Persuasive Essays Guidelines

Argumentative Essays


The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2013-03-10 11:46:44

What is an argumentative essay?

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

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. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support.

Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis (warrant).

However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.

A complete argument

Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.

The five-paragraph essay

A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.

Longer argumentative essays

Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.

Persuasive essay is an essay that aims at convincing the readers to consider and possibly accept the author's viewpoint on a debatable issue. Examples of debatable issues are abortion, immigration, gun control, legalization of marijuana, affirmative action, money in politics, and much more.

The writer's task is to bring in strong arguments and persuade the readers of the correctness of his/her position, as well as refute the opposing points of view. Therefore, if you intend to write a convincing persuasive essay, you should prepare beforehand and equip yourself with the most powerful arguments. The best way to do this is to follow these simple steps:

Steps to Writing a Persuasive Essay

1. Identify your stand on a given controversial issue. Prior to staring working on an essay, identify what position you are going to support. Do not simply go with what is easier to prove; it is crucial that the writer actually agrees with the chosen stand and is not trying to fake the support of marijuana legalization when in reality he/she is against it.

2. Conduct a thorough research on the issue to get more information that will help you develop a strong argument for your position. It is essential for a writer to study both sides of the issue in order to figure out how to beat counterarguments. Read books, search for information online (but use only reputable sources), ask what your friends and relatives think.

3. Master the three ways of persuasion. Know that you can convince your readers to support your position in the essay using three different methods. First, you can use reasons backed by facts to speak in your favor. Secondly, you can support your position by touching on your readers' emotions and feelings. Thirdly, you can quote respected members of your society who have supported your point of view to argue for your position. These three methods are ethos, pathos, and logos, and you must master them to write a convincing persuasive essay.

The Writing Process

The process of writing any essay starts with developing an outline. Below you can find a persuasive essay outline example for a 5-paragraph persuasive essay that is based on it.

Topic: Is it Better to Give than to Receive?


  • Start the essay with strong statements.
  • Thesis statement: When one takes into consideration the feeling of those who give, one realizes that giving is much better than receiving.



  • Discussion of a scientific study that found that giving is better than receiving.

Paragraph 2

  • Discussion of Dalai Lama’s preference of giving to receiving.

Paragraph 3

  • Analysis of Martin Luther's choice of giving to receiving.


  • Summary of the key points that support giving instead of receiving.
  • A statement that is urging people to start practicing giving more than receiving.

Persuasive Essay Example Middle School

Having developed an outline, you can use it as your guide and actually write an essay. Below is an example of a persuasive essay based on the outline discussed above. The persuasive essay sample below includes a persuasive essay introduction example; a persuasive essay body example, and a persuasive essay conclusion example. You should read it and focus on the tone used by the writer to see how persuasive essays differ from other essay types.

Is it Better to Give than to Receive?

Holiday season is a magical time with exchanging presents being one of our favorite traditions. Very often receiving gifts makes people believe that receiving is much better than giving, which is not true. It is because during the receipt of presents people only consider the feelings of those who receive and usually ignore the feelings of those who give. However, the reality is that givers generally feel happier and more satisfied than takers.

A study done by Liz Dunn, a social psychologist, found that people were happier not when they were helped, but when they helped others. 600 Americans from all social classes participated in the study. The researcher gave them money to spend during the research process. The researcher found that the participants who gave away to other people were happier than those participants who spent the money on themselves. This study shows that giving brings a lot of joy and happiness to people. Even the poor are happier when they help others, not when they help themselves.

Additionally, Dalai Lama, one of the most famous transcendental leaders of our time, claims that giving is much better than receiving. He argues for giving by claiming that having or owning material things does not bring happiness into life. One only gets contentment when one shows deep and genuine concern for others. In fact, he stresses that those who focus on themselves develop negative emotions that prevent them from being happy. Therefore, people should genuinely care for others to be truly happy. They can only do this by giving.

Finally, Martin Luther King Junior, one of the most influential civil rights activist of the 20th century, noted that nobody can achieve personal greatness without giving. He claimed that unless people become selfless and altruistic, they will never grow. King meant that people must give readily in order to reach real success.

Giving/Generosity is an important value in life. It helps people experience happiness, achieve greatness, and get satisfaction in life. Surely, giving is better than receiving.

Also read: National Honor Society Essay Example

Seek Help from Professional Writers

The 5-paragraph persuasive essay example above is a good example of a persuasive essay written by a professional writer for middle school. You can also obtain a persuasive essay example for kids and another persuasive essay example for 4th, 5th, 6th-grade students by consulting professional writers. They can help you solve any problem you have with writing a persuasive essay or any other paper.

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