Persuasive Essay Formal Outline

I take my dog Oskar to work with me nearly every day. He rides in a trailer that I tow behind my bike 2.5 miles uphill to the Kibin office. I’m lucky that I work for a place that allows dogs.

Other dog companions aren’t so fortunate. Shouldn’t responsible dog owners be allowed to bring their beloved furballs anywhere they wish?

But, this post isn’t about teaching you to persuade your boss to let you bring your dog to work (although that would be cool). No, the goal of this blog post is to teach you how to write a persuasive essay outline.

In this post, I’ll break down the components of a good persuasive essay. I’ll also set you up with a downloadable outline template that you can use when you are ready to persuade your teacher to give you a better grade in English class this semester.

What is a Persuasive Essay Anyway?

The goal of a persuasive essay is to convince your readers that your viewpoint is the right viewpoint. In a persuasive paper, you pull out all the stops to say, “It’s my way or the highway!”

Unlike argumentative essays, where facts reign supreme, you don’t necessarily have to use researched, absolute facts to support your persuasive paper.

The goal of your persuasive paper is to persuade by any means necessary. If that involves including emotional anecdotes or stories instead of facts, that’s fine.

Don’t believe me? Ask any politician. When it comes to powers of persuasion, the facts don’t necessarily matter.

While including actual facts and evidence can be an effective way to persuade, it’s okay to play dirty in a persuasive essay. Make your readers laugh, cry, or quake in fear as long as it gets them to believe that what you are saying is true.

That said, you can’t go in and write your essay without any direction. To really persuade someone in your persuasive essay, you have to be smoooooth. You have to have finesse. To be smooth and finesseful (not a word, by the way), you should start with an outline.

Here’s an example of a persuasive essay outline:

Persuasive Essay Outline Intro

First, it’s important to select a topic that you can take a stand for.

Let’s say we’re writing about animal rights. I’m not talking about your typical “people shouldn’t hurt animals” essay. I’m talking about bestowing actual human rights on to my favorite animal: dogs.

1. Write a hook. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Always start your introduction with a strong hook. Make your audience want to read your essay.

For example, “Your dog is smarter than your baby, and more useful and loyal too. Plus, your dog will never, ever turn into an angsty teenager. If dogs are such good people, why don’t they have rights?”

Define your audience. This is a sentence or two that helps your reader define himself as being a member of your target audience. In my example, I’m specifically speaking to dog owners who live in Portland, Oregon.

For example, “For all Portland dog companions who have ever been turned away from a restaurant, disallowed access to transit, or rejected from a public park, it’s time to stand up for your pet’s rights—and your rights too!”

2. Present your thesis statement. Here is where you get to the meat of your persuasive essay and define the exact viewpoint that you want your audience to adopt.

Much as you would in an argumentative essay, you must take a stance on your topic. No wishy-washy “eh, I could go either way” stuff allowed.

Pick a side. Stick to it. Defend it to the end!

For example, “The dogs of Portland deserve the same rights and privileges as granted to our youngest humans, such as the right to visit restaurants, ride buses, walk off-leash, and go to the cinema so long as they are accompanied by a responsible human companion.”

Persuasive Essay Outline Body Paragraphs

The exact number of body paragraphs you include will depend on the parameters of your assignment and your topic. A bigger assignment and/or topic will require more reasons and paragraphs. A smaller assignment and/or topic will require fewer reasons and paragraphs. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m including three example reasons.

Each reason you come up with can be emotionally charged, logically irrefutable, or ethically binding—so long as it’s persuasive. In addition, each persuasive reason you offer should be supported by a fact or an example.

Body Paragraph 1

  • Reason #1. Portland dogs are as smart as young children and often make for more polite companions.
  • Fact or example 1: Dogs are capable of learning up to 250 words and can easily go with the flow of human interactions.
  • Fact or example 2: Dogs are quieter and less disruptive than the average two-year-old human.

Body Paragraph 2

  • Reason #2. Portland dogs should be able to walk leash-free if they are accompanied by their human companions; in most cases, wearing a leash is unnecessary.
  • Fact or example 1: Dogs can be easily trained to walk alongside their human companions without a leash or restraint.
  • Fact or example 2: In a recent survey, 65% of Portland dog owners said that walking a dog on a leash is more of a hassle than walking a dog leash-free.

