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Writing an Argumentative Essay

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Here is a guide on how to write an argumentative essay delivered to you in easy to follow steps.  This will help you understand the purpose of this type of essay and its requirements to achieve its motive.  Please refer to our other valuable resources on the different areas of English as you continue learning throughout this page.

Argumentative essays are designed to be persuasive rather than descriptive, and try to convince the reader of a viewpoint or truth claim.  They require the writer to extensively research background information, evaluate the evidence, and formulate a perspective.  This type of essay generally relies on heavy research.  It can be conventional research utilizing written documents or it can be empirical research and data collection.  While argumentative essays can be of any length, the writer should be economical with his or her words, and focus on presenting a drum-tight argument.

Thesis Statement:

The key to an argumentative essay is in its thesis statement.  Without a solid thesis statement, the rest of the essay will most likely fail to hold together.  In this initial paragraph, the writer should introduce the topic in general and convince the reader that the argument is worth reading.  The writer also must clearly, concisely, and explicitly state his or her thesis.  If at all possible, it should be summed up in a single sentence.

Body Paragraphs:

Each body paragraph should be tightly written.  A paragraph is supposed to concisely express a discrete idea.  These paragraphs can discuss background, present evidence, explain methodology, provide definitions, or synthesize and expand upon previous paragraphs.  Especially in longer essays, it’s often advisable to also include conflicting viewpoints and refutations of conflicting viewpoints.  However, the writer shouldn’t get bogged down in these.  Unless the thesis statement is specifically designed to refute another thesis, the bulk of the essay should be spent reinforcing the writer’s own thesis.

Even though each body paragraph expresses a specific idea, the reader should be able to make logical links between the thesis statement and the body paragraphs.  Argumentative essays most likely won’t include extended anecdote or metaphor.

Transitions:

Fluid transitions turn a set of disconnected paragraphs into a persuasive argument.  A great way to build transitions is to sum up the paragraph and place that paragraph within the context of the larger argument.

Evidence:

Pieces of evidence are the building blocks of the argumentative essay.  Any evidence pertinent to the thesis– researched facts, collected data, or logical conclusions– should be included.  The writer should include evidence that seems to run counter to the thesis, and illustrate how this evidence is flawed or show the contingencies upon which the evidence is built.

Conclusion:

The conclusion functions as the capstone of the argument.  It refers back to the thesis, but it does more than simply restate the thesis.  Rather, it casts the thesis in a new light.  The writer should review the main points of the essay and refer them back to the thesis.  In this way, the thesis emerges as the focus of a cohesive argument.  At this juncture, the writer can also present suggestions for further research.

Completeness:

The argumentative essay isn’t designed to be open-ended.  Rather, it’s supposed to present a complete argument.  It should not only present positive evidence, but assuage any immediate concerns about the nature of the presented evidence.  It’s helpful to have a friend look over the essay to find any holes in the argument.

The Five Paragraph Form:

One of the most common forms of argumentative essay is the so-called “five paragraph” form.  This consists of an introduction, three basic contentions to support the thesis, and a concluding paragraph.  It’s a classic technique that makes for a forceful argument.  Even if one is writing a longer essay than five paragraphs, the five paragraph form is a really helpful starting point.  It gives the writer a sort of outline.  Think of the five paragraphs as the skeleton of an essay.  The writer can add as many sub-contentions, refutations, and clarifications as he or she needs, but that interior structure really holds the essay together.

Methodology:

Longer papers should present research methodology, either as an independent section or right next to the researched evidence.  Especially with scientific papers and other essays that require empirical data, the methods are just as important as the evidence itself.  The inclusion of methods not only can serve to reinforce the evidence, but also lends greater authority to the paper.

Headers:

This article makes heavy use of headers.  Headers serve to sum up the paragraphs that they precede, and divide lengthy papers into shorter sections.  They’re necessary for scientific papers, and scientists have a set of standard headers they generally employ (e.g. “Introduction,” “Materials and Methods” ).  They’re much less helpful in critical essays dealing with works of art or literature, where the argument is supposed to flow, but they’re very useful in more technical, empirically driven essays.

Editing:

Extensive editing, preferably with the help of a couple of other readers, invariably makes a paper stronger.  Especially when writing about contentious issues in politics and the humanities, getting other people’s perspectives on one’s argument makes the essay that much stronger.