Persuasive Essay: What It Is and How to Write It

What Is Persuasive Essay?

A persuasive essay is a type of academic assignment, which requires the student to take a stand and convince the reader to believe in the idea and take some kind of action. If you have on idea how persuasive writing looks like, think of the editorial pieces you often read in newspapers. The writers take a stand and convince you to believe in it by providing powerful arguments. Think of any persuasive speech you know of, too. Politicians often rely on persuasive techniques when writing their speeches.

As a college student, you’ll write something similar, but in the form of an academic essay.

Now; there’s some level of confusion between the persuasive and argumentative essay format. In theory, there’s a difference. The argumentative essay should have strong arguments based on extensive research. The writer is not trying to take a stand and persuade, but rather to summarize facts and discuss the way they disagree or agree with different points of view. The parts of argumentative essay are the same with those of the persuasive paper. However, an argumentative essay usually has more references.

Persuasive writing, on the other hand, still relies on facts, but is more dependent on your personal stand.

When you’re covering topics for middle school or high school, however, there’s rarely a difference.

Main Parts of the Persuasive Essay Structure

Before you start writing this essay, you’ll need an outline. That’s important, since you want to follow the format your professor expects to see. If you take the free form of an editorial, for example, you’ll miss the point no matter how impressive your writing is.

Here’s what the persuasive essay outline should have:


In the first paragraph, you’ll introduce the topic by providing background. You’ll talk about the way the issue is being perceived. At the end of the introduction, you’ll write your thesis statement. In persuasive writing, the thesis statement should express your personal point of view, which is based on logical facts and arguments.

Essay Body

The body of a persuasive essay usually contains three paragraphs. Each of them should contain one main argument, which proves your stand. You may dedicate the third body paragraph to a counterclaim, which expresses the opposing point of view. Then, you’ll offer evidence and strong logical reasoning that disagrees with that counterclaim.


Finally, you’ll connect the loose ends and you’ll convince the reader that your stand makes a lot of sense. The point of a persuasive essay is to persuade, so you want to inspire people to take some kind of action. If you’re writing an essay about pollution, for example, you may convince them to stop using plastic water bottles as a start.

If you’re wondering how to end the essay, just think about ending a speech. The reader should be left inspired and ready to change something in their actions.

General Tips: How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Now you know what a persuasive essay is by definition, and you know what elements it should contain. But how do you make it attractive for the reader? Here are few important tips to follow:

  • Choose a really good topic! Your professor usually gives you a theme, which is too general. For example, they will tell you to write a persuasive essay on pollution. But will you just use Pollution as the topic of your paper? No; that’s too general and it would take pages and pages of content for you to express a fraction of the facts on that topic. You need to narrow it down. If you don’t have any ideas, you can rely on examples. Great persuasive writing topics can be real triggers of the creative and critical thinking process.
  • Support your claim with strong evidence. Don’t just search for random articles on pages without authority. You need studies, journals, or news articles from reputable sources. You need facts!
  • Write in a very clear way. When you want to persuade someone, you want them to understand what you’re talking about. If you establish an overly intellectual tone, you’ll make the content boring and you’ll lose the reader’s attention along the way. Keep your expression as simple as possible.
  • Make the essay interesting to read! Think of persuasive speeches: they are full of facts, but they are also very fun to listen to. When someone uses humor and wit to discuss a serious topic, you feel attracted to their words. That’s the effect you want to achieve through essay writing.

Main Steps to Write a Persuasive Essay

After those general tips on how to write a good persuasive paper, you’re ready for specifics. Here’s a step by step guide on how to write this essay:

  1. Brainstorm! Think about the general theme that your professor provided. Write down whatever you know about it. This should be a freewriting process. Don’t worry about the quality or sense of the things you write. Just note down whatever comes to your mind. This is a great way to come up with cool essay topics.
  2. Research! Through brainstorming, you got some basic ideas. Now you need to research. Can you back them up? Gather the sources and record them. You’ll need to reference them later on.
  3. Write that outline. It will guide you through the process of writing, so you won’t allow your focus to wander away.
  4. Now, it’s finally time for writing. You have the structure of the paper and you know what you’re going to write about. It won’t take much time and effort for you to fill in the gaps.
  5. Every talented persuasive essay writer knows that without proper editing, they can’t achieve their full potential. Once you have the first draft, you have to polish it out. It has stylistic and grammar mistakes that would ruin the impression for the reader. If you think it’s already perfect, you’re wrong. Perfection is not possible in essay writing, especially in the first draft. Read through it and make it better!

Are you ready to tackle the challenge of persuasive writing? You can do it!

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