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Writing an argumentative essay thesis outline

May 29, 2018

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An argumentative essay is typically constructed along a five paragraph format that clearly states the main idea in a cogent thesis sentence.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a genre of writing that aims at investigating an issue, taking a stand on an issue, generating and evaluating a multitude of evidence in a logical manner to support the overall claim.


Like most college essays students encounter on the way to earning their sheepskin, an argumentative essay is typically constructed along a five paragraph format that clearly states the main idea in a cogent thesis sentence. Additionally, an argumentative essay will supply the reader with information that presents and supports an argument. Entwined within the argumentative essay, the author will also need to the pros and cons associated with the argument.

The Five Paragraph Format

The five paragraph essay has been a staple of college level courses across the nation since the first fraternity pledge swallowed his first goldfish. Its popularity is due to the fact that it’s an easy way to manage the author’s material while presenting the reader with the most salient facts first. It has the added benefit of allowing the author to layer in their support of their central thesis statement. At its most basic level, the five paragraph essay consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

The introduction serves to set the parameters of the essay and previews what the reader can expect to find throughout the body of the paper. The primary message is delivered in a cogent thesis statement, which is subsequently backed up in each of the three body paragraphs. Additionally, the introduction is the place to grab the readers interest to the extent that they can’t help but be compelled to continue reading.

If you are looking for argumentative essay examples here is a great one below


Each of the three body paragraphs is notable for containing one main idea and a forceful topic sentence. Like the thesis sentence that guides the entire essay, the topic sentence is crafted to guide the reader through that particular paragraph. Clearly, these are the meat and potatoes of any essay, and generally speaking, like a newspaper article, the author will place their strongest arguments to the fore.

Finally, the essay’s concluding paragraph will summarize the main points, salient facts, and reiterate the primary argument of the essay.  It’s important to remember that the conclusion is not the place to introduce new information or arguments, and should serve only to summarize the previously stated data.

Importance of Transitions

Effective transitions are a critical component to guiding the reader through the document in an artful fashion. Transitions serve to knit the paper together by hooking the reader’s attention back to a previous statement before tackling the next section. It has the dual effect of reiterating the message that was just delivered while simultaneously pointing the way to the next section of the paper.

The key to effective writing is in exciting the reader’s interest as mentioned above in the discussion about crafting an effective introduction. Keeping their interest, and moving them through the essay is achieved by the effective use of transitions.

A Few Words on Argumentative Essay Formatting

The specialized nature of the argumentative argument requires some consideration to how the information is presented. Specifically speaking, it is incumbent upon the author to address both the pros and cons of a given argument, and that provides some latitude in how the five paragraphs are crafted.

Following the presentation of the thesis statement, the author can use the first two body paragraphs to make their case with data and information that supports their arguments while the final body paragraph is used to refute opposition to the central premise of the paper.

Conversely, this format can be reversed with the first two body paragraphs dedicated to laying out the opposition’s argument before being disproved in the final paragraph. A middle ground approach is found in the final organizational option, whereby;  the author uses each of the body paragraphs to present an opposing view before countering it and moving on to the next point of contention. 


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Writing an Argumentative Essay Outline

Writing an argumentative essay outline enables you to depict a logical ordering and hierarchical relationship of information in your essay. If you are writing a long essay, a good outline will enable you to keep track of the information that you intend to include in the essay as demonstatred here here. This is very important because you must present adequate information in a logical way in order to convince readers. An argumentative essay is an essay that requires you to present information which includes facts and other types of evidence to persuade readers to see or accept your point. While writing an argumentative essay, you not only present your arguments, but also explain and support the arguments with substantive or convincing facts as explained in this link link.

An outline for an essay is a plan that shows how you intend to organize and present information in the essay. It is a skeleton that provides the structure as well as guidance to you as a writer at

Steps to follow when writing an argumentative essay outline

Before you start outlining your argumentative essay, make sure that you have straight facts to support your arguments. This implies that you need to have verifiable and solid sources where you will get the necessary information for your essay from. If you do not have verifiable sources, the outline of your essay will not be valid from the beginning of the essay to the end.

Here are the steps that you should follow when writing an outline for your argumentative essay:

  1. Select a topic

A good topic for an argumentative essay should be controversial. It should be a topic that will enable you to pick the stance to support with confidence in the essay. Make sure that you are comfortable arguing from the stance that you take as well as from the opposing side. Thus, choose a topic that allows you to take a stance against or for the issue in question. This way, you will be able to present information to support both sides and this will make your argument more credible.