Body Paragraph 3

  • Reason #3. More rights for Portland dogs means more rights for Portland’s dog companions.
  • Fact or example 1: Dog companions will have more choices of places where they can spend time with friends and family without having to leave beloved pets behind.
  • Fact or example 2: Dog companions won’t have to deal with the trouble of hiring a dog-walker while at work or a pet-sitter for short weekend getaways.

Persuasive Essay Outline Conclusion

Now that you have outlined your reasons and supporting facts and examples, it’s time to seal the deal in your essay’s conclusion. Your conclusion should contain the following important components:

1. Brief summary. Remind your audience of why this topic is important.

For example, “Dogs all across Portland are being unfairly denied the basic right to accompany their human companions to public places. It’s time for Portland dog owners to stand up for their furry friends.”

2. Benefits to the reader. Explain how acting on this issue will benefit your audience.

For example, “Not only will taking a stand for your canine benefit dogs everywhere, it will also benefit you. Next time you want to take a weekend away, ride the bus to work, or enjoy a matinee, you won’t have to worry about who will take care of your dog while you are away. This issue is about your rights as a dog companion too.”

3. Acall to action. What do you want your readers to do now that they’ve (hopefully) subscribed to your viewpoint on the topic?

For example, “Vote ‘yes’ on Portland City Ballot initiative 14 this election. It’s time to stand up for the rights of our most loyal friends.”

Downloadable Persuasive Essay Outline Template and Additional Resources

Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to create a persuasive essay outline, go forth and persuade the world!

I created the above visual outline using the online mind-mapping app at text2mindmap. It’s a great resource to brainstorm your persuasive essay topic, or create a visual persuasive essay outline.

Here is another useful persuasive essay outline builder that I found during my research.

Finally, here is a Persuasive Essay Outline Template (Word doc) I created just for you.

Feel free to use it to get started.

Once your writing is complete, be sure to have an editor review your essay for you. After all, you don’t want all your preparation to be for nothing.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

Sure, you’re a lover not a fighter. I am too. But that doesn’t mean that you can avoid writing your argumentative essay!

Since you have to write an argumentative essay, you might as well learn how to write it well, right?

I’ve said it time and time again—there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. Putting together an argumentative essay outline is the perfect way to turn your blank document into a ready-to-use template. All you have to do is fill in the blanks!

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how to create an argumentative essay outline. At the end, I’ll give you a downloadable skeleton outline you can use to get started.

Structure of the Argumentative Essay Outline

If you distill your argumentative essay outline down to its basics, you’ll find that it’s made of four main sections:
  1. Intro
  2. Developing Your Argument
  3. Refuting Opponents’ Arguments
  4. Conclusion

That’s not so bad! There’s really nothing to be afraid of.

Here’s how your argumentative essay outline would look if you turned it into a pretty picture:

Each of these four sections requires some important elements. Let’s break those down now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 1: Your Intro

Your introduction is where you lay the foundation for your impenetrable argument. It’s made up of a hook, background information, and a thesis statement.

1. Hook. Your first sentence is comprised of a “hook.” Don’t know what a hook is? A hook is a sentence that grabs your reader’s attention just like a good Jackie Chan movie grabs the attention of a martial arts fan.

Let’s say I’m writing an argumentative essay about why American people should start eating insects.

My hook could be, “For those interested in improving their diets and the environment, say ‘goodbye’ to eating chicken, fish, and beef and ‘hello’ to eating silk worms, crickets, and caterpillars.”

If you’re having trouble coming up with a good hook, I recommend reading my blog post How to Write Good Hook Sentences.

2. Background information. The next part of your intro is dedicated to offering some detailed background information on your topic.

Try answering the following questions:

What is the issue at hand? Who cares? Where is this issue prevalent? Why is it important?

For example, “Insects are abundant, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable. Currently, people in the United States shun the idea of eating insects as part of their diets, favoring instead less nutritious and environmentally destructive food options, such as beef and pork. The UN recently issued a statement calling for more world citizens to embrace the many benefits of eating insects.”

3. Thesis. Your thesis typically makes up the last sentence of your intro paragraph. This is where you clearly state your position on the topic and give a reason for your stance.

