How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Step By Step Guide

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a type of essay that aims to completely discuss a topic while supporting its main thesis. An argumentative essay tends to be a long document since it requires the writer to discuss every significant point to support the thesis. In some approaches, individuals may also discuss ideas that refute or disagree with the paper’s thesis.

How to Outline an Argumentative Essay

Since an argumentative essay is a lengthy document, writers should create an outline to help them establish a better structure for the paper. The outline should include sections for the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. A writer can use a bulleted or numbered list for their outline. They should treat the different sections of the paper as the main headings and the topic sentences as subheadings. Here is an example outline for an argumentative essay on the necessary banning of gillnet fishing:


  • What is gillnet fishing?

  • Types of gillnet fishing

  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs

  • The negative impacts of gillnet fishing on the fish population.

  • The negative impacts of gillnet fishing on marine conservation.

  • How gillnet fishing contributes to water pollution


  • Restatement of the thesis

  • Closing sentence

Argumentative Essay Format

An argumentative essay follows the common academic writing format of introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The standard format is suited for the informative nature of the paper. Most essays also follow the five-paragraph structure which involves one paragraph for the introduction, three paragraphs for the body, and one paragraph for the conclusion.

1. Introduction

A writer should write the introduction with the purpose of catching the readers’ attention. An argumentative essay can be lengthy which could deter some readers from reading it. This is why a good introduction is necessary for the success of an argumentative essay. A writer should include a hook statement which can be a question, quote, or statement that will lead the audience to finish reading the paper.

2. Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs are the main content of the argumentative essay. This section will contain the main points and supporting evidence for the paper’s thesis. As stated above, a standard academic paper will contain three body paragraphs. However, writers can use more paragraphs if they have more points to discuss.

3. Conclusion

The paper’s conclusion is a paragraph that summarizes all the points that an individual discussed in the argumentative essay. It restates the thesis statement as well as provides an overview of the whole paper. It is important to note that the conclusion should not contain new information about the topic. It should only provide a summarization of the paper and a closing statement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Creating a strong thesis statement is a good way on how to start an argumentative essay. This is the main argument of the paper and a writer should spend enough time forming a well-written and meaningful thesis statement. Read this step-by-step guide on how to write a thesis statement.

Step 1. Choose an argument to write about

Before writing a thesis statement, the writer should first choose a topic or argument that appeals to them. This will make the writing and research process easier and enjoyable. The topic should be specific to make the argumentative essay easier to organize and construct. A broad topic may lead to an unnecessarily long document that discusses insignificant points related to the topic. Having a specific topic for the argumentative essay will allow the writer to create a thesis statement within one to two sentences.

Step 2. Research facts about the topic

The thesis statement is the paper’s main argument and should act as a concise one to two-sentence summary of the paper. This means that the writer will need to read about the topic before they can write a good thesis statement. During the research, the writer should try to come up with questions and statements that they want to discuss and answer. These questions and statements can act as the outline for the thesis statement. Once the writer has retrieved information that answers their questions, they can then start forming a thesis statement.

Step 3. Write the draft of the thesis statement

Since the thesis statement should contain the main idea of the argumentative essay, it will be difficult for a writer to create the perfect thesis statement before writing the whole paper. An argumentative essay will include extensive research which will occur even during the writing process. This means that the writer may find new information that could affect the structure of the paper and thesis statement. Due to this, writers should then consider their first thesis statement as a draft. This draft should guide the structure and flow of the paper. However, writers should add new ideas or sections in the paper if they benefit the document.

For the first draft of the thesis statement, writers can use their initial answer to the paper’s main argument. An argumentative essay thesis statement should be the main argument that the writer is trying to support. For example, an argumentative essay may be arguing about the necessary banning of gillnet fishing. For the initial thesis statement, the writer can use the statement:

"The government should ban the gillnet fishing practice due to its adverse effects on ocean ecology, marine life, and contribution to water pollution."

