The Complete Argumentative Essay Outline Guide

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a style of academic writing where an author presents both sides of an argument or issue. The main purpose of an argumentative essay is to inform rather than convince – that’s why this type of paper should not be confused with a persuasive essay.

The following skills are evaluated when grading an argumentative essay:

  • Research skills
  • Writing skills
  • Analytical skills

This type of paper is assigned to train a student’s ability to debate. It can therefore greatly influence the public speaking skills of a person later on in their life. When writing an argumentative essay, it is important to focus on facts and information rather than personal ideas or preferences. The author may present arguments equally, or support one in favour of others. Regardless, the thesis must include all of the primary points (and counterpoints) that will appear in the essay. It is almost like a political debate with oneself.

Elements of an Argumentative Essay
  • Position: It’s essential to determine which side of the argument you are taking. For example, you may be arguing that tobacco products or cannabis should be made illegal. Make a point to express why you took your initial position. For example, you may provide exact reasons to show how tobacco products may be damaging people’s health.
  • Evidence: This is where you should provide factual substantiation for your reasons from outside resources. It is very important to give citations and references for where you gathered your evidence. If there is no proof, the evidence may not be taken into account. For example, you could cite health studies or scientific papers related to the effects of tobacco products on peoples’ health to prove your statement.
  • Counterarguments: This is where you need to present the other side of the issue. Provide the opposing argument from your point of view. After stating these counterarguments, you should state why they are false, weak, or ineffective by presenting further evidence.

Argumentative Essay Outline

I. Introductory Paragraph
  • Your introductory paragraph sets the stage or the context for the position you are arguing for.
  • This introduction should end with a thesis statement that provides your claim (what you are
  • arguing for) and the reasons for your position on an issue.

A. Your thesis:

  • states what your position on an issue is
  • usually appears at the end of the introduction in a short essay
  • should be clearly stated and often contains emphatic language (should, ought, must)

B. Sample Argumentative Thesis

  • The production, sale, and possession of assault weapons for private citizens should be

banned in the U.S.

II. Body of your Argument

A. Background Information

  • This section of your paper gives the reader the basic information he or she needs to understand your position. This could be part of the introduction, but may work as its own section.

B. Reasons or Evidence to Support your Claim

  • All evidence you present in this section should support your position. This is the heart of your essay. Generally, you begin with a general statement that you back up with specific details or examples. Depending on how long your argument is, you will need to devote one to two well-developed paragraphs to each reason/claim or type of evidence.
  • Types of evidence include:

• first-hand examples and experiential knowledge on your topic (specific examples help your readers connect to your topic in a way they cannot with abstract ideas)

• Opinions from recognized authorities

• The tip sheet on the three logical appeals covers the types of evidence you can use in argumentation.

1. Claim

• Evidence:

2. Claim:

  • Evidence:

 3. Claim:

  • Evidence:
 III. Addressing the Opposite Side
  • Any well-written argument must anticipate and address positions in opposition to the one being argued.
  • Pointing out what your opposition is likely to say in response to your argument shows that you have thought critically about your topic.
  • Addressing the opposite side actually makes your argument stronger!
  • Generally, this takes the form of a paragraph that can be placed either after the introduction or before the conclusion.

A. 1st Opposing View: Strict gun control laws won’t affect crime rate

• Refutation

B. 2nd Opposing View:

• Refutation:

IV. Conclusion
  • The conclusion should bring the essay to a logical end. It should explain what the importance of your issue is in a larger context. Your conclusion should also reiterate why your topic is worth caring about.
  • Some arguments propose solutions or make prediction on the future of the topic.
  • Show your reader what would happen if your argument is or is not believed or acted upon as you believe it should be.