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Argumentative Essays ©Tutoring and Learning Centre

Argumentative Essays
©Tutoring and Learning Centre, George Brown College 2014 www.georgebrown.ca/tlc

There are many different ways to organize an argumentative essay. The most important thing
to remember about an argumentative essay is that you must show both sides of a contentious
issue. In other words, your topic must be debatable.
An argumentative essay is a good tool of persuasion because you show the reader:
1) You have considered both sides of the argument before choosing your position
2) You are able to anticipate and refute any opposing arguments.
Before you organize your essay, make sure that you have brainstormed both sides of the issue.
Once you know what you want to say, the organization you choose should be whichever will
best showcase your ideas.

Plan before you start!
Try a PRO vs. CON list to help you identify both sides of the issue:
PRO: Abortion should be legal CON: Abortion should not be legal ever!
? Women’s rights
? Socio-economic effects of unwanted
children

? Child’s rights
? The moral questions and religious
perspective

When an argumentative essay is assigned by your teacher, it is important to distinguish
whether the assignment asks you to:

a) Present both sides of the issue equally and objectively
OR
b) Present your position on the issue as stronger than the opposing position

Your thesis statement must reflect clearly the purpose of your essay assignment.
For example:

a) Objective stance: While many feel that a woman should have the freedom to choose
whether or not to bear a child, others feel that terminating a pregnancy is immoral.

b) Taking a position: While many feel that terminating a pregnancy is immoral, the
freedom to choose whether or not to bear a child should be every woman’s right.

Before you start your essay, make sure that you have done sufficient research to present the
argument fairly and judiciously. You will need to back up your claims, so make sure that you
cite your sources!

Argumentative Essays
©Tutoring and Learning Centre, George Brown College 2014 www.georgebrown.ca/tlc
Introduction
Pro point 1 + support
Pro point 2 + support
Con point 1 + rebuttal
Conclusion
Con point 2 + rebuttal
Pro point 3 + support
Con point 3 + rebuttal
There are many ways you could organize your argumentative
essay. The one thing you need to keep in mind is that you must show both sides of the
argument.

Here are a few basic possibilities for organizing an argumentative essay:

1. 2.

3. 4.

Introduction
Pro point 1 + support
Pro point 2 + support
Con point + rebuttal
Conclusion
Introduction
Opposing point 1 + rebuttal
Opposing point 1 + rebuttal
Opposing point 1 + rebuttal
Conclusion
Introduction
Pro point 1 + support
Pro point 2 + support
Con point + rebuttal
Conclusion
Con point + rebuttal
Pro point 3 + support
Con point + rebuttal

Argumentative Essays
©Tutoring and Learning Centre, George Brown College 2014 www.georgebrown.ca/tlc

This outline is designed to help students understand argumentative essay outlines in more
detail. The following outline is appropriate if you are taking a position on the issue.

Argumentative Essay:
Point by Point
This organization works well if you would like to persuade a reader of your own opinion on the
issue. If a lot of your argument directly counters your opponent’s arguments, this organization
can work very well.

Introduction:
o Explain the importance of the issue
o Summarize the opposing side’s arguments very briefly
o Provide a thesis statement which recognizes your disagreement with the other side’s
argument and states your position clearly.

Body:
Paragraph 1:
o State your opponent’s first argument and counter that argument directly with your
points of rebuttal
o Support your points with examples and research to strengthen your position
Paragraph 2:
o State your opponent’s second argument and counter that argument directly with your
points of rebuttal
o Support your points with examples and research to strengthen your position
Paragraph 3:
o State your opponent’s third argument and counter that argument directly with your
points of rebuttal
o Support your points with examples and research to strengthen your position

(Continue in this way until you have exhausted your ability to present and counter the
opposition.)

Paragraph 4: (optional)
o If you have additional points to strengthen your argument that do not directly counter
your opponent’s point, you can provide them in the last few body paragraphs

You may continue this way (paragraph 5, 6, 7 etc.) until you exhaust your additional arguments.

Conclusion
o Rephrase your main point
o Summarize your main ideas in order to show how strong your position is over your
opponent’s
o Provide a final thought for your reader

Argumentative Essays
©Tutoring and Learning Centre, George Brown College 2014 www.georgebrown.ca/tlc

The following outline is appropriate if you are presenting an objective or neutral position on
the issue.

Argumentative Essay:
Point by Point
This organization works well if you would like to present 2 sides of an issue fairly and objectively
without taking a side. Point by point works best if the individual points of argument oppose each
other directly.
Introduction:
o Explain the importance of the issue
o Provide background information explaining why the issue is commonly debated
o Provide a thesis statement which recognizes the main perspectives of the opposing
sides. (Do not present your opinion)

Body:
Paragraph 1:
o Present the first supporting point of one side
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position
o Present the opposing or counter point to the above claim
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position
Paragraph 2:
o Present the second supporting point of one side
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position
o Present the opposing or counter point to the above claim
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position
Paragraph 3:
o Present the third supporting point of one side
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position
o Present the opposing or counter point to the above claim
o Support the points with examples or research to illustrate their position

(Continue in this way until you have exhausted your ability to present both sides of the issue)

Paragraph 4: (optional)
o If you have additional points to present that cannot be directly countered, you can
provide them in the last few body paragraphs

Conclusion
o Rephrase your main point
o Summarize your main ideas in order to show how strong your position is over your
opponent’s
o Provide a final thought for the reader