Before writing a persuasive essay, it’s very important that you create an outline to organize your arguments and to make sure you have enough supporting evidence behind each one. Organizing your thoughts is a good idea before beginning any writing assignment, but it is especially important that papers requiring an argument are meticulously sequenced in order to convince your audience that yours is the correct opinion. Confusing order or unrelated evidence will only convince your readers that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
So what exactly is a persuasive essay outline, and what does it entail? There are various formats for outlines, and you can modify these to suit your preferences as a writer. A basic persuasive essay outline template includes headings and subheadings for each critical piece in your essay, followed by