When writing an argumentative essay outline, it's important to have all of your facts straight. More than any other type of essay, you need to have solid and verifiable sources from which you can draw your information. Using the simple formula below, you'll be able to organize your assertions and craft a moving argument on almost any essay topic.
A simple argumentative essay outline begins with a hot button topic. Pick a stance you'll feel confident and passionate about. If you select the highly controversial topic of making abortion illegal in America, then you need to understand both sides of the argument: for and against.
By studying and understanding the opposing side of the argument, you can better rebut that information and provide your counter-argument.
If you're unsure of the best topic, check out these Argumentative Essay Examples. Something listed there might spark a fire in you.
When setting up your argumentative essay outline for college or high school, you'll need a few key elements to substantiate your argument. If you formulate your outline around these four main sections, you'll be well on your way.
This is where you'll introduce your topic. You can make a general statement about the issue with your opening line. Perhaps you'll start with:
In 2019, the state of Georgia passed a law making abortion illegal. While it seems like the rest of the country is fighting to give women more freedom over their own bodies, Georgia is fighting to protect the bodies and lives of unborn children.
These opening lines are also known as the hook. Check out How to Write a Hook to learn how to give readers a reason to pick up your piece and see it through to the end.
You can expand this type of generalized "setup" with another sentence or two, but the end of your introductory paragraph contains one very important element: your thesis statement. In the final sentence or two, you must state your position on the issue.
This will close the first paragraph on a strong point and set up the body of the essay. Every point you make within the body of your essay must relate back to your thesis statement. Here's an example of a thesis statement:
Women do not need to resort to abortions when they find themselves in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy. Instead, they can pursue alternate avenues, including adoption.
For more inspiration, check out these Thesis Statement Examples.
In the body of your essay, you'll present a series of supporting details to defend your argument. This can include any or all of the following:
The best way to visualize the body of your argumentative essay is to commit to three claims. Make three claims, or statements, and back them up with three pieces of supporting information. Here's one example:
Claim: There are many couples in the world that cannot conceive a child on their own. They'd be delighted to adopt an unwanted child and offer them a lifetime of love.
Evidence: This is where you'll perform a little "show and tell." If you make a claim, you must back it up with some sort of proven research or verifiable fact or statistic.
According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in the United States alone, about 9 percent of men of reproductive age experience fertility problems.
Similarly, about 11 percent of women experience fertility problems.
Many Americans aren't marrying until they reach their 30s and, unfortunately, women are about half as fertile by that age range compared to their 20s.
Narratives are another nice avenue, in terms of evidence. You can share someone's testimony, or even your own. If you're able to offer a striking quote from an authority, that would also serve as a nice bit of evidence.
In an argumentative essay, however, you must address the opposing side's opinions on the matter. Believe it or not, this will make your own argument stronger. It demonstrates you're not blind to the issue and are prepared to stand strong. Here, you'll state an opposing view (or more) and then refute it. For example:
Opposing View: If a woman was sexually assaulted and gets pregnant as a result, she should never be forced to carry that unwanted baby to full-term.
Refutation: Megan Clancy once wrote, "There are women who are raped and become pregnant; the problem is that they were raped, not that they are pregnant." Is there not a situation where a woman can survive the terrible trauma that should never have occurred and hand that unwanted child over to a couple desperate for a family of their own?
For more on essays in general, check out How to Write an Essay.
The conclusion is where you'll summarize the main idea of your argument. In a way, it's a mirror of your thesis statement. Of course, you don't want to repeat your thesis statement word-for-word, but it can be similar. Summarize your claims as concisely as possible and then close the essay. You can end with a rhetorical question or thought-provoking statement.
For more on this, check out How to Write a Conclusion.
Download the PDF document below with a sample argumentative essay outline. It can provide you with the basic structure on which you can base your own essay. The text is fully editable, and you can print it out for reference as well.
The above presents a brief illustration and interpretation of a classical argumentative essay. In short, you want to hit these main points:
Present your argument clearly and without ambiguity.
Provide background information and substantiate it with facts.
State your claims and support them with facts. These will become your reasons in support of your argument. They answer the simple question of "why." You should always have at least three supportive, fact-based reasons why your argument takes the position that it does.
Move on to opposing arguments and your responses to them. This is where your counter-attack will take place. This is probably the strongest part of your argument, so you should put a lot of time into it. Research your opposition extremely well. This will make your argument that much more compelling.
Although argumentative essays are full of facts, statistics, and data, they are opinion-based. The thing about opinions is that not everyone's going to agree with you. That's why it's important to stand strong in your convictions and do your research. This will allow you to feel confident that you're not stepping out in ignorance on a hot button topic.
Now that you have a solid outline under your belt, check out these Argumentative Essay Writing Tips. They'll help you paint a strong picture that will be difficult to refute.