Argumentative Essay Structure – Use My Helpful Outline Example - BepalInfo

Argumentative Essay Structure – Use My Helpful Outline Example

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    Suggestions for Developing 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? 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:

     

    observation + opinion (the “why”) = thesis

     

    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 evidenceReasons 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:

    • facts

    • statistics

    • authorities

    • anecdotes

    • scenarios

    • cases

    • 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 acknowledgingaccommodating, 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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    How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Five Parts: Understanding the Format Selecting a Topic Structuring Your Argument Including Research and Sources Editing and Applying Final Touches Community Q&A

    Understanding how to structure and write an argumentative essay is a useful skill. Strong argumentative essays present relevant evidence that supports an argument and convinces the audience of a particular stance. This type of essay provides the reader with a thorough overview of a topic, covering all facets, but also attempts to persuade the reader into agreeing with the author’s point of view.

    Steps

    Part 1

    Understanding the Format

    1. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 1

      1
      Understand the purpose of an argumentative essay. The purpose of this type of essay is to fully investigate an issue or topic. This involves extensive research covering all aspects of the topic and gathering information on all involved points of view.

      • Argumentative essays also provide your audience with a well-rounded summary of the issue at hand, but clearly indicate what your own point of view is and why this view is the best option over others. [1]
    2. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 2

      2
      Understand the methodology of an argumentative essay. To prepare yourself to write an argumentative essay, it is crucial for you to fully immerse yourself in the subject material.

      • The effectiveness of this type of essay depends on the author’s ability to parse through the various facets of the topic and lead the reader toward an obvious and logical conclusion. To this end, you must familiarize yourself with all opinions about the topic so that you can also outline the viewpoints that oppose your own view (counterarguments).
    3. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 3

      3
      Understand the desired outcome of an argumentative essay. In the end, the main reason someone chooses to write an argumentative essay (other than the fact that their professor told them to!) is to attempt to sway another person or group of people in their opinion on a subject.

      • Make sure you have your desired outcome in mind as you move forward in the writing process.

    Part 2

    Selecting a Topic

    1. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 4

      1
      Choose something that fits the format. Remember that an argumentative essay will argue in support of a particular view in a debatable issue. As such, it is important that you do not choose a topic that is not arguable. [2]

      • For example, writing an argumentative essay on the fact that exercise is good for you would be undesirable because it would be difficult to find contradicting views on the topic; everyone agrees that exercise is good for people.
    2. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 5

      2
      Pick an issue that is interesting to you. You’ll be spending a lot of time researching and writing this paper. So it is important for you to choose a topic that you find interesting from the start.

      • Avoid choosing a topic that has been overdone, or, on the other hand, one that is too obscure (since supporting evidence may be more difficult to find).
    3. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 6

      3
      Test your argument. Find a peer (preferably one that holds an oppositional view) to discuss your argument with. This process will help you refine your thinking and develop new ideas to support your judgment.

      • Try a debate-style conversation in which you each bring up aspects of the controversy and attempt to explain your view on the topic.
    4. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 7

      4
      Keep your audience in mind. An important aspect of writing an argumentative essay is understanding your audience.

      • Are you writing the paper for a class, in which case your audience is your professor and your classmates? Or perhaps you are writing it for a presentation to a larger group of people. Regardless, you must think about where your audience is coming from in order to lead them to your desired outcome.
      • People’s backgrounds and experiences often influence how they will react to views different from their own, so it is helpful for you to be knowledgeable about these factors.
      • You also use different language when addressing different groups of people. For example, you would speak to the pastor at your church differently than you might speak in a casual setting with your best friend. It is important to be mindful of these distinctions when considering your audience.
    5. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 8

      5
      Understand the rhetorical situation. It is essential that you understand all of the factors in the situation surrounding your issue. All rhetorical situations contain five basic elements: the text (in your case, the essay), the author (in this case, you), the audience, the purpose or purposes of the communication, and the setting. [3]

      • Rhetorical situations usually involve employing language that is intended to persuade someone toward a particular view or belief. That is why rhetoric is important in an argumentative essay. These types of essays aim to convince the reader that the author’s view on the subject is the most correct one. [4]

    Part 3

    Structuring Your Argument

    1. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 9

      1
      Create a catchy title. Developing a creative, original title is a fantastic opportunity to hook your reader into wanting to read more of your paper before they even get to the introduction.

      • A good title will act as a “preview” for what your paper will be about. Many titles for academic papers come in two parts, separated by a colon. The first part is often a catchy hook that involves a pun on your topic or an impactful quote, and the second part is usually a sentence that sums up or provides details about your argument. [5]
    2. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 10

      2
      Come up with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement will be a concise idea that sums up your view on the issue. The thesis usually appears at the end of the introduction paragraph. Having this idea in mind early on in the reading process will help guide your reader through the rest of the paper.

