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Argumentative Essay Outline: Writing Steps & Examples

Argumentative Essay Outline
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An argumentative essay outline is a roadmap for the writer to organize their thoughts, research, and arguments in a clear and logical way. It helps to stay focused on the topic and effectively present arguments. Creating an outline before writing an argumentative essay allows students to identify the key points and evidence that should back up ideas.

Struggling with an argumentative essay outline? Stuck at the beginning or not sure which format to take? It’s okay, you’ll find some explanations and pieces of advice here, as well as an argument outline template you could use.

We’ve collected everything you need to know before composing an outline for your top-notch argumentative paper. This page contains information about:

  • The notion of outline and why it is important
  • Specifics of sketching an essay where you defend your position
  • Argument essay layout
  • Several useful tips and examples.

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What Is an Argumentative Essay Outline?

Before starting to work on an argumentative paper outline, it is important to understand its definition and purpose. So, what is the outline for an argumentative essay? Outline for an argumentative essay involves defending one’s position on a certain topic by using logic and factual evidence. It requires doing preliminary research and presenting your findings in sketch form.

An argumentative essay outline forms the essay’s basic structure and contains its main elements, briefly described and connected together using logical transitions. Once you finish and review this short version, it will be much easier to spot mistakes and logical gaps. After correcting them, you’ll be one step away from writing a high-quality essay.

Argumentative Essay Outline Format

Setting a correct format for argumentative essay outline is important, as it ensures that the entire composition will be properly organized. This is where you create the logical structure, which can be checked for gaps and mistakes before writing the complete text. A simple argumentative essay outline should be composed like this:

  1. Introduction This part contains your main topic description and your thesis statement. The latter should be provided fully, while the other descriptions can be sketchy at this stage. Try using some kind of a ‘hook’ to engage your readers.
  2. Body paragraphs It is where you briefly introduce your arguments, as well as counterarguments you aim to refute. Mention your evidence and include your sources, but don’t be too wordy, as this is just a sketch for now.
  3. Conclusion It should briefly summarize the argumentation and how it supports your thesis.

More examples of an argumentative essay structure outline are available in our downloadable materials.

Types of an Argumentative Essay Outline

Before learning how to write an outline for an argumentative essay, you must figure out which type is best for your specific topic. This information might be specified in your assignment, otherwise, it is up to you. The layout of an argumentative essay you’re writing depends on the persuasive approach you’ve chosen.

There are three main types:

  1. Classical, also known as Aristotelian
  2. Rogerian
  3. Toulmin.

Now let's talk about each argument essay outline type in detail. We’ll show you what the differences between them are and when it is better to choose one or another.

Classical Argumentative Essay Outline

Let’s start with the classical argument outline. It is also named Aristotelian, honoring the memory of the ancient Greek philosopher who perfected the logical method of presenting argumentation.

The general structure should follow a 5 paragraph essay format. Here is how you should compose your outline of an argumentative essay when using this structure type:

  1. Explain your thesis, making it clear
  2. Mention the opposing thesis if there is one
  3. List your arguments, referring to evidence you have collected
  4. Mention counterarguments, providing evidence that contradicts them
  5. Summarize it, showing that your thesis has been proven by your arguments.

This type is used for direct discussions and straightforward topics.

Rogerian Argumentative Essay Outline

In a Rogerian outline for an argumentative essay, you are expected to pay more attention to the opposing viewpoints, considering the strong and weak sides of both. In this case, the paper focuses not on refuting antagonistic argumentation but rather on finding some middle ground.

This argumentative essay layout can be used when you’re aiming to help two opposing sides reach a mutual agreement at a certain point. Another situation when you should consider such an approach is when addressing an audience hostile to your viewpoint – for example, when arguing against the rules or habits of a specific group.

Toulmin Argumentative Essay Outline

When your topic needs some complicated analysis on different levels, use the Toulmin outline of an argumentative essay. This model is based on six main elements:

  • Claim – your central statement
  • Grounds – evidence backing the claim
  • Warrant – logical connection between the grounds and the claim
  • Backings – additional arguments strengthening the warrant
  • Qualifier – the measure of certainty in the claim
  • Rebuttal – refutes possible counterarguments to the claim.

This format of argumentative essay outline should be used for refuting existing argumentation against your own claim.

If you are struggling with outlining your argumentative essay, re-check its main points. Correcting mistakes early on saves hundreds of working hours. To save even more, consider to buy college essays from professional academic writers. 

Argumentative Essay Outline Template

Have you picked your paper format? If yes, you should be ready to proceed. Need an argumentative outline template? If you still hesitate and search for extra hints, it's fine – there are plenty of them on this page!

