How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Persuasive essays can also be called argumentative essays. So if you were assigned to write an argumentative essay, this article will also suit your task. Since you have got an assignment, you are likely wondering how you can complete this type of paper. If it is your fist time writing a persuasive paper, take a chance to read a complete guide with step-by-step recommendations that not only ease the writing process, but also reduce stress.
How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Students, teachers, diplomats, politicians, poets, managers, and many other professions use persuasive writing. In school you have already written persuasive essays, but at college level this kind of writing becomes more complex.
Some people don’t enjoy arguing because of their weak argumentation skills. If you are one of those people, you need to understand that the skill of argumentation will help you in life and a persuasive essay should give impetus to mastering the art of persuasion.
Each well-educated person needs to know how to write persuasively in order to explain themselves and influence the public. When you know how to convince the audience with strong arguments, you can reach certain goals:
- In college. You need to persuade the tutor to raise your grade for the essay.
- At work. You need to convince the manager that your idea will be a good solution for a certain task.
- In everyday life. You and your friend want to go to the cinema and you need to decide on a movie you are going to watch.
You won’t succeed in writing without understanding the essence of this particular type of essay. In the next paragraph we will discuss what is persuasive writing.
What Is a Persuasive Essay
The persuasive essay is a type of writing that describes a certain stance and supports it with evidence in order to persuade the reader to accept the writer’s point of view, or at least understand the position. Also, the purpose of this kind of paper is to convince the reader to act (or not to act) in a certain way. A paragraph with strong argumentation helps the author to persuade the audience to accept his or her point of view or at least to understand it.
In everyday life we often need to persuade others to take our side. At first glance, it seems to be easy to find arguments, but in practice you may find it difficult to choose the right arguments. Let’s pick a simple example: you are buying a winter jacket. Arguments like “I like it,” “my boyfriend/girlfriend will like it,” and “Victoria Beckham wears the same” are not logical arguments. The right arguments concern the following details: water resistance, insulated lining, jacket length, deep hood, material from which it is made, etc. The right arguments can be touched or checked.
This is a simplified example, as arguments in academic essays are more complex and should be based on logic and scientifically proven. Logical arguments include scientifically proven laws, axioms, and factual material where accurate data (statistics) is presented. Logical arguments are more effective for persuasion, but for effective influence use arguments from both groups.
There are three basic rules of argumentation:
1) The correct argument should be based on true arguments.
2) Arguments must not contradict each other.
3) Each argument must be necessary, and all of them are sufficient for the process of demonstration and proof.
So, summing up what was stated above, the main purpose of a persuasive essay is to write a text that can influence the readers so that they will take your position.
How to Write a Persuasive Paper Step by Step
In this step-by-step guide you will find actions that you need to take in order to finish your essay. All steps have the nature of a recommendation, so you are free to skip some steps or make them in your own way. So, let’s begin!
Step 1. Read the assignment.
You will probably be given an assignment with certain specifications that you will need to consider while writing. The success of your essay will depend on how properly you have understood the assignment. Look at the key words that the tutor has used in setting specific targets – for example, the tutor asks you to defend your opinion about a certain topic. This means that you need to write a more formal essay that requires from you less personal observations. If you can’t understand something, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor.
Step 2. Take a position.
When you are free to choose a topic, pick something familiar or something that matters to you. If the tutor has assigned you a certain issue, you need to find a point of view that is close to you.
Your topic should reflect your main argument that you will be proving in your essay. You can start your topic with a should/should not statement. For example: “Students should not be required to wear a uniform.”
If you are experiencing some troubles with finding the right argument, you can use this method which will help you to come up with an idea.
- Imagine that you are arguing with your best friend who disagrees with your point.
- Imagine that your place at college depends on your ability to persuade the tutor with your position.
- Imagine that you need to persuade a group of people in something that will positively change their lives.
Make sure that your topic is appealing, so the reader will be interested to read your essay. An attractive title and strong beginning will catch the reader’s attention. Consider you audience, as persuasion requires careful use of language and a special approach that depends on what type of audience will be reading your text.
Step 3. Check outside sources.
It may happen that your current knowledge about the issue is insufficient, and in order to take a strong position you need to use libraries and the internet. You need to be well informed about the issue, so read legitimate sources recommended by your tutor. Take notes of the most interesting points and don’t forget to mark sources where you have found it.
Step 4. Come up with an outline.
The persuasive essay is one of the different types of persuasive writing. The outline for persuasive essay writing usually follows the traditional five paragraph structure, but can be changed depending on the topic. The author develops arguments from stating an opinion through the paper and supports the topic with evidence or examples.
Look at the sample persuasive essay format:
1.1. Attention grabber (interesting fact or question)
1.2. Basic information about the topic (facts or definitions)
1.3. Thesis statement (state your position)
1.4. Three supporting arguments that you will be discussing in the body paragraph.
2. Body paragraph I
2.1. Topic sentence (indicates the first argument)
2.2. Supporting evidence (examples, facts, statistics, etc.)
2.3. Analysis (how evidence backs up the first point)
3. Body paragraph II
3.1. Topic sentence (indicates the second argument)
3.2. Supporting evidence (examples, facts, statistics, etc.)
3.3. Analysis (how evidence backs up the second point)
4. Body paragraph III
4.1. Topic sentence (indicates the last argument)
4.2. Supporting evidence (examples, facts, statistics, etc.)
4.3. Analysis (how evidence backs up the last point)
5.1. Restating the thesis statement
5.2. Reminding the reader of the main points
5.3. The last call to action or the main solution (give the reader a point to think about)
The outline is frequently used by college students as it helps to build the logic of the paper – the core for arguments. This improves the reader’s attention and thinking and will facilitate his or her understanding of your position.
Step 1. Compose the introduction.
