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Chapter 8: Making Academic Arguments

8.3 Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments

Robin Jeffrey and Yvonne Bruce

All academic writers use evidence to support their claims. However, different writing tasks in different fields require different types of evidence. Often, a combination of different types of evidence is required in order to adequately support and develop a point.  Evidence is not simply “facts.” Evidence is not simply “quotes.”

Evidence is what a writer uses to support or defend his or her argument, and only valid and credible evidence is enough to make an argument strong.

For a review of what evidence means in terms of developing body paragraphs within an essay, you can refer back to Section 4.3 .

As you develop your research-supported essay, consider not only what types of evidence might support your ideas but also what types of evidence will be considered valid or credible according to the academic discipline or academic audience for which you are writing.

Evidence in the Humanities: Literature, Art, Film, Music, Philosophy

  • Scholarly essays that analyze original works
  • Details from an image, a film, or other work of art
  • Passages from a musical composition
  • Passages of text, including poetry

Evidence in the Humanities: History

  • Primary Sources (photos, letters, maps, official documents, etc.)
  • Other books or articles that interpret primary sources or other evidence.

Evidence in the Social Sciences: Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology

  • Books or articles that interpret data and results from other people’s original experiments or studies.
  • Results from one’s own field research (including interviews, surveys, observations, etc.)
  • Data from one’s own experiments
  • Statistics derived from large studies

Evidence in the Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics

  • Data from the author of the paper’s own experiments

What remains consistent no matter the discipline in which you are writing, however, is that “evidence” NEVER speaks for itself—you must integrate it into your own argument or claim and demonstrate that the evidence supports your thesis. In addition, be alert to evidence that seems to contradict your claims or offers a counterargument to it: rebutting that counterargument can be powerful evidence for your claim. You can also make evidence that isn’t  there  an integral part of your argument, too. If you can’t find the evidence you think you need, ask yourself why it seems to be lacking, or if its absence adds a new dimension to your thinking about the topic. Remember,  evidence  is not the piling up of facts or quotes: evidence is only one component of a strong, well supported, well argued, and well written composition. 

8.3 Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments by Robin Jeffrey and Yvonne Bruce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.


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The Argument: Types of Evidence

Argumentation and evidence.

In most papers, the writer’s aim is to find a topic and make a claim about it. This claim is better known as the writer's argument. 

With it, the writer attempts to win the reader over to his/her view of the topic, or, at the very least, to show the reader a new perspective about the subject discussed. If the writer is going to make some headway with an argument, however, he/she must be able to give evidence to support the claims the paper will make. There are three main categories of evidence that are essential to gain the audience's confidence in the writer's assertions. These categories are Fact, Judgment, and Testimony.

This page explores the types of evidence used in argumentation. See also the page on  logic and argumentation .

Facts are among the best tools to involve the reader in the argument. Since facts are indisputable, the writer automatically wins the reader’s mutual agreement by utilizing them. A statement declaring, "On January 28, 1986, the shuttle Challenger exploded upon lift-off," must be accepted by the reader, since it is a historical certainty. Facts are used primarily to get the reader to stand on the writer's plane of reasoning. For instance, if a writer wanted to argue that smoking is a detriment to your health, he/she would begin by citing factual information about the large number of people who die every year from smoke-related diseases. This would then force the reader to agree with the writer on at least one point.

Facts, however, cannot carry the entire argument. It is necessary for the writer to utilize Judgments as well. These are assumptions that the writer makes about his/her subject after carefully considering the facts. For example, a writer could start by presenting certain facts about the knowledge that scientists had regarding the condition of the Challenger prior to takeoff. From these facts, the writer concludes that the disaster could have been avoided if a few scientists been willing to speak up about some unsettling findings. This would be a judgment on the writer's part. There is nothing in the history books or newspapers that can prove this assumption to be true. The success or failure of the entire argument rests on whether or not the writer can utilize adequate reasoning in coming to the right judgments.

The final type of evidence used in writing a convincing argument is Testimony. There are two types of testimony: 1) the account of an eyewitness, and 2) the judgment of an expert who has had the chance to examine and interpret the facts. Both of these lend validity to an argument. The eyewitness can supply important facts for the writer to use, and the expert can provide valuable judgments in order to give strength to the argument. For instance, in the case of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the writer might use the testimony of one of the personnel who was present at NASA meetings before the launch. The writer might also use an astrophysicist’s opinion about whether or not evidence existed before takeoff that the Shuttle was not safe to launch. 

However, the writer must exercise caution when employing these two types of testimony in his or her paper. Eyewitness accounts cannot always be reliable; no one person has an objective view of an event. Also, an expert’s opinion is not beyond dispute; another expert in the same field of study may find faulty reasoning in the first expert’s judgment. Also, the writer must be careful not to use an expert in one field to make a judgment about a subject in another. Imagine the absurdity of computer genius Bill Gates making an official statement on archeology.

Internet Resources 

>> Dartmouth Logic and Argumentation Guide

Copyright © 2009 Wheaton College Writing Center

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout will provide a broad overview of gathering and using evidence. It will help you decide what counts as evidence, put evidence to work in your writing, and determine whether you have enough evidence. It will also offer links to additional resources.


Many papers that you write in college will require you to make an argument ; this means that you must take a position on the subject you are discussing and support that position with evidence. It’s important that you use the right kind of evidence, that you use it effectively, and that you have an appropriate amount of it. If, for example, your philosophy professor didn’t like it that you used a survey of public opinion as your primary evidence in your ethics paper, you need to find out more about what philosophers count as good evidence. If your instructor has told you that you need more analysis, suggested that you’re “just listing” points or giving a “laundry list,” or asked you how certain points are related to your argument, it may mean that you can do more to fully incorporate your evidence into your argument. Comments like “for example?,” “proof?,” “go deeper,” or “expand” in the margins of your graded paper suggest that you may need more evidence. Let’s take a look at each of these issues—understanding what counts as evidence, using evidence in your argument, and deciding whether you need more evidence.

What counts as evidence?

Before you begin gathering information for possible use as evidence in your argument, you need to be sure that you understand the purpose of your assignment. If you are working on a project for a class, look carefully at the assignment prompt. It may give you clues about what sorts of evidence you will need. Does the instructor mention any particular books you should use in writing your paper or the names of any authors who have written about your topic? How long should your paper be (longer works may require more, or more varied, evidence)? What themes or topics come up in the text of the prompt? Our handout on understanding writing assignments can help you interpret your assignment. It’s also a good idea to think over what has been said about the assignment in class and to talk with your instructor if you need clarification or guidance.

What matters to instructors?

Instructors in different academic fields expect different kinds of arguments and evidence—your chemistry paper might include graphs, charts, statistics, and other quantitative data as evidence, whereas your English paper might include passages from a novel, examples of recurring symbols, or discussions of characterization in the novel. Consider what kinds of sources and evidence you have seen in course readings and lectures. You may wish to see whether the Writing Center has a handout regarding the specific academic field you’re working in—for example, literature , sociology , or history .

What are primary and secondary sources?

A note on terminology: many researchers distinguish between primary and secondary sources of evidence (in this case, “primary” means “first” or “original,” not “most important”). Primary sources include original documents, photographs, interviews, and so forth. Secondary sources present information that has already been processed or interpreted by someone else. For example, if you are writing a paper about the movie “The Matrix,” the movie itself, an interview with the director, and production photos could serve as primary sources of evidence. A movie review from a magazine or a collection of essays about the film would be secondary sources. Depending on the context, the same item could be either a primary or a secondary source: if I am writing about people’s relationships with animals, a collection of stories about animals might be a secondary source; if I am writing about how editors gather diverse stories into collections, the same book might now function as a primary source.

Where can I find evidence?

Here are some examples of sources of information and tips about how to use them in gathering evidence. Ask your instructor if you aren’t sure whether a certain source would be appropriate for your paper.

Print and electronic sources

Books, journals, websites, newspapers, magazines, and documentary films are some of the most common sources of evidence for academic writing. Our handout on evaluating print sources will help you choose your print sources wisely, and the library has a tutorial on evaluating both print sources and websites. A librarian can help you find sources that are appropriate for the type of assignment you are completing. Just visit the reference desk at Davis or the Undergraduate Library or chat with a librarian online (the library’s IM screen name is undergradref).


Sometimes you can directly observe the thing you are interested in, by watching, listening to, touching, tasting, or smelling it. For example, if you were asked to write about Mozart’s music, you could listen to it; if your topic was how businesses attract traffic, you might go and look at window displays at the mall.

An interview is a good way to collect information that you can’t find through any other type of research. An interview can provide an expert’s opinion, biographical or first-hand experiences, and suggestions for further research.

Surveys allow you to find out some of what a group of people thinks about a topic. Designing an effective survey and interpreting the data you get can be challenging, so it’s a good idea to check with your instructor before creating or administering a survey.


Experimental data serve as the primary form of scientific evidence. For scientific experiments, you should follow the specific guidelines of the discipline you are studying. For writing in other fields, more informal experiments might be acceptable as evidence. For example, if you want to prove that food choices in a cafeteria are affected by gender norms, you might ask classmates to undermine those norms on purpose and observe how others react. What would happen if a football player were eating dinner with his teammates and he brought a small salad and diet drink to the table, all the while murmuring about his waistline and wondering how many fat grams the salad dressing contained?

Personal experience

Using your own experiences can be a powerful way to appeal to your readers. You should, however, use personal experience only when it is appropriate to your topic, your writing goals, and your audience. Personal experience should not be your only form of evidence in most papers, and some disciplines frown on using personal experience at all. For example, a story about the microscope you received as a Christmas gift when you were nine years old is probably not applicable to your biology lab report.

Using evidence in an argument

Does evidence speak for itself.

Absolutely not. After you introduce evidence into your writing, you must say why and how this evidence supports your argument. In other words, you have to explain the significance of the evidence and its function in your paper. What turns a fact or piece of information into evidence is the connection it has with a larger claim or argument: evidence is always evidence for or against something, and you have to make that link clear.

As writers, we sometimes assume that our readers already know what we are talking about; we may be wary of elaborating too much because we think the point is obvious. But readers can’t read our minds: although they may be familiar with many of the ideas we are discussing, they don’t know what we are trying to do with those ideas unless we indicate it through explanations, organization, transitions, and so forth. Try to spell out the connections that you were making in your mind when you chose your evidence, decided where to place it in your paper, and drew conclusions based on it. Remember, you can always cut prose from your paper later if you decide that you are stating the obvious.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself about a particular bit of evidence:

  • OK, I’ve just stated this point, but so what? Why is it interesting? Why should anyone care?
  • What does this information imply?
  • What are the consequences of thinking this way or looking at a problem this way?
  • I’ve just described what something is like or how I see it, but why is it like that?
  • I’ve just said that something happens—so how does it happen? How does it come to be the way it is?
  • Why is this information important? Why does it matter?
  • How is this idea related to my thesis? What connections exist between them? Does it support my thesis? If so, how does it do that?
  • Can I give an example to illustrate this point?

Answering these questions may help you explain how your evidence is related to your overall argument.

How can I incorporate evidence into my paper?

There are many ways to present your evidence. Often, your evidence will be included as text in the body of your paper, as a quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Sometimes you might include graphs, charts, or tables; excerpts from an interview; or photographs or illustrations with accompanying captions.

When you quote, you are reproducing another writer’s words exactly as they appear on the page. Here are some tips to help you decide when to use quotations:

  • Quote if you can’t say it any better and the author’s words are particularly brilliant, witty, edgy, distinctive, a good illustration of a point you’re making, or otherwise interesting.
  • Quote if you are using a particularly authoritative source and you need the author’s expertise to back up your point.
  • Quote if you are analyzing diction, tone, or a writer’s use of a specific word or phrase.
  • Quote if you are taking a position that relies on the reader’s understanding exactly what another writer says about the topic.

Be sure to introduce each quotation you use, and always cite your sources. See our handout on quotations for more details on when to quote and how to format quotations.

Like all pieces of evidence, a quotation can’t speak for itself. If you end a paragraph with a quotation, that may be a sign that you have neglected to discuss the importance of the quotation in terms of your argument. It’s important to avoid “plop quotations,” that is, quotations that are just dropped into your paper without any introduction, discussion, or follow-up.


When you paraphrase, you take a specific section of a text and put it into your own words. Putting it into your own words doesn’t mean just changing or rearranging a few of the author’s words: to paraphrase well and avoid plagiarism, try setting your source aside and restating the sentence or paragraph you have just read, as though you were describing it to another person. Paraphrasing is different than summary because a paraphrase focuses on a particular, fairly short bit of text (like a phrase, sentence, or paragraph). You’ll need to indicate when you are paraphrasing someone else’s text by citing your source correctly, just as you would with a quotation.

When might you want to paraphrase?

  • Paraphrase when you want to introduce a writer’s position, but his or her original words aren’t special enough to quote.
  • Paraphrase when you are supporting a particular point and need to draw on a certain place in a text that supports your point—for example, when one paragraph in a source is especially relevant.
  • Paraphrase when you want to present a writer’s view on a topic that differs from your position or that of another writer; you can then refute writer’s specific points in your own words after you paraphrase.
  • Paraphrase when you want to comment on a particular example that another writer uses.
  • Paraphrase when you need to present information that’s unlikely to be questioned.

When you summarize, you are offering an overview of an entire text, or at least a lengthy section of a text. Summary is useful when you are providing background information, grounding your own argument, or mentioning a source as a counter-argument. A summary is less nuanced than paraphrased material. It can be the most effective way to incorporate a large number of sources when you don’t have a lot of space. When you are summarizing someone else’s argument or ideas, be sure this is clear to the reader and cite your source appropriately.

