I. Parts of an Argumentative Essay
Most argumentative essays have three parts. The first is an introduction which brings the reader into the topic and states the thesis. The second is the body of the essay. This is by far the largest part of the essay. In this part the writer presents the argument which supports the thesis as well as any background information the reader might need to understand the essay. Third is the conclusion. In this part of the essay, the author summarizes the argument and restates the thesis.
Since your essay is an argument, your job is to convince the reader that your thesis is true. You do this by presenting to the reader in an orderly manner the evidence which convinced you your thesis was true.
Begin the essay with a few sentences in which you explain to the reader the historical issue you will addressing. You might at this point want to explain the problem you will be addressing, giving some indication of its significance, or explaining the historical context surrounding this issue. After this short introduction, state your thesis. The thesis will be the "Answer" from your "Argument Sketch."
Each paragraph in the essay should explain to the reader one of the reasons why you believe your thesis is true or your answer correct. The topic sentence of each paragraph will be one of the "Reasons" you gave in your argument sketch. The remainder of the paragraph will be a discussion of the evidence you have for each reason. You have already assembled this information in your Argument Sketch. Describe each source to the reader, making special note of important aspects of the source. Then describe to the reader what you infer from that evidence.
Remember, your job is to persuade the reader. You must therefore give the reader the information needed to make your argument understood. You may, therefore, need to supply background information which is not in the primary source itself. Use the textbooks or other secondary sources for that information. Remember, however, to cite your sources. You may wish to have a single paragraph devoted to providing this information--a description of a war for example--or you may present this information piecemeal throughout the essay.
After you have presented each of your sub-theses and given the evidence for each, end your essay by restating your thesis.
In summary, Say What You Are Going To Say (Introduction and thesis statement.)
Say It (Sub-theses and evidence).
Say That You Said It (Conclusion and Restatement of the thesis).
III. Additional Points
- 1. Use the argument sketch. You have already developed your argument.
- 2. Write a rough draft. This may sound like extra work, but you rarely write your best prose the first time around.
- 3. Proof read. Even the best typist make mistakes and a spell-checker can't check for grammar and usage errors.
- 4. Use the active voice. The person doing the action should be the subject of the sentence. Your writing will be more lively.
- 5. Avoid having an abstraction do something, (e.g. "Humanism influenced the Reformation.") Only people act.
- 6. Long quotations should appear indented, without quotation marks.
- 7. Use past tense when writing about the past.
- 8. Make sure everything in the essay is directed towards the thesis. Eliminate the superfluous.
- 9. Foreign words and phrases should be underlined. Also underline the titles of books.
- 10. Use quotations only if: 1)No one would believe you otherwise; 2) You need the exact words to support your thesis; 3) The author has expressed what you want to say so wonderfully that you could not possibly find a better way to say it. Otherwise, paraphrase, but be sure to cite.
- 11. My Quirk: Please don't use plastic report covers or title pages.
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