This paragraph is considered to be one of the most important and time consuming. From the first sentence you need to interest your audience with a good hook. For a persuasive essay introduction it is advisable to tell some basic information to give the reader a very clear picture of the issue. Specialists advise to write this part of the paper only after the body paragraph is complete, as you will be able to see the full picture.
In this paragraph, the focus is on the persuasive essay thesis statement. You will need to mention the main issue and your position should be reflected in your thesis statement. The ideal formula will be issue+position. Writers usually use the following words in their thesis statements: must have, needs, must, could, requires, should, may, ought, etc. For example, your thesis statement may look like this: “The parental leave should be extended to six months and be fully paid.” As soon as you develop the first version of the thesis statement you need to revise it and make it clearer and stronger.
Step 2. Create the main body.
All of your arguments should be structured in order of importance. There are several strategies of how you can organize your arguments. An important point in influencing with argumentation is the correct arrangement of theses. The most effective strategy is when strong arguments are placed at the beginning and end of the statement, and in the middle weaker theses can be inserted.
Support your position with reason and evidence. You can start with listing everything on your mind. Then find some examples and facts from reliable sources and take into account that evidence should appeal to the argument.
There are different ways you can use evidence in your essay:
- The most convincing means of evidence are facts. But don’t confuse facts and truths (it’s a point that cannot be proven, but is supported by many people).
- Statistics will be a great support to your arguments, especially if you have found it in reliable sources. Note: It should be appropriately cited.
- Examples contain certain information or experiences that can reinforce your point and make your ideas more concrete.
- Quotes from professionals of certain areas can add a note of expertise. Pick only those experts that support your idea.
If you will decide to use statistical data, it is necessary to be moderate: a stack of statistical information tires the listeners, and the arguments do not produce the necessary impression on them. Note also that carelessly processed statistical materials can mislead listeners, and sometimes even deceive.
Step 3. Come up with a conclusion.
The persuasive essay conclusion is your last opportunity to win over the reader. Add something memorable or dramatic, so the reader will be totally confident in the rightness of your point. Before writing the last sentence, reread the text and come up with a powerful ending.
Step 1. Test your arguments and evidence.
You need to reread your first draft and evaluate it from the other point of view. When you are too close to your writing, the argument may seem credible for you, but will it be powerful enough to convince your readers? Follow this list to make a good check:
- Imagine that you are an opponent and read your reasons and evidence. Look at them from a perspective of skepticism – like you are wishing to refute them. Think about a possible opponent’s arguments and add new arguments to answer them in advance.
- Look at your arguments from various angles and make sure that you have supported them with relevant evidence and reason.
- Ask someone to check your paper and find weak evidence or insufficient support.
Step 2. Edit your draft.
Correct the grammar, punctuation, sentence construction, and spelling errors. Rewrite sentences that seem awkward and those that look like some sort of error. Add transitional words and phrases if the text needs to be smoother. Remove the details that seem unclear or rewrite sentences so the readers will understand it.
Ask someone you respect to read your paper and critically evaluate it. Write down the comments and discuss the critics with him or her. Consider the comments and rewrite your essay.
When you will be holding a finished essay, ask yourself whether it is the best you can do or if you can do better.
Persuasive Essay Tips
- Don’t use terms that you don’t know, and the terms must match the topic and audience.
- Don’t confuse the reader with evidence that doesn’t relate to the topic. Persuasive writing should remain focused on the topic and avoid straying from the issue.
- Remove weak arguments and evidence that doesn’t directly support your position.
- Examine your opinion from different angles – it will help you present the issue more clearly.
- Use at least two claims that oppose your position. This will show the reader that your topic is debatable and by refuting those claims you will increase the reader’s trust in your position.
- When choosing reasons or evidence for your arguments, think about your audience: will your reader tend to agree, oppose, or remain on the sidelines?
- Consider that social proof cannot be used as evidence in certain assignments. We recommend you to clarify this point with your instructor.
- You can begin the body paragraphs with a concession (the opposing point to the issue). From your side you need to give arguments that are stronger than the opponent’s.
- Don’t forget to use transitions between sentences and paragraphs (however, in fact, therefor, instead, nevertheless, etc.).
Persuasive Paper Example
Reading persuasive essay examples will help you write your own. The essay that you can read below has the elements that are necessary to make persuasive writing effective. As you read, pay attention to vocabulary, transition words, and tools the author uses to persuade the reader. Also see the comments from our editor – it will help you read the example more critically. Reading persuasive writing examples is the key to understanding how arguments can be used in your own writing. Underline the key words as you read the sample, topic sentence, support/reasons, and transitions.
Click the images to see their full size.
- Metaphor. The meaning that you want to convey can be represented symbolically, changing the mundane into something more vivid and imaginative, with an easy to understand visualization. It can be a small but very vital and instructive story, or an impressive figurative expression, or, for example, the eastern parable, which may evoke a vivid image of what you are trying to convey.
- Repetition. You need to keep repeating a certain point from time to time to make the readers concentrate on it. Especially if you are not sure that the reader will understand your point from the first time, repeat it after each example that supports your point.
- Expert opinion. People tend to agree with experts. If you will add quotations from people that are professionals in the field related to your issue, the readers will be more likely to take your point of view.
- Contradiction. This method is based on the identification of contradictions in the arguments of the opponent. In written work, contradictions may be utilized for common mistaken positions. For example: many people think that women shouldn’t work. You can oppose this with arguments about how women helped during the Second World War.
The persuasive essay is not the easiest type of writing, but the skills that you will obtain during this work will help you throughout life. Keep in mind that your writing should be challenging for readers, as ruining conventional wisdom will focus the reader on your point.
Hopefully, this writing guide will help shed some light on persuasive writing. Check also our samples to have a better idea of how persuasive essays should look.