An argumentative essay is the mother of all essays. If you know how to write argumentative essays, you have an effective formula to create great papers of any kind. After all, they all exist to get your point across and change the mind of your reader. If you don’t want to say anything or persuade anyone, why write?
For those who want to know how to make a case for their opinions, we have prepared this argumentative essay guide.
Supply: Anything good for writing (paper, white page of your word processor, parchment, clay tablet – according to preference)
Tool: Anything to write with (pencil, keyboard, quill, stylus, etc.)
Total Time: 1 to 3 hours
How to Write an Argumentative Paper as a Pro
How do you write a perfect argumentative essay? You probably already have some experience with argumentative essay writing from school.
Although middle and high-school students often get argumentative essay topics to write on, their essays aren’t judged as strictly as the format demands. More often than not, students are encouraged to share their opinions and coherently articulating their point of view is enough to yield an A.
However, opinion is not enough. The key to a strong argumentative paper is factual data: statistics, experimental evidence, findings, numbers, and records.
What Is an Argumentative Essay?
Argumentative essay definition is essentially the definition of any essay. It is a type of paper aiming to influence the opinion of the reader. The purpose of an argumentative essay is very similar to that of a persuasive essay – they both persuade and change the mind of the recipient. However, while writing a persuasive essay you may appeal to the emotions of your reader and even give your personal opinions without backing them up by data. Whereas a good argumentative essay should stick to the facts and be as logical and impartial as possible.
Argumentative Essay Format
The dispassionate and rational nature of argumentative essay makes this format versatile and suitable for a variety of subjects and disciplines. That is why argumentative essay is the most popular type of assignment in high school and college. Little wonder the majority of famous speeches follow its template.
Types of Argumentative Essays
There are three main types of argumentative essay – Classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin. They differ by their structure and the way the main point is delivered. Which one of the three to use depends on the context, the power relationship between you and your reader, on your reader’s presumed personality and level of awareness concerning the topic.
Classical essay, also often referred to as Aristotelian, is the most tried and true. It is also the simplest in its structure. In its core is the so-called rhetorical triangle, where the writer, the reader, and the topic are represented as apexes of the triangle. The sides are Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
- Logos connects the writer with the topic (your thinking and reasoning about the subject)
- Ethos connects the writer and the reader (readers must find the writer credible and deem his/her ideas worthy of the reader’s attention)
- Pathos connects the reader with the topic through emotions.
This type of essay is very direct, somewhat aggressive, and implies that the audience already respects you and your opinion.
Sometimes referred to as “common ground” or argument, Rogerian essay is more diplomatic and subtle. It is named after psychologist Carl Rogers who proposed it as a conflict-solving technique. The author of a Rogerian essay strives to explore both opposing views on the problem and find a compromise. It is appropriate in a situation when you address a sensitive matter, especially if the reader doesn’t share your views or has authority over you.
Named after Stephen Toulmin, a 20th-century British philosopher, this is the most measured, factual, and logical type of argumentative essay. It is good when you address someone very rational, for example, fellow researchers, and want to emphasize the facts.
How to Structure an Argumentative Essay
The structure of your essay will depend on the type you’ve chosen. The most general is a three-part structure where you start with the introduction, list your arguments in the body, and summarize your essay in the conclusion. However, every type has its own particular structure.
- Introduction to capture audience’s attention and introduce the issue
- Statement of background to give some context and put you and your reader on the same page
- Proposition (thesis) is where you state your position or claim
- Proof is where you present your evidence, give reasons, explain, and justify your claims
- Refutation where you disprove any possible opposing arguments
- Conclusion is where you summarize your argument and encourage the reader to take your side
- Introduction of the problem is where you present your issue as a problem that needs a solution
- Summary of opposing views to state the views of your opponents as fairly as possible, without passing any judgment
- Statement of understanding to affirm opposing views as valid and show that there is a common ground
- Statement of your position goes right when your opponents are appeased and prepared to listen fairly to your opinions
- Statement of context is where you show the situation in which your views have merit
- Statement of benefit is where you show your opponents how accepting your position would benefit them
- Data is where you put facts and evidence upfront
- Claim, aka your thesis
- Warrants, that is logical statements that connect your claim with data
- Qualifiers, aka conditions under which your argument is true, and its limits
- Rebuttals is where you list opposing arguments or conditions under which your statement isn’t true
- Backing is where you list arguments that support your warrants
Steps to Writing an Argumentative Essay
As you can see, much of the argumentative writing process depends on the type of essay. However, there are some common ways to organize your work.
Step 1. Choose the topic
It must be something that you are already familiar with: to defend your opinion on the subject, you must first have an opinion.
Step 2. Research
Look for more information on the topic: facts to support your arguments, counter-arguments you should anticipate and refute, latest updates and discoveries to make your essay as current as possible.
Step 3. Choose the type of your essay
Decide which writing style suits your purpose and unique situation. How to start an argumentative essay and how it is best to present your argument depends on the chosen type. Look above for more information on the three main argumentative essay types.
Step 4. Prepare the outline
Following the chosen structure (Classical, Rogerian, or Toulmin) jot down a few key terms and ideas for each of the six main parts of your essay.
Step 5. Flesh out your first draft
Now write your essay paragraph by paragraph, using your outline as a roadmap.
Step 6. Revise your essay
Revision is time for a deep analysis of your essay. Reread it and try to evaluate it rationally. Is it persuasive enough? Does it hold even in the light of counter-arguments?
Step 7. Proofread your text
Now focus on grammar, spelling, formatting, and other details and edit your essay to make it shine!
Tips for Writing an Argumentative Essay
Types, structure, format, outline – by now you are probably overwhelmed with the information. Everything is so dry and abstract! Fret not, here are our exclusive – and very concrete – argumentative essay tips to make it more practical.
- Sometimes, especially if you feel strongly about something, it is difficult to come up with any counter-arguments. If that’s the case, here is an excellent exercise – try to defend the opposing point of view as if you were a lawyer.
- If you worry you will sound like a robot without using emotions in your text, read some free argumentative essay examples from our database to see how different students keep the balance between neutral and engaging in their academic papers.
- Try to space out writing your essay and revising it. Leave your text sit for a day or at least for a couple of hours. All the shortcomings and inconsistencies are easily spotted when you see your text with fresh eyes.
Still Don’t Get How to Write an Argument Essay?
The best way to write an argumentative essay is to follow a good example. That is why we have amassed our database of free samples – for you to read and learn! Go straight to the “Argumentative Essay” category or use the search bar if you are interested in a particular topic.
Remember, we are here to help, so don’t hesitate and request personalized assistance if you feel stuck!