Are you preparing to write a persuasive essay, and you want to make sure that you’re doing it right? Well then, you’re in the right place. We’re going to talk about persuasive essays from top to bottom, including just what they are, how to write them, and each of the different sections that you’re going to need (including citations).
By the time we’re done with this guide, you’re going to have a thorough understanding of everything that you’re responsible for when you’re creating that persuasive essay for your next class, whether it’s high school, college, or anywhere else. It all starts with persuasive essay topics, and from there, we’re going through how to write a persuasive essay step by step.
What is a Persuasive Essay?
First, let’s take a closer look at just what a persuasive essay is. Maybe your high school English teacher just asked you to write one, and you don’t even know where to start. Perhaps you’ve been given this task by a college professor, or maybe you’re just a fan of writing (probably not that much of a fan, right?). No matter the reason, let’s take a look at what a persuasive essay actually is.
The simplest definition is that this type of essay is one that offers a specific argument on an idea or topic and attempts to convince others of its validity. So, in this type of essay, you would need to come up with a topic or idea, look at the evidence regarding that topic, explain and evaluate the evidence and the subject and then create a stance on that topic.
In order to write this type of essay, you’ll need to go through a process of comparing and contrasting, defining essential components of the topic and argument, and providing examples and analysis. You’re going to get really in-depth about the item that you’ve chosen (or been given). But let’s get a little further into just what you need to know for your persuasive essay format.
How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Okay, now that you know what a persuasive essay is, just how are you going to sit down and write one? We’re going to give you a simple explanation of just how to write a persuasive essay step by step. We’ll go over the specific sections of the essay as we continue on, but first, let’s go over some of the basics and persuasive essay ideas.
Determine your topic. The first thing you need is a topic to write about. Sometimes your teacher will give you a specific topic. Sometimes they’ll give you a general one that you need to narrow down and sometimes they’ll give you free rein. Choosing a theme consists of answering a few critical questions before you’ll know how to write a persuasive essay thesis.
What do you find interesting? Start by looking at topics that interest you. Do they fall under the guidelines that your teacher provided? Look for an item or area of interest that will fit the overall category that you were given (such as ancient Rome or marketing procedures or anything else your teacher gives you).
Is there an argument to be made? When you look at a persuasive essay, you need to be able to defend a specific argument, which means there needs to be some type of issue that has multiple sides. Look at the general topic you’ve chosen and try to come up with a few options that you could write about that have more than one side.
Can I write long enough? How long is your essay supposed to be? If you are writing a 1,000-word essay, it will be easier than if you have to write a 10,000-word thesis. Consider whether you can really get enough information and evidence on that specific topic for the length of the essay that you need to write. If you can great. If you can’t, cross it off the shortlist.
Is it narrow enough? This might seem strange, but you actually want a relatively narrow thesis statement because if it’s too broad, you may have trouble getting the entire point across in the amount of space you have for your essay. You want to make sure you can touch on all the essential points.
Do your research. You’re then going to need to do a great deal of research in order to make sure that you can support your topic. Keep in mind that you need actual evidence to support your thesis, not just your own thoughts and beliefs. Take a look at the number of sources that your teacher requires and try to come up with at least a couple extras in case you don’t end up liking one of the sources as you start writing.
Make an outline. Next, create a framework for the points that you’re going to make. You will need one counterpoint to your thesis or one strong argument that is most commonly made. You also need at least two supporting statements and ideas. Lay these out along with how you’re going to back up each of the points.
Start with the body. Writing the body of your essay (aside from having a thesis already prepared) is generally the most natural way. This is going to give you a chance to make your strong arguments before you try to write out an introduction or a conclusion. These are the most critical parts of the essay, and they can be the most difficult to write.
How to Start a Persuasive Essay Introduction
Are you ready to get started with the actual writing process? You’ve got your topic ready, and you’re going to start writing. But how do you actually get started? Let’s take a look at what the introduction of your essay is really about, and how you’re going to lay it out.
The first sentence. The very first sentence of your essay is generally going to be an introduction to the broader topic. You won’t start immediately with your thesis. Instead, you’ll begin by discussing the more general category. If you are writing about declawing cats, for example, you might start by saying that cats have been common household pets for over 10,000 years.
The second sentence. Here you’re still going to be introducing the topic, but narrowing it down a little more. So, you might say that even though cats have been in homes for that long, declawing cats only became commonplace somewhere around the 20th century.
The third sentence. This is where you’re going to introduce a question that will lead you to the actual thesis of your essay. You’re going to give the reader a chance to see what you’re going to be talking about. So, you might ask ‘is declawing cats really harmless, or is it an inhumane treatment?
The final sentence. Finally, you’re going to introduce your actual thesis. This is where you’re going to take a stand on the issue and state your opinion as a fact. Keep this in mind; you’re reporting a fact, so you don’t want to use words like ‘I think’ or ‘I believe.’ Instead, you will state ‘declawing cats is an inhumane amputation that can damage them for life.’ Or ‘declawing cats is a safe and effective way of keeping them from destroying your home.
Draw in your reader. Remember, the goal here is to draw in your reader and get them to keep reading the entire essay. In order to do that, you need to hook them with the intro. You may present a controversial thesis statement that keeps them reading because they don’t agree, or you may offer something more lighthearted, but you want to make sure they continue on.
