Persuasive Essay Guidelines
Introduction (first paragraph):
1. Start with an attention-grabber such as a question, statistic, quote, or a brief humorous or
emotional story that captures your reader’s attention and compels him or her to continue
2. State your thesis sentence. This is a sentence that summarizes the main reason for your opinion
or position on the issue. This sentence can be placed anywhere in this paragraph. It is frequently
the last sentence of the paragraph.
Body (two to three paragraphs):
1. Write one paragraph for each of your main ideas.
2. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that supports the thesis and states the main idea of
3. The remaining sentences in each paragraph should include facts and examples that support your
opinion. Remember, your purpose is to provide readers with information that will convince
them that your opinion makes sense.
Rebuttal or counterargument (one paragraph):
1. Anticipate a significant opposing argument(s) and point out why it is a flawed argument.
1. In this final paragraph restate your thesis and briefly emphasize the most important points of
your argument. Emotionally urge readers to share your opinion.
Do’s and Don’ts of Persuasive Writing
1. Don’t be negative. When presenting your opinion, be clear and positive. Avoid using negative words
(e.g., disgusting, terrible, and awful).
2. Do use the editorial “we” rather than the first person “I”. Doing so will make the reader feel that
you are all on the same side.
3. Don’t threaten. This is never a good way to win over another person’s opinion.
4. Do support your argument with facts and expert opinions. Base your facts on the most current
research available. The opinions of experts can provide especially strong support.
5. Don’t use vague terms. Words such as “right” and “wrong” mean different things to different people.
6. Do try to use a “hook” to grab your reader’s interest. An interesting incident or a powerful statistic
is a good way to start a piece of persuasive writing.
7. Don’t wander away from your thesis statement. Stay focused on the single argument you are
8. Do think about your audience. Knowing who your readers are will help you to decide what you need
to tell them in your writing.
9. Don’t use the either/or argument if at all possible. When you force your readers to choose between
extremes, you are ignoring all the choices in-between.
10. Do organize your writing. One way is to start with your weakest argument and then build to your
strongest. Another way is to start with an argument with which your readers are likely to agree, and
then move to the one(s) they might oppose. Have a well thought-out plan.