5 Paragraph Argumentative Essay Model

A classic format for compositions is the five-paragraph essay. It is not the only format for writing an essay, of course, but it is a useful model for you to keep in mind, especially as you begin to develop your composition skills. The following material is adapted from a handout prepared by Harry Livermore for his high school English classes at Cook High School in Adel, Georgia. It is used here with his permission.

Introduction:

Introductory Paragraph

See, first, Writing Introductory Paragraphs for different ways of getting your reader involved in your essay. The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the paper: it tells the reader what the essay is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also contain a transitional "hook" which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.

Body:

Body — First paragraph:

The first paragraph of the body should contain the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the "reverse hook" which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the second paragraph of the body.

Body — Second paragraph:

The second paragraph of the body should contain the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up the first paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first paragraph of the body. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body.

Body — Third paragraph:

The third paragraph of the body should contain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this paper. This hook also leads into the last, or concluding, paragraph.

Conclusion:

Concluding paragraph:

This paragraph should include the following:

  1. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,
  2. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that "echoes" the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement.)
  3. a summary of the three main points from the body of the paper.
  4. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a "call to action" in an persuasive paper.)

A Sample Paper

1Stephen King, creator of such stories as Carrie and Pet Sematary, stated that the Edgar Allan Poe stories he read as a child gave him the inspiration and instruction he needed to become the writer that he is. 2Poe, as does Stephen King, fills the reader's imagination with the images that he wishes the reader to see, hear, and feel. 3His use of vivid, concrete visual imagery to present both static and dynamic settings and to describe people is part of his technique. 4Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a story about a young man who kills an old man who cares for him, dismembers the corpse, then goes mad when he thinks he hears the old man's heart beating beneath the floor boards under his feet as he sits and discusses the old man's absence with the police. 5In "The Tell-Tale Heart," a careful reader can observe Poe's skillful manipulation of the senses. The introductory paragraph includes a paraphrase of something said by a famous person in order to get the reader's attention. The second sentence leads up to the thesis statement which is the third sentence. The thesis statement (sentence 3) presents topic of the paper to the reader and provides a mini- outline. The topic is Poe's use of visual imagery. The mini- outline tells the reader that this paper will present Poe's use of imagery in three places in his writing: (1) description of static setting; (2) description of dynamic setting; and (3) description of a person. The last sentence of the paragraph uses the words "manipulation" and "senses" as transitional hooks.
1The sense of sight, the primary sense, is particularly susceptible to manipulation. 2In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe uses the following image to describe a static scene: "His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness . . ." Poe used the words "black," "pitch," and "thick darkness" not only to show the reader the condition of the old man's room, but also to make the reader feel the darkness." 3"Thick" is a word that is not usually associated with color (darkness), yet in using it, Poe stimulates the reader's sense of feeling as well as his sense of sight. In the first sentence of the second paragraph (first paragraph of the body) the words "sense" and "manipulation" are used to hook into the end of the introductory paragraph. The first part of the second sentence provides the topic for this paragraph--imagery in a static scene. Then a quotation from "The Tell-Tale Heart" is presented and briefly discussed. The last sentence of this paragraph uses the expressions "sense of feeling" and "sense of sight" as hooks for leading into the third paragraph.
1Further on in the story, Poe uses a couple of words that cross not only the sense of sight but also the sense of feeling to describe a dynamic scene. 2The youth in the story has been standing in the open doorway of the old man's room for a long time, waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself to the old man in order to frighten him. 3Poe writes: "So I opened it [the lantern opening]--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye." 4By using the metaphor of the thread of the spider (which we all know is a creepy creature) and the word "shot," Poe almost makes the reader gasp, as surely did the old man whose one blind eye the young man describes as "the vulture eye." The first sentence of the third paragraph (second paragraph of the body) uses the words "sense of sight" and "sense of feeling" to hook back into the previous paragraph. Note that in the second paragraph "feeling" came first, and in this paragraph "sight" comes first. The first sentence also includes the topic for this paragraph--imagery in a dynamic scene. Again, a quotation is taken from the story, and it is briefly discussed. The last sentence uses the words "one blind eye" which was in the quotation. This expression provides the transitional hook for the last paragraph in the body of the paper.
1The reader does not know much about what the old man in this story looks like except that he has one blind eye. 2In the second paragraph of "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe establishes the young man's obsession with that blind eye when he writes: "He had the eye of the vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it." 3This "vulture eye" is evoked over and over again in the story until the reader becomes as obsessed with it as does the young man. 4His use of the vivid, concrete word "vulture" establishes a specific image in the mind of the reader that is inescapable. In the first sentence of the fourth paragraph (third paragraph in the body), "one blind eye" is used that hooks into the previous paragraph. This first sentence also lets the reader know that this paragraph will deal with descriptions of people: ". . . what the old man looks like . . .." Once again Poe is quoted and discussed. The last sentence uses the word "image" which hooks into the last paragraph. (It is less important that this paragraph has a hook since the last paragraph is going to include a summary of the body of the paper.)
1"Thick darkness," "thread of the spider," and "vulture eye" are three images that Poe used in "The Tell-Tale Heart" to stimulate a reader's senses. 2Poe wanted the reader to see and feel real life. 3He used concrete imagery rather than vague abstract words to describe settings and people. 4If Edgar Allan Poe was one of Stephen King's teachers, then readers of King owe a debt of gratitude to that nineteenth-century creator of horror stories. The first sentence of the concluding paragraph uses the principal words from the quotations from each paragraph of the body of the paper. This summarizes those three paragraph. The second and third sentences provide observations which can also be considered a summary, not only of the content of the paper, but also offers personal opinion which was logically drawn as the result of this study. The last sentence returns to the Edgar Allan Poe-Stephen King relationship which began this paper. This sentence also provides a "wrap-up" and gives the paper a sense of finality.