Statistics, data, charts, graphs, photographs, illustrations

Sometimes the best evidence for your argument is a hard fact or visual representation of a fact. This type of evidence can be a solid backbone for your argument, but you still need to create context for your reader and draw the connections you want him or her to make. Remember that statistics, data, charts, graph, photographs, and illustrations are all open to interpretation. Guide the reader through the interpretation process. Again, always, cite the origin of your evidence if you didn’t produce the material you are using yourself.

Do I need more evidence?

Let’s say that you’ve identified some appropriate sources, found some evidence, explained to the reader how it fits into your overall argument, incorporated it into your draft effectively, and cited your sources. How do you tell whether you’ve got enough evidence and whether it’s working well in the service of a strong argument or analysis? Here are some techniques you can use to review your draft and assess your use of evidence.

Make a reverse outline

A reverse outline is a great technique for helping you see how each paragraph contributes to proving your thesis. When you make a reverse outline, you record the main ideas in each paragraph in a shorter (outline-like) form so that you can see at a glance what is in your paper. The reverse outline is helpful in at least three ways. First, it lets you see where you have dealt with too many topics in one paragraph (in general, you should have one main idea per paragraph). Second, the reverse outline can help you see where you need more evidence to prove your point or more analysis of that evidence. Third, the reverse outline can help you write your topic sentences: once you have decided what you want each paragraph to be about, you can write topic sentences that explain the topics of the paragraphs and state the relationship of each topic to the overall thesis of the paper.

For tips on making a reverse outline, see our handout on organization .

Color code your paper

You will need three highlighters or colored pencils for this exercise. Use one color to highlight general assertions. These will typically be the topic sentences in your paper. Next, use another color to highlight the specific evidence you provide for each assertion (including quotations, paraphrased or summarized material, statistics, examples, and your own ideas). Lastly, use another color to highlight analysis of your evidence. Which assertions are key to your overall argument? Which ones are especially contestable? How much evidence do you have for each assertion? How much analysis? In general, you should have at least as much analysis as you do evidence, or your paper runs the risk of being more summary than argument. The more controversial an assertion is, the more evidence you may need to provide in order to persuade your reader.

Play devil’s advocate, act like a child, or doubt everything

This technique may be easiest to use with a partner. Ask your friend to take on one of the roles above, then read your paper aloud to him/her. After each section, pause and let your friend interrogate you. If your friend is playing devil’s advocate, he or she will always take the opposing viewpoint and force you to keep defending yourself. If your friend is acting like a child, he or she will question every sentence, even seemingly self-explanatory ones. If your friend is a doubter, he or she won’t believe anything you say. Justifying your position verbally or explaining yourself will force you to strengthen the evidence in your paper. If you already have enough evidence but haven’t connected it clearly enough to your main argument, explaining to your friend how the evidence is relevant or what it proves may help you to do so.

Common questions and additional resources

  • I have a general topic in mind; how can I develop it so I’ll know what evidence I need? And how can I get ideas for more evidence? See our handout on brainstorming .
  • Who can help me find evidence on my topic? Check out UNC Libraries .
  • I’m writing for a specific purpose; how can I tell what kind of evidence my audience wants? See our handouts on audience , writing for specific disciplines , and particular writing assignments .
  • How should I read materials to gather evidence? See our handout on reading to write .
  • How can I make a good argument? Check out our handouts on argument and thesis statements .
  • How do I tell if my paragraphs and my paper are well-organized? Review our handouts on paragraph development , transitions , and reorganizing drafts .
  • How do I quote my sources and incorporate those quotes into my text? Our handouts on quotations and avoiding plagiarism offer useful tips.
  • How do I cite my evidence? See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .
  • I think that I’m giving evidence, but my instructor says I’m using too much summary. How can I tell? Check out our handout on using summary wisely.
  • I want to use personal experience as evidence, but can I say “I”? We have a handout on when to use “I.”

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Lunsford, Andrea A., and John J. Ruszkiewicz. 2016. Everything’s an Argument , 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Miller, Richard E., and Kurt Spellmeyer. 2016. The New Humanities Reader , 5th ed. Boston: Cengage.

University of Maryland. 2019. “Research Using Primary Sources.” Research Guides. Last updated October 28, 2019. https://lib.guides.umd.edu/researchusingprimarysources .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples

The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples

Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type. 

In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.

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Table of contents

Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.

An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.

Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.

The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
  • The body presents your evidence and arguments
  • The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance

The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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different types of evidence for argumentative essay

An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.

Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.

The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.

A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.

Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.

A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.

Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.

Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.

A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.

Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.

On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.

My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.

With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…

Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.

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Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.

Rhetorical analysis

A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.

The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.

The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.

The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

Literary analysis

A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.

Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.

The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.

Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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Organizing Your Argument

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This page summarizes three historical methods for argumentation, providing structural templates for each.

How can I effectively present my argument?

In order for your argument to be persuasive, it must use an organizational structure that the audience perceives as both logical and easy to parse. Three argumentative methods —the  Toulmin Method , Classical Method , and Rogerian Method — give guidance for how to organize the points in an argument.

Note that these are only three of the most popular models for organizing an argument. Alternatives exist. Be sure to consult your instructor and/or defer to your assignment’s directions if you’re unsure which to use (if any).

Toulmin Method

The  Toulmin Method  is a formula that allows writers to build a sturdy logical foundation for their arguments. First proposed by author Stephen Toulmin in  The Uses of Argument (1958), the Toulmin Method emphasizes building a thorough support structure for each of an argument's key claims.

The basic format for the Toulmin Method  is as follows:

Claim:  In this section, you explain your overall thesis on the subject. In other words, you make your main argument.

Data (Grounds):  You should use evidence to support the claim. In other words, provide the reader with facts that prove your argument is strong.

Warrant (Bridge):  In this section, you explain why or how your data supports the claim. As a result, the underlying assumption that you build your argument on is grounded in reason.

Backing (Foundation):  Here, you provide any additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant.

Counterclaim:  You should anticipate a counterclaim that negates the main points in your argument. Don't avoid arguments that oppose your own. Instead, become familiar with the opposing perspective.   If you respond to counterclaims, you appear unbiased (and, therefore, you earn the respect of your readers). You may even want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic.

Rebuttal:  In this section, you incorporate your own evidence that disagrees with the counterclaim. It is essential to include a thorough warrant or bridge to strengthen your essay’s argument. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis, your readers may not make a connection between the two, or they may draw different conclusions.

Example of the Toulmin Method:

Claim:  Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.

Data1:  Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air-polluting activity.

Warrant 1:  Due to the fact that cars are the largest source of private (as opposed to industrial) air pollution, switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution.

Data 2:  Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.

Warrant 2:  Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that the decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.

Data 3:  Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.

Warrant 3:  The combination of these technologies produces less pollution.

Counterclaim:  Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages an inefficient culture of driving even as it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging the use of mass transit systems.

Rebuttal:  While mass transit is an idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work. Thus, hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population.

Rogerian Method

The Rogerian Method  (named for, but not developed by, influential American psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers) is a popular method for controversial issues. This strategy seeks to find a common ground between parties by making the audience understand perspectives that stretch beyond (or even run counter to) the writer’s position. Moreso than other methods, it places an emphasis on reiterating an opponent's argument to his or her satisfaction. The persuasive power of the Rogerian Method lies in its ability to define the terms of the argument in such a way that:

  • your position seems like a reasonable compromise.
  • you seem compassionate and empathetic.

The basic format of the Rogerian Method  is as follows:

Introduction:  Introduce the issue to the audience, striving to remain as objective as possible.

Opposing View : Explain the other side’s position in an unbiased way. When you discuss the counterargument without judgement, the opposing side can see how you do not directly dismiss perspectives which conflict with your stance.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):  This section discusses how you acknowledge how the other side’s points can be valid under certain circumstances. You identify how and why their perspective makes sense in a specific context, but still present your own argument.

Statement of Your Position:  By this point, you have demonstrated that you understand the other side’s viewpoint. In this section, you explain your own stance.

Statement of Contexts : Explore scenarios in which your position has merit. When you explain how your argument is most appropriate for certain contexts, the reader can recognize that you acknowledge the multiple ways to view the complex issue.

Statement of Benefits:  You should conclude by explaining to the opposing side why they would benefit from accepting your position. By explaining the advantages of your argument, you close on a positive note without completely dismissing the other side’s perspective.

Example of the Rogerian Method:

Introduction:  The issue of whether children should wear school uniforms is subject to some debate.

Opposing View:  Some parents think that requiring children to wear uniforms is best.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):  Those parents who support uniforms argue that, when all students wear the same uniform, the students can develop a unified sense of school pride and inclusiveness.

Statement of Your Position : Students should not be required to wear school uniforms. Mandatory uniforms would forbid choices that allow students to be creative and express themselves through clothing.

Statement of Contexts:  However, even if uniforms might hypothetically promote inclusivity, in most real-life contexts, administrators can use uniform policies to enforce conformity. Students should have the option to explore their identity through clothing without the fear of being ostracized.

Statement of Benefits:  Though both sides seek to promote students' best interests, students should not be required to wear school uniforms. By giving students freedom over their choice, students can explore their self-identity by choosing how to present themselves to their peers.

Classical Method

The Classical Method of structuring an argument is another common way to organize your points. Originally devised by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (and then later developed by Roman thinkers like Cicero and Quintilian), classical arguments tend to focus on issues of definition and the careful application of evidence. Thus, the underlying assumption of classical argumentation is that, when all parties understand the issue perfectly, the correct course of action will be clear.

The basic format of the Classical Method  is as follows:

Introduction (Exordium): Introduce the issue and explain its significance. You should also establish your credibility and the topic’s legitimacy.

Statement of Background (Narratio): Present vital contextual or historical information to the audience to further their understanding of the issue. By doing so, you provide the reader with a working knowledge about the topic independent of your own stance.

Proposition (Propositio): After you provide the reader with contextual knowledge, you are ready to state your claims which relate to the information you have provided previously. This section outlines your major points for the reader.

Proof (Confirmatio): You should explain your reasons and evidence to the reader. Be sure to thoroughly justify your reasons. In this section, if necessary, you can provide supplementary evidence and subpoints.

Refutation (Refuatio): In this section, you address anticipated counterarguments that disagree with your thesis. Though you acknowledge the other side’s perspective, it is important to prove why your stance is more logical.  

Conclusion (Peroratio): You should summarize your main points. The conclusion also caters to the reader’s emotions and values. The use of pathos here makes the reader more inclined to consider your argument.  

Example of the Classical Method:  

Introduction (Exordium): Millions of workers are paid a set hourly wage nationwide. The federal minimum wage is standardized to protect workers from being paid too little. Research points to many viewpoints on how much to pay these workers. Some families cannot afford to support their households on the current wages provided for performing a minimum wage job .

Statement of Background (Narratio): Currently, millions of American workers struggle to make ends meet on a minimum wage. This puts a strain on workers’ personal and professional lives. Some work multiple jobs to provide for their families.

Proposition (Propositio): The current federal minimum wage should be increased to better accommodate millions of overworked Americans. By raising the minimum wage, workers can spend more time cultivating their livelihoods.

Proof (Confirmatio): According to the United States Department of Labor, 80.4 million Americans work for an hourly wage, but nearly 1.3 million receive wages less than the federal minimum. The pay raise will alleviate the stress of these workers. Their lives would benefit from this raise because it affects multiple areas of their lives.

Refutation (Refuatio): There is some evidence that raising the federal wage might increase the cost of living. However, other evidence contradicts this or suggests that the increase would not be great. Additionally,   worries about a cost of living increase must be balanced with the benefits of providing necessary funds to millions of hardworking Americans.

Conclusion (Peroratio): If the federal minimum wage was raised, many workers could alleviate some of their financial burdens. As a result, their emotional wellbeing would improve overall. Though some argue that the cost of living could increase, the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Definition and Examples of Evidence in Argument

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In argument, evidence refers to facts, documentation or testimony used to strengthen a claim, support an argument or reach a conclusion.

The evidence isn't the same as proof. "Whereas evidence allows for professional judgment, the proof is absolute and incontestable," said Denis Hayes in "Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools." 

Observations About Evidence

  • "Without evidence to support them, any statements you make in your writing have little or no value; they're simply opinions, and 10 people may have 10 different opinions, none of which is more valid than the others unless there is clear and potent evidence to support it." Neil Murray, "Writing Essays in English Language and Linguistics ," 2012
  • "When conducting empirical research, the researcher's primary responsibility is to provide evidence to support his or her claim about the relationship between the variables described in the research hypothesis. T]he researcher must collect data that will convince us of the accuracy of his or her predictions." Bart L. Weathington et al., "Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences," 2010

Making Connections

David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen comment on making connections that leave out the steps that lead to them in 2009's "Writing Analytically."  

"A common assumption about evidence is that is is 'the stuff that proves I'm right.' Although this way of thinking about evidence is not wrong, it is much too limited. Corroboration (proving the validity of a claim) is one of the functions of evidence, but not the only one. Writing well means sharing your thought process with your readers, telling them why you believe the evidence means what you say it does.

"Writers who think that evidence speaks for itself often do very little with their evidence except put it next to their claims: 'The party was terrible: There was no alcohol' -- or, alternatively, 'The party was great: There was no alcohol.' Just juxtaposing the evidence with the claim leaves out the thinking that connects them, thereby implying that the logic of the connection is obvious.

"But even for readers prone to agreeing with a given claim, simply pointing to the evidence is not enough." 

Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence

Julie M. Farrar defines two kinds of evidence in "Evidence: Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition ," from 2006.

