How to Structure an Argumentative Essay: Outline, Format, Tips

September 12, 2022

how to structure an argumentative essay

For some students, the hardest part of writing an argumentative essay is to structure the assignment.

Yet with a learning curve that isn’t too difficult to master, completing the writing will not only take you a short time but also turns into a super fun assignment.

In this guide, we'll teach you how to structure your argumentative essay the right way.

Whether you have a simple argumentative essay topic to complete or your professor has asked you to unpack and argue a controversial topic, this post will unveil everything you need to know to organize your thoughts in a logical order.

When you combine your research, writing, and analytical skills with the right outline for the argument, you'll end up with an assignment that your instructor will not only read from start to finish but one that scores the best grades possible. 

What is a Structure in an Argumentative Essay?

You can have: 

  1. 1
    The best title for your argument,
  2. 2
    A very solid hook
  3. 3
    A reasonable and debatable claim
  4. 4
    And sufficient evidence to convince an audience to agree with you

However, if you don’t present this information in a standard outline, your argumentative essay will fall flat.

Instructors insist that your argumentative writing should follow an appropriate structure for a good reason.

A good structure for an argumentative essay allows you to present your arguments and evidence in a logical order.

For you, it means you get a clear picture of how your arguments will unfold as you write.

For your audience, it solidifies the presentation of information, making the essay not only easy but also interesting to read from the very beginning.

Your instructor may ask you to present an outline before you start writing. Even if they don’t, you should consider having one because it will help to enhance your writing process.

What’s the Right Format for an Argumentative Essay?

Now that you know what a structure is and why it’s important, let’s have a look at the outline starting from top to bottom.

Keep in mind that while this structure is just an example, it will be the one you use to write many of, if not all, your argumentative essays.

Again, you shouldn’t be jumping sections in this format. It’s structural and you should therefore follow it from top to bottom.

Regardless of the type of argumentative essay that you have to write, you’ll divide the assignment into three major sections: the introduction paragraphs, the body part, and the conclusion.

In general, your argumentative essay will be 5 paragraphs long.

You’ll have to write an interesting introduction to introduce the topic and a conclusion to summarize your argument.

Your body paragraphs must support your view, identify opposing opinion, and respond to counterclaims.

How to Structure An Argumentative Essay

Below is how to write every section of your argumentative essay assignment. 

The Introduction

The introduction of your argument should be short and precise. You have a space for only 1 to 2 sentences. So make sure you write only the most important information.

Your goal here is to state your claim and explain it further with some background information if any.

Make the introduction as interesting to read as possible so that you can easily draw the attention of your reader in.

If your subject requires that you argue about an issue or theory, for example, you should provide a brief explanation about it.

If you’re examining literary work, make sure you state the author and the title of their work.

Body Paragraph

It's in the body paragraphs of an argumentative essay that you lay the foundation that you’ll use to prove your argument. 

You’ll mostly concentrate on three things as you write this section:

  • Summary of the subject in question
  • Definition of terms
  • Explanations of the key facts or theories

Supporting Evidence Paragraph

Supporting evidence section must appear in your argumentative essay because it’s what proves whether your argument is strong enough for an audience to accept.

The elements of a supporting evidence paragraph include:

  • Purpose: The goal is to prove your argument, and you can do that in only one paragraph. A few sentences should suffice, although it’s acceptable to make this longer.
  • Topic Sentence: This is detail, fact, or item that you can use to make it easy for your reader or audience to understand your claim. Explain the topic sentence if you have to.
  • Evidence: Use a few words to introduce an evidence for your argument and then explain it. Make sure you show how the evidence you’ve provided helps to prove the point that you’re trying to make.
  • Concluding Paragraph: In a sentence, reassert how the topic sentence contributes to proving your overall claim in the essay.

There can be one or more supporting paragraphs depending on the subject under investigation.

So if you’re going to have more supporting paragraphs, simply make sure each reflects all the elements above.

Counterclaim Paragraph

Because an argumentative essay must consider both sides of a subject, the essay must have a counterclaim paragraph.

Including this section means you’re not merely narrowly minded. Not to mention it goes a long way to make yourself sound a lot more reasonable and objective.

Including a counterclaim in an argument is not optional, it’s a must.

If you think about it, your readers have opposing point of views.

If you fail to include one or more of their arguments and then refute them, your essay will be weak and sound a lot more subjective. You don’t want this to be the case.

A good way to conclude a counterclaim is to include a sentence, which gives more weight to reassert your claim.

Conclusion Paragraphs

The purpose of the concluding paragraph is to show your reader that you have analyzed both sides of an issue and taken a strong position. 

You shouldn’t merely restate the thesis or rewrite the introduction. Instead, write a good conclusion for the argument. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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