How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Sample Outlines and Tips

Writing a good argumentative essay is one of the activities that students in high schools and higher learning institutions undertake as a test of their knowledge acquisition. Basically, this is a paper where writers focus on persuading readers to agree with the central argument (thesis). However, to make their argument legitimate, students highlight views from opposing points of view (counterarguments). In this case, there are three main types of argumentative essays: classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin. While these types of essays can follow a similar outline, each has a unique structure that distinguishes it from others. The primary features of an argumentative essay that a writer should capture in writing are a thesis, body paragraphs that support the thesis, a counterargument, a response to the counterargument (refutation), and concluding remarks.

General Aspects of Writing An Argumentative Essay

Academic writing is a broad discipline that covers different styles and types of writing. Among different types of papers, there is argumentative or persuasive writing. Basically, it is a writing genre where a writer investigates a topic by collecting and evaluating evidence to strengthen a claim concerning specific topics, including an argumentative essay outline. In other words, an argumentative paper focuses on supporting the writer’s stance on an issue. Also, the content aims at persuading readers to understand and support that stance point. To achieve this goal, writers state the reasoning behind their stance and provide evidence that backs it up.

How to write an argumentative essay: outlines and samples

Types of Argumentative Essay Formats

The basis of argumentative papers is the aim of authors to affect the mind of readers. In this case, three conventional approaches to an argument are classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin with different types of argumentative essay structures. Firstly, the classical argument emphasizes evidence and refutation to convince an opponent and dates back to Socrates’ and Aristotle’s 400 BC ancient Greece. Basically, refutation means disapproving of the argument that is likely to challenge the writer’s claim. Secondly, a Rogerian argument aims for a “win-win” negotiation, where neither a writer nor the opposing viewpoint is wrong. In essence, this type of argument emphasizes the areas where the writer and the opposing argument have in common, such as values and beliefs. Finally, a Toulmin argument underscores the author’s evidence and its strength in proving his or her claim.

Types of Structures in Writing Argumentative Essays

1. 2-Point Argument Essay Outline

Introduction

Here, the writer introduces his or her topic and a thesis statement, which is the central claim.

Body Paragraph 1

Here, the writer presents the first point and supporting evidence.

Body Paragraph 2

Here, the writer presents the second point and supporting evidence.

Body Paragraph 3

Here, the writer refutes the first argument (counterargument 1) from an opposing viewpoint.

Body Paragraph 4

Here, the writer refutes the second argument (counterargument 2) from an opposing viewpoint.

Conclusion

Here, the writer concludes the paper by restating the thesis.

2. 2-Point Refutation Structure

Introduction

Here, the writer introduces the topic and the thesis statement, which is the central claim.

Body Paragraph 1

Here, the writer refutes the first argument (counterargument 1) from an opposing viewpoint.

Body Paragraph 2

Here, the writer refutes the second argument (counterargument 2) from an opposing viewpoint.

Body Paragraph 3

Here, the writer presents the first point and supporting evidence.

Body Paragraph 4

Here, the writer presents the second point and supporting evidence

Conclusion

Here, the writer concludes the paper by restating the thesis.

3. A Combination of Arguments with Refutations

Introduction

Here, the writer introduces the topic and the thesis statement, which is the central claim.

Body Paragraph 1

Here, the writer presents the first point and the supporting evidence, which also refutes the first counterargument.

Body Paragraph 2

Here, the writer presents the second point and the supporting evidence, refuting the second counterargument.

Body Paragraph 3

Here, the writer presents the third point and the supporting evidence, which also refutes the third counterargument.

Conclusion

Here, the writer concludes the paper by restating the thesis.

Structure of Different Argumentative Paper Formats

1. Classical Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Introduction

Here, the writer focuses on capturing the readers’ attention by using a hook to introduce the topic with the thesis claim.

Statement of Background

Here, the writer provides readers with an explanation of the context of the theme, an aspect that fosters the readers’ understanding of the topic.

Proposition

In this section, the writer states the claim (thesis) based on the information presented and presents the key points that will be used for supporting the central claim.