"The mere presence of information does not constitute evidence; the informative statements must be accepted as evidence by an audience and believed by it to be relevant to the claim at issue. Evidence can be generally classified as qualitative and quantitative. The former emphasizes explanation and description, appearing continuous rather than discrete, while the latter offers measurement and prediction. Both kinds of information require interpretation, for at no time do the facts speak for themselves."

Opening the Door

In "Evidence: Practice Under the Rules" from 1999, Christopher B. Mueller and Laird C. Kirkpatrick discuss evidence as it relates to trial law.

"The more far-reaching effect of introducing evidence [in a trial] is to pave the way for other parties to introduce evidence, question witnesses and offer argument on the subject in attempts to rebut or confine the initial evidence. In the customary phrase, the party who offers evidence on a point is said to have 'opened the door,' meaning that the other side may now make countermoves to answer or rebut the initial evidence, 'fighting fire with fire.'"

Dubious Evidence

In "Not on the Doctor’s Checklist, but Touch Matters" from 2010 in The New York Times, Danielle Ofri discusses findings called evidence that isn't actually valid.

"[I]s there any research to show that a physical exam -- in a healthy person -- is of any benefit? Despite a long and storied tradition, a physical exam is more a habit than a clinically proven method of picking up the disease in asymptomatic people. There is scant evidence to suggest that routinely listening to every healthy person’s lungs or pressing on every normal person’s liver will find a disease that wasn’t suggested by the patient’s history. For a healthy person, an 'abnormal finding' on a physical exam is more likely to be a false positive than a real sign of illness."

Other Examples of Dubious Evidence

  • "America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." President George W. Bush, in justifying the invasion of Iraq in 2003
  •  "We have it. The smoking gun. The evidence. The potential weapon of mass destruction we have been looking for as our pretext of invading Iraq. There's just one problem: it's in North Korea." Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show," 2005
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6 Types of Evidence in Writing

evidence in writing examples and overview, explained below

Writing an essay is a lot like participating in a debate. You have a main point that you want to make, and you need to support it. So, the question is: how do you support your main point?

The best way is to provide evidence.

Evidence can come from many sources and take many forms, but generally speaking, there are six types of evidence.

Each type of evidence may carry more weight than others. Choosing which type of evidence to use depends on the purpose of the essay and the audience.

For example, for essays in psychology or sociology that will be read by professors, evidence from research papers and statistics will be suitable, and expected.

However, if writing for the general public, evidence in the form of quotes from experts or testimonials from people involved in the subject may be more effective.

Ideally, it is good to have a mix of the different types of evidence so that the essay is well-rounded.

Using various types of evidence also shows the reader that you have researched the topic thoroughly. That will add credibility to the essay as a whole and instill an impression that the author is competent and trustworthy.

Here is a brief description of the six main types of evidence.

You Might Also Like: Transition Words for Providing Evidence in Essays

Types of Evidence in Writing

1. anecdotal evidence.

Anecdotal evidence comes from personal experience. It can involve a story about something that happened to you, or an observation you made about friends, relatives, or other people.

An informal interview with someone affected by the topic you are writing about is also a form of anecdotal evidence. That interview may have been conducted by the author of the essay or presented on a news program.

Although it is not considered very strong evidence, it does have a purpose. Describing a personal experience early in the essay can help establish context, show relevance of the subject, or be a way to build a connection with the audience.

In some cases, anecdotal evidence can be quite effective. It can reveal deeply personal or emotional elements of a phenomenon that are very compelling. Not all essays need to be full of scientific references and statistics to be effective at making a point.

See More: 19 Anecdotal Evidence Examples

2. Testimonial Evidence

Offering the opinion of an expert is referred to as testimonial evidence. Their opinion can come from an interview or quote from a book or paper they authored.

The words of someone who is considered an expert in a subject can provide a lot of support to the point you are trying to make. It adds strength and shows that what you are saying is not just your opinion, but is also the opinion of someone that is recognized and respected in the subject.

If that expert has an advanced degree from a notable university, such as Princeton or Stanford, then make sure the reader knows that. Similarly, if they are the president or director of an institution that is heavily involved in the subject, then be sure to include those credentials as well.

If your essay is for an academic course, use proper citation. This often involves indicating the year of the quote, where it was published, and the page number where the quote comes from.

Finally, if quoting an expert, choose the quote carefully. Experts sometimes use language that is overly complex or contains jargon that many readers may not understand. Limiting the quote to 1 or 2 sentences is also a good idea.

3. Statistical Evidence

Statistical evidence involves presenting numbers that support your point. Statistics can be used to demonstrate the prevalence and seriousness of a phenomenon.

When used early in the essay, it informs the reader as to how important the topic is and can be an effective way to get the reader’s attention.

For example, citing the number of people that die each year because they weren’t wearing a seat belt, or the number of children suffering from malnutrition, tells the reader that the topic is serious.

In addition to stating statistics in the body of the essay, including a graph or two will help make the point easier to understand. A picture can be worth a thousand words also applies to graphs and charts.

Graphs and charts also create a sense of credibility and add an extra punch of strength to your arguments.

Statistics can also be used to counter common misconceptions. This is a good way to clear the air right away regarding an issue that may not be well understood or in which there has been a lot of misinformation presented previously.

When presenting statistics, establish credibility by citing the source. Make sure that source is reputable. Scientific publications or well-respected organizations such as the CDC are good examples.

If your essay is for an academic assignment, then be sure to follow the publication guidelines for that discipline. Papers in business, sociology, and law have different rules for how to cite sources.

As persuasive as statistics can be, beware that many readers may be suspicious. There is a belief among some people that statistics are often faked or manipulated. This is due, in part, to many people not understanding the peer-review process that occurs before scientific papers are published.

4. Textual Evidence

Textual evidence comes directly from a source document. This could be a literary work or historical document. It is frequently used in an argumentative essay or as part of a compare-and-contrast type of academic assignment.

For example, if conducting a character analysis of a character in a novel, then identifying key sentences that provide examples of their personality will help support your analysis.

There are several ways of incorporating textual evidence: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Quoting statements from the character themselves can be used to demonstrate their thought processes or personality flaws. Likewise, using the words of the author that describe the character will add support to your premise.

Paraphrasing involves conveying the points in the source document by using your own words. There is usually a degree of correspondence between the amount of text in the document and the paraphrased version. In other words, if your paraphrased version is longer than the section in the source document, then you should try again.

Summarizing involves condensing the text in the source document to its main points and highlighting the key takeaways you want the reader to focus on.

5. Analogical Evidence

An analogy is an example of a situation, but presented in a different context. Using an analogy is a great way to explain a complicated issue that is simpler and easier to digest.

Medical doctors often use analogies to describe health-related issues. For example, they might say that getting a yearly medical exam from your primary physician is like taking your car to the mechanic once a year to make sure everything is running okay.

One rule of thumb about analogies is that the simpler they are, the more easily understood. The analogy should have a degree of similarity with the issue being discussed, but, at the same time, be a bit different as well. Sorry about that; it’s a balance.

Be careful not to use an analogy that is too far-fetched. For example, comparing the human body to the universe is too much of a stretch. This might confuse the reader, make them feel frustrated because they don’t see the connection, and/or cause them to lose interest.

6. Hypothetical Evidence

Hypothetical evidence is presenting the reader with a “what if” kind of scenario. This is a great way to get the reader to consider possibilities that they may not have thought of previously.

One way to present a hypothetical is to pair it with a credible statistic. Ask the reader to consider what might happen in the context of those numbers.

Another strategy is to restate one of your arguments, and then present a hypothetical that aligns with that point. For example, if what you are saying is true, then X, Y, and Z may occur.

By providing a concrete hypothetical scenario, people can imagine what could happen. Opening a person’s mindset can be the first step towards an effective and persuasive essay.

There are many examples in history of phenomenon that people never thought possible, but later turned out to materialize. For example, climate change.

In the early days of climate science, the evidence was not readily available to a convincing degree to persuade the general public. However, extrapolating into the future through the use of hypotheticals can help people consider the possibility of fossil fuels causing climate crises.

The emotional dynamics activated when thinking about the future can help open some people’s eyes to different possibilities and generate concern. If only this had happened about 50 years ago.

Providing evidence for your main point in an essay can make it effective and persuasive. There are many types of evidence, and each one varies in terms of its strength and pertinence to the purpose of the essay.

In some situations, for example, anecdotal evidence and testimonials are sufficient to get a reader’s attention. In other situations, however, such as essays in the sciences, the reader will expect to see more than just opinions of the author.

Presenting statistics from reputable sources can add a lot of strength to an essay. While a lot of people are convinced by numbers, others are not.

Using quotes, either from experts or from a source document, are also effective ways to add support to the essay’s main point.

Analogies will help the reader understand a complex topic, while hypotheticals can be an effective way to get people to extend their thinking and consider what could happen if…

Incorporating several types of evidence is best. If all arguments in an essay only come from the author, it can come across as flimsy. A chair with three legs is better than a chair with two.

Bailey, S. (2003). Academic writing: A practical guide for students . Cheltenham, U.K.: Nelson Thornes Ltd.

Redman, P., & Maples, W. (2017). Good essay writing: A social sciences guide . Sage.

Savage, A., & Mayer, P. (2006). Effective academic writing: The short essay . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Starkey, L. B. (2004). How to write great essays . Learning Express.

Warburton, N. (2020). The basics of essay writing . Routledge.


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Need to defend your opinion on an issue? Argumentative essays are one of the most popular types of essays you’ll write in school. They combine persuasive arguments with fact-based research, and, when done well, can be powerful tools for making someone agree with your point of view. If you’re struggling to write an argumentative essay or just want to learn more about them, seeing examples can be a big help.

After giving an overview of this type of essay, we provide three argumentative essay examples. After each essay, we explain in-depth how the essay was structured, what worked, and where the essay could be improved. We end with tips for making your own argumentative essay as strong as possible.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an essay that uses evidence and facts to support the claim it’s making. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with the argument being made.

A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author’s thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families. You couldn’t just say that it’s a great place because you took your family there and enjoyed it. For it to be an argumentative essay, you need to have facts and data to support your argument, such as the number of child-friendly attractions in Charleston, special deals you can get with kids, and surveys of people who visited Charleston as a family and enjoyed it. The first argument is based entirely on feelings, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven.

The standard five paragraph format is common, but not required, for argumentative essays. These essays typically follow one of two formats: the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

  • The Toulmin model is the most common. It begins with an introduction, follows with a thesis/claim, and gives data and evidence to support that claim. This style of essay also includes rebuttals of counterarguments.
  • The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

3 Good Argumentative Essay Examples + Analysis

Below are three examples of argumentative essays, written by yours truly in my school days, as well as analysis of what each did well and where it could be improved.

Argumentative Essay Example 1

Proponents of this idea state that it will save local cities and towns money because libraries are expensive to maintain. They also believe it will encourage more people to read because they won’t have to travel to a library to get a book; they can simply click on what they want to read and read it from wherever they are. They could also access more materials because libraries won’t have to buy physical copies of books; they can simply rent out as many digital copies as they need.

However, it would be a serious mistake to replace libraries with tablets. First, digital books and resources are associated with less learning and more problems than print resources. A study done on tablet vs book reading found that people read 20-30% slower on tablets, retain 20% less information, and understand 10% less of what they read compared to people who read the same information in print. Additionally, staring too long at a screen has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including blurred vision, dizziness, dry eyes, headaches, and eye strain, at much higher instances than reading print does. People who use tablets and mobile devices excessively also have a higher incidence of more serious health issues such as fibromyalgia, shoulder and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strain. I know that whenever I read from my e-reader for too long, my eyes begin to feel tired and my neck hurts. We should not add to these problems by giving people, especially young people, more reasons to look at screens.

Second, it is incredibly narrow-minded to assume that the only service libraries offer is book lending. Libraries have a multitude of benefits, and many are only available if the library has a physical location. Some of these benefits include acting as a quiet study space, giving people a way to converse with their neighbors, holding classes on a variety of topics, providing jobs, answering patron questions, and keeping the community connected. One neighborhood found that, after a local library instituted community events such as play times for toddlers and parents, job fairs for teenagers, and meeting spaces for senior citizens, over a third of residents reported feeling more connected to their community. Similarly, a Pew survey conducted in 2015 found that nearly two-thirds of American adults feel that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. People see libraries as a way to connect with others and get their questions answered, benefits tablets can’t offer nearly as well or as easily.

While replacing libraries with tablets may seem like a simple solution, it would encourage people to spend even more time looking at digital screens, despite the myriad issues surrounding them. It would also end access to many of the benefits of libraries that people have come to rely on. In many areas, libraries are such an important part of the community network that they could never be replaced by a simple object.

The author begins by giving an overview of the counter-argument, then the thesis appears as the first sentence in the third paragraph. The essay then spends the rest of the paper dismantling the counter argument and showing why readers should believe the other side.

What this essay does well:

  • Although it’s a bit unusual to have the thesis appear fairly far into the essay, it works because, once the thesis is stated, the rest of the essay focuses on supporting it since the counter-argument has already been discussed earlier in the paper.
  • This essay includes numerous facts and cites studies to support its case. By having specific data to rely on, the author’s argument is stronger and readers will be more inclined to agree with it.
  • For every argument the other side makes, the author makes sure to refute it and follow up with why her opinion is the stronger one. In order to make a strong argument, it’s important to dismantle the other side, which this essay does this by making the author's view appear stronger.
  • This is a shorter paper, and if it needed to be expanded to meet length requirements, it could include more examples and go more into depth with them, such as by explaining specific cases where people benefited from local libraries.
  • Additionally, while the paper uses lots of data, the author also mentions their own experience with using tablets. This should be removed since argumentative essays focus on facts and data to support an argument, not the author’s own opinion or experiences. Replacing that with more data on health issues associated with screen time would strengthen the essay.
  • Some of the points made aren't completely accurate , particularly the one about digital books being cheaper. It actually often costs a library more money to rent out numerous digital copies of a book compared to buying a single physical copy. Make sure in your own essay you thoroughly research each of the points and rebuttals you make, otherwise you'll look like you don't know the issue that well.