      • A good thesis statement is concise and clear. It tells the reader what the point of the paper is and why it’s important. The thesis must make a claim of some sort. [6] This can be a claim of value (describing the worth of how we view a certain thing), a claim of definition (arguing that the way we define a term or idea needs to be altered in some way), a claim of cause and effect (claiming that one event or thing caused another event or thing), or a claim about policy solutions (arguing that the way we do things needs to be changed for some reason).
      • Here is an example of a strong thesis statement: Excessive meat consumption in America is the leading cause of pollution today, and, thus, is a significant influence on global warming. This thesis makes a claim (specifically a cause and effect claim) about a debatable topic with a narrow enough focus to create an interesting, manageable argumentative essay.
      • Here is an example of a weak thesis statement: Pollution is a problem in the world today. This is not a debatable issue; few people would argue that pollution is not a problem. The topic is also too broad. You can’t write a paper on every single aspect of pollution.
    3. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 11

      3
      Avoid the standard three-part thesis often taught to beginning writers. This format is constricting and limits the shape your ideas can take to being contained in three basic body paragraphs. Without the three-part thesis statement, your ideas can expand more freely and incorporate ideas that might not fit exactly into the three parts.

      • An example of a three-part thesis statement might look something like this: Global warming is caused by industrial pollution, automobile exhaust fumes, and waste dumping in the oceans. In this case, you would expect to find three body paragraphs: one about industrial pollution, one about car exhaust fumes, and one about trash in the ocean. Any other causes of pollution would not fit anywhere in this essay, which restricts the meaning and the message of the paper.
      • Changing the thesis to avoid this form will make for a much more functional essay that is written at a more advanced level. A more effective thesis would be something like this: Due to increasing global temperatures and rising ocean levels, global warming has become an issue that needs to be acknowledged by a wider audience in order to begin reversing the effects.
    4. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 12

      4
      Write an introduction. This section should briefly explain the essay topic and include relevant background information to familiarize the reader with the topic. As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should appear at the end of the introduction.

    5. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 13

      5
      Write the body of the paper. Carefully present information that supports both your argument and opposition. Acknowledge evidence that supports the opposition, but utilize powerful evidence to assert your claim.

      • There are many different ways to organize your argument, [7] but the most important thing is that you cover all aspects of the issue. Leaving out information simply because it contradicts your thesis idea is unethical as it does not provide an accurate portrayal of the issue.
      • Be sure to include counterarguments (those ideas that are at odds with your own view), but explain to your reader why your own viewpoint is more logical and accurate, perhaps because the opposing view is based on outdated information, etc. Avoid implicating opposing views as wrong because it could alienate your readers.
    6. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 14

      6
      Write a conclusion. The aim of this section is to reassert your argument and persuade the audience to support your claim. Try to connect the essay topic to the interests and values of the audience.

      • Be sure to review your main points and restate your thesis. But make sure not to introduce any new information in the conclusion so that you can effectively wrap up what you’ve already said.
      • Often, it is helpful to end with a look forward to further research that could be done on the topic in light of what you have said in your paper.

    Part 4

    Including Research and Sources

    1. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 15

      1
      Do your research. Go to the library and look up books on the subject. Or look up information from reliable sources on the internet. It is important to find sources that cover all views of the issue since the point of this kind of essay is to provide a well-rounded overview of all aspects of the topic. Collecting evidence and information that supports both your argument and the opposing view will strengthen your essay.

      • Ask a reference librarian for assistance in finding reputable, useful sources for your argument. They will probably be happy to help you.
    2. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 16

      2
      Pick sources that are reputable and provide accurate, up-to-date information. The best research acknowledges the foundational work on a given subject, but also interrogates innovations in the field and divergences from the status quo. You do this by looking at sources that are both old (these provide the foundation of the topic) and new (these provide current trends in thought on an issue).

    3. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 17

      3
      Choose quotes that support your points. In order to make your work more credible, it is important to incorporate quotes from sources that are considered scholarly.

      • Scholarly sources should be written by experts in the field (i.e. use a quote from someone with a PhD in environmental science if you are writing an argumentative paper on the dangers of global warming) or published in scholarly, peer-reviewed outlets. This means that sources are fact-checked by a panel of experts before they are approved for publication.
      • It is important to remember that anyone can write things on the internet without any kind of publication standards for accuracy, so using blogs and many websites is not a good idea in an academic paper.
    4. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 18

      4
      Cite your sources. When you use quotes in a paper, you must cite them properly. If you don’t cite your sources, this is a form of plagiarism because you are not giving credit to the people whose ideas you are using in your paper.

      • Citing sources involves writing quotation marks (“) around the verbatim quotes and then including a parenthetical in-text citation at the end of the quote that refers to a source listed on the Bibliography or Works Cited page at the end of your paper.
      • There are several different formatting methods that are used in different fields. [8] For example, in English departments they use MLA formatting and in history departments they usually implement Chicago style formatting.

