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Argumentative Essay Outline: Format of An Argumentative Essay


Argumentative Essay Outline: Format of An Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires students to investigate a topic, collect information on a point on the different points of views about the issue, choose a point of view, evaluate the evidence on the chosen point of view, and establish a position on the topic in a clear and concise manner.

Below is the basic structure of an argumentative essay:

1.     Introduction

o    The introduction should be 1-2 paragraphs.

o    PURPOSE: To set up and state one’s claim using a clear and concise thesis statement

o    An introduction should have:

§  An interesting introductory paragraph to draw your readers in.

§   Background information on the topic to help readers understand the claim.

o    Some things to keep in mind when writing the introduction:

§  If you’re arguing about a literary work, state the name of the author and the title of the work.

§  If you’re arguing about an issue or theory – provide a brief explanation or your of issue/theory.

§  If you’re arguing about a film, mention the title of the film, state who the director is, and the year the film was released

§  STATE your claim at the end of your introductory paragraph using a clear and a concise thesis statement.


2.     Background Paragraph

o    Background information should not be more than 2 paragraphs, and can even be emitted and the information integrated in the introduction.

o    PURPOSE: Lays the foundation for proving your argument.

o    The background information section will often include:

§   A summary of works being discussed

§  Definition of key terms

§  Explanation of key theories


3.     Supporting Paragraphs #1, #2, #3, #4 etc.

o    PURPOSE:To prove your argument. Each supporting claim will be contained within a single paragraph, but can be longer.

o    Each sentence should contain:

a.       A topic Sentence: this is the main claim of the paragraph. It can be a fact, detail, or example that will help your readers better understand your claim/paper topic

b.      Explain Topic Sentence: Provide more information to explain your topic sentence..

c.       Introduce Evidence: Introduce your evidence either in a few words. You should use studies and provide citations and references.

d.      State Evidence: What supporting evidence (reasons, examples, facts, statistics, and/or quotations) can you include to prove/support/explain your topic sentence? Your evidence should be supported by up to date references and citations

e.       Explain Evidence: tell the readers how to read or interpret the evidence you are providing. Remember the point of an argumentative essay is to argue a position. You should,  therefore state how the evidence proves the point you are trying to make. This section is often an opinion based and is 1-3 sentences.

f.       Concluding Sentence: End your paragraph with a concluding sentence that reasserts how the topic sentence of this paragraph helps up better understand and/or prove your paper’s overall claim.


4.     Counterargument Paragraph

o    PURPOSE: To state opposing points of view. You should anticipate your reader’s objections and address them in order to make yourself sound more objective and reasonable.

o    The counter-argument is usually 1-2 paragraphs.

o    What to do: consider the possible arguments that your readers may pose against your argument and/or some aspect of your reasoning? Insert one or more of those arguments here and refute them.

o    End paragraph with a concluding sentence that reasserts your paper’s claim as a whole.


5.     Conclusion Part 1: Sum Up Your Paper


o    Remind readers of your argument and supporting evidence

o    Restates your paper’s overall claim and supporting evidence

o    Illustrates to your instructor that you have thought critically and analytically about the issue you are writing about.

Some things to consider when writing a conclusion:

o    Your conclusion should not simply restate your intro paragraph. Show critical thinking instead of simply restating what you have already written in the paper.

o    Your conclusion should tell your readers why they should care about your paper. What is the significance of your claim? Why is it important to you as the writer or to me as the reader? What information should the reader from the paper?

o    Your conclusion should help the reader to get a more complex understanding of the subject of your paper. By the end of your essay, you should have worked through your ideas enough so that your reader understands what you have argued and is ready to hear the larger point (i.e. the "so what") you want to make about your topic.

o    Your conclusion should serve as the climax of your paper. So, save your strongest analytical points for the end of your essay, and use them to drive your conclusion

o    Make a strong conclusion to ensure your readers to not get the impression that your argument was vague or unsure.

o    Do not introduce new information or quotations in your conclusions, as long as the new points grow from your argument. Avoid making new claims that need a lot of additional support.