How to Write a Persuasive Essay

How to Write a Persuasive Essay


Learn how to write a persuasive essay with these easy tips. Make your writing so much more… persuasive.


Need a downloadable/printable PDF file for “How to Write a Persuasive Essay,” “How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay” and “How to Write a Problem/Solution Essay”? The downloadable version of these three lessons have been reorganized from this site. All you have to do is print them out and stick them in your lesson plan book. All the notes and information you need to give your students is there as well as a list of common core objectives (for your administrator). I also threw in three graphic organizers (one for each lesson) that you can copy. Buy it. It’s only $2.50. Find more at Teacher Guide Central.
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ELA Common Core Standards

Teaching how to write a persuasive essay satisfies the following common core standards.  If you’re not a teacher, skip this section.

Common Core Writing Standard 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Common Core Writing Standard 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in W.9-10.1-3.)
W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
W.9-10.7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
W.9-10.8  Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Persuasive Essay Structure

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.

Persuasive Writing Strategies

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.
  4. Adapt standard essay organization to suit your audience and purpose:
  • The Introduction announces the topic. If you’re taking a direct approach, state your purpose as well.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

Types of Essays

Step-by-step instructions for writing different types of essays can be accessed by the following links.

  1. Problem-Solution Essay
  2. Persuasive Essay
  3. Narrative Essay
  4. Instructional Article
  5. Literary Analysis
  6. How to Write a Tall-Tale
  7. How to Write an Article Critique
  8. Cause and Effect Essay