Argumentative Essay Example 2

There are multiple drugs available to treat malaria, and many of them work well and save lives, but malaria eradication programs that focus too much on them and not enough on prevention haven’t seen long-term success in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major program to combat malaria was WHO’s Global Malaria Eradication Programme. Started in 1955, it had a goal of eliminating malaria in Africa within the next ten years. Based upon previously successful programs in Brazil and the United States, the program focused mainly on vector control. This included widely distributing chloroquine and spraying large amounts of DDT. More than one billion dollars was spent trying to abolish malaria. However, the program suffered from many problems and in 1969, WHO was forced to admit that the program had not succeeded in eradicating malaria. The number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who contracted malaria as well as the number of malaria deaths had actually increased over 10% during the time the program was active.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the project was that it set uniform strategies and policies. By failing to consider variations between governments, geography, and infrastructure, the program was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Sub-Saharan Africa has neither the money nor the infrastructure to support such an elaborate program, and it couldn’t be run the way it was meant to. Most African countries don't have the resources to send all their people to doctors and get shots, nor can they afford to clear wetlands or other malaria prone areas. The continent’s spending per person for eradicating malaria was just a quarter of what Brazil spent. Sub-Saharan Africa simply can’t rely on a plan that requires more money, infrastructure, and expertise than they have to spare.

Additionally, the widespread use of chloroquine has created drug resistant parasites which are now plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa. Because chloroquine was used widely but inconsistently, mosquitoes developed resistance, and chloroquine is now nearly completely ineffective in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 95% of mosquitoes resistant to it. As a result, newer, more expensive drugs need to be used to prevent and treat malaria, which further drives up the cost of malaria treatment for a region that can ill afford it.

Instead of developing plans to treat malaria after the infection has incurred, programs should focus on preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Not only is this plan cheaper and more effective, reducing the number of people who contract malaria also reduces loss of work/school days which can further bring down the productivity of the region.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways of preventing malaria is to implement insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).  These nets provide a protective barrier around the person or people using them. While untreated bed nets are still helpful, those treated with insecticides are much more useful because they stop mosquitoes from biting people through the nets, and they help reduce mosquito populations in a community, thus helping people who don’t even own bed nets.  Bed nets are also very effective because most mosquito bites occur while the person is sleeping, so bed nets would be able to drastically reduce the number of transmissions during the night. In fact, transmission of malaria can be reduced by as much as 90% in areas where the use of ITNs is widespread. Because money is so scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, the low cost is a great benefit and a major reason why the program is so successful. Bed nets cost roughly 2 USD to make, last several years, and can protect two adults. Studies have shown that, for every 100-1000 more nets are being used, one less child dies of malaria. With an estimated 300 million people in Africa not being protected by mosquito nets, there’s the potential to save three million lives by spending just a few dollars per person.

Reducing the number of people who contract malaria would also reduce poverty levels in Africa significantly, thus improving other aspects of society like education levels and the economy. Vector control is more effective than treatment strategies because it means fewer people are getting sick. When fewer people get sick, the working population is stronger as a whole because people are not put out of work from malaria, nor are they caring for sick relatives. Malaria-afflicted families can typically only harvest 40% of the crops that healthy families can harvest. Additionally, a family with members who have malaria spends roughly a quarter of its income treatment, not including the loss of work they also must deal with due to the illness. It’s estimated that malaria costs Africa 12 billion USD in lost income every year. A strong working population creates a stronger economy, which Sub-Saharan Africa is in desperate need of.  

This essay begins with an introduction, which ends with the thesis (that malaria eradication plans in Sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention rather than treatment). The first part of the essay lays out why the counter argument (treatment rather than prevention) is not as effective, and the second part of the essay focuses on why prevention of malaria is the better path to take.

  • The thesis appears early, is stated clearly, and is supported throughout the rest of the essay. This makes the argument clear for readers to understand and follow throughout the essay.
  • There’s lots of solid research in this essay, including specific programs that were conducted and how successful they were, as well as specific data mentioned throughout. This evidence helps strengthen the author’s argument.
  • The author makes a case for using expanding bed net use over waiting until malaria occurs and beginning treatment, but not much of a plan is given for how the bed nets would be distributed or how to ensure they’re being used properly. By going more into detail of what she believes should be done, the author would be making a stronger argument.
  • The introduction of the essay does a good job of laying out the seriousness of the problem, but the conclusion is short and abrupt. Expanding it into its own paragraph would give the author a final way to convince readers of her side of the argument.


Argumentative Essay Example 3

There are many ways payments could work. They could be in the form of a free-market approach, where athletes are able to earn whatever the market is willing to pay them, it could be a set amount of money per athlete, or student athletes could earn income from endorsements, autographs, and control of their likeness, similar to the way top Olympians earn money.

Proponents of the idea believe that, because college athletes are the ones who are training, participating in games, and bringing in audiences, they should receive some sort of compensation for their work. If there were no college athletes, the NCAA wouldn’t exist, college coaches wouldn’t receive there (sometimes very high) salaries, and brands like Nike couldn’t profit from college sports. In fact, the NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion in revenue a year, but college athletes don’t receive any of that money in the form of a paycheck. Additionally, people who believe college athletes should be paid state that paying college athletes will actually encourage them to remain in college longer and not turn pro as quickly, either by giving them a way to begin earning money in college or requiring them to sign a contract stating they’ll stay at the university for a certain number of years while making an agreed-upon salary.  

Supporters of this idea point to Zion Williamson, the Duke basketball superstar, who, during his freshman year, sustained a serious knee injury. Many argued that, even if he enjoyed playing for Duke, it wasn’t worth risking another injury and ending his professional career before it even began for a program that wasn’t paying him. Williamson seems to have agreed with them and declared his eligibility for the NCAA draft later that year. If he was being paid, he may have stayed at Duke longer. In fact, roughly a third of student athletes surveyed stated that receiving a salary while in college would make them “strongly consider” remaining collegiate athletes longer before turning pro.

Paying athletes could also stop the recruitment scandals that have plagued the NCAA. In 2018, the NCAA stripped the University of Louisville's men's basketball team of its 2013 national championship title because it was discovered coaches were using sex workers to entice recruits to join the team. There have been dozens of other recruitment scandals where college athletes and recruits have been bribed with anything from having their grades changed, to getting free cars, to being straight out bribed. By paying college athletes and putting their salaries out in the open, the NCAA could end the illegal and underhanded ways some schools and coaches try to entice athletes to join.

People who argue against the idea of paying college athletes believe the practice could be disastrous for college sports. By paying athletes, they argue, they’d turn college sports into a bidding war, where only the richest schools could afford top athletes, and the majority of schools would be shut out from developing a talented team (though some argue this already happens because the best players often go to the most established college sports programs, who typically pay their coaches millions of dollars per year). It could also ruin the tight camaraderie of many college teams if players become jealous that certain teammates are making more money than they are.

They also argue that paying college athletes actually means only a small fraction would make significant money. Out of the 350 Division I athletic departments, fewer than a dozen earn any money. Nearly all the money the NCAA makes comes from men’s football and basketball, so paying college athletes would make a small group of men--who likely will be signed to pro teams and begin making millions immediately out of college--rich at the expense of other players.

Those against paying college athletes also believe that the athletes are receiving enough benefits already. The top athletes already receive scholarships that are worth tens of thousands per year, they receive free food/housing/textbooks, have access to top medical care if they are injured, receive top coaching, get travel perks and free gear, and can use their time in college as a way to capture the attention of professional recruiters. No other college students receive anywhere near as much from their schools.

People on this side also point out that, while the NCAA brings in a massive amount of money each year, it is still a non-profit organization. How? Because over 95% of those profits are redistributed to its members’ institutions in the form of scholarships, grants, conferences, support for Division II and Division III teams, and educational programs. Taking away a significant part of that revenue would hurt smaller programs that rely on that money to keep running.

While both sides have good points, it’s clear that the negatives of paying college athletes far outweigh the positives. College athletes spend a significant amount of time and energy playing for their school, but they are compensated for it by the scholarships and perks they receive. Adding a salary to that would result in a college athletic system where only a small handful of athletes (those likely to become millionaires in the professional leagues) are paid by a handful of schools who enter bidding wars to recruit them, while the majority of student athletics and college athletic programs suffer or even shut down for lack of money. Continuing to offer the current level of benefits to student athletes makes it possible for as many people to benefit from and enjoy college sports as possible.

This argumentative essay follows the Rogerian model. It discusses each side, first laying out multiple reasons people believe student athletes should be paid, then discussing reasons why the athletes shouldn’t be paid. It ends by stating that college athletes shouldn’t be paid by arguing that paying them would destroy college athletics programs and cause them to have many of the issues professional sports leagues have.

  • Both sides of the argument are well developed, with multiple reasons why people agree with each side. It allows readers to get a full view of the argument and its nuances.
  • Certain statements on both sides are directly rebuffed in order to show where the strengths and weaknesses of each side lie and give a more complete and sophisticated look at the argument.
  • Using the Rogerian model can be tricky because oftentimes you don’t explicitly state your argument until the end of the paper. Here, the thesis doesn’t appear until the first sentence of the final paragraph. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to be convinced that your argument is the right one, compared to a paper where the thesis is stated in the beginning and then supported throughout the paper. This paper could be strengthened if the final paragraph was expanded to more fully explain why the author supports the view, or if the paper had made it clearer that paying athletes was the weaker argument throughout.


3 Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve seen examples of what good argumentative essay samples look like, follow these three tips when crafting your own essay.

#1: Make Your Thesis Crystal Clear

The thesis is the key to your argumentative essay; if it isn’t clear or readers can’t find it easily, your entire essay will be weak as a result. Always make sure that your thesis statement is easy to find. The typical spot for it is the final sentence of the introduction paragraph, but if it doesn’t fit in that spot for your essay, try to at least put it as the first or last sentence of a different paragraph so it stands out more.

Also make sure that your thesis makes clear what side of the argument you’re on. After you’ve written it, it’s a great idea to show your thesis to a couple different people--classmates are great for this. Just by reading your thesis they should be able to understand what point you’ll be trying to make with the rest of your essay.

#2: Show Why the Other Side Is Weak

When writing your essay, you may be tempted to ignore the other side of the argument and just focus on your side, but don’t do this. The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn’t believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest points are. Then, in your essay, be sure to mention each of these and use evidence to explain why they’re incorrect/weak arguments. That’ll make your essay much more effective than if you only focused on your side of the argument.

#3: Use Evidence to Support Your Side

Remember, an essay can’t be an argumentative essay if it doesn’t support its argument with evidence. For every point you make, make sure you have facts to back it up. Some examples are previous studies done on the topic, surveys of large groups of people, data points, etc. There should be lots of numbers in your argumentative essay that support your side of the argument. This will make your essay much stronger compared to only relying on your own opinions to support your argument.

Summary: Argumentative Essay Sample

Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion. When writing your essay, remember to always make your thesis clear, show where the other side is weak, and back up your opinion with data and evidence.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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All academic writers use evidence to support their claims. However, different writing tasks in different fields require different types of evidence. Often, a combination of different types of evidence is required in order to adequately support and develop a point.  Evidence is not simply “facts.” Evidence is not simply “quotes.”

Evidence is what a writer uses to support or defend his or her argument, and only valid and credible evidence is enough to make an argument strong.

For a review of what evidence means in terms of developing body paragraphs within an essay, you can refer back to Section 4.3 .

As you develop your research-supported essay, consider not only what types of evidence might support your ideas but also what types of evidence will be considered valid or credible according to the academic discipline or academic audience for which you are writing.

Evidence in the Humanities: Literature, Art, Film, Music, Philosophy

  • Scholarly essays that analyze original works
  • Details from an image, a film, or other work of art
  • Passages from a musical composition
  • Passages of text, including poetry

Evidence in the Humanities: History

  • Primary Sources (photos, letters, maps, official documents, etc.)
  • Other books or articles that interpret primary sources or other evidence.

Evidence in the Social Sciences: Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology

  • Books or articles that interpret data and results from other people’s original experiments or studies.
  • Results from one’s own field research (including interviews, surveys, observations, etc.)
  • Data from one’s own experiments
  • Statistics derived from large studies

Evidence in the Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics

  • Data from the author of the paper’s own experiments

What remains consistent no matter the discipline in which you are writing, however, is that “evidence” NEVER speaks for itself—you must integrate it into your own argument or claim and demonstrate that the evidence supports your thesis. In addition, be alert to evidence that seems to contradict your claims or offers a counterargument to it: rebutting that counterargument can be powerful evidence for your claim. You can also make evidence that isn’t  there  an integral part of your argument, too. If you can’t find the evidence you think you need, ask yourself why it seems to be lacking, or if its absence adds a new dimension to your thinking about the topic. Remember,  evidence  is not the piling up of facts or quotes: evidence is only one component of a strong, well supported, well argued, and well written composition.