Sure, you’re a lover not a fighter. I am too. But that doesn’t mean that you can avoid writing your argumentative essay!

Since you have to write an argumentative essay, you might as well learn how to write it well, right?

I’ve said it time and time again—there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. Putting together an argumentative essay outline is the perfect way to turn your blank document into a ready-to-use template. All you have to do is fill in the blanks!

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how to create an argumentative essay outline. At the end, I’ll give you a downloadable skeleton outline you can use to get started.

Structure of the Argumentative Essay Outline

If you distill your argumentative essay outline down to its basics, you’ll find that it’s made of four main sections:
  1. Intro
  2. Developing Your Argument
  3. Refuting Opponents’ Arguments
  4. Conclusion

That’s not so bad! There’s really nothing to be afraid of.

Here’s how your argumentative essay outline would look if you turned it into a pretty picture:

Each of these four sections requires some important elements. Let’s break those down now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 1: Your Intro

Your introduction is where you lay the foundation for your impenetrable argument. It’s made up of a hook, background information, and a thesis statement.

1. Hook. Your first sentence is comprised of a “hook.” Don’t know what a hook is? A hook is a sentence that grabs your reader’s attention just like a good Jackie Chan movie grabs the attention of a martial arts fan.

Let’s say I’m writing an argumentative essay about why American people should start eating insects.

My hook could be, “For those interested in improving their diets and the environment, say ‘goodbye’ to eating chicken, fish, and beef and ‘hello’ to eating silk worms, crickets, and caterpillars.”

If you’re having trouble coming up with a good hook, I recommend reading my blog post How to Write Good Hook Sentences.

2. Background information. The next part of your intro is dedicated to offering some detailed background information on your topic.

Try answering the following questions:

What is the issue at hand? Who cares? Where is this issue prevalent? Why is it important?

For example, “Insects are abundant, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable. Currently, people in the United States shun the idea of eating insects as part of their diets, favoring instead less nutritious and environmentally destructive food options, such as beef and pork. The UN recently issued a statement calling for more world citizens to embrace the many benefits of eating insects.”

3. Thesis. Your thesis typically makes up the last sentence of your intro paragraph. This is where you clearly state your position on the topic and give a reason for your stance.

For example, “A diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change, and therefore, United States citizens should learn to rely on a variety of insects over chicken, beef, and fish as their main source of protein and nutrition.”

