There are many conspiracy theories circling around the net: aliens in Area 51 or that the Queen is a lizard. That’s all wacky and fun, but let’s be honest — the videos can be pretty convincing. That is because the people making those videos use special techniques to play with evidence and convince you that their ridiculous ideas are valid. In a nutshell, that is the goal of persuasive writing.
This article will be your guide on how to write a persuasive essay. We will discuss topics, creating an outline and tips on persuading a reader. Be sure to stick around for persuasive essay examples near the end, which you can download and use for reference.
- What Is a Persuasive Essay
- Persuasive Essay vs Argumentative Essay
- Picking a Topic
- Crafting a Thesis Statement
- Persuasive Essay Outline
- Tips for Persuasive Writing
- Grading System
- Beneficial Tips
- Need Further Assistance?
What Is a Persuasive Essay
Persuasive writing is taught early on in schools. Students learn how to dissect political speeches, advertisements, and historical persuasive pieces like Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. Persuasive writing also challenges students to take a stance and use evidence to prove a chosen point of view. So what is a persuasive essay?
The persuasive essay definition is an academic piece of writing aimed to persuade the reader to agree with a specific point of view. When writing a persuasive essay, you must conduct solid research and analysis to understand their subject to the fullest extent. They must be aware of their own (and the readers’) biases. Upon finishing reading a persuasive essay, the reader must be convinced that there is no other correct point of view.
Persuasive Essay vs Argumentative Essay
Preparing your research for an essay is a process you should be familiar with by now. It all starts with the brainstorming and background information, then diving into books, interviews, and academic journals.
However, the thing with persuasive essays is that it’s not about the research you find: it’s about how you use it. A good way to think about it is to compare the persuasive essay with the argumentative essay.
In an argumentative essay, your purpose is to use data and reasoning to prove an argument as valid. Argumentative essays are mostly based on logic and solid reasoning.
You might also be interested in discovering what is an argumentative essay and how to write one
On the contrary, a persuasive essay is based around the writer’s personal opinions and feelings. The writer must use research information to make the audience believe them.
The reason why conspiracy theories are not to be trusted, is because their aim is to persuade. That is evident in how the creators use research; pulling it out of context and distorting it until it fits the argument.
The format of a persuasive essay relies on the way arguments are structured in the outline. For example, a typical body paragraph is the presentation and solidification of one argument. The section opens up with an introductory sentence which leads to the argument. After the argument is presented, use sources to prove that your argument is valid. Next, transition into the next argument, and so forth. The ‘outline’ section of this article provides further insight on how to format a persuasive essay.
The Structure of Your Essay
- Background information/ Define your audience
- Thesis statement
- Topic sentence #1 - Supporting facts/ evidence
- Topic sentence #2 - Supporting facts/ evidence
- Topic sentence #3 - Supporting facts/ evidence
- Short summary of topic and main points
- Benefits to the reader
- Call to action/ concluding statement
Persuasive Essay Rubric:
- Word count: 500, 1500, 2000 words (check assignment requirements)
- Fonts: 12pt Times New Roman (or any other easy-to-read fonts like Ariaal, or Georgia), 16pt for headline
- Spacing: double-spaced (1.5 in some cases)
- Alignment: justified
The List of Topics and How to Pick One
When thinking of persuasive essay ideas, it is best to choose a topic with many contrasting opinions. Broad issues such as gun control and abortion rights can spawn novel length essays. These best be avoided unless you’re writing a dissertation.
Say you want to argue in favor of space exploration. It perfectly fits the description of a widely explored contemporary subject. Creating a structure where every body paragraph explores a different planet might be a bit too much. Why not narrow it down and argue in favor of building a base on the moon? This way, you can convince the audience of the benefits of creating a moon base, and giving them a small idea of what can be achieved from space exploration on a larger scale.
Hence, you have persuaded your reader on a small topic connected to a much broader one. This will leave them inspired with plenty of thoughts to feast on, allowing them to dive further into the world of space.
Remember This When Picking a Topic
These essays are all about the point of view. It is essential to find good topics which you know something about, or topics which you can argue in favor of, or against. The greatest persuasive essays ever written deal with real-life experiences and point the reader towards important social problems most people have ignored. Take Martin Luther King Jr.’s A Letter from Birmingham Jail or Hillary Clinton’s Women’s Rights are Human Rights for example.
