How to Write a Persuasive Essay

If you look at the basic structure for writing a persuasive college essay, it may appear simple.

  1. Title
  2. Thesis
  3. Paragraph 1 ΓÇô supporting facts
  4. Paragraph 2 ΓÇô supporting facts
  5. Paragraph 3 ΓÇô supporting facts
  6. Conclusion

However, when you try to write an essay, do you often struggle with confusion, frustration, and writerΓÇÖs block? Do you feel your paperΓÇÖs argument lacks conviction? Here are five basic rules to help you write a persuasive essay.

1. Select a topic you are knowledgeable about and that piques one of your passions.
Learning how to write a persuasive essay is an exercise in your ability to sell. You must be able sell your argument in writing and get the reader to buy it. Even the top copywriters who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to craft effective sales copy have difficulty persuading buyers on a subject they know little about or that doesnΓÇÖt pique one of their passions. To be persuasive, you will need to emphasize facts and hot buttons with confidence. While your professor may assign you the topic for your essay, addressing a particular viewpoint related to the subject that expresses your area of knowledge and sentiments will help you with writing a compelling essay.

2. Identify your target audience.
It is important that you identify your target audience before you start. DonΓÇÖt try to write to ΓÇ£everyoneΓÇ¥. You canΓÇÖt create a convincing argument if you are trying to bring in every possible view point on the subject. There are too many beliefs and perceptions to address. Selecting your target audience will help focus your choices for your thesis statement and your supporting facts.

3. Write first. Edit later.
Writing any document is an extremely difficult task if you edit your ideas as you are trying to write them. You will develop a serious case of writerΓÇÖs block if you proceed with an unrealistic expectation of writing an A-worthy paper on the first draft. You arenΓÇÖt being graded on your rough drafts, so let your writing flow. Set a time limit of 30 minutes or an hour to just get your ideas down on paper. Your ideas donΓÇÖt need to be complete sentences. Then, map out how the ideas in your rough draft relate to your thesis. Some ideas will stand out as primary theories, while other content will become supporting points, and you will delete other content that doesnΓÇÖt strengthen your argument. Once you have the outline or structure of your essay, write another draft before you begin to edit it for grammar, consistency and flow.

4. Make sure the essay flows.
A well-constructed, persuasive argument requires you to take control of the readerΓÇÖs attention and lead them from your thesis statement to each supporting paragraph and finish with a strong conclusion in a logical process. If your essay doesnΓÇÖt flow smoothly from paragraph to paragraph, it will diminish the strength of your convictions. When you are writing and editing your paper, make sure that you can transition logically from one idea to the next until you reach your conclusion.

5. Address the supporting and opposing hot buttons.
If you are going to convince the reader that they should subscribe to your way of thinking, you need to pit the hot button or buttons you are supporting against their dominant, opposing philosophies. DonΓÇÖt be afraid to be controversial as long as you have strong, supporting facts. Luke-warm conjectures or wildly subjective statements that have little grounding in fact will not influence the reader. You will write a persuasive essay by addressing the opposing ideas objectively and comparing them to your perspectives on the hot points you favor and the facts that support them.

When you are including facts, it is important to reference them according to the guidelines of the writing format your professor assigns. To help save time when you write a persuasive essay, consider using formatting software. With just a few simple clicks, you can properly format your paper. This will free up your time so you can focus on the substance of your paper instead of the style.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto or write to:
info @

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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