Proof

In this section, the writer presents key reasons, sub-claims, and evidence.

Refutation

Here, the writer anticipates and refutes counterarguments, which indicates that the issue is considered thoroughly, while the conclusion part is the most reasonable.

Conclusion

Here, the writer summarizes the key points and makes a final appeal to values, motivations, and feelings to persuade readers to identify themselves with the paper’s argument(s).

2. Rogerian Argumentative Essay Outline Example

Introduction of Problem

Here, the writer presents the topic as a problem and raises suggestions for influencing positive change by using the thesis statement.

Summary of Opposing Views

In this section, the writer embraces an accurate and neutral stance in stating views that disagree with the thesis.

Statement of Understanding

Here, the writer shows readers that they understand that there are situations in which opposing views are valid and lets readers understand under which conditions.

Position Statement

Here, the writer states the own position after persuading readers that they have given full consideration to opposing views.

Statement of Contexts

Here, the writer describes situations that can persuade readers to agree with the author’s position by outlining the merits of the argument in specific contexts.

Statement of Benefits

In this section, the writer appeals to the opposing viewpoint by showing how it would benefit from accepting the [writer’s] position.

3. Toulmin Argument Structure

Data

Here, the writer presents facts or evidence to prove the main argument.

Claim

Here, the writer presents the statement that captures the argumentative thesis.

Warrants

This section indicates the writer’s general, hypothetical logical statements that link the claim and the data.

Qualifiers

This section presents the writer’s statements that propose conditions that justify the argument.

Rebuttals

Here, the writer highlights counterarguments.

Backing

Here, the writer challenges rebuttals by presenting statements that support warrants. In turn, these statements do not necessarily prove the thesis, but they prove the validity of warrants.

Examples of Good Topics for Argumentative Papers

1. High School Level Argumentative Essays

Classical Essay

  1. Is the wage gap a reality or an illusion?
  2. Is gun control possible in the US?
  3. Does owning a gun constitute a right or a privilege?

Rogerian Essay

  1. Does marijuana legalization make a medical or an economic sense?
  2. Should there be a separation of religion and government?
  3. Is single-sex education necessary?

Toulmin Essay

  1. Is technology useful or harmful to young children’s development?
  2. Do social movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo promote inclusiveness or division?
  3. What is the greatest threat to the integrity of the natural environment?

2. College Level

Classical Essay

  1. Is technology is a distraction?
  2. Is Facebook still relevant, or has it lost its edge?
  3. Should companies surveil employees’ use of social media?

Rogerian Essay

  1. Should companies fire employees for what they post on social media platforms?
  2. Is there a moral justification for obscuring one’s identity online?
  3. What are the dangers of cyberbullying for both victims and perpetrators?

Toulmin Essay

  1. Which is more useful to student academic success between virtual and classroom learning?
  2. Does digitization of class content encourage or discourage reading among college students?
  3. Should colleges allow instructors to provide course content with students via cellphones and tablets?

3. University Level

Classical Essay

  1. Should higher learning institutions screen students for substance use?
  2. Are standardized tests necessary or outdated?
  3. Do standardized tests give an accurate assessment of one’s abilities?

Rogerian Essay

  1. Should schools be allowed to offer students cash bonuses for good test scores?
  2. Do school holidays impact students’ academic performance?
  3. Does the school environment foster or hamper young people’s creativity?

Toulmin Essay

  1. Is Arts Education beneficial?
  2. Is the teacher-student relationship a predictor for students’ academic success?
  3. Should parents contribute to curriculum development?

4. Master’s Level

Classical Essay

  1. Does inclusiveness in schools benefit “general education” students?
  2. Do standardized tests determine a student’s level of knowledge?
  3. Does higher education promote or kill innovation in an individual?

Rogerian Essay

  1. Do gender stereotypes exist in education?
  2. How does parental poverty affect a child’s education?
  3. Should one refuse medical treatment because of religious beliefs?