Topics for High School
Perhaps the concept of space exploration is long and tedious and makes your stomach turn. Don’t worry — you can come up with plenty of simple persuasive essay topics for high school. Perhaps you have already debated on some of these with your friends:
- Schools should restrict the use of tablets in the classroom, as it distracts students and causes difficulty in learning.
- The Velvet Underground is the most important and influential American rock band of all time.
- Explain why advertisements should be banned from social media.
- Eating meat should be banned within the next five years due to growing concern over the environment.
- Historically, businessmen in positions of power is a bad idea.
Topics for College
Persuasive essay topics for college get a bit more complicated. The best essay topics are ones that take into account the events of contemporary life, discussing moral, ethical, technological, and environmental issues. Students have the opportunity to make a serious impact with their writing, fearlessly breathing new life into the old world. For college, it is best to choose controversial persuasive essay topics. They challenge the writer to engage in relevant intellectual issues. Here are some examples:
- Media marketed for teenagers advertise morally and ethically wrong messages.
- Federal courtrooms must have live cameras that televise all trials.
- Beauty contests should not be encouraged.
- With the amounts of information available online, college education should be made significantly cheaper.
- Create a prisoner rehabilitation system using music and art.
- Arguing in favor of Net Neutrality.
Crafting a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is the full, concise summary of the main point of the essay. For early college essays, a thesis is usually one sentence long. For longer essays like the Senior Thesis or Dissertation, the thesis statement can be up to a paragraph long.
The primary concern when writing a persuasive essay thesis should be the writer's position on the selected topic. The thesis must be brief and direct, providing a clear idea of the essay’s stance. The writer’s mission is to create a piece that will solidify the thesis, proving it as valid and unchallenged. Here are some examples to shed more light on how to write a thesis statement for a persuasive essay:
As you may have noticed, lousy thesis statements offer a generalized and neutral view. Good thesis statements take a stable position in the argument.
Persuasive Essay Outline
In schools and colleges, persuasive writing is taught using the five-paragraph essay structure. You will be required to follow the persuasive essay format and cite it according to one of the common citation styles, such as APA or MLA.
After getting well-versed in your topic, it is essential to create an outline. The outline will assist you in organizing your argument. Every body paragraph presents an argument and backs it up with sources. These arguments and references used will all be placed in your outline which you can always refer to when writing your essay.
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The outline looks like follows:
There are plenty of ways how to start a persuasive essay. The introduction of the essay must begin with a hook to grab the audience’s attention. You can start with a humorous statement to break the ice and suggest a less formal writing approach. Alternatively, you may begin with a robust controversial statement. Put the reader straight into the action!
Any opener or headline serves as a tool to paint a broad picture of the work, leading to the main point. The same goes for a persuasive essay introduction. While it seems like a small structural element without any reliable info, the opening is crucial to capturing and maintaining the reader’s interest. It is best to write the introduction in the end. Knowing the content that follows will help you lead into it.
Here’s where the heavy artillery comes into play. The persuasive essay body paragraphs are where the viewpoint is backed by hard facts and evidence. Good persuasive writers know the topic inside out. They can anticipate any opposing views and provide counter-arguments.
It is precious to know how to end a persuasive essay efficiently. The persuasive essay conclusion does not delve far from the introduction. However, certain elements are exclusive for conclusions. Restating the thesis and summarizing main points is the obvious first thing to do.
To make a conclusion effective, one must write a meaningful personal comment. This could be a call for action to leave the reader with something to ponder about. This can be a prediction based on the information presented in the essay. It could be a quote that you believe perfectly summarizes the piece and its main points. Perhaps you’ve already found the solution to the problem, and you want to use the conclusion to suggest a way to solve it? Whatever the case, your mission here is to get creative and leave an impact.
The final version of your outline should look something like this:
- A short hook or attention grabber;
- Brief presentation of both sides of the argument;
- A strong thesis statement expressing your point of view.
- An informative introductory sentence that starts off the first argument;
- Provide evidence using reliable sources;
- Explain the evidence in connection to your argument;
- Conclude the paragraph to solidify your first argument;
- An informative topic sentence that a flows into the second argument;
- Hard factual evidence to support the second argument;
- Explore the argument further, tying in with the evidence;
- Finish with a concluding sentence that flows into paragraph 3.
- The third and final argument.
