time went on, rhetoric remained at the center of education in the western world for nearly 2,000 years. In our modern world, rhetoric is still an integral part of human discourse, utilized by world leaders and students alike to argue their points of view.
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The definition of rhetoric is the “art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing,” where language is used to have a convincing or impressive effect on the audience being addressed.
At some point in every student’s academic career, instructors will deliver the assignment to write a persuasive essay that argues for or against a certain topic. Whether or not you’ve taken a course in rhetoric, students can apply the principles of rhetoric to write an effective persuasive essay that convinces the audience to accept a certain viewpoint.
To be as convincing as Aristotle on the stand, your persuasive essay must be based on sound logic and factual evidence that support the overall argument. As you begin to think about writing a persuasive essay, here are several tips that will help you argue your topic like a true rhetorician.
Choose a position you’re passionate about
The first step in writing a persuasive essay is choosing a topic and picking a side. If the topic is something you believe in, it will make the entire experience of researching, writing, and arguing your perspective more personal. Choosing a topic that appeals to you on an emotional or sentimental level will make its defense easier. Plus, chances are you’ll already know a good deal of information about the topic, so you won’t be left scrambling when it’s time to start your research.
Thoroughly research both sides
Every argument has a counterargument—this is one of the staples of rhetoric. To convince your reader to agree with you, you must be knowledgeable of the opposing side. As important as it is to thoroughly research your topic, identifying and studying both sides of the argument will help you develop the strongest supporting evidence possible. During the research process, gather as much information as you can about the topic at hand. Use your school’s resources like the library, academic journals, and reference materials. With a full understanding of your topic, you’ll be able to readily counter the opposition and assuage any follow-up questions that might cast doubt on your claims.
>>READ MORE: 7 Essay Writing Tips
Draft your thesis statement
One of the most important elements of your persuasive essay is your thesis statement , which should tell readers exactly what your stance encompasses. Without a forceful thesis, you won’t be able to deliver an effective argument. The construction of your thesis statement should include the “what” and the “how” of your argument—what is the argument you are trying to convince your readers to accept? And how will I convince my readers that the argument is sound? While the “how” may become clearer as your essay progresses, your thesis statement should set up the organizational pattern of your essay while presenting your position.
Create a working structure or outline
Outlining your paper will give you a clear view of your argument and the way it develops. Think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of your argument—where would it be most effective for you to introduce your strongest supporting evidence? For rhetoric’s sake, it’s probably not wise to save the best for last. Instead, use your outline to get organized from the outset, anchoring each point in evidence, analysis, and counterargument. List out all of your major claims and the research that supports each point. Creating a working structure will allow you to break down your argument in a logical and concise order, which will make the writing process more straightforward.
Write with integrity and empathy
The most successful rhetorical arguments draw on three main elements: ethos (ethical reasoning) , logos (logical reasoning) , and pathos (passionate reasoning). If amassed perfectly, these three components will make your argument so powerfully robust that nobody could disagree. However, this is easier said than done; even master rhetoricians struggle to find a balance of these three elements. Ethically, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t misleading or manipulating your argument. Logically, your points must be based in fact and progress in a way that makes sense. Passionately, you should emphasize your evidence and use strategic repetition to compel your audience. The key is to find a harmony or balance among these three elements, writing with integrity and empathy.
>>READ MORE: How to Write Better Essays
As Eben Pagan said, “You can’t convince anyone of anything. You can only give them the right information, so that they can convince themselves.” In the spirit of the ancient Greek rhetoricians, knowing how to write a persuasive essay is an essential function of human discourse—and a true art form when done correctly.
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.
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.
A good argumentative essay should follow this structure: 1. Introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of your essay should outline the topic, provide background information necessary to understand your argument, outline the evidence you will present and states your thesis. 2. The thesis statement. This is part of your first paragraph.
The basic format for the Toulmin Method is as follows: Claim: In this section, you explain your overall thesis on the subject. In other words, you make your main argument. Data (Grounds): You should use evidence to support the claim. In other words, provide the reader with facts that prove your argument is strong.
The essay writing process consists of three main stages: Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
How to write an argumentative essay. Regardless of the writer's topic or point of view, an argumentative essay should include an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, a conclusion, and works cited. ... Get better grades with tutoring from top-rated private tutors. Local and online. View tutors. Find english tutors in your area.
Here's a brief overview of how to adapt the process for argumentative essays: 1 Brainstorming: If your argument is not provided in the assignment, take some time to think up a good thesis based on our guidelines above. 2 Preparing: This phase is for collecting all the evidence going into your essay, as well as writing an outline.
The argumentative essay outline example below shows the recommended order in which to put these elements: I. Introduction A. Open with a hook, if you can, to garner interest B. Explain the topic and its necessary context C. Make your thesis statement II. Present the grounds (hard evidence) to validate your thesis
Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion.
Argumentative essays usually follow a simple form: introduction paragraph, a few paragraphs that contain the argument, and a conclusion paragraph. Following this time-tested structure will help you write better argumentative essays.
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?
1 Choose wording carefully. Word choice—the words and phrases you decide to use—is crucial in persuasive writing as a way to build a personal relationship with the reader. You want to always pick the best possible words and phrases in each instance to convince the reader that your opinion is right. Persuasive writing often uses strong ...
8 Tips for Better Persuasive Writing. In order to be a more influential writer, there are a few persuasive writing techniques a writer may utilize: 1. Pick a topic you're passionate about. You'll do your best persuading when it's something you truly believe in. If you have the option to pick a topic, choose one that appeals to your own ...
7. Analyze the effectiveness of your argument's structure. The goal of your writing is to convince an audience of your argument. Review your paper to evaluate how well your body paragraphs or key points support your thesis. Rearrange parts of your writing if needed to better support your ideas and persuade readers.
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.
Gather Evidence. One of your essay's first objectives will be to assess both sides of your issue. Consider strong arguments for both your side, as well as the "other" side—in order to shoot their statements down. Provide evidence without drama; sticking to the facts and clear examples that support your stance.
But given the structure of a standard 5-paragraph essay, let's leave our argumentative essay format at that: Introduction + thesis. 1-st paragraph (here you'll use an argument to support the thesis) 2-nd paragraph (here goes another argument to support the thesis) 3-rd paragraph (counterargument) Conclusion.
Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative.
your desired focus, format, style, intended audience and text length. a list of points you want addressed. what perspective you want the text written from, if applicable. and specific requirements ...
Serious writers can get pretty technical about how to organize an argumentative essay. There are three approaches in particular used often: Aristotlian (classical), Rogerian, and Toulmin. However, these can get exceedingly complicated, so for a simple essay, a basic structure will do just fine: Your point Counterpoint
All three sections must appear in the body of a full-fledged argumentative essay. Also, you must start every paragraph with a topic sentence. Don't forget to use linking verbs to establish a relationship between paragraphs. And most importantly, provide supporting evidence and citations for your points.
The first step in writing a persuasive essay is choosing a topic and picking a side. If the topic is something you believe in, it will make the entire experience of researching, writing, and arguing your perspective more personal. Choosing a topic that appeals to you on an emotional or sentimental level will make its defense easier.
The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of employing concept mapping at a pre-writing stage on English as a foreign language (EFL) students' ability to generate better argumentative essays. Thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to two groups participating in Writing II course at Al-Quds Open University (QOU). Both groups had the same teacher.