Step 4. Finish the first draft of the paper

After writing the initial thesis statement, the writer should then begin to write the draft of their argumentative essay. They should focus on putting their ideas into the paper without worrying about proper formatting. During this initial writing process, the writer may need to do additional research which could affect the paper’s structure and the thesis statement.

Step 5. Finalize the thesis statement

Once the writer has finished the first draft of the argumentative essay, they can then begin finalizing the thesis statement. They should review all the points that they discussed in the paper and compare them to the initial thesis statement. They should then do the necessary revision on the thesis statement and ensure that it perfectly summarizes the main arguments of the paper.

Types of Argument Claims

To create a better argument for the paper, the writer should use the different types of claims and support them with factual evidence. This will make the argumentative essay sound more authoritative and help in persuading the readers to agree with the author. Below are the common claims along with some examples that writers can use in an argumentative essay.

1. Claim of fact

A claim of fact is a claim that the author can prove through the use of factual evidence. The claim must be a debatable statement and not a solid fact. This means that writers should avoid using statistics and general facts that an opposing party cannot refute. This is a necessary rule for logical arguments that writers should try to follow in their argumentative essay writing.

Lost parts from gillnet fishing equipment often scatter in the ocean floor and contribute to water pollution.

2. Claim of definition

A claim of definition is an argument that provides a definition of a topic. The definition can be from the dictionary, other authoritative sources, or the author’s personal definition. A claim of definition can also include a classification. Below is a sample claim of definition:

Gillnet fishing is a form of fishing where the fishermen cast a large net in the water which often injures large creatures such as dolphins, orcas, sharks, and whales.

3. Claim of Value

A claim of value is a statement that argues about the value of the topic. The claim should answer questions if something is good, bad, better, or worse. Claims of value are statements that rates a subject to support or refute the thesis. Below is a sample claim of value:

Gillnet fishing is an effective and efficient way of catching fish, however, it has adverse effects on ocean ecology that results in overfishing and pollution.

4. Claim of cause and effect

A claim of cause and effect argues about the causes and effects of the topic. The claim can be about only a cause, an effect, or both. Writers can often use a claim of cause and effect along with other types of claims. This is because stating a subject’s cause can be effective in a claim of definition, policy, value, or fact. Below is a sample claim of cause and effect:

Fishermen prefer to utilize gillnets in industrial fishing due to their low maintenance cost, saving fishing companies millions of dollars per year.

5. Claim of comparison

A claim of comparison is a statement that presents an argument by comparing the subject to another. The argument should compare the subject to another to provide a better understanding of the subject. Writers can use a claim of comparison along with other types such as claims of value, fact, and policies. Below is an example claim of comparison:

Gillnet fishing is a destructive form of fishing practice similar to dynamite fishing and bottom trawling.

6. Claim of policy

A claim of policy is an argument that suggests conditions to solve an issue. As its name suggests, the claim will provide policies or rules that the authorities should legislate to solve a specific problem. A claim of policy tends to state a problem and offers a solution. Below is a sample claim of policy:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should legislate strict laws to ban gillnet fishing and manage the increasing number of illegal fishing activities.

Argumentative Essay Examples

One way to learn how to make an argumentative essay is through reading good examples. Below is a list of argumentative essay examples that follow the proper guidelines and structure of a good paper.

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Argumentative Essay Template

Besides reading good examples, individuals should consider using an argumentative essay template. A template can provide a good structure for the paper. It will also save time since it gives individuals a guideline that they can simply follow. Here is an argumentative essay template that any individual can use in their academic writing:

Argumentative Essay Template


Body Paragraphs

The first argument on the topic

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion

Refuting argument against the first argument

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion

The second argument on the topic

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion

Refuting argument against the second argument

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion

The final argument on the topic

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion

Refuting argument against the final argument

  • Topic sentence

  • Supportive evidence

  • Paragraph conclusion


  • Restatement of the thesis statement

  • Summary of all the discussed arguments

  • Closing sentence

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