Notice the word “should” in my thesis statement? Using this word makes it clear I’m taking a stance on the argument.

You’ll also notice that my thesis statement sets up the three claims I’m going to expand on later: a diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change.

Here are even more example argumentative thesis statements.

Let’s talk about adding those claims to our argumentative essay outline now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 2: Developing Your Argument

Now that you have filled in the general points of your topic and outlined your stance in the introduction, it’s time to develop your argument.

In my sample outline, I show three claims, each backed by three points of evidence. Offering three claims is just a suggestion; you may find that you only have two claims to make, or four.

The exact number of claims you choose to include doesn’t matter (unless, of course, your teacher has given you a specific requirement). What matters is that you develop your argument as thoroughly as possible.

1. What is a claim? A claim is a statement you make to support your argument.

For example, “Bugs are highly nutritious and eating them can fix the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the United States.”

Great! So I’ve made my claim. But who’s going to believe me? This is where evidence comes into play.

2. What is evidence? For each claim you make, you need to provide supporting evidence. Evidence is factual information from reliable sources.

It is not personal knowledge or anecdotal.

For example, “Researchers at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States state that ‘Termites are rich in protein, fatty acids, and other micronutrients. Fried or dried termites contain 32–38 percent proteins.’“

My outline shows three pieces of evidence to support each claim, but you may find that each claim doesn’t necessarily have three pieces of evidence to back it.  Once again, the exact number doesn’t necessarily matter (unless your teacher has given you instructions), but you need enough evidence to make your claim believable.

Once you have gathered your evidence to support your claims, it’s time to add the next important element of your argumentative essay outline: refuting your opponents’ arguments.

Let’s talk about that now.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 3: Refuting Opponents’ Arguments

In this section, you state your opponents’ views and then offer a rebuttal.

For example, “Opponents of insect eating from the Beef Council of America say that it is too difficult and time consuming to catch crickets, so it is not easy to gather enough food for a meal, whereas a cow is large and contains a lot of meat for many meals.”

Oh diss! We know the Beef Council just wants us to keep eating McD’s hamburgers and skip the cricket soup. (By the way—I just made that up. The Beef Council did not say that. In your essay, make sure to use real facts.)

Now it’s time to set the opponents straight with a refutation that is full of hard evidence and that will bring them to their knees.

For example, “According to researchers Cerritos and Cano-Santana, the best time to harvest crickets is to catch them in the hour just before sunrise when they are least active. What’s more, it is easy to develop the infrastructure to farm crickets in a way that is more sustainable than cattle farming.”

Booyah! The Beef Council has been served (crickets).

Once you have refuted your opponents’ viewpoints, it’s time to sail to the finish line with your conclusion.

Argumentative Essay Outline Section 4: Conclusion

In your conclusion, you are going to accomplish two important tasks.

1. Restate the importance of your issue. Similar to what you did in your introduction, you want to restate why this topic is critical.

For example, “Simply by incorporating insects into their diets, U.S. citizens can improve the sustainability and nutrition of the American diet.”

2. Paint a picture of the world if your argument is (or is not) implemented. In the final part of your conclusion, make your audience think about the ramifications of your argument. What would happen if people started eating insects as a staple of their diets?

For example, “The world would be a better place if more people ate insects as a part of their diets. Fewer people would go hungry, more people would get the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients they need to live healthy lifestyles, and our planet would be relieved of the burden of an unsustainable food system.

Closing with a clear picture of the world as you would like it to be can leave your reader convinced that your argument is valid.

Download the Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Once you break it down, writing an argumentative essay outline isn’t that daunting.

Download this skeleton Argumentative Essay Outline to get started.

Before you go off into the sunset and use my outline template, make sure that you are following the guidelines specific to your course. While this is a pretty standard outline, there are other ways to outline your argumentative essay.

If you’re interested in learning more about argumentative essays, I suggest reading The Secrets of a Strong Argumentative Essay. Want even more knowledge? Check out this argumentative essay infographic!

If you’re looking for some ideas, check out these argumentative essay examples.

When you have your argumentative essay and outline ready to go, you can always have one of our awesome editors give it a second look.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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