An argument essay should contain three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The length of these parts (number of paragraphs) will vary, depending on the length of your essay assignment.
1. Planning Stage
For an argument essay to be effective, it must contain certain elements. For this reason, you must take a few minutes to plan and prepare before you jump into writing an argument essay.
2. Introduce your topic and assert your side
As in any essay, the first paragraph of your argument essay should contain a brief explanation of your topic, some background information, and a thesis statement. In this case, your thesis will be a statement of your position on a particular controversial topic.
Example introductory paragraph with thesis statement:
Since the turn of the new century, a theory has emerged concerning the end of the world or at least the end of life as we know it. This new theory centers around the year 2012, a date that many claim has mysterious origins in ancient manuscripts from many different cultures. The most noted characteristic of this date is that it appears to mark the end of the Mayan calendar. But there is no evidence to suggest that the Maya saw any great relevance to this date. In fact, none of the claims surrounding a 2012 doomsday event hold up to scientific inquiry. The year 2012 will pass without a major, life-altering catastrophe.
3. Gather Evidence
When we think of arguments we might picture two red-faced people speaking quite loudly and making dramatic gestures. But that's because face-to-face arguments often become emotional. In fact, the act of arguing involves providing proof to support your claim, with or without emotions.
In an argument essay you will have to provide evidence without providing too much drama. You'll explore two sides of a topic (briefly) and provide proof as to why one side or position is the best one.
4. Present both sides of the controversy
The body of your essay will contain the meat of your argument. You should go into more detail about the two sides of your controversy and state the strongest points of the counter-side of your issue.
After describing the "other" side, you will present your own viewpoint and then provide evidence to show why your position is the correct one.
Select your strongest evidence and present your points one by one. Use a mix of evidence types, from statistics, to other studies and anecdotal stories. This part of your paper could be any length, from two paragraphs to two hundred pages.
5. Build your argument to support this thesis sentence.
Return to your assembled material. Go through it again, and this time copy down every argument, every bit of evidence, or every reason you can find in it which will support your conclusion. After you have done this you should be able to tell whether your conclusion is valid or not. If you cannot find enough support to convince yourself of the validity of your own conclusion, you should discard your thesis sentence and form a new one. Never attempt to argue on behalf of something which you yourself do not believe, if you do, your paper will not be very good.
6. Arrange your argument to produce the maximum effect on the reader.
Go through the evidence or separate arguments you have copied down and arrange them in the order of their strength. Usually it is best to arrange them in the order of their strength. It is often best to start with the weakest and end with the strongest; this arrangement is not always possible, but when it can be done your argument will accumulate more force as it progresses. If this type of arrangement cannot be use, merely arrange the arguments in the order in which they will appear in your paper. Along with each argument, list any contrary arguments. You must state these fully and fairly, but show that on balance your viewpoint is to be favored. If you ignore them, your essay will be weak, one sided and unconvincing.
7. Consider Both Sides of Your Topic and Take a Position.
Once you have selected a topic you feel strongly about, you should make a list of points for both sides of the argument and pick a side. One of your first objectives in your essay will be to present both sides of your issue with an assessment of each. Of course, you will conclude that one side (your side) is the best conclusion.
Tips & Warnings
- Do not use the words "I," "we" or "you" in academic papers.
- Proofread your finished essay.
- Use your best arguments first and last. This is what the reader will retain in her memory.
- Make sure your sources are credible.
- Any time you use someone else research or a direct quote, you should use the proper attribution, as outlined by your professor.