Tips for

Argumentative/Persuasive Essay

1. Like any other persuasive work, remember
the rhetorical triangle.
2. Use logos —Logical reasons or examples are
the best method of persuasion. Avoid logical
fallacies like circular reasoning, hasty
generalization, etc.

3. Use ethos —How will you gain the
audience’s trust? What will you say that
builds your credibility?
4. Use pathos —Emotional appeals such as
loaded words or
sad/shocking stories
(anecdotes) to make
your audience feel
the way you want
them to.

In an argumentative essay, the main focus should be on LOGOS.

1. Often overlooked,
your essay’s title will
set the stage for the
rest of your work.
2. Be as creative as you
can be coming up with
a title that best fits
your main idea.

3. The best time to write
the title is after you
have written the essay;
however, don’t forget
to go back and create a
title before you hand
in your essay.

1. Start with clever attention-getter to hook
reader – 1-2 sentences
2. Background information about topic to
narrow down to specific ideas that the
body paragraphs will focus (introduce
three body paragraphs in three separate sentences) –
2-3 sentences
3. End with thesis statement (can be three-pronged
thesis – takes stand on one side of issue and
introduces three body paragraphs OR a statement
that takes a stand on one side of the issue without
mentioning what the body paragraphs will be about)
– 1 sentence


 A short story that is an example of your

essay’s main idea. It is no longer than about
four sentences.
 Example: As I visualize my grandfather, the
same picture comes to my mind. It is that of
a man standing with a cigarette in his hand. I
cannot remember a time
when my grandfather was
not smoking. He was
truly addicted to nicotine.

 Example without personal pronouns:

As the young girl visualized her grandfather,
the same picture came to mind. It is that of a
man standing with a cigarette in his hand.
She could not remember a time when
her grandfather was not
smoking. He was truly
addicted to nicotine.



 Often from literature or other
Startling numbers that
writings (i.e. the newspaper)
pertain to your essay’s main
that pertains to your essay’s
main idea. Always list an
Example: According to the
author if you know it.
Surgeon General, 250,000
 Example: “Smoking is the
Americans die of lung
most harmful habit a
cancer every year (Helms
teenager can have” (Kline



This will probably be a general
question that you should
answer somewhere in your
Example: Is it possible that
tobacco companies will stand
by and allow millions of
Americans to
perish as a
result of the
products they

Define one of your essay’s
main ideas if you think your
reader needs clarification.

Example: Nicotine is
defined as a poisonous
alkaloid that is the active
ingredient in tobacco;
additionally, it is used in
insecticide (pesticide to kill
insects) (Merriam-Webster).
Cigarettes contain deadly
toxins, such as nicotine,
which leads to terminal

 Making a statement that usually applies to all

 Example: All smokers
face a premature death.

 One Sentence long—it is the last sentence in

the introduction paragraph
 States Topic (what your paper is about)
 States Opinion (for or against the topic)
 States Reasons (the three prongs)

 Student lockers should not be searched

because it is an invasion of privacy, a sign of
lack of trust, and a judgment of guilt without
proof. ___________
 By allowing lockers to be searched the
rise of drugs and weapons on campus
will slow almost immediately, schools
will be left safer, and those who are
guilty will be caught.

 Student lockers should not be searched

because it is an invasion of privacy, a
sign of lack of trust, and a judgment of
guilt without proof.
 Pink

= Topic
 Green = Position
 Blue = Prongs


Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that
states one argument or claim defending your thesis. Make
sure this argument is important enough to devote an entire
paragraph to in your essay.
2. You may want to start with your strongest argument in your
first body paragraph, OR you may wish to save the best
argument for your third body paragraph. It’s up to you.
3. Include supporting sentences that help prove your
argument/claim. These sentences should mostly be logical
reasons. Don’t rely too heavily on emotional appeals, and
avoid logical fallacies altogether. In addition, leave your
personal bias out as much as possible since it may weaken
your points. Instead, build your argument with evidence
(most important to least) in each body paragraph. Use CEC!

