How to write an argumentative essay: a useful outline

To understand how to write an argumentative topic it is necessary to remember the steps of a scheme useful for students, university students and anyone who deals with writing.

The argumentative theme, a typology of written paper already inserted for several years among the Italian tests, is one of the preferred choices by students for the multiple possibilities of recalling topical subjects and to try out a test with a journalistic flavor.

To understand what the argumentative theme is and, then, how to write it, it is opportune to give a quick glance to the traces of this year’s Maturity Exam: the argumentative theme corresponds with the essays proposed in typology B, or with what is more commonly known as a short essay or newspaper article. As we can see, in the maturity tests there are always provided four disciplinary fields: artistic-literary, socio-economic, historical-political and technical-scientific (we have already considered the modalities of this last typology).

Understanding how to write an argumentative topic, however, is important even if we are not students and if we are not called to face the maturity tests and, in particular, the short essay, since also the essays that can be considered elaborate of an argumentative character often the same graduation thesis and documents are requested in university courses, which, in various ways (articles, reports, opinions, etc.), can be requested in a professional capacity.

One might ask, then, what is it that these types of documents have in common. The answer is simple: the topic (or, in any case, the argument) requires exposing a theory, an idea or an opinion, using logical arguments, corroborated also by the criticism and refutation of opposite and different positions.

A useful outline for writing an argumentative topic

Recipient and form of the text

Considering the recipient, or the person (or group of people) for whom one writes is of fundamental importance to define the form that the argumentative theme must take. This form can also be indicated by the theme track, or by the teacher, or it could be chosen by the writer. The topic of argumentation could take the form of:

  • a short essay (2 or 3 pages / pages);
  • a newspaper article for a newspaper (between 3000 and 4500 characters), synthetic and focused on data and facts;
  • a newspaper article for a magazine (between 4,000 and 7,000 characters) where the data that offer an in-depth analysis or the different points of view related to the subject matter take on greater importance;
  • A letter to a friend, where the need for a stringent logical argument is maintained, a more informal style can be granted and fundamental elements can be omitted in other cases (such as statistical data or a quote taken from a law relating to topic covered);

The construction of arguments

The distinctive trait of the argumentative theme is, in fact, solid arguments that combine logical congruence with a thorough knowledge of the subject treated. This last element can be obtained if you decide to go deeper into the subject by reading books, scientific articles and online materials. In the case of the argumentative topic to be tackled on school desks, when it will not be possible to deepen the subject, great attention must be paid to the documents provided in the trace and to the arguments set forth in them, which may be taken up and further argued, or refuted.

Regardless of the critical position you decide to take towards the tracks, it is of fundamental importance:

read carefully and, if necessary, compare with other documents / materials made available;

select (also underlining or highlighting) the texts or parts of the text that present the theme or the problem in the most exhaustive way and that can be used in the drafting phase, to build your thesis or to define the hypothesis to be refuted;

To distinguish in the text also other passages that can be taken up in your argumentation, through the quotation, a very important element to validate your theses;

During the selection of the different tracks and the different passages, always keep in mind the assigned track, in such a way as to constantly measure the consistency of the tracks on which we focus attention with it, so as not to go off topic;

The lineup and exhibition choices

In writing an argumentative theme, especially if we compare different ideas and find ourselves developing elaborate reasoning that consists of many passages, it is very useful to use a ladder to arrange the various points to be treated in order.

The precedence is, in this case, the main thesis that is shown first, both to clarify the main theme of the paper and to provide the reader with the guiding idea of what he will read;

Immediately afterwards it is necessary to insert the arguments that support the main thesis;

a further passage is represented by the contrary theses and by their refutation;

After having clarified these steps, it is advisable to select the materials and citations to be included in each of the previous passages, including those that may be available;

finally, it is useful to review the lineup, making sure that the various points are connected by a logical thread that will allow us to catch a glimpse of the “plot” of our text: this thread can be explained in the conclusions that will also have the task of quickly summarizing what was said before ;

The drafting of the text

After setting up the skeleton, we move on to the body of the text:

before writing it is useful to reflect on the lexical choices, identifying the specific language to use;

The argumentative theme must be opened by a brief premise that makes the reader enter the discussion immediately, avoiding long and superfluous incipits;

The first paragraphs of the paper will present a very brief summary of the idea that you want to expose;

In the following passages the passages defined in the lineup will be developed, taking care to insert the appropriate citations, at the right time;

The conclusion must be concise and natural, follow the logical thread of the discussion carried out before and summarize what was said previously.

Re-read and review

As in any text, even in the case of the argumentative theme, the rereading and revision of the elaboration both formally and from a content point of view is an indispensable phase that should never be neglected. During the rereading it is necessary to check above all:

that the topic has been centered and this has been developed avoiding logical leaps that tend to complicate understanding;

that the syntax and grammar are correct and that there are no spelling and punctuation errors;

that the information entered (dates, names, and quotations) are correct;

that the vocabulary used is of a specialist nature and, in any case, appropriate to the subject;that the discourse was articulated in a stringent manner and that the logical congruence is evident from the arrangement of the arguments.