How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Organization & Tips

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The Basics

The first step in learning how to write a persuasive essay is learning these fundamental rules:

1. You MUST take a stand: Persuasive writing has no room for wishy-washy declarations. Take a stand. (Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to write an effective thesis statement.)

  • Bad: The DH rule in baseball has good and bad aspects.

  • Good: Both the American and National leagues should adopt the DH rule.

2. Write on a topic about which you are familiar.

3. The topic should be something upon which there is a reasonable difference of opinion.

  • Bad: Murder is bad.
  • Good: The death penalty is not the solution to end murder.

4. As with all essay writing, persuasive writing must include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. How you arrange material within these three sections depends on your audience.

5. Knowing your audience is more crucial in persuasive writing than any other type of essay.

6. Know your purpose. Are you trying to change the readers' minds? Are you simply attempting to get someone to see things from a different vantage point? Are you trying to make people act?

7. Provide evidence, explanations, comments, logic and supporting details to support your claims.
Know your audience. Know your purpose.

8. Use appropriate language and tone for your audience. Did I mention you need to know your audience and purpose?

9. Strengthen your argument by acknowledging opposing views and explaining why your position is better.
Use active voice.


When learning how to write a persuasive essay, remember that how you organize your persuasive writing is just as important as what you put in it. Follow these suggestions for organization:

1. Take a direct approach when writing to an audience that likely agrees with your position. If you’re writing a persuasive essay for your English class, find out how your teacher feels about the topic.

2. Take an indirect approach when writing to an audience that is hostile or disagreeable to your position.

3. Take an indirect approach when delivering bad news.

Adapt standard essay organization to suit your audience and purpose:

1. The Introduction announces the topic. If you’re taking a direct approach, state your purpose as well.

2. Include the background and context to help readers understand the issue. Explain the significance of the topic. Whether or not to include background information as part of your introductory paragraph or as a separate paragraph depends on the length of the essay.

3. Present the argument. How you present the argument depends on your approach. When dealing with a skeptical audience, present your proof first followed by your assertion or declaration. When dealing with a favorable audience, present your assertion first followed by evidence

4. Acknowledge opposing views. Refute weaknesses in the opposing views. Discuss why the your reasons are better than the opposing reasons. If you wish to take an indirect approach, you may want to acknowledge the opposing views before presenting your argument.

5. Conclude. Your conclusion should include recommendations and reassert your main argument.

This post is part of the series: Writing Tips Your Teacher Never Told You

Dramatically improve your writing with simple changes.

  1. Writing Tips: Personal Voice in Writing
  2. Essay Writing Tips: Make Every Word Count
  3. Improve Writing by Improving Word Choice
  4. Basic Methods of Paragraph Development
  5. How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Writing Tips