4. It is acceptable in your supporting sentences (or
throughout your essay) to ask questions regarding
your issue about which the audience might be
wondering. Just make sure that you answer these
questions somewhere in the essay, and don’t go
overboard asking too many questions. You can use
this as commentary or before introducing a quote.
5. End each body paragraph with a concluding
sentence that summarizes that paragraph or
transitions to the next paragraph. (The third body
paragraph should end with a sentence that merely
summarizes. There is no need to transition from it
to your conclusion.)

 1. Topic Sentence: (Prong from Thesis

Statement and main idea of paragraph)
 2. First Claim: Introduce your first
 3. Supporting ideas: Facts, statistics, quotes
 4. Second Example: go into detail explaining
your quote and how it supports your topic.
 5. Conclusion sentence: should summarize
and transition into next body paragraph.

The best persuasive essays (the
ones that earn an “A”) include
information in the body of the
essay that discusses the
opposing side so that the reader will know that
you have considered another point of view and
have a rebuttal to it. In other words, this is your
opportunity to give arguments against the opposite
side of the issue by blasting its ideas as
unreasonable, unethical, socially irresponsible,
ineffective, too costly, etc.

1. Start by restating (not repeating) your thesis statement.
2. Summarize each body paragraph next in three separate
3. Transition to your clincher.
4. End with a clincher. This is your chance to give
your final plea. Maybe predict what could happen
if your position is ignored or laws are not changed.
Perhaps call for action by telling your reader what
to do next, who to call, etc. Turnaround could also
be effective by referring to the title of your essay.
Whichever of these you choose, make sure to end
on a strong note so that your reader will say, “I
agree with this essay,” or “I may not have changed
my mind about this issue based on this essay, but it
was still very persuasive.”

End by telling a story that pertains to your main
idea. Better yet, tell the ending of the anecdote
you used as your attention getter.
 Example: Unfortunately my grandfather never
overcame his addiction. He got lung cancer
from smoking for so many years and
died at the age of 57. I was only
three years old when he passed away.
Finally, I wish he had never smoked
so that he would have lived a longer
and healthier life.

Example without personal pronouns:
Unfortunately that girl’s grandfather never
overcame his addiction. He got lung cancer
from smoking for so many years and
died at the age of 57. She was only
three years old when he passed away.
She wished he had never smoked
so that he would have lived a longer
and healthier life.

 Make an educated

guess about the future
based on what you
know about your topic.
Example: In
the years to
come, people
will be more
wise about the
dangers of
smoking and
will choose to
not begin
smoking in the
first place.

 Like in an attention

getter, choose a passage
from literature and list
the author. Do not use
a quote to begin AND
end your essay.
That is repetitive.


Ask something at the
end of your essay that
will cause your reader
to reflect on the ideas
you have presented.
Example: With all the
shocking evidence that
exists about the dangers
of smoking, why would
anyone choose to start
smoking at all?


Make a statement that
refers to the title of your
 Example: (If your
essay’s title is “Smoking
Stinks” then your
clincher could be):
Smoking stinks not only
because it makes a
person wreak of a bad,
smoky smell but also
because it is so harmful
to one’s health.



Recommend what actions or
remedies should be taken on
the issue addressed in the

Make a general
overview/summary statement
of the ideas presented in your

Example: With all the
evidence proving the deadly
effects of smoking, the
federal government should
enact laws banning smoking
in any public place.

Example: Unlike most other
bad habits, it is a certainty
that smoking for an extended
amount of time will kill.

 This essay will be evaluated using the 6 + 1 Traits



rubric which follows:
Ideas/Content —Does the essay use strong facts to
convince the audience?
Organization —Is the essay organized as this handout directs with
many transitions?
Voice —Does the essay show the reader’s personality, and does it
sound professional?
Word Choice —Does the essay use powerful, loaded words and
figurative language?
Sentence Fluency —Do all sentences in the essay flow, and do
sentence beginnings vary?
Conventions —Does the essay follow the rules of spelling,
grammar, punctuation, and usage?
Presentation —Is the essay neatly handwritten using MLA format
explained in this packet?