- Provide evidence that is logical and applicable;
- Explain the connection thoroughly. This is your last chance to convince the audience;
- Conclude the paragraph.
- Restate the thesis;
- Sum up the arguments to refresh the reader’s mind;
- Wrap up with a neat conclusion leaving the audience convinced and inspired.
Tips for Persuasive Writing
The essay structure of a persuasive essay is not much different from other essays. However the key lies not in the information you use, but how you use it. We’ve listed some general rules of thumb for persuasive writing below, be sure to take note:
Connect Facts. Just merely stating factual information from your research will not be enough to persuade your reader. In addition to backing your facts with sources, make sure to connect them, to clearly establish why these facts are essential in proving your point.
Use Quotes. Persuasive writing is rich in quote use. You’ll notice that world leaders often quote great writers or historical figures when they try to convince audiences. That is because historical figures have elevated importance, some have even transcended into popular culture. Using quotes appropriately will gain you the reader’s trust, placing you on the shoulders of giants.
Statistics. Statistics can be used as a hook if they’re startling enough. Otherwise, they could be implemented to solidify an already strong persuasive argument. Use statistics either towards the beginning or the middle of your body paragraph. Placing them at the end can bore the reader, placing unnecessary weight on an already heavy ladder of logic.
Examples. Examples are the secret weapon of any writer. A good writer can take a real life situation and explain it through the lens of an all-too-familiar Disney cartoon. Not only does the use of story and example make the audience relate more, it helps persuade them by painting a vivid visual image in their head.
Concessions. All good persuasive writers are aware of the counterarguments to their claim. Take the example of Eminem in the movie 8-Mile. During the final rap battle scene against the main villain Papa Doc, B-Rabbit cleverly uses all of Doc’s insults against him before Doc has a chance to go. This leaves Doc completely speechless, and B-Rabbit wins the battle.
Use these tips and a solid conclusion to wrap up your persuasive essay. Don’t forget to summarize all your main arguments and point to the solution or persuasion one last time to leader the reader with a final thought.
There are specific things instructors will look for in your essay. Following this persuasive essay rubric will help you win the praise of your professors.
- Focus: The thesis statement, as with the whole paper, must state a concrete point of view instead of being neutral. Every piece of writing in the paper exists to defend that thesis statement.
- Supporting the thesis: The thesis is well defined through solid arguments and references to credible sources. There is a minimum of 3 supporting points, which are organized in the essay outline.
- Organization: Every transition from one idea to the next is executed smoothly. There are transitional sentences which help the essay flow. Arguments are presented in the most suitable order.
- Conclusion: After reading the essay - the reader must have understood the writer’s point of view. The point of view is unbiased and educated and presented in a way that challenges the writer to take part in the argument.
- Conventions: Punctuation and grammar rules are supported. The essay isn’t hard to read due to a balance between short and long sentences.
Having ticked off these points, you can rest assured you’ve done everything correctly.
With all being said, here are some final tips for writing a persuasive essay.
Avoid fancy vocabulary: Having some variety when it comes to vocabulary is fine - but don’t expect your grade to go up because of some fancy synonyms. Find your style and write in a way that makes sense.
Search for different persuasion techniques. There are plenty of them in countless different mediums. Perhaps doing some research on persuasion might help you with your essay.
Triple check your work! Practice makes perfect, and so does proofreading. Check the essay for readability. Make sure that everything flows in harmony with the thesis. Get a second pair of eyes by giving your essay to a friend for reading!
Every paragraph is a mini-essay: This is the best out of all the persuasive essay tips you will find. Take the essay outline, compress it, and apply it to every paragraph. This way, every section has an introduction with a hook, a mini-thesis, a sustained argument, and final concluding sentence. The structure is everything!
Persuasive Essay Examples
Check out our persuasive essay examples below to get a better understanding with writing this type of paper.
Are Women Weaker Than Men Today?
This is an example of a well structured persuasive essay. The author challenges an assumption that women are weaker than men and provides evidence to support his claim.
Persuasive Essay Example: Are Women Weaker Than Men Today?
Should People Who Download Music and Movies Illegally Be Punished?
This persuasive essay example makes good use of source material and addresses a contemporary issue. The writer challenges the idea of online piracy, and argues that sharing media has become a norm in society.
Persuasive Essay Example: Should People Who Download Music and Movies Illegally Be Punished?
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