Evaluating Evidence

Two resource videos to help evaluate sources for academic essays:

CSN Library: ENG 101: Evaluate Your Sources

CRAAP Test for Evaluating Sources

8.3 Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments Copyright © 2022 by Angela Spires; Brendan Shapiro; Geoffrey Kenmuir; Kimberly Kohl; and Linda Gannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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3.4: What are the Different Types of Argument in Writing?

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Throughout this chapter, you have studied the definition of argument, parts of argument, and how to use logic in argument. This section brings all of the previous material together and tackles arguments in writing. Foremost on most students’ minds when taking college composition courses is this question: “How do I write an argument paper?” The answer is not a simple one because, as mentioned previously, arguments come in a variety of packages. This means that written arguments–whether in essay or some other form–also come in many different types.

Arguments of the Rhetorical Modes

Most arguments involve one or more of the rhetorical modes . Once again, rhetoric is the study and application of effective writing techniques. There are a number of standard rhetorical modes of writing—structural and analytical models that can be used effectively to suit different writing situations. The rhetorical modes include, but are not limited to, narrative, description, process analysis, illustration and exemplification, cause and effect, comparison, definition, persuasion, and classification. These modes will be covered in detail in Chapter 5, “Rhetorical Modes.” They are mentioned here, however, to make clear that any and all rhetorical modes can be used to pursue an argument. In fact, most professors will insist upon it.

Remember that when writing arguments, always be mindful of the point of view you should use. Most academic arguments should be pursued using third person. For more on this issue, see Chapter 4, “The Writing Process.”

Arguments of Persuasion

One of the most common forms of argument is that of persuasion , and often standardized tests, like the SOL, will provide writing prompts for persuasive arguments. On some level, all arguments have a persuasive element because the goal of the argument is to persuade the reader to take the writer’s claim seriously. Many arguments, however, exist primarily to introduce new research and interpretation whereas persuasive arguments expressly operate to change someone’s mind about an issue or a person.

A common type of persuasive essay is an Op-Ed article . Included in the opinion section of a newspaper, these articles are more appropriately called argument essays because most authors strive not only to make explicit claims but also to support their claims, sometimes even with researched evidence. These articles are often well-designed persuasive essays, written to convince readers of the writer’s way of thinking.

In addition to essays, other forms of persuasive writing exist. One common and important example is the job letter , where you must persuade others to believe in your merits as a worker and performer so that you might be hired.

In a persuasive essay, you should be sure to do the following:

  • Clearly articulate your claim and the main reasons for it. Avoid forming a thesis based on a negative claim. For example, “The hourly minimum wage is not high enough for the average worker to live on.” This is probably a true statement, but persuasive arguments should make a positive case because a negative is hard to prove. That is, the thesis statement should focus on how the hourly minimum wage is too low or insufficient.
  • Anticipate and address counterarguments. Think about your audience and the counterarguments they would mostly likely have. Acknowledging points of view different from your own also has the effect of fostering more credibility between you and the audience. They know from the outset that you are aware of opposing ideas and that you are not afraid to give them space.
  • Make sure your support comes in many different forms. Use logical reasoning and the rhetorical appeals, but also strive for concrete examples from your own experience and from society.
  • Keep your tone courteous, but avoid being obsequious. In other words, shamelessly appealing to your readers’ vanity will likely ring false. Aim for respectful honesty.
  • Avoid the urge to win the argument. On some level, we all want to be right, and we want others to see the error of their ways. More times than not, however, arguments in which both sides try to win end up producing losers all around. The more productive approach is to persuade your audience to consider your claim as a sound one, not simply the right one.

Because argument writing is designed to convince readers of an idea they may not have known before or a side of an issue they may not agree with, you must think carefully about the attitude you wish to convey as you advance your argument. The overall attitude of a piece of writing is its tone , and it comes from the words you choose (for more on the importance of word choice, see Chapter 10, “Working with Words”) In argument writing, strive for the following:

  • Confidence —The reader needs to know that you believe in what you say, so be confident. Avoid hedgy and apologetic language. However, be careful not to cross the line from confidence to overconfidence. Arrogance can rebuff your readers, even if they agree with you.
  • Neutrality —While you may advocate for one side or way of thinking, you still must demonstrate that you are being as objective as you can in your analysis and assessment. Avoid loaded terms, buzzwords, and overly emotional language.
  • Courtesy and fairn ess—Particularly when dealing with any counterarguments, you want your tone to reveal that you have given other points of view due consideration. Avoid being smug, snide, or harshly dismissive of other ideas.

Sample Writing Assignment 1

Find an Op-Ed article from one of the major US newspapers: The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , The Washington Post , The Boston Globe , or the LA Times . Then, do the following:

  • Prewriting Work: Read the article carefully, taking notes or annotating it. Be sure to find the main argument and map the support used by the author, i.e., how the author is trying to persuade you. Note any use of rhetorical appeals, expert testimony, and research. (For tips about note-taking and annotating reading material, see Chapter 1for a review of the rhetorical appeals, seeChapter 2.
  • Write a paragraph summary of the article. Include the main argument and its support. Explain the different types of support used by the author (rhetorical appeals, expert testimony, and research).
  • In a paragraph, devise and explain your own counterargument(s) to the author’s thesis.
  • In a paragraph, explain what kind of support you would use for your counterargument. What rhetorical appeals would you use? What experts might you call on? Do you think you would need to do research and if so, on what?

Sample Writing Assignment 2

Write a job letter. As you design it, be sure to do the following:

  • Use formal letter format. Be sure to include these elements: your address, the address of the job you’re applying to (or the department you are applying to), the date you send the letter, a greeting, the letter content in coherent paragraphs (single-spaced paragraphs with a double space in between paragraphs), a sign off, any additional information (your phone and/or email address). For some visual examples of what this would look like, do a Google image search for “job letter format.”
  • Prewriting Work 1: Imagine a job you would like to apply for. Ask yourself the following questions and brainstorm answers to them: “What skills would I need to have for this job, and which of those skills do I have?” “What educational background would be required, and can I show that I fulfill the requirements?” “What experience might the hiring committee want to me to have, and do I have any experience that would be relevant?”
  • Prewriting Work 2: Take the notes you have come up with and add as many specific details as you can. If you believe you do have relevant skills, what are they, specifically? Where did you get those skills, specifically? How long have you had those skills, specifically? Do you have examples where you have shown excellence with those skills, specifically?
  • Drafting: Shape your details into three paragraphs organized by issue: skills, education, and experience. Be specific, include a couple examples per paragraph, and be succinct in your delivery.
  • Proofread carefully. First of all, excellent sentence composition, punctuation, and spelling communicate your seriousness to those who might hire you. Mistakes make you look sloppy and make it easy for them to toss your letter on the rejection pile. Second, watch word choice. Choose specific over general words as much as possible (you say you are a hard worker, but what does that mean, practically speaking?). Make sure you avoid clichés and overly gushy sentiment (“I’m passionate about people!”). Finally, proofread for tone. Strive for courteousness and objectivity. Make it seem like you are being objective about your own abilities.

Arguments of Evaluation

If you have ever answered a question about your personal take on a book or movie or television show or piece of music, you have given a review . Most times, these reviews are somewhat hasty and based on initial or shallow impressions. However, if you give thought to your review, if you explain more carefully what you liked or didn’t like and why, if you bring in specific examples to back up your points, then you have moved on to an argument of evaluation. Reviews of film, books, music, food, and other aspects of taste and culture represent the most familiar type of argument of evaluation. The main objective of an argument of evaluation is to render a critical judgment on the merits of something.

Another common argument of evaluation is the performance review . If you have ever held a job, you know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such a review; your timeliness and productivity and attitude are scrutinized to determine if you have been a good worker or need to worry about looking for another job. If you are in any sort of supervisory position, you will be the one writing and delivering those reviews, and your own supervisor will want to know that you have logical justification and evidence for your judgements.

For all types of reviews or evaluation arguments, make sure to plan for the following:

  • Declare your overall judgment of the subject under review—good, bad, or somewhere in between. This is your conclusion or thesis.
  • Lay out the criteria for your judgment. In other words, your review must be based on logical criteria—i.e., the standards by which you evaluate something. For example, if you are reviewing a film, reasonable criteria would include acting, writing, storytelling, directing, cinematography, music, and special effects. If you are evaluating an employee, that criteria will change and more likely involve punctuality, aspects of job performance, and overall attitude on the job.
  • Make sure to evaluate each criteria and provide evidence. Draw your evidence from what you are reviewing, and use as many specific examples as you can. In a movie review in which you think the acting quality was top notch, give examples of a particular style that worked well or lines delivered effectively or emotions realistically conveyed.
  • Use concrete language. A review is only an argument if we can reasonably see—from examples and your explanations—how you arrived at your judgment. Vague or circular language (“I liked it because it was just really good!”) will keep your evaluation at the opinion level only, preventing it from being taken seriously as an argument.
  • Keep the tone respectful—even if you ultimately did not like the subject of your review. Be as objective as you can when giving your reasons. Insulting language detracts from the seriousness of your analysis and makes your points look like personal attacks.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert (1942-2013), a movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times , was once one of the most famous movie critics in America. His reviews provide excellent examples of the argument of evaluation.

Consider his review( https://tinyurl.com/y82ylaav ) of the 2009 film Avatar and note how clearly he declares his judgments, how he makes his reader aware of just what standards he uses for judgement (his criteria), and how he uses a wealth of examples and reasons to back his critiques (although he is careful to avoid spoilers, the review went to print as the movie was coming out).

Sample Writing Assignment 3

Write a brief review of your first job. How would you rate that experience, and what would your rating be based on?

  • Declare your overall judgment of your job experience. This is your main claim.
  • Come up with at least four criteria for evaluation. Give your judgment for each criteria. Include at least two specific examples to support each evaluation, and explain the logic of your support.
  • Proofread for tone, making sure to look for any words that would cause a reader to think your critique was unfair or hostile. For example, even if you loathed your first job, treat it dispassionately, like you are a social scientist putting that work experience under a microscope. (This might allow you to say, for example, that although the job was dull and repetitive, it gave you some useful experience.)

Sample Writing Assignment 4

Evaluate a source that you plan to use for a research project. Explain what type of source you have (website? journal article? book? newspaper article?), and declare your source to be credible or not, using the following criteria:

  • Author’s credentials. First of all, are the authors named? Can you find out anything about them, like degrees and professional information? If you cannot find anything, how does that affect credibility? If you can find information, how does that information show credibility or lack of it?
  • Publication information and process. Was the article or book peer reviewed? Was it online or in print? Did you find it through a database or a Google search? Who funded publication? Explain what the results of these questions tell you about the source’s credibility.
  • The use of support. Does the source have footnotes or endnotes? A bibliography? Links to different articles? In other words, how carefully is the author trying to back up his or her claims?

Arguments of Fact and Explanation

In the beginning of this chapter, arguments were shown to be distinct from facts. Facts are not arguable, they do not have “two sides,” and they are not up for debate. However, as we well know, people disagree with facts all the time. We wouldn’t have a nonsense term like “alternative facts” otherwise. We do, however, have arguments that deal with this scenario: arguments of fact and explanation . Arguments of fact seek to establish, often in the face of doubters, that a fact is indeed true. Arguments of explanation establish why that fact is true. Not surprisingly, these arguments often go hand in hand, and they lie primarily in the domain of the research paper. For more detail on the research process, refer to Chapter 6, “Research ” ; this section will clarify these two types of argument.

Arguments of Fact : Many times, the goal of giving an argument is simply to establish that the conclusion is true. For example, to convince someone that obesity rates are rising in the US, the writer should cite evidence such as studies from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The studies cited would function as premises for the conclusion that obesity rates are rising:

Obesity is on the rise in the US because multiple studies carried out by the CDC and NIH have consistently shown a rise in obesity over the last four decades.

Putting this simple argument into standard form would look like this:

  • Multiple studies by the CDC and NIH have consistently shown a rise in obesity over the last four decades. ( premises )
  • Therefore, obesity is on the rise in the US. ( conclusion )

The standard form argument clearly distinguishes the premise from the conclusion and shows how the conclusion is supposed to be supported by the evidence offered in the premise. Again, the goal of this simple argument would be to convince someone that the conclusion is true . However, sometimes we already know that a statement or claim is true, and we are trying to establish why it is true rather than that it is true.

Arguments of Explanation : An argument that attempts to show why its conclusion is true is an explanation. Contrast the previous example with the following:

The reason that the rate of obesity is on the rise in the US is that the foods we most often consume over the past four decades have increasingly contained high levels of sugar and low levels of dietary fiber. Because eating foods high in sugar and low in fiber triggers the insulin system to start storing those calories as fat, it follows that people who consume foods high in sugar and low in fiber will tend to store more of the calories consumed as fat.

This passage gives an explanation for why obesity is on the rise in the US. Unlike the earlier example, here it is taken for granted that obesity is on the rise in the US. That is the claim whose truth the author must explain. The obesity explanation can also be put into standard form just like any other argument:

  • Over the past four decades, Americans have increasingly consumed foods high in sugar and low in fiber. ( premise )
  • Consuming foods high in sugar and low in fat triggers the insulin system to start storing those calories as fat. ( premise )
  • When people store more calories as fat, they tend to become obese. ( premise )
  • Therefore, the rate of obesity is on the rise in the US. ( conclusion )

Notice that in this explanation, the premises (1-3) attempt to explain why the conclusion is true, rather than a reason for thinking that the conclusion is true. That is, in an argument of explanation, we assume that what we are trying to explain (i.e., the conclusion) is true. In this case, the premises are supposed to show why we should expect or predict that the conclusion is true. Explanations often give us an understanding of why the conclusion is true.

