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10.2: The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

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    4574
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    Skills to Develop

    • Determine the structure of persuasion in writing
    • Apply a formula for a classic persuasive argument

    Writing a Persuasive Essay

    You first need to choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you. Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear somewhere in your introduction.

    Next, need to acknowledge and explain points of view that may conflict with your own to build credibility and trust with your audience. You also should state the limits of your argument. This helps you sound more reasonable and honest to those who may naturally be inclined to disagree with your view. By respectfully acknowledging opposing arguments and conceding limitations to your own view, you set a measured and responsible tone for the essay.

    Be sure to make your appeals in support of your thesis by using sound, credible evidence. Use a balance of facts and opinions from a wide range of sources, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and personal anecdotes. Each piece of evidence should be fully explained and clearly stated. Also, write in a style and tone that is appropriate for your subject and audience. Tailor your language and word choice to these two factors, while still being true to your own voice. Finally, write a conclusion that effectively summarizes the main argument and reinforces your thesis.

    Structuring a Persuasive Essay

    The formula below for organizing a persuasive essay may be one with which you are familiar. It will present a convincing argument to your reader because your discussion is well rounded and thorough, and you leave your audience with your point of view at the end. Remember to consider each of these components in this formulaas sections instead of paragraphs because you will probably want to discuss multiple ideas backing up your point of view to make it more convincing.

    When writing a persuasive essay, it is best to begin with the most important point because it immediately captivates your readers and compels them to continue reading. For example, if you were supporting your thesis that homework is detrimental to the education of high school students, you would want to present your most convincing argument first, and then move on to the less important points for your case.

    Some key transitional words you should use with this method of organization are: most importantlyalmost as importantlyjust as importantly, and finally.

    The Formula You will need to come up with objection points, but you will also need to think of direct rebuttals to each of those ideas. Remember to consult your outline as you are writing because you may need to double-check that you have countered each of the possible opposing ideas you presented.

    Section 1: Introduction

    Attention getter

    Thesis (showing main and controlling ideas)

    Background

    Signposts (make sure you outline the structure your argument will follow: Pros Cons/Pros)

    Section 2: (Multiple) Ideas in Support of Claim

    Give a topic sentence introducing the point (showing main and controlling ideas)

    Give explanations + evidence on first point

    Make concluding statement summarizing point discussion (possibly transitioning to next supporting idea)

    Repeat with multiple ideas in separate paragraphs

    Section 3: Summary of (Some) Opposing Views

    Give topic sentence explaining this paragraph will be opposing points of view to provide thorough, convincing argument

    Present general summary of some opposing ideas

    Present some generalized evidence

    Provide brief concluding sentence for paragraph—transitioning into next rebuttal paragraph

    Section 4: Response to Opposing Views

    Give topic sentence explaining this paragraph/section connects to or expands on previous paragraph

    [may recognize validity of some of points] then need to present how your ideas are stronger

    Present evidence directly countering/refutingideas mentioned in previous section

    Give concluding statement summarizing the countering arguments

    Section 5: Conclusion

    Restate your thesis

    Summarize your discussion points

    Leave the reader with a strong impression; do not waiver here

    May provide a “call for action”

    Tip

    In a persuasive essay, the writer’s point of view should be clearly expressed at the beginning of each paragraph in the topic sentence, which should contain the main idea of the paragraph and the writer’s controlling idea.

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