Tips to Writing an Argumentative Essay Outline

Tips to Writing an Argumentative Essay Outline

Argumentative writing is a distinct style of writing where you state a position and present irrefutable evidence backing it to gain support from the audience. It is a common assignment for history and law students. If there is a place in this world, where you need to be serious is when writing formal college assignments. Thus, mastering the art of writing an argumentative essay outline will pay off when confronted by such assignments.

Use the guidelines and examples in this article to sharpen your argumentative writing skills since argument are part of our lives. Once you graduate, you will encounter a range of occasions requiring you to persuade other people to buy your idea.

The following three qualities will determine your argumentative writing:

  • Precision in your argument and use of different terms
  • Proper grounding of evidence
  • Having a clear and concise prose

Standard format to use when writing argumentative essay outlines

There is no universal structure for writing an argumentative essay outline. However, choose a format that allows you to arrange your argument in a way that will make sense to your audience. According to, Toulmin Method of logic is a widely used formula to apply when organizing your argumentative essay. At this point, it is important to understand key elements of Toulmin Method.

Structure of Toulmin Method to use in argument writing:

  • Claim– this is your thesis, which guides your argument from the intro to the conclusion
  • Data-refers to the evidence you collect to back your claim
  • Warrant-It is also called the bridge. It explains how your data supports your claim. It creates a link between the data and claim. It ensures that the audience does not draw parallel conclusions based on the data and evidence.
  • Backing-This is also called the foundation. Any additional reasoning would be relevant to support the warrant.
  • Counterclaim- This is the opponents’ position. What do those who do not agree with your claim say? It ensures that the audience makes a fair decision to agree with you. It also gives you credibility, as you appear conversant with both sides of the debate and not taking uninformed position. Several counterclaims in your essay further show that you did meticulous research on the topic.
  • Rebuttal-Is the refutation of the counterclaim. Here, you present evidence to annul the opponents’ stance.

The following samples shows important element to consider when writing an argument assay outline.

Sample #1 Argument Outline

  1. Introductory Paragraph
  2. Your thesis: comes at the end of intro

State your position

Use emphatic language

  1. Body of your Argument
  2. Background Information

Give basic information

  • Evidence

Support your position using examples, statistics, research findings, reports, etc

Claim 1


Claim 2


Claim 3


III. Address the Opposite Side

Include what opponents say and refute their claims

  • 1st Opposing View:

Refutation 1

  • 2nd Opposing View:

Refutation 2

  • Conclusion

Give a logical end

State the importance

Give recommendation or warnings

This sample was adapted from

With this understanding of an argument outline, the following section will look at specific elements in details.

Important components to consider when writing an argument outline

Argument Title: Choosing the title of your argument should be the first thing to ring in your mind before you start thinking about supporting the claim. When writing an argumentative essay outline, think of a title that will sell your essay.

A good title should:

Brief- Do not pick a long title that makes it hard for the audience to read. It should be short and even memorable where possible

Use a catchy title- A title speaks a lot about your argument. A good title should convey your argument and not merely capture your topic. While it is good to think of a title way before writing your essay, a title depends on your argument in its entirety. Thus, draft your final title at the end of your argument so that it encompasses all the angles of your claim. After the title, hit on the road and introduce your argument.

Things that will spice your argument, starting with the intro

The first paragraph of your argument is the introduction. It can either be appealing or repel your audience. Thus, you need effective skills to orient your audience and win their attention.

When writing an argumentative essay outline, always indicate the position of the hook on your worksheet. The hook is the opening catchy phrase to arrest the interest of the reader.

A successful way of beginning your intro is by use of a puzzle or a question, which your argument will later resolve. However, keep your hook brief and ensure that it has a link to the thesis statement.

To have a good intro for your argument, refrain from making general statements that have sweeping and unsupportable claims.

Another flaw to avoid in intros is the use of empty warm up sentences, which add no value to your work in the end even though they may appear to have substance.

Thesis statement- it should be 1-2 sentences long. Thesis comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. At minimum, the function of the thesis is to present main claim to the readers. In some cases, you may explain in brief, the reason behind your thesis.

Just as with the hook, keep your statement brief. For short arguments, say below ten double spaced arguments, your introduction should be one paragraph. You can save your specific evidence for the body.

Below is another sample to consider when writing an argumentative essay outline. Always remember that you can use any approach to organize your argument or refer to your lecturer’s instructions or rubric.

Sample #2: Argumentative outline


This can be 1-2 paragraphs

PURPOSE: What is your claim?


Should be catchy

Give background information


                State the author and title in literature

                Explain the concept briefly

                State director, year of release and title for theatre

                End intro with claim


1-2 paragraphs tops.

PURPOSE: Establish the foundation to support your argument.


PURPOSE: To support your position

Topic Sentence: help readers understand your issue

Explain Topic Sentence: explain your topic sentence

Introduce Evidence: Introduce your support on the matter

State Evidence: Give evidence to explain your topic sentence

Explain Evidence: Help the readers understand the evidence

Concluding Sentence: Reassert the role of your topic sentence

EVIDENCE PARAGRAPH #2, #3, #4 etc. Repeat as above


PURPOSE: Be objective

How is the audience likely to confront your case?

Reassert your general claim


PURPOSE: go back to your claim and evidence

Additional guidelines to follow when writing an argumentative essay outline

 The body of an argumentative carries a lot of weight. Here, you present facts from your research to defend your claim. It gives your enough space to convince your audience to agree with your position on the issue. In this section, you will learn how to develop a strong body for your argument.

The Body:

It contains the following:

  • Detailed background information
  • Evidence to support your claim
  • Counterclaim-an opposite position of the issue
  • Refutation- annulling the counterclaim

To win the readers, begin every paragraph with a topic sentence. It should state the argument of the paragraph and explain how the evidence presented in the paragraph support.

The rest of the paragraph should focus on giving evidence to support the topic sentence. Essentially, ‘topic sentence’ is a bit misleading because the paragraph should address the argument and not just the topic.

Do not crowd ideas in one paragraph. Ideally, a paragraph should develop one specific idea. Having more than one idea in a paragraph is confusing and makes the topic sentence lose meaning. Well-spread ideas also help the reader to follow the flow of your argument.

How to conclude your argument

The final element to remember when writing an argumentative essay outline is the conclusion.

Some lecturers will expect you to give a summary of your argument as you conclude. However, others may consider this as mere repetition.

A conclusion should signal a logical of your argument. Raise broader ideas, stemming from your argument and evidence.

Restate your thesis and explain the importance of the argument, with evidence gathered through your research. Give recommendations based on your argument. You may also warn the audience for ramifications in case they ignore the argument.

As you conclude your argument, if you have done a good job, you have already won the trust of your audience as a writer.

Though it is the last part of your argument, it determines that lasting impression that the reader will have. Give your best shot!

Here are excellent argumentative essays to help you understand all the elements we have discussed in this article.

Sample argumentative essays:

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