What to Include in the Body of a Persuasive Essay
Now we’re going to get into what the body of your essay is. Keep in mind that the body of your essay is generally going to be at least three paragraphs and perhaps more. This is going to depend on just how long your teacher or professor wants the assignment to be. Some may be short at only a couple of paragraphs, while others might be several pages long.
Paragraph one. The first paragraph (after the introduction) is where you’re going to refute your claim. Yes, you want to make sure that you give an evidence-based paragraph right at the beginning where you contradict yourself and showcase how the other side is a valid point. But you’re going to end this paragraph by stating why this is not the case.
Paragraph two. The next paragraph is where you’re going to present your most persuasive argument. You’re going to express why this argument is more valid than the counterpoint that you introduced in the previous paragraph, and you’re going to do it by backing up your statement with evidence (more than just your own beliefs).
Paragraph three. Your final body paragraph (depending on the length you’re given) will give a secondary point. This should still be a strong point, but it will generally be less so than paragraph two. You always want to back your point of view up with evidence.
Additional paragraphs. If you have other paragraphs or need your content to be longer, you would keep adding extra supporting points that boost your position and your thesis statement. Make sure you add as much evidence as you can and work your way from the strongest points to the weakest ones close to the conclusion.
How to Write a Great Conclusion for a Persuasive Essay
Once you’ve written the introduction and you’ve written out the body of the essay, just how are you supposed to close it out? Well, this is one of the most essential parts of the entire process, and you want to make sure that you are ending your essay in a compelling way that restates your point. So let’s look at how to write a persuasive essay conclusion.
Restate the counterpoint. Generally, you’re going to start your conclusion by restating the counterpoint that you made, along with the response that you came up with. This reestablishes why the other side of the topic is wrong.
Synthesize your information. You’re then going to spend the next couple sentences restating just why your point is valid and why there should be a general consensus that agrees with your point.
How to Cite Sources for a Persuasive Essay
Citing your sources is a vital part of writing any type of essay, and no matter what course you’re writing for, you’ll need to do this properly. The truth, however, is that there are a number of different ways that you can cite your sources.
Follow the provided guidelines. You want to make sure you talk with your teacher or look over the instructions that you are provided to cite your sources. Some teachers will want you to follow APA guidelines while others may prefer MLA, Harvard, or Chicago.
Cite every source. Even if you didn’t take a direct quote from a source, if you used their idea at all, it’s a good idea to cite them as a source. You definitely don’t want to be accused of plagiarism in your class or anywhere else in life.
Use an online resource. The great thing is there are actually several different online resources that are available to help you with citing sources. All you have to do is go to a website like CitationMachine.net or EasyBib.com, and you’ll be able to plug in the information you have and what format you need. They’ll then spit out the citation you need (including in-text citations) that you can just copy and paste.
Other Persuasive Essay Tips and Best Practices
When it comes to writing a persuasive essay, you want to make sure that you’re following a few critical practices and persuasive writing techniques that are going to make it easier for you to succeed. These are some of the general persuasive essay tips that are going to help you develop an effective essay.
Keep opinions out. Yes, we just said that this entire essay is based on your view of a topic, but the most important thing to remember is that you are presenting that opinion as a fact. You never want to use words like ‘I think’ or ‘I believe.’ When presenting the counterpoint in paragraph one of the body, you could state ‘some people believe’; however, none of your supporting paragraphs should use phrases that indicate your statements are anything but factual.
Use plenty of evidence. You’re trying to convince someone that your point is the best one, and that means you need to have proof to back yourself up. Use plenty of sources and make sure that you’re adding in things like statistics or research where it’s useful and accurate. This will make sure you have better success in swaying someone’s opinion.
Example Persuasive Essay Prompts and Topics
Okay, so what can you write about? Truthfully, you can write a persuasive essay on just about anything that you want. We all know those people who can turn absolutely anything into an argument, right? Well, that’s what a persuasive essay does. It looks at the sides of an issue and presents the ‘best’ option. So, you can write about anything. But here are a few interesting persuasive essay topics to start with.
1. Should declawing cats be made illegal?
2. Can you follow an organic diet without breaking the budget?
3. Is using a computer in class beneficial to students?
4. Do video games make you smarter?
5. What are the best investment methods for saving for college?
3 Other Resources to Find Example Persuasive Essays
Looking for more persuasive essay examples? Well, that’s not going to be a problem because there are plenty of resources out there to give you example persuasive essays. Whether you’re looking to read through a few essays for a better idea on how to write or you’re looking for topic ideas you can use, here are a few places you should be checking out.
1. Academic Help. This website is designed to give you some assistance with different types of academic problems that you might be having. One of those areas is by providing you with sample topics and sample essays for persuasive essay writing. You can see the topic and read the essay to get a good idea of what to do.
2. Template Lab. Another great option is template Lab, which offers several templates available for download that you can look over. You’ll be able to see essays that have done well for other students and some of the topics that they considered in those essays.
3. Examples.com. This is another place where you can get just a few topic ideas and some sample essays to look over. These will give you a better understanding of just how you can create the right type of content, and the site will give you some more advice on your writing as well.
Overall, these tips and tricks should help you when it comes to creating your persuasive essay. No matter what type of class you’re writing for, the concepts that you need to follow are going to be the same, and this type of essay is going to be a whole lot easier for you to write once you know the process and the different components. Make sure that you’re starting out right, and you’re going to find it much quicker as well.
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We’ve also written a guide on the best persuasive speech topics to check out.