Come up with a thesis statement

A thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. Your essay should aim at supporting this statement or idea. Therefore, come up with a thesis statement that elicits strong responses from the intended readers. However, you may be required to change this statement later as you develop your essay or if you come across new materials or logical connections.

Brainstorm for ideas

Come up with a list of all ideas that you find relevant for your topic. This includes information and quotes from secondary and primary sources. Your list should include everything that will support your thesis statement in the essay.

Group all related ideas

After creating a list of ideas, read them carefully and then organize them into categories. Remember that a good argumentative essay should have ideas presented in a logical and hierarchical manner. Therefore, group ideas with the relationship between the groups of your ideas in mind.

Start listing the sections with Roman numerals

The heading of each section should begin with a capital Roman numeral followed by the paragraph’s topic. Capital letters should be used to label the subheadings or the secondary sections. Lower case numerals should be used to label tertiary subheadings or sections while lowercase letters should be used to label the final subheadings.

The introductory paragraph

This is the first paragraph of the essay. While writing an argumentative essay outline, indicate the information that will go into this paragraph. This can be an observation or question but it should capture the attention of the reader. However, this paragraph should start from a general viewpoint and end up being specific.

Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs are the substance of the argument. If you are writing a standard essay with five paragraphs, the body will have three paragraphs. Every paragraph of the body should explore an idea of its own and support it with evidence. However, all paragraphs of the body should be aimed at supporting the stated thesis statement. Counter-arguments should also be included in the body of an argumentative essay.

  1. Conclusion

The conclusion of an argumentative essay should create a closure feeling in the reader’s mind after reading it. It should also leave the topic open to allow for further exploration. Instead of just restating a thesis, include evidence and arguments that were presented in the body to enhance reader’s comprehension.

Sample outline of an argumentative essay

If you are writing an argumentative essay outline for the first time, a sample outline will make writing your outline easier.

Here is an argumentative essay outline sample that you can use as your writing guide:


The U.S government should ban the production, possession and sale of assault weapons by private citizens

  1. Introduction

The United States government should ban the production, possession and sale of assault weapons by private citizens because they increase cases of barbaric slaying.

Thesis statement: This essay will support the view that the production, possession and sale of assault weapons by private citizens should be banned by the U.S government to reduce the occurrences of public slaying cases.


  1. Cases of public slaying can be reduced by preventing production, possession and sale of assault weapons by private citizens.
  1. Firm murders in July 93
  2. Columbine shootings in a school

    Incident at the University of Virginia

Refutation: The rate of murder cases is low in Australia and Britain where there are strict laws that control gun ownership and use.

Refutation: Future generations will benefit from the efforts to move the current trend towards the opposite direction.


  1. Adequate evidence presented shows that barbaric slaying will reduce if the government bans production, possession and sale of guns by private citizens.
  2. Crimes will continue increasing if nothing is done to curb gun production, possession and sale by private citizens.

Additional tips for writing an argumentative essay outline

Present the main idea of your argument in the introduction in a way that makes it easily visible and memorable to you while writing the essay and to the reader. Make sure that the outline indicates your opinion on the topic or subject clearly so that readers can easily tell the side that you will be arguing from or supporting.

Present more information to the readers in the first part of the outline. Do not fear that by presenting more information you may not have anything to tell readers in the body or essay. Instead, present more captivating facts to thrill readers and keep them interested in reading the rest of the outline and the essay after you write it. The outline of your essay should present information that shapes the focus of the readers.

As you write the outline of the essay, get more specific by providing specific arguments and supporting them with facts and proofs that you gathered during your research. Ensure that the outline states your arguments clearly followed by evidence that will support it in the essay. Start with the claims that you have the strongest evidence for.

Do not leave counter-arguments because this will make your essay less credible. Including counter arguments and refuting them shows that you took time to conduct research and that you have facts to show why you did not take the other side of the argument. Make sure that the outline is organized in a way that tells readers where they can go and find counter arguments in the essay and your refutation.

When writing an argumentative essay outline, summarize your arguments in the conclusion section. Highlight the main arguments that will be discussed in the body of the actual essay. Make sure that your conclusion not only reminds readers about your argument, but also leaves them thinking about what you said in the essay. The conclusion section of your outline should include points that will enable you to show readers the consequences of accepting your point of view or opposing it in the essay. It should also ensure a logical end for the essay as seen at

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