Arguments of Interpretation

Arguments of interpretation come mainly in the form of critical analysis writing. Scholars and students use critical analysis to understand a text more deeply; therefore, it is common in disciplines in which texts are the main objects of study—literature, philosophy, and history. However, we can also think of critical analysis as any analysis where someone takes raw data—from texts, from objects and images, from laboratory experiments, from surveys of people—and analyzes that data to come up with what they mean. The “what it all means” is an interpretation . The argument in critical analysis writing is the interpretation of the data. This must be a logical interpretation with the data also used to support the interpretation through reasoning and examples.

The guidelines for analyzing data are determined by the experts in those areas. Scholars of the life, earth, and physical sciences; the social sciences; and the humanities gather all sorts of different data. When writing up an interpretation of that data, writers and researchers should follow the models and standards provided by experts in those fields of study. In college, professors are important sources of these models and standards.

In the humanities, particularly in literature, there are generally four ways (or perspectives) for analyzing a text: writing from the perspective of a reader , writing as if the text were an object of study , writing about or from the perspective of an author , and writing about where a text fits into a particular context .

From Analysis to Argument part 1

Rogerian Argument

The Rogerian argument, inspired by the influential psychologist Carl Rogers, aims to find compromise or common ground about an issue. If, as stated in the beginning of the chapter, academic or rhetorical argument is not merely a two-sided debate that seeks a winner and a loser, the Rogerian argument model provides a structured way to move beyond the win-lose mindset. Indeed, the Rogerian model can be employed to deal effectively with controversial arguments that have been reduced to two opposing points of view by forcing the writer to confront opposing ideas and then work towards a common understanding with those who might disagree.

Carl Ransom Rogers

The following are the basic parts of a Rogerian Argument:

1. Introduction : Introduce the issue under scrutiny in a non-confrontational way. Be sure to outline the main sides in the debate. Though there are always more than two sides to a debate, Rogerian arguments put two in stark opposition to one another. Crucially, be sure to indicate the overall purpose of the essay: to come to a compromise about the issue at hand. If this intent is not stated up front, the reader may be confused or even suspect manipulation on the part of the writer, i.e., that the writer is massaging the audience just to win a fight. Be advised that the Rogerian essay uses an inductive reasoning structure, so do not include your thesis in your introduction. You will build toward the thesis and then include it in your conclusion. Once again, state the intent to compromise, but do not yet state what the compromise is.

2. Side A : Carefully map out the main claim and reasoning for the opposing side of the argument first. The writer’s view should never really come first because that would defeat the purpose of what Rogers called empathetic listening , which guides the overall approach to this type of argument. By allowing the opposing argument to come first, you communicate to the reader that you are willing to respectfully consider another’s view on the issue. Furthermore, you invite the reader to then give you the same respect and consideration when presenting your own view. Finally, presenting the opposition first can help those readers who would side against you to ease into the essay, keeping them invested in the project. If you present your own ideas first, you risk polarizing those readers from the start, which would then make them less amenable to considering a compromise by the end of the essay. You can listen to Carl Rogers himself discuss the importance of empathy onYouTube( https://youtu.be/2dLsgpHw5x0 , transcript here ).

3. Side B : Carefully go over your side of the argument. When mapping out this side’s claim and support, be sure that it parallels that of Side A. In other words, make sure not to raise entirely new categories of support, or there can be no way to come to a compromise. Make sure to maintain a non-confrontational tone; for example, avoid appearing arrogant, sarcastic, or smug.

4. The Bridge : A solid Rogerian argument acknowledges the desires of each side and tries to accommodate both. In this part, point out the ways in which you agree or can find common ground between the two sides. There should be at least one point of agreement. This can be an acknowledgement of the one part of the opposition’s agreement that you also support or an admittance to a shared set of values even if the two sides come to different ideas when employing those values. This phase of the essay is crucial for two reasons: finding common ground (1) shows the audience the two views are not necessarily at complete odds, that they share more than they seem, and (2) sets up the compromise to come, making it easier to digest for all parties. Thus, this section builds a bridge from the two initial isolated and opposite views to a compromise that both sides can reasonably support.

5. The Compromise : Now is the time to finally announce your compromise, which is your thesis. The compromise is what the essay has been building towards all along, so explain it carefully and demonstrate the logic of it. For example, if debating about whether to use racial profiling, a compromise might be based on both sides’ desire for a safer society. That shared value can then lead to a new claim, one that disarms the original dispute or set of disputes. For the racial profiling example, perhaps a better solution would focus on more objective measures than race that would then promote safety in a less problematic way.

Rogerian Argument

Sample Writing Assignment 5

Find a controversial topic, and begin building a Rogerian argument. Write up your responses to the following:

  • The topic or dilemma I will write about is…
  • My opposing audience is…
  • My audience’s view on the topic is…
  • My view on the topic is…
  • Our common ground–shared values or something that we both already agree on about the topic–is…
  • My compromise (the main claim or potential thesis) is…

The Toulmin Argument Model

Stephen Edelston Toulmin (born March 25, 1922) was a British philosopher, author, and educator. Toulmin devoted his works to analyzing moral reasoning. He sought to develop practical ways to evaluate ethical arguments effectively. The Toulmin Model of Argumentation, a diagram containing six interrelated components, was considered Toulmin’s most influential work, particularly in the fields of rhetoric, communication, and computer science. His components continue to provide useful means for analyzing arguments, and the terms involved can be added to those defined in earlier sections of this chapter.

Toulmin Argument Model

The following are the parts of a Toulmin argument:

1. Claim : The claim is a statement that you are asking the other person to accept as true (i.e., a conclusion) and forms the nexus of the Toulmin argument because all the other parts relate back to the claim. The claim can include information and ideas you are asking readers to accept as true or actions you want them to accept and enact. One example of a claim:

My grandfather should wear a hearing aid.

This claim both asks the reader to believe an idea and suggests an action to enact. However, like all claims, it can be challenged. Thus, a Toulmin argument does not end with a claim but also includes grounds and warrant to give support and reasoning to the claim.

2. Grounds : The grounds form the basis of real persuasion and includes the reasoning behind the claim, data, and proof of expertise. Think of grounds as a combination of premises and support . The truth of the claim rests upon the grounds, so those grounds should be tested for strength, credibility, relevance, and reliability. The following are examples of grounds:

Over 70% of all people over 65 years have a hearing difficulty.

Hearing aids raise hearing quality.

Information is usually a powerful element of persuasion, although it does affect people differently. Those who are dogmatic, logical, or rational will more likely be persuaded by factual data. Those who argue emotionally and who are highly invested in their own position will challenge it or otherwise try to ignore it. Thus, grounds can also include appeals to emotion, provided they aren’t misused. The best arguments, however, use a variety of support and rhetorical appeals.

3. Warrant : A warrant links data and other grounds to a claim, legitimizing the claim by showing the grounds to be relevant . The warrant may be carefully explained and explicit or unspoken and implicit. The warrant answers the question, “Why does that data mean your claim is true?” For example,

A hearing aid helps most people hear better.

The warrant may be simple, and it may also be a longer argument with additional sub-elements including those described below. Warrants may be based on logos , ethos or pathos , or values that are assumed to be shared with the listener. In many arguments, warrants are often implicit and, hence, unstated. This gives space for the other person to question and expose the warrant, perhaps to show it is weak or unfounded.

4. Backing : The backing for an argument gives additional support to the warrant. Backing can be confused with grounds, but the main difference is this: Grounds should directly support the premises of the main argument itself, while backing exists to help the warrants make more sense. For example,

Hearing aids are available locally.

This statement works as backing because it gives credence to the warrant stated above, that a hearing aid will help most people hear better. The fact that hearing aids are readily available makes the warrant even more reasonable.

5. Qualifier : The qualifier indicates how the data justifies the warrant and may limit how universally the claim applies. The necessity of qualifying words comes from the plain fact that most absolute claims are ultimately false (all women want to be mothers, e.g.) because one counterexample sinks them immediately. Thus, most arguments need some sort of qualifier, words that temper an absolute claim and make it more reasonable. Common qualifiers include “most,” “usually,” “always,” or “sometimes.” For example,

Hearing aids help most people.

The qualifier “most” here allows for the reasonable understanding that rarely does one thing (a hearing aid) universally benefit all people. Another variant is the reservation, which may give the possibility of the claim being incorrect:

Unless there is evidence to the contrary, hearing aids do no harm to ears.

Qualifiers and reservations can be used to bolster weak arguments, so it is important to recognize them. They are often used by advertisers who are constrained not to lie. Thus, they slip “usually,” “virtually,” “unless,” and so on into their claims to protect against liability. While this may seem like sneaky practice, and it can be for some advertisers, it is important to note that the use of qualifiers and reservations can be a useful and legitimate part of an argument.

6. Rebuttal : Despite the careful construction of the argument, there may still be counterarguments that can be used. These may be rebutted either through a continued dialogue, or by pre-empting the counter-argument by giving the rebuttal during the initial presentation of the argument. For example, if you anticipated a counterargument that hearing aids, as a technology, may be fraught with technical difficulties, you would include a rebuttal to deal with that counterargument:

There is a support desk that deals with technical problems.

Any rebuttal is an argument in itself, and thus may include a claim, warrant, backing, and the other parts of the Toulmin structure.

Even if you do not wish to write an essay using strict Toulmin structure, using the Toulmin checklist can make an argument stronger. When first proposed, Toulmin based his layout on legal arguments, intending it to be used analyzing arguments typically found in the courtroom; in fact, Toulmin did not realize that this layout would be applicable to other fields until later. The first three elements–“claim,” “grounds,” and “warrant”–are considered the essential components of practical arguments, while the last three—“qualifier,” “backing,” and “rebuttal”—may not be necessary for all arguments.

Find an argument in essay form and diagram it using the Toulmin model. The argument can come from an Op-Ed article in a newspaper or a magazine think piece or a scholarly journal. See if you can find all six elements of the Toulmin argument. Use the structure above to diagram your article’s argument.

Key Takeaways: Types of Argument

  • Arguments in the Rhetorical Modes —models of writing that can be used for an argument, including the rhetorical modes: narration, comparison, causal analysis, process, description, definition, classification, and exemplification.
  • Arguments of Persuasion —used to change someone’s thinking on a topic or person.
  • Arguments of Evaluation —critical reviews based on logical evaluation of criteria and evidence for that evaluation.
  • Arguments of Fact and Explanation —establishes that a fact is true (the former) or why it is true (the latter).
  • Arguments of Interpretation —critical analysis writing in which one makes an argument about what data mean. Data can come from texts, objects, surveys, and scientific experiments.
  • The Rogerian Argument Model —an argument model designed to bring about consensus and mutual understanding rather than conflict.
  • Toulmin’s Argument Model —six interrelated components used to diagram an argument, drawn from both rhetorical and academic argument.

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What are the Different Types of Argumentative Essays? (Answered)

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by  Antony W

April 7, 2022

types of argumentative essays

Argumentative writing is by far one of the moist common types of essay assignments that you’ll have to complete in college.

It requires you to look at an issue, present each side of the issue, but make a strong case for one side in particular.

We’ve covered quite a lot on argumentative essay writing already.

Our goal with this guide is to give you more insight on the different types of argumentative essays, which your instructor may ask you to base your assignment on.

What are the Main Types of Argumentative Essays?

There are three types of argumentative essay that your instructor may require you to make. 

These are as follows:

1. Classical Argumentative Essay

Developed by Aristotle , a classical argument convinces a reader to look into a specific point of view.

In an argumentative essay, the classical model requires you to look into both sides of an argument. As you analyze each side, you’ll pick one and use clear authenticity academic and statistical evidence to prove it right.

A classical argument doesn’t require you to prove if something is factual or otherwise. Instead, it invites the utilization of authenticity, emotion, time and logic to persuade an audience to agree with your point of view and accept your side on an issue.

The elements of a classical argument include an introduction to the essay, a presentation of your perspective on a claim, an explanation for and against the other side of the argument, evidence that your claim is true, and an overall conclusion.

Parts of a Classical Argument in an Argumentative Essay

A classical argumentative essay has five parts.


Center the introduction on the subject of the argument . Make sure you provide sufficient background information to create awareness of the problem you’d like to address in the essay.

More importantly, the introduction should communicate your specific position on a claim. 

And don’t forget to write a thesis statement for the argument as you close up this section.

The Confirmation

Your audience expects more than just a reason to accept your side of the argument. Using both artistic and inartistic arguments to support your position can be enough to meet the expectation of the kind of proof your audience needs.

If your audience must consider your position, you must present arguments that support your thesis in a way that will get them to agree with your claim(s).

As you provide your artistic and inartistic proof to defend your side, try to focus on the evidence that they can respond well to.

The Concession/Refutation

This is a two-part section where you have to agree and counter argue the subject under discussion.

For concession, include points that will draw your audience’s attention and make them want to listen to you. Only make sure the points you provide don’t come close to weakening your own side of the argument.

To make a solid concession, you’ll have to implement pathos and ethos to create a conducive environment for not only listening but also learning.

For refutation , use facts, reasons, and even testimony to show that the opposing points are inaccurate or based on insufficient evidence. 

The Conclusion

A classical argument without a good conclusion, or no conclusion at all, isn’t going to be nearly as helpful. It makes sense to learn how to conclude an argument so that you can do it properly.

To be clear, the conclusion isn’t the section to restate the thesis or repeat your topic sentence. Rather, your focus should be on answering the "so what" question without introducing a new topic to the argument.

You may have to spend some time in this section before you come up with a relevant conclusion for the classical argument.

2. Rogerian Argumentative Essay

Named after the famous American psychologist, Carl Rogers , the Rogerian type of argument is the ideal structure to use if you want to discuss the most controversial subjects.