Toulmin Essay

  1. Is parental consent necessary in teenagers’ decision to have a tattoo?
  2. Is ‘mercy killing’ moral?
  3. Who is to blame for childhood obesity in America between the government and parents?

5. Ph.D. Level

A Classical Essay

  1. Did Mormons have an impact on America as a society?
  2. Was war necessary in the separation of the Southern States from the Union?
  3. What was slavery’s contribution to the American economy?

Rogerian Essay

  1. Was the Federal Reserve to blame for the Great Depression?
  2. What is the most controversial amendment of the US Constitution?
  3. Does immigration promote or undermine the national economy?

Toulmin Essay

  1. Is there a connection between the concepts of illegal immigration and runaway crime in the US?
  2. Should children of illegal immigrants benefit from the public education system?
  3. What is the real impact of immigration between fostering diversity and threatening indigenous culture?

Examples of Argumentative Paper Outlines

Sample Structure for a Classical Argumentative Paper

Introduction: The importance of vocational training for inmates.

Background: Most inmates lack personal development skills, which explains the high number of inmates serving time for drug-related charges.

Proposition: Exposing inmates to vocational training reduces chances for reoffending (recidivism).

Proof: Research shows that ex-offenders who get employed or those who engage in economic activities rarely get arrested for criminal involvement.

Refutation: There is no evidence that individuals with vocational training do not engage in criminal activities.

Conclusion: Exposing inmates to vocational training is the best approach when it comes to reducing chances for reoffending (recidivism) after release from prison.

Sample Structure for a Rogerian Paper

The Problem: The growing number of fast-food joints is to blame for increasing rates of teenage obesity in the US.

Summary of opposing views: American teens eat more from home than at fast-food joints.

Statement of understanding: There is a high probability that fast-food joints contribute to a culture of unhealthy eating in the US.

Statement of the writer’s position: The growing number of fast-food restaurants is to blame for the rising rates of obesity among American teenagers.

Statement of contexts: Evidence shows that American teens see fast-food joints as places for social connection, an aspect that increases their exposure to unhealthy foods.

Statement of benefits: By regulating the number of fast-food restaurants in a city, the authorities can reduce teenage exposure to unhealthy foods.

Sample Structure for a Toulmin Paper

Data: The excellent weather of Miami has seen the number of foreign tourists this year doubled from last year’s.

Claim: Weather is a significant factor in holiday-goers’ destination choice.

Warrants: There is a higher likelihood that a family would choose a place with warm weather as a holiday destination.

Qualifiers: The primary reason for holidaymaking is to enjoy oneself, which includes engaging in outdoor activities. Good weather makes this happen.

Rebuttals: Weather is a natural phenomenon that is sometimes unpredictable.

Backing: Despite the possibility that the weather can change abruptly, considering it is an essential activity for anyone planning on going for a holiday or even out of town.

Sample Paper Following the Toulmin Format

There is emerging evidence that cruelty against animals is an accepted fact in the pursuit of specimens for use in animal research (data). In this case, the thought that the scientific community is indifferent to the cruelty involved in the search for specimens for use in experiments is enough to compel the US Congress to ban animal research (claim). Also, morality demands that society should place a higher premium on animals’ well-being than profits or scientific advancement (warrant). As things stand, it is only Congress that can bring about change through legislation (warrant). Then, the reason as to why Congress should intervene in this matter is because it is the only institution that corporations cannot influence through lobbying (backing). Moreover, the fact that there has been a public uproar makes it difficult for congressional members to be swayed by corporate lobbyists from enacting the law (backing). For clarity purposes, this ban should not apply to medical research (qualifier). In turn, a law that bans all research would be counterproductive since human civilization has relied on science to advance in many areas (rebuttal). As such, it would be incumbent upon congressional members to craft a law that specifies what kinds of research are illegalized (backing).

Argumentative Paper Writing Tips

  • Pick an interesting topic.
  • Research the topic widely.
  • Record all the facts.
  • Decide which type of paper to write.
  • Craft an argument.
  • Formulate a structure.
  • Start writing.