Make your own free website on
Basic Five-Part Structure of Written Arguments*

1. Introduce the topic, or question-at-issue/problem, and establish its importance.

  • Show its significance to society.
  • Use description, explanation, narrative to describe issue/problem.
  • Choose a primary strategy of appeal: emotional, logical, ethical.

 2. Provide necessary background information so that
     readers will be able to follow your discussion.

  • History of the issue/problem?
  • Specific example of issue/problem; effect on individuals; narrative?

3.  State your claim (your argumentative thesis, or solution to problem) and develop your argument, making a logical appeal based on the following factors:

  • Generalization
  • Causation
  • Analogy
  • Parallel case
  • Authority (experts).

4.  Support your claims with facts, opinions, examples.   If appropriate, stir in emotional or ethical appeals, but never rely on them.

  • Acknowledge counter arguments and treat them with respect. Give opposing voices their due by quality paraphrase/summary, then refute these arguments. Reject their evidence or their logic, and/or concede some validity and refute accordingly.
  • After counter arguments and refutations have been addressed, move on to your own claims.
  • The core of argument/counter argument, concession/refutation must fill the middle of  the essay and be appropriately introduced and concluded.

 5. Conclude by summarizing the main points of your argument, and/or rephrase the benefits of  your solution to the key problem, and tell the reader what you want them to do!

 *Based on information contained in Discovery and Commitment, by Leonard J.