For example, “A diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change, and therefore, United States citizens should learn to rely on a variety of insects over chicken, beef, and fish as their main source of protein and nutrition.”

Notice the word “should” in my thesis statement? Using this word makes it clear I’m taking a stance on the argument.

You’ll also notice that my thesis statement sets up the three claims I’m going to expand on later: a diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change.

Here are even more example argumentative thesis statements.

Let’s talk about adding those claims to our argumentative essay outline now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 2: Developing Your Argument

Now that you have filled in the general points of your topic and outlined your stance in the introduction, it’s time to develop your argument.

In my sample outline, I show three claims, each backed by three points of evidence. Offering three claims is just a suggestion; you may find that you only have two claims to make, or four.

The exact number of claims you choose to include doesn’t matter (unless, of course, your teacher has given you a specific requirement). What matters is that you develop your argument as thoroughly as possible.

1. What is a claim? A claim is a statement you make to support your argument.

For example, “Bugs are highly nutritious and eating them can fix the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the United States.”

Great! So I’ve made my claim. But who’s going to believe me? This is where evidence comes into play.

2. What is evidence? For each claim you make, you need to provide supporting evidence. Evidence is factual information from reliable sources.

It is not personal knowledge or anecdotal.

For example, “Researchers at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States state that ‘Termites are rich in protein, fatty acids, and other micronutrients. Fried or dried termites contain 32–38 percent proteins.’“

My outline shows three pieces of evidence to support each claim, but you may find that each claim doesn’t necessarily have three pieces of evidence to back it.  Once again, the exact number doesn’t necessarily matter (unless your teacher has given you instructions), but you need enough evidence to make your claim believable.

Once you have gathered your evidence to support your claims, it’s time to add the next important element of your argumentative essay outline: refuting your opponents’ arguments.

Let’s talk about that now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 3: Refuting Opponents’ Arguments

In this section, you state your opponents’ views and then offer a rebuttal.

For example, “Opponents of insect eating from the Beef Council of America say that it is too difficult and time consuming to catch crickets, so it is not easy to gather enough food for a meal, whereas a cow is large and contains a lot of meat for many meals.”

Oh diss! We know the Beef Council just wants us to keep eating McD’s hamburgers and skip the cricket soup. (By the way—I just made that up. The Beef Council did not say that. In your essay, make sure to use real facts.)

Now it’s time to set the opponents straight with a refutation that is full of hard evidence and that will bring them to their knees.

For example, “According to researchers Cerritos and Cano-Santana, the best time to harvest crickets is to catch them in the hour just before sunrise when they are least active. What’s more, it is easy to develop the infrastructure to farm crickets in a way that is more sustainable than cattle farming.”

Booyah! The Beef Council has been served (crickets).

Once you have refuted your opponents’ viewpoints, it’s time to sail to the finish line with your conclusion.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 4: Conclusion

In your conclusion, you are going to accomplish two important tasks.

1. Restate the importance of your issue. Similar to what you did in your introduction, you want to restate why this topic is critical.

For example, “Simply by incorporating insects into their diets, U.S. citizens can improve the sustainability and nutrition of the American diet.”

2. Paint a picture of the world if your argument is (or is not) implemented. In the final part of your conclusion, make your audience think about the ramifications of your argument. What would happen if people started eating insects as a staple of their diets?

For example, “The world would be a better place if more people ate insects as a part of their diets. Fewer people would go hungry, more people would get the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients they need to live healthy lifestyles, and our planet would be relieved of the burden of an unsustainable food system.

Closing with a clear picture of the world as you would like it to be can leave your reader convinced that your argument is valid.

Download the Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Once you break it down, writing an argumentative essay outline isn’t that daunting.

Download this skeleton Argumentative Essay Outline to get started.

Before you go off into the sunset and use my outline template, make sure that you are following the guidelines specific to your course. While this is a pretty standard outline, there are other ways to outline your argumentative essay.

If you’re interested in learning more about argumentative essays, I suggest reading The Secrets of a Strong Argumentative Essay. Want even more knowledge? Check out this argumentative essay infographic!

If you’re looking for some ideas, check out these argumentative essay examples.

When you have your argumentative essay and outline ready to go, you can always have one of our awesome editors give it a second look.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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