Argumentative Paper Format

*Please note that this is only a sample format. There are multiple ways to organize an
argumentative paper
 INTRODUCTION
o 1-2 paragraphs tops
o PURPOSE: To set up and state one’s claim
o OPTIONAL ELEMENTS
 Make your introductory paragraph interesting. How can you draw
your readers in?
 What background information, if any, do we need to know in order
to understand your claim? If you don’t follow this paragraph with a
background information paragraph, please insert that info here.
o REQUIRED ELEMENTS
 If you’re arguing about a literary work—state author + title
 If you’re arguing about an issue or theory – provide brief explanation
or your of issue/theory.
 If you’re arguing about a film—state director, year + title
 STATE your claim at the end of your introductory paragraph
 BACKGROUND PARAGRAPH
o 1-2 paragraphs tops; Optional (can omit for some papers). Also, sometimes
this info is incorporated into the introduction paragraph (see above).
o PURPOSE: Lays the foundation for proving your argument.
o Will often include:
 Summary of works being discussed
 Definition of key terms
 Explanation of key theories
 SUPPORTING EVIDENCE PARAGRAPH #1
o PURPOSE: To prove your argument. Usually is one paragraph but it can be
longer.
o Topic Sentence: What is one item, fact, detail, or example you can tell your
readers that will help them better understand your claim/paper topic? Your
answer should be the topic sentence for this paragraph.
o Explain Topic Sentence: Do you need to explain your topic sentence? If so,
do so here.
o Introduce Evidence: Introduce your evidence either in a few words (As Dr.
Brown states ―…‖) or in a full sentence (―To understand this issue we first
need to look at statistics).
o State Evidence: What supporting evidence (reasons, examples, facts,
statistics, and/or quotations) can you include to prove/support/explain your
topic sentence?
o Explain Evidence: How should we read or interpret the evidence you are
providing us? How does this evidence prove the point you are trying to make
in this paragraph? Can be opinion based and is often at least 1-3 sentences.
o Concluding Sentence: End your paragraph with a concluding sentence that
reasserts how the topic sentence of this paragraph helps up better
understand and/or prove your paper’s overall claim.
Page 2 of 3
Courtesy the Odegaard Writing & Research Center
http://www.depts.washington.edu/owrc
 SUPPORTING EVIDENCE PARAGRAPH #2, 3, 4 etc.
o Repeat above
 COUNTERARGUMENT PARAGRAPH
o PURPOSE: To anticipate your reader’s objections; make yourself sound more
objective and reasonable.
o Optional; usually 1-2 paragraphs tops
o What possible argument might your reader pose against your argument
and/or some aspect of your reasoning? Insert one or more of those
arguments here and refute them.
o End paragraph with a concluding sentence that reasserts your paper’s claim
as a whole.
 CONCLUSION PART 1: SUM UP PARAGRAPH
o PURPOSE: Remind readers of your argument and supporting evidence
o Conclusion you were most likely taught to write in High School
o Restates your paper’s overall claim and supporting evidence
 CONCLUSION PART 2: YOUR “SO WHAT” PARAGRAPH
o PURPOSE: To illustrate to your instructor that you have thought critically
and analytically about this issue.
o Your conclusion should not simply restate your intro paragraph. If your
conclusion says almost the exact same thing as your introduction, it may
indicate that you have not done enough critical thinking during the course of
your essay (since you ended up right where you started).
o Your conclusion should tell us why we should care about your paper. What is
the significance of your claim? Why is it important to you as the writer or to
me as the reader? What information should you or I take away from this?
o Your conclusion should create a sense of movement to a more complex
understanding of the subject of your paper. By the end of your essay, you
should have worked through your ideas enough so that your reader
understands what you have argued and is ready to hear the larger point (i.e.
the “so what”) you want to make about your topic.
o Your conclusion should serve as the climax of your paper. So, save your
strongest analytical points for the end of your essay, and use them to drive
your conclusion
o Vivid, concrete language is as important in a conclusion as it is elsewhere–
perhaps more essential, since the conclusion determines the reader’s final
impression of your essay. Do not leave them with the impression that your
argument was vague or unsure.
o WARNING: It’s fine to introduce new information or quotations in your
conclusions, as long as the new points grow from your argument. New points
might be more general, answering the “so what” question; they might be
quite specific. Just avoid making new claims that need lots of additional
support.
Page 3 of 3
Courtesy the Odegaard Writing & Research Center
http://www.depts.washington.edu/owrc
OUTLINE WORKSHOP
INTRODUCTION
BACKGROUND
SUPPORTING EVIDENCE #1
SUPPORTING EVIDENCE #2
SUPPORTING EVIDENCE #3
COUNTERARGUMENT
SUM UP CONCLUSION
 Sum up claim + supporting evidence statements
SO WHAT CONCLUSION

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