How to Write a Persuasive Essay


As you move through your academic career, chances are good that you’ll be called upon a few times to write a persuasive essay. This may be one of the easiest essays to write for some students, while others may find it a little intimidating at first. In the persuasive essay, it’s your job as a writer to persuade the reader to take action – or at very least help them see your point of view. Your essay should be based around sound logic and reasoning, and it is helpful to back up your ideas with facts to drive your point home and give your viewpoint an air of authenticity and legitimacy.

Developing Your Stance and Topic

Although your assignment may limit your topic choice, it is always best to stick to the one that you can really get behind. If you feel passionate about a topic, your writing will flow more easily from your fingertips and you’ll feel a lot more satisfaction reading and presenting your essay to your professor, peers, and others. For instance, if you’re fed up with constant smartphone use by your peers, you might choose “Are Cellphones Slowly Degrading Interpersonal Communication?” as your topic. If you are an earth-friendly tree hugger, you might feel compelled to write a persuasive essay on “Fracking: Mother Nature’s Newest Enemy.” If gun violence concerns you, you might opt for “Why Guns Have No Place on College Campuses” as a topic. Each of these pieces give you an opportunity to present evidence for the harm posed by a specific social or environmental problem. You might also take an opposite stance: “Fracking: Why Benefits Outweigh Risks.”

Structuring Your Persuasive Essay

When structuring your essay, you may be limited to parameters provided by your professor, but if not, most writers choose to follow a simple format.

  • Craft a strong introduction. This is where you introduce the topic to your audience. To borrow from the example for the “guns on college campuses” topic, you might begin by discussing recent gun violence in schools. Start the essay with a strong hook sentence that reels in the reader and gets them involved in finding out why you feel the way you feel. For example, you might start with “Thirty-two people woke up on April 16, 2007, made their way to class at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, much like we all do each day, and died at the hands of a gunman.” This sentence draws the reader in and foreshadows the essay, giving a hint of what’s ahead while also including the reader.
  • Define the thesis of your essay. Take a side on an issue, and then stick to it. “Students deserve to come to school free from the threat of violence and knowing that no guns are allowed on campus.”
  • Write a paragraph for each reason that you can give in support of your stance. If possible, include one to two examples with statistics if possible to back up your reasoning. People love numbers, so include them when you can. Cold hard facts also speak volumes. How many school shootings have there been? How many people have died in the past year, five years, or ten years, as a result of campus shootings? Researching these facts and laying them out in an easy-to-read fashion can help to support your point of view.
  • Conclude your essay. Briefly summarize the topic, reminding the audience why it is important to think about. Explain how taking action on the issue can benefit the reader. Leave them with a call to action, if it fits the purpose of your essay. In the case of the guns on campus issue, it might end with “Let your congressman know that you don’t support the carrying of guns on campus.”

Once you’ve finished your essay, give it another once over to correct any mistakes in grammar and spelling. If possible, have a fresh set of eyes look over your work to make sure it’s presentation ready.

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