We’ve prepared a comprehensive argument essay outline template for each of the main types described in the previous section. You can find them below.

Classical Argumentative Essay Outline Template

If your task is to simply present your point of view on a certain subject and back it up with solid facts, you need a classical argument essay outline. This is the most common and straightforward type of structuring your argumentation, so it can be freely used unless your situation requires a different approach.

Here is our outline for argumentative essay example:

  1. Introduction
    1. Intriguing description or some wordplay to ‘hook’ your audience
    2. Brief context of the problem
    3. Your full thesis statement together with an extra explanation if necessary
  2. Your argument #1: Better start with the easiest one. Explain how it is related to your thesis and provide the supporting evidence:
    1. Data set #1
    2. Data set #2, etc.
  3. Your argument #2: Formatted the same way as the previous one
  4. Counterargument #1: Select the most important or well-known viewpoint from opposing stances and briefly analyze it:
    1. Point out its logical flaws or provide the evidence that refutes it (or refutatio).
    2. Briefly mention how this analysis results in reinforcing your own position.
  5. Counterargument #2: This and further ones should be formatted in exactly the same way
  6. Conclusion
    1. Summarize your argumentation without repeating it and show how it supports your thesis (this part is also known as peroratio).
    2. Add some final notes or a call to action to engage your audience.

Rogerian Argumentative Essay Outline Template

When attempting to counter a formidable position, you need to pay great attention to opposing claims. You might want to find some common ground and reach an agreement with the opposing side, and that is what the Rogerian type is meant for. Follow this argument essay template for conducting an extra analysis of conflicting viewpoints:

  1. Introduction
    1. Describe the problem and add brief context if necessary.
    2. Explain your own viewpoint on it as well as opposing stances. You might pick the most well-known of them or the one which shares enough common ground with your position if that helps. Highlight this common ground.
    3. Give your thesis statement in a full sentence.
  2. Summarize the opposing viewpoint
    1. Explore the evidence which supports it.
    2. Analyze the strength of this position, given the quality of evidence. See if it can be refuted.
    3. Mention other positions, if any. Follow the same format as used for the first one.
  3. Validate the opposing viewpoint(s)
    1. Explain that you understand the opposing position and the reasons behind it.
    2. Highlight specific details or areas where you have common ground with the opponent.
  4. Present your own position
    1. Your argument #1: explain how it is related to your thesis and provide the supporting evidence.
    2. Your argument #1: present it in the same format as the 1st one. The same goes for all other arguments.
  5. Propose a common ground
    1. Point out the elements of both positions which you and your opponent could agree upon.
    2. Develop a compromising solution that would encompass these agreeable elements from both sides.
  6. Conclusion
    1. Summarize the compromise and the arguments from both sides which back it.
    2. Explain how both sides could benefit from agreeing upon this common ground position.

Check below for more argumentative essay outline examples.

Toulmin Argumentative Essay Outline Template

This argument template for an essay will be useful in case of facing complicated argumentation, which should be properly analyzed. The Toulmin format outline argumentative essay example is here:

  1. Introduction
    1. Come up with something interesting to ‘hook’ your audience.
    2. Provide a brief context of the problem.
    3. Give your full thesis statement.
  2. Grounds
    1. Evidence #1, including the logical connection between it and your claim
    2. Evidence #2, formatted in the same way, etc.
  3. Your warrant #1
    1. Briefly show how it supports your thesis.
    2. Show which of your evidence elements backs this warrant.
    3. Provide qualifiers for your argumentation: be open and show its weak sides.
  4. Your warrant #2, formatted in the same way, etc.
  5. Opposition review
    1. Opposing viewpoint #1:
      1. Analyze their claim, evaluating its warrants and qualifiers.
      2. Provide your rebuttal.
    2. Opposing viewpoint #2, formatted in the same way, etc.
  6. Conclusion
    1. Briefly summarize your warrants.
    2. Summarize the opposing viewpoints, mentioning how you have refuted them.
    3. Show that your thesis is supported better.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay Outline Step-By-Step

Let’s put together all the tips on how to write an argumentative essay outline. This section contains a quick guide that could serve as your argumentative essay planning sheet. Make sure to follow this recommended course when composing an academic paper:

  1. Think it through Making an argumentative writing outline efficient and persuasive requires good knowledge of the selected topic. So, choose one you are familiar with. You must be able to explain your position well and defend it successfully. And don’t pick an easy one. It should be interesting enough for your audience to get engaged.
  2. Do your research Gather key information about your problem before writing an argumentative essay outline. Check if you have enough evidence to back your claim and refute possible counterarguments. Verify that it clearly shows what you actually need and doesn’t prove an opposing position.
  3. Pick a format Given the specifics of the chosen problem, find out which approach will suit you best: Classical, Rogerian, or Toulmin. If you start creating your argumentative essay outline in one format and then realize that you need to switch to another, you might lose a lot of time. Too risky for those who have tight deadlines!
  4. Structure it properly Follow the recommended templates and put every argument outline into a separate paragraph. The same applies to introductory sections. Remember that proper formatting increases your essay’s readability and thus serves your cause.
  5. Keep it concise Make it brief but understandable, ensuring that all key points and data are mentioned. Remember that you just need to outline an argumentative essay, not write the full text. Besides, writing briefly saves you some precious time.
  6. Review and correct Spend some time going through your argumentative research essay outline and check carefully for errors or gaps. Read it to yourself or ask someone else to give it as much critique as possible. If you miss something important now, it will be more difficult to find and correct this mistake later.

These tips should be enough for creating an argumentative essay outline for high school and college. You can check how to write an argumentative essay in one of our guides. But also check the samples we've collected for you – maybe you’ll get some extra ideas for your own work. 

Argumentative Essay Outline Examples

Searching for a real argumentative outline example? We’ve collected several outlines for essays addressing popular questions. Check them out, and hopefully, you’ll draw some inspiration from them, which will help you with your own work. Just don’t copy any of that content, as it would mean plagiarism.

Don’t forget about the downloadable argumentative essay outline sample. Scroll down, and you’ll find it.

Death Penalty Argument Outline Example

Example of Argumentative Essay Outline on Death Penalty

Sample Outline for Argumentative Essay on Abortion

Sample of Argumentative Essay Outline on Abortion

Argument Essay Outline Example on Human Trafficking

Example of Argument Essay Outline on Human Trafficking

Sample of Argumentative Essay Outline on Gender Equality

Example of Argumentative Essay Outline on Gender Equality

Argumentative Essay Outline Example on Bullying

Example of Argumentative Essay Outline on Bullying

Browse StudyCrumb’s Blog to find complete argumentative essay examples formatted accordingly.

Argumentative Paper Outline Checklist

Here’s also a brief list of what should be written in an outline for an argument:

  • My thesis statement is full and clear.
  • I provided the necessary context of the selected problem.
  • I considered the ‘hook’ in order to engage your audience.
  • Main arguments that support the thesis are logically connected to each other.
  • I selected solid evidence backing the arguments.
  • I planned the main counterarguments, together with their rebuttal based on facts and logic.
  • My conclusion is going to summarize the strength of my position compared to opposing ones.
  • My argument writing template includes a strong call to action and gives some food for thought.

Bottom Line on Argumentative Essay Outline

We have shown in detail how to outline an argumentative essay and what are main structure types you could use for it, namely:

  • Classical
  • Rogerian
  • Toulmin.

We have also listed what should an outline for an argumentative essay include, particularly:

  • Introduction with context and a ‘hook’
  • Thesis statement
  • Arguments with supporting evidence
  • Counterarguments with their rebuttal
  • Conclusion.

An argumentative writing template has also been provided. We believe that this information will help you complete an excellent paper on any argumentative essay topic

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FAQ About Argumentative Essay Outline

1. Why is it important to create an argumentative essay outline?

Writing an argument essay outline helps to form its layout and properly place the main elements: thesis, background, arguments, evidence, and conclusion. It serves as an argumentative essay plan with logical transitions between the key elements. Now you can read this draft version again and spot any inconsistencies before composing the full-text version. That is a much easier task.

3. What should be included in the outline for an argument?

Your argument outline needs to include the following:

  • Analysis of certain aspects of the problem which you could use to clearly maintain your point
  • Logic and reasoning to defend your position using your debate skills
  • Solid evidence retrieved from credible sources to back your claim
  • Visible connection to your thesis and your other arguments, otherwise, your audience might have an issue with understanding your essay.

2. What should include a strong outline for an argumentative essay?

A strong outline for an argumentative essay should include:

  • Strong thesis, preferably about an interesting and controversial problem
  • Proper arguments backed by logic and solid evidence
  • Credible sources you can obtain the evidence from
  • Proper rebuttal for counterarguments, pointing at their weak sides
  • Logical connection between all parts of your outline
  • Conclusion, which summarizes all arguments and rebuttals, showing that your thesis is maintained.
Article posted on:Feb 17, 2023
Article updated on:Feb 22, 2024


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