    Part 5

    Editing and Applying Final Touches

    1. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 19

      1
      Take a step back. Often, it’s possible to get so wrapped up in your own writing that it’s easy to skip over obvious errors and mistakes. Take a break from writing for at least a few hours. Sometimes leaving your work for a couple of days can be incredibly beneficial as well. Looking at your work with fresh eyes will allow you to see the errors you previously overlooked because you were so involved in the writing that you could only see what you meant to say rather than what you actually said.

    2. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 20

      2
      Look for grammar issues. [9] Problems with grammar can make your paper look sloppy and unprofessional. Here are some of the most common grammar mistakes:

      • Sentence fragments. [10] Fragments are incomplete phrases that cannot stand alone as a sentence because they are missing either a verb, a noun, or a complete thought.
      • Parallelism. [11] Errors in parallelism occur when words or groups of words do not appear in the same format or structure within a sentence.
      • Subject-verb agreement. [12] Errors with subject-verb agreement happen when an incorrect verb form is used with a particular subject. For example, he know instead of he knows.
    3. Image titled Write an Argumentative Essay Step 21

      3
      Check for problems with formatting or quote incorporation. Formatting quotes properly allows your reader to easily find the information you are referencing. It also adds to your credibility as an author.

    Community Q&A

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    • Question
      What are some examples of an argumentative essay?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Someone might write an argumentative essay about why eBooks are better than paper books, or whether climate change is being caused by nature or man. An argumentative essay is just about arguing one side of an issue. You could also try Google for more examples.
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    • Question
      How do you write a thesis?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      A thesis statement simply outlines the main argument of your essay.
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    • Question
      Do I need to add counter statements? If yes, why?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Yes. To make a great argument, it must be a debatable topic, so include counter statements
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    • Question
      When do I cite my sources?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      At the end of your work.
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    • Question
      How do you review the opposition’s points?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Try summarizing each paragraph as one sentence. Look over each sentence for a general outline. Write down why you disagree with them on scratch paper. Search each point and its paragraph for flaws, exceptions, or qualifications.
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    • Question
      What do I do if I disagree in an argumentative essay?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Write another essay from your point of view and explain why you disagree.
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    • Question
      When writing an argumentative essay, during which step do you criticize possible arguments against your main ideas?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      It would be best if you can do this with every paragraph.
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    • Question
      Do I write my argument and counterargument in the same paragraph?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      No. You state your argument first. If you are presenting a counterpoint, it should be presented after your argument.
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    • Question
      How do I write the second paragraph of an argumentative essay?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      It would be best to make it the contradictory paragraph, so later you can prove your point. Make sure to include a rebuttal so the audience knows which side you’re on.
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    • Question
      What is the best resource I could use for my essay?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      The internet. I would recommend checking out sites like Google Scholar that offer academic, peer-reviewed sources. (Those are the most reliable sources.)
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      Quick Summary

      To write an argumentative essay, select a debatable topic that you have a strong opinion about. Your job is to convince the reader that your view on the subject is the best one, so choose a topic you can investigate and support with research. Open the essay with a concise thesis that asserts your viewpoint, then sum up all aspects of the issue, including your opinion and counterarguments. Pull quotes from reputable sources to support your stance, and end by restating your thesis and reasserting your main points.

      Did this summary help you?

      Tips

      • Include only relevant information. Don’t drift off-topic.
      • Try to make each paragraph about a different aspect.
      • Use basic writing techniques to write the essay. Sentences should logically flow and have a specific purpose.
      • Depending on the topic, your essay should be between 4 and 10 paragraphs.

      Warnings

      • It is important to respect different views and to only use information, not insults, to support your claim.

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      Sources and Citations

      • http://homeworktips.about.com/od/essaywriting/a/argument.htm
      1. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/
      2. http://www.roanestate.edu/owl/argument.html
      3. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/625/02/
      4. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/625/01/
      5. https://umanitoba.ca/student/academiclearning/media/Writing_a_Great_Title_NEW.pdf
      6. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/
      7. https://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/Argumentative%20Paper%20Format.pdf
      8. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/
      9. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/
      10. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/620/01/
      11. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/623/01/
      12. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01/

      Show more… (10)

      Article Info

      Featured Article

      Categories: Featured Articles | Argumentative Essays

      In other languages:

      Italiano:  Scrivere una Tesina Argomentativa , Español:  hacer un ensayo argumentativo , Português:  Escrever uma Dissertação Argumentativa , Français:  écrire une rédaction argumentative , Русский:  написать аргументационное эссе , 中文:  才能写出一篇论证严密的论文 , Deutsch:  Eine argumentative Erörterung schreiben , Nederlands:  Een argumentatief essay schrijven , Čeština:  Jak správně napsat argumentativní esej , العربية:  كتابة مقال جدلي

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      This version of How to Write an Argumentative Essay was reviewed by Jamie Korsmo on March 28, 2017.

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