Using this approach, you can easily discuss sensitive matters and get the audience to agree with or against your position without creating an environment for hostility.

This type of argument seeks to present an issue in a respectful way and find a compromise without hurting any person’s emotions.

Unlike with the middle ground argument, the Rogerian presents an optimal position for the opposing side and, at the same time, finds a compromise that both parties can agree with.

The Rogerian argument has a structure that’s completely different from the classical argument.

The outline should highlight the following sections:

  • The Introduction : give your audience a reason to care about the subject in question
  • Opposing view : give a summary of the opposing view, making sure you clearly cover why the audience care about the subject.
  • Your position’s statement : make your audience understand why you care about the issue you wish to discuss in the subject
  • Resolution : should consider all sides, try to give objective suggestions on what you think should be done to resolve the issue at hand 

3. Toulmin Argumentative Essay

With the Toulmin approach, you’ll break your arguments into claims, backing, rebuttal, grounds, warrant and qualifier.

You’ll start with the primary argument, provide factual evidence to support the claim, and then link a warrant to the claim in question.

While backing, rebuttal, and qualifier elements aren’t quite common in the Toulmin argument, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important. You’re free to add them when and if necessary.

Do keep in mind that by using these elements fully, with claim, grounds, and warrant being the most significant options to focus on, you can easily come up with a well-constructed argument that your audience will easily agree with.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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Types of Essays

Feb 22, 2024

Essays can vary widely in their purpose, style, and content. Here are some common types of essays:

  • Descriptive
  • Argumentative
  • Cause and effect essays
  • Compare and contrast essays
  • Definition essays
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical essays
  • Rhetorical analysis
  • Literary analysis
  • Five-paragraph essay

Let’s explain each of them.

1. Descriptive Essay

“A descriptive essay is a type of essay that aims to create a vivid and detailed picture of a person, place, object, event, or experience for the reader.”

Read more at Purdue University .

Key Elements of Descriptive Essay:

  • Detailed description: It should efficiently describe all the details about the person, place, event, or object that is being described. 
  • Sensory details: It is essential to have a touch of all five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing) for an immersive reader experience. 
  • Organization: Format the essay in a spatial or chronological order to guide the readers smoothly. 
  • Figurative language: Must contain figures of speech such as similes, metaphors, and personification to add depth to the essay.
  • Emotional connection or impact: A descriptive essay aims to evoke emotions or convey a particular mood or atmosphere.
  • Strong intro & conclusion : Always starts with a hook and ends with a strong yet concise overview of the entire essay to leave a long-lasting impression. 

Examples of Descriptive Essays:  

Essay 1: “ The Necklace " by Guy de Maupassant is a perfect example of a descriptive essay. It discusses the story of a middle-class woman named “ Mathilde Loisel ” who longs for a wealthy lifestyle. 

Essay 2: “ The Old Man and the Sea " by Ernest Hemingway : It is a descriptive novel about a Cuban fisherman named “ Santiago ” who thinks he is too unlucky as he hasn’t caught a single for around 84 days. But in the end, he catches a “ big shark ” on his own.

2. Narrative Essay:

“A narrative essay is a piece of art that focuses on storytelling and describing a personal experience, fictional events, or even historical narratives.”

Get more info about narrative essay at Study.com .

Key Elements of Narrative Essay:

  • Plot: It should have a clear yet engaging plot that includes the sequence of events that make up the story.
  • Characters: Must contain characters that can either refer to the writer or other individuals that are involved in the story. 
  • Settings: The essay should establish a vivid yet immersive setting that reflects the atmosphere and mood of your story.
  • Conflict: A conflict either internet or external is essential in a narrative essay. This is because it creates drives the arguments/story forward.
  • Storytelling: Use a clear and engaging narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end that propels the reader forward.
  • Theme: It should efficiently explore a deeper meaning or theme. This could be about human nature, relationships, societal issues, or any other thought-provoking concept.
  • Sensory details: The narrative essay must engage the reader's senses through vivid descriptions of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. 

Examples of Narrative Essays:

Essay 1: “ The Lottery " by Shirley Jackson can be taken as an excellent example of a narrative essay. It describes a small town gathering to hold a yearly lottery festival. But instead of winning money, the " winner " gets stoned by the whole community. That's the shocking twist in "The Lottery," where a seemingly normal tradition masks a disturbing hidden practice

Essay 2: “ The Things They Carried " by Tim O'Brien. Here the writer describes the emotional and psychological impact of the Vietnam War on young American soldiers.

3. Argumentative Essay

“An argumentative essay is one that efficiently explains the opinions about both sides of an issue. It aims to persuade the reader to agree with a particular viewpoint by presenting evidence, reasoning, and counterarguments.”

Check Argumentative Essay guide by University of Toledo

Key Elements of Argumentative Essay:

  • Clear thesis statement: The essay should start with a clear and concise thesis statement that presents the writer's position on the topic and the main arguments they will use to support it.
  • Evidence support: It should contain facts, statistics, expert opinions, research, and examples to back up the claims and strengthen the argument. 
  • Counterarguments: Briefly mention and refute opposing arguments to demonstrate the strength of your own.
  • Logical structure: All the arguments should be structured properly so that readers can easily go through them. 
  • Formal language: Academic tone and style are maintained, avoiding informal language and emotional appeals.

 Examples of Argumentative Essays:

Essay 1: “ Should Everyone Go to College? ” is an example of an argumentative essay in which the writer has efficiently described the arguments to address the main question. 

Essay 2: “ Performance Enhancements Through Biotechnology Has No Place in Sports ” discusses that athletes use performance-enhancing substances especially biotechnologies like gene therapy. 

4. Persuasive Essay

“A persuasive essay aims to persuade the reader to adopt your point of view on a particular issue through arguments and evidence.”

Visit 11trees to get more info. 

Key Elements of Persuasive Essay

  • Compelling thesis statement: It states the specific opinion or belief that the writer wants the reader to adopt engagingly and attractively.
  • Credible evidence & sources : Should contain accurate statistics, and expert opinions to strengthen your claims and build trust with the reader.
  • Appeal to emotions: The essay must evoke feelings like concern, hope, fear, or excitement to influence the reader's perspective.
  • Formal or informal language: Can have a more relaxed and engaging tone compared to the formal style of argumentative essays.
  • Proper structure or format: To persuade and engage the readers, the persuasive essay should be formatted or structured properly. 
  • Call to action: Although this is not necessary, many persuasive essays contain Call-to-action (CTA) encouraging the readers to take some kind of action. 

Examples of Persuasive Essays:

Essay 1: “ Why Students Should Eat Breakfast Every day . ” In this essay sample, the writer has tried to convince the students about the importance of breakfast every day by addressing multiple reasons. 

Essay 2: “ How Does Outdoor Exercises Impact Our Health & Well Being ” is another good example of a persuasive essay. The writer has provided four reasons about how outdoor exercises can contribute to better health. 

5. Cause and Effect Essays

“A cause-and-effect essay explores the connections between events or situations. It aims to explain how a specific cause leads to a particular effect or, conversely, how an effect can be traced back to its various causes.”

You check detailed instructions and guides on “Cause and Effect Essays” at Excelsior University .

Key Elements of Cause & Effect Essays:

  • Type: The essay either can be “ Cause focused ’’ or “ Effect focused ” or both. 
  • Thesis statement: This should start with a clear thesis statement that efficiently presents the main cause-and-effect relationship being explored.
  • Evidence and examples: The essay should provide evidence and examples to support the cause-and-effect relationship being discussed.
  • Logical organization: It should be organized in such a logical way that makes the relationship between causes and effects clear to the reader.
  • Inclusion of transitional words: The essay must contain transitional words and phrases because these will give the readers a feel that each cause and effect is properly connected with each other. 
  • Analysis & Interpretation: Include analysis and interpretation to efficiently explain the causes and effects that are being described. 
  • Conclusion: Should have a concise conclusion explaining causes and effects while referring to the thesis statement. 

Examples of Cause-and-Effect Essays:

Essay 1: “ The Effect of Divorce on Children .” This was written by a student in which he/she has discussed both positive and negative consequences of divorce on children. 

Essay 2: “ The Causes of Air Pollution ” is another good example in which the writer has explained some of the major causes or sources of air pollution. 

6. Compare and Contrast Essays

“A compare and contrast essay analyzes two or more subjects, highlighting their similarities and differences to provide a deeper understanding of each.”

Visit Del Mar College for more information. 

Key Elements of Compare & Contrast Essays:

  • Focus: It is always written on two subjects that can be meaningfully compared and contrasted, avoiding vague or unrelated topics.
  • Clear thesis statement: Always start with a clear thesis statement that identifies the subjects being compared and contrasted and presents the main points of comparison or contrast.
  • Strong structure: The essay should compare or contrast both subjects using a strong structure like point-by-point or subject-by-subject. 
  • Evidence & examples: Must contain evidence and examples to support the comparisons and contrasts.
  • Fairness & balance: The essay should acknowledge both the similarities and differences of the subjects, instead of just favoring one. 
  • Use of transitional words & phrases: The inclusion of transition words and phrases will make it easier for the readers to efficiently go through the analysis. 
  • Effective conclusion: It must have a conclusion that efficiently summarizes the main points of comparison or contrast while also reinforcing the thesis statement.

Example of Compare and Contrast Essays:

Essay 1: “ The Senate & the House of Representatives (Page 4) ” is a perfect example of a compare and contrast essay as it efficiently highlights both the differences and similarities between “ Senate ” and “ The House of Representatives. ”

7. Definition Essays

“A definition essay is a type of essay that defines and explains the meaning of a particular term, concept, or idea.”

For more: https://paradisevalley.libguides.com/ENG102/definition_essay

Key Elements of Definition Essays:

  • Clear and concise definition: It provides a simple yet short definition for the term, idea, or topic that is being addressed. 
  • Explanation & interpretation: The essay must explain or interpret the main topic in complete detail, providing insights into its origin, history, usage, and significance.
  • Examples & illustrations: Examples and illustrations can help to clarify and reinforce the definition of the chosen topic.
  • Structure or organization: It should follow a logical and clear structure, typically beginning with a definition, exploring different aspects, and concluding with a final thought.
  • Language & delivery: A definition essay is always written in a clear and engaging writing style, instead of technical or complex language. 

Examples of Definition Essays:

Essay 1: “ What is trust ” is an example of a definition essay in which the writer has efficiently described the meaning and the concept behind the word “ Trust .”

Essay 2: “ Definition of Cultural Romance ” is another excellent example of a definition essay.

8. Process Essay

“A process essay explains the step-by-step explanation of how something is done or how something works. It provides a clear and informative guide for readers who want to understand or undertake the process themselves.”

Read more about process essays at Lumen Learning .

Key Elements of Process Essay:

  • A clear purpose: It is always written on a topic that has well-defined steps that can be logically explained to the audience. 
  • Break-down of step-by-step instructions: Obviously, the essay should explain step-by-step instructions for completing the process being described.
  • A list of materials, equipment, or ingredients: It should highlight the use of necessary materials, equipment, or ingredients for the efficient completion of the task. 
  • Use of clear and concise: Using clear & concise is necessary during the step-by-step procedure for ease of understanding of the readers. 
  • Chronological order: Each step mentioned in a process essay should relate to the previous one. 
  • Visuals: Depending on the process complexity, the essay can include visuals such as tables, charts, and diagrams for ease of understanding. 
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should concisely wrap the entire essay while sticking to the main idea. 

Examples of Process Essay:

Essay 1: “ How to live a Happy Life ” in this process essay example, the writer has explained multiple that readers can consider following to live a happy life. 

9. Reflective Essay

“A reflective essay is an academic essay where you explore a past experience, event, or situation and analyze how it impacted your thoughts, feelings, and overall understanding of yourself and the world.”

More help on “what is Reflective Essay and how to write” at Australian College of Applied Professions

Key Elements of Reflective Essay:

  • Meaningful personal experience: Reflective essays always revolve around personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
  • Compelling thesis statement : It always starts with compelling yet emotional thesis statements to engage the readers. 
  • Description of the experience: Provides a detailed description of the experience being reflected upon, including the context, setting, and events that occurred.
  • Deep analysis & interpretation: A reflective essay goes beyond superficial descriptions. It efficiently explores and explains the thoughts, feelings, and motivations before, during, and after the experience.
  • Connection to universal themes: It is necessary to connect your personal experiences to broader theoretical concepts or academic frameworks.
  • Organization: The essay follows a logical structure (intro, main body, conclusion) to guide the readers. 
  • Meaningful conclusion: The conclusion of a reflective essay should offer a concluding thought, reflection, or insight that encapsulates the overall learning and personal journey.

Example of Reflective Essay:

Essay 1: “ Fieldwork Experience ” can be a good example of a reflective essay. Because it describes both the negative and positive experiences, emotions, and feelings of a person who belongs to fieldwork. 

10. Critical Analysis Essay

“A critical analysis essay examines and evaluates someone else's work, such as a book, an essay, a film, or a piece of art.”

More info is available at Thompson River University .

Key Elements of Critical Analysis Essay:

  • A strong thesis statement: A critical analysis essay efficiently presents a focused argument about the work's strengths, weaknesses, effectiveness, or impact in the thesis statement. 
  • In-depth analysis: The essay requires in-depth analysis and evaluation of the work being analyzed.
  • Evidence & Examples: All the analysis or arguments in it should be supported by evidence or examples for maximum credibility. 
  • Use of formal & engaging language: It is written in a formal and engaging to show both the writer’s professionalism and keep the readers engaged. 
  • Insightful conclusion: The conclusion should efficiently relate all the key points in a concise while making the final statement/verdict. 

