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Argumentative Paper Format

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Please note that this is only a sample format. There are multiple ways to organize an argumentative paper.


  • 1-2 paragraphs tops
  • PURPOSE: To set up and state one’s claim

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.


  • 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


  • 1-2 paragraphs tops; Optional (can omit for some papers). Also, sometimes this info is incorporated into the introduction paragraph (see above).
  • PURPOSE: Lays the foundation for proving your argument.
  • Will often include:

Summary of works being discussed
Definition of key terms
Explanation of key theories


  • PURPOSE: To prove your argument. Usually is one paragraph but it can be longer.
  • 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.
  • Explain Topic Sentence: Do you need to explain your topic sentence? If so, do so here.
  • 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).
  • State Evidence: What supporting evidence (reasons, examples, facts, statistics, and/or quotations) can you include to prove/support/explain your topic sentence?
  • 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.
  • 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.


Repeat above


  • PURPOSE: To anticipate your reader’s objections; make yourself sound more objective and reasonable.
  • Optional; usually 1-2 paragraphs tops
  • 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.
  • End paragraph with a concluding sentence that reasserts your paper’s claim as a whole.


  • PURPOSE: Remind readers of your argument and supporting evidence
  • Conclusion you were most likely taught to write in High School
  • Restates your paper’s overall claim and supporting evidence


PURPOSE: To illustrate to your instructor that you have thought critically and analytically about this issue.

  • 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).
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

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.

Argumentative Paper Format

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