Example of Critical Analysis Essay:

Essay 1: “ Oklahoma Movie Critical Analysis ” discusses every detail about the movie from ticket price to the experience of buying a ticket inside the cinema, movie scenes, and many more. 

11. Critical Essays

“There is only a minor difference between a critical essay and a critical analysis essay. A critical essay is a form of academic writing that analyzes and evaluates a text, artwork, film, or any other kind of creative work.”

Read more at Literary Devices .

Key Elements of Critical Essays:

  • Thesis statement: Always start with a clear thesis statement that presents the main argument or interpretation of the work being analyzed.
  • Based on deep analysis: The essay is written by performing an in-depth analysis of the work using critical thinking abilities to make it broader. 
  • Engagement with secondary sources: Depending on the type of work, a critical essay may involve engaging with secondary sources such as literary criticism, scholarly articles, or theoretical frameworks.
  • Critical perspective: The essay must require a critical perspective, which involves questioning, challenging, and evaluating the assumptions, biases, and intentions of the work being analyzed. 
  • Evidence & Reasoning: All the claims or arguments should be supported with specific examples from the work, expert opinions, historical references, or other relevant evidence. 
  • Conclusion: End up with a short conclusion, summarizing all the main points discussed in the critical essay. 

Example of Critical Essay:

Essay 1: “ Critical Essay on Tess of the d’Urbervilles ” can be a good example of a critical essay.

12. Expository Essay

“An expository essay aims to explain, inform, or describe a particular topic, idea, or concept.”

Find more info here CSUEastbay.edu

Key Elements of Expository Essay:

  • Fully focused thesis statement: An expository essay efficiently states the intended outcome: what the reader will learn by the end of your essay.
  • Follow a certain tone: The essays are written in an informative and objective tone, presenting factual information and avoiding personal opinions or biases.
  • Contains transition words: Loaded with words like “ Then ,” “ Next ,” etc. so that a logical connection is created between the sentences. 
  • Simple organization: The essay follows a simple sequential structure so that readers can be guided easily toward the end. 
  • Conclusion: The essay should conclude by summarizing the main points and restating the thesis statement.

Examples of Expository Essay:

Essay 1: “ Understanding Mental Health and Its Impact on Individuals and Society ” has efficiently discussed the definition, explanation, causes, and impacts of mental health on both individuals and society. 

13. Review Essay

“A review essay evaluates and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of a particular work, such as a book, film, artwork, or academic paper.”

Get more info at Best Essays

Key Elements of Review Essay:

  • Introduction: Efficiently describes the main thesis or argument of the review essay. It should also offer necessary background information about the subject.
  • Analysis: The review essay should also evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the work through evidence and examples. 
  • Critique: It should explain the reviewer's opinion or perspective on the work while also highlighting notable aspects that contribute to the work's value or significance.
  • Maintain a neutral yet critical tone: The essay should acknowledge different perspectives while expressing the writer’s own informed opinion.
  • Conclusion: It must have a short conclusion that summarizes the entire information discussed in the essay within a few sentences. 

Example of Review Essay:

Essay 1: “ Place-Based Learning Geographies of Writing & How Place Still Matters in Writing Studies ” is an excellent example of a review essay. As it efficiently evaluates how the location of writing affects the student’s abilities. 

14. Rhetorical Analysis Essay

“A rhetorical analysis essay examines how authors or speakers use rhetorical devices and strategies to achieve their intended purpose and persuade their audience.”

Learn more about Rhetorical Analysis Essay (a guide by studysmarter.co.uk)

Key Elements Rhetorical Analysis Essay:

  • Impactful introduction: It must start with an introduction that provides context for the rhetorical analysis.
  • Identification of Rhetorical Strategies: The essay should identify and analyze the rhetorical strategies used in the text, such as ethos (appeals to credibility), pathos (appeals to emotions), and logos (appeals to logic).
  • Evaluation of effectiveness: The essay should evaluate the effectiveness of the author's rhetorical strategies in achieving their intended purpose.
  • Textual Evidence : The analysis needed to be supported by textual evidence from the text being analyzed.
  • Contextualization: Analysis should be situated within the broader context of the text, as well as its historical, cultural, and social context.
  • Clear organization: Must organized logically, typically structuring it with an introduction, body paragraphs analyzing specific aspects of the rhetoric, and a concluding reflection.
  • Conclusion: Briefly summarize your key points and restate your thesis in a new light.

Example of Rhetorical Analysis Essay:

Essay 1: “ Rhetorical Strategies in Grose's "Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier ” discussed how the author “ Grose ” used rhetorical strategies to efficiently convey the intended message. 

15. Analytical Essay

“An analytical essay takes a subject and examines it critically, dissecting its components and exploring its deeper meaning, significance, or impact.”

Key Elements of Analytical Essay:

  • Clear & focused thesis statement: It should have a statement that succinctly summarizes your central argument about the subject's meaning, significance, or unique qualities.
  • In-depth analysis: The analytical essay needed to be based on in-depth analysis and interpretation of the topic being analyzed.
  • Inclusion of evidence: All the analysis in the essay should be supported with credible evidence or examples. 
  • Objective & informed perspective: The essay should maintain a neutral and objective tone, avoiding personal opinions or biases.

Find more about “writing an analytical essay” at Habib University .

Example of Analytical Essay:

Essay 1: “ Critical Thinking & Writing for Nursing Students ” in this analytical essay example, the nursing students are introduced to both critical and reflective thinking, so that they can become successful in their nursing careers. 

16. Literary Analysis Essay

“A literary analysis essay is a type of analytical essay that focuses specifically on analyzing a piece of literature, such as a novel, short story, poem, or play.”

Key Elements of Literary Analysis Essay:

  • Strong introduction: It presents a specific and arguable claim about the work's meaning, technique, or impact.
  • Analysis of literary elements: The essay should analyze the literary elements used in the work, such as plot, character, setting, theme, symbolism, and imagery.
  • Evidence & reasoning: Support the author's claims with specific textual evidence (quotes, examples, descriptions) and relevant critical analysis.
  • Engaging with multiple perspectives: The essay should acknowledge and discuss differing interpretations of the work.
  • Engagement with secondary sources: Depending on the requirements of the assignment, literary analysis essays may involve engaging with secondary sources such as literary criticism, scholarly articles, or theoretical frameworks.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should offer reflections on the significance of the analysis and its implications for understanding the work being analyzed.

How to write a Literary analysis essay, key points and precautions: Bucks County Community College .

Example of Literary Analysis Essay:

Essay 1: “ The Old Man & The Sea (Page 2) ” in this example, the writer has done an in-depth analysis of the famous novel written by Ernest Hemingway .

17. Five-Paragraph Essay

“Five-paragraph essay is a widely known essay type that is usually taught to primary school students. It is based on a 5Ws rule (What, Who, When, Why, and Where sometimes “how” as well).”

Key Elements of Five Paragraph Essay:

  • Introduction (1 paragraph): It should have an introduction that provides background information on the topic and presents the main thesis or argument.
  • Main body (3 paragraphs): The main body should describe or address the main topic in detail using evidence and examples. 
  • Conclusion (1 paragraph): The conclusion should describe the summary of the main points made in the body paragraphs and a restatement of the thesis statement. 

University of Maryland Global Campus has described how you can write a perfect five-paragraph essay. 

Example of a paragraph Essay:

Essay 1: “ The Benefits of Regular Exercise ” explained the advantages of working out regularly within five paragraphs. 

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  1. Types of Evidence

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay

  2. Types of Evidence in Persuasive/Argument

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay

  3. 6 Types Of Evidence In Writing

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay

  4. Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay

  5. How to Introduce Evidence in an Essay: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay

  6. 8 Elements of an Argument Posters, plus types of evidence and

    different types of evidence for argumentative essay


  1. TEXT TYPES: narrative, expository and argumentative

  2. Argumentative Paragraph Assignment

  3. Elements of Argumentative essay

  4. Overview of Collecting Text Evidence for Persuasive Essay

  5. Livestream: Composing an Argumentative Essay

  6. Analytical Vs Argumentative Research Papers: An Introduction


  1. Evidence in Essays ⇒ Examples and Types of Evidence in Writing

    Analogical: An analogy or comparison that supports your argument. Example: "Like the human body, a car needs regular maintenance to function properly." This type is considered to be one of the weakest, as it is often based on opinion rather than fact.

  2. 8.3 Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments

    Evidence is what a writer uses to support or defend his or her argument, and only valid and credible evidence is enough to make an argument strong. For a review of what evidence means in terms of developing body paragraphs within an essay, you can refer back to Section 4.3.

  3. The Argument: Types of Evidence

    There are two types of testimony: 1) the account of an eyewitness, and 2) the judgment of an expert who has had the chance to examine and interpret the facts. Both of these lend validity to an argument.

  4. Evidence

    Instructors in different academic fields expect different kinds of arguments and evidence—your chemistry paper might include graphs, charts, statistics, and other quantitative data as evidence, whereas your English paper might include passages from a novel, examples of recurring symbols, or discussions of characterization in the novel.

  5. PDF Argumentative Writing and Using Evidence

    The different types of evidence you can use are explored below. Argumentative Writing and Using Evidence, Spring 2022. 2 of 5 Scholarly Books, Articles, and Journals Most disciplines use scholarly books and articles to present research, provide more context, and explain previous arguments.

  6. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement. The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it. Argumentative essays are by far the most common type of essay to write at university. Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

  7. 7.3: Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments

    Evidence in the Humanities: History. Evidence in the Social Sciences: Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology. Evidence in the Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics. All academic writers use evidence to support their claims. However, different writing tasks in different fields require different types of evidence.

  8. Argumentative Essays

    The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner. Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay.

  9. The Four Main Types of Essay

    There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

  10. How to Write an A+ Argumentative Essay

    Though every essay is founded on these two ideas, there are several different types of essays, differentiated by the style of the writing, how the writer presents the thesis, and the types of evidence used to support the thesis statement. Essays can be roughly divided into four different types: #1: Argumentative #2: Persuasive #3: Expository

  11. Organizing Your Argument

    Rebuttal: In this section, you incorporate your own evidence that disagrees with the counterclaim. It is essential to include a thorough warrant or bridge to strengthen your essay's argument.

  12. Definition and Examples of Evidence in Argument

    Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence Julie M. Farrar defines two kinds of evidence in "Evidence: Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition ," from 2006. "The mere presence of information does not constitute evidence; the informative statements must be accepted as evidence by an audience and believed by it to be relevant to the claim at issue.

  13. How to Write a Standout Argumentative Essay

    Although many types of essays aim at persuading the reader to believe a specific point of view, argumentative essays rely heavily on hard evidence, drawing on other studies and sources to prove their argument is best. Don't let the name fool you: Argumentative essays don't have to be aggressive or combative.

  14. The Four Types of Evidence

    Written arguments, however, rely on four main types of evidence. As you read further, you will see that some types are more credible than others and "hold more water," so to speak. Statistical Evidence The strongest type of evidence in formal writing is statistical evidence.

  15. 6 Types of Evidence in Writing (2024)

    Evidence can come from many sources and take many forms, but generally speaking, there are six types of evidence. Each type of evidence may carry more weight than others. Choosing which type of evidence to use depends on the purpose of the essay and the audience.

  16. PDF Types of Evidence in Persuasive/Argument Papers

    Types of Evidence in Persuasive/Argument Papers Support your position or thesis with evidence. Remember that your evidence must appeal to reason. The following are different ways to support your argument: Facts Statistics Quotes Examples Using facts is a powerful means of convincing.

  17. Essay Writing Guide

    When incorporating evidence into an essay, you need to make sure it flows well. Try using some of these key phrases in your essay to help you introduce your evidence: "The evidence clearly reveals…". "Analysis of the data suggests…". "This graph shows that…". "As shown by the information…". "This claim is supported by ...

  18. Types of Evidence to Use in Writing and Essays

    Find out about the six types of evidence you can use to support your writing. With these techniques, you'll have stronger essays and better grades.

  19. How to Form an Argumentative Essay Outline

    An argumentative essay is a piece of writing that uses logical evidence and empirical data to convince readers of a particular position on a topic. Because of its reliance on structure and planning, the first step in writing one is often drafting a solid argumentative essay outline.

  20. 3 Strong Argumentative Essay Examples, Analyzed

    A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author's thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families.

  21. 8.3 Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments

    For a review of what evidence means in terms of developing body paragraphs within an essay, you can refer back to Section 4.3. As you develop your research-supported essay, consider not only what types of evidence might support your ideas but also what types of evidence will be considered valid or credible according to the academic discipline ...

  22. 3.4: What are the Different Types of Argument in Writing?

    A common type of persuasive essay is an Op-Ed article. Included in the opinion section of a newspaper, these articles are more appropriately called argument essays because most authors strive not only to make explicit claims but also to support their claims, sometimes even with researched evidence.

  23. What are the Different Types of Argumentative Essays? (Answered)

    There are three types of argumentative essay that your instructor may require you to make. These are as follows: 1. Classical Argumentative Essay. Developed by Aristotle, a classical argument convinces a reader to look into a specific point of view. In an argumentative essay, the classical model requires you to look into both sides of an argument.

  24. Types of Essays

    3. Argumentative Essay "An argumentative essay is one that efficiently explains the opinions about both sides of an issue. It aims to persuade the reader to agree with a particular viewpoint by presenting evidence, reasoning, and counterarguments." Check Argumentative Essay guide by University of Toledo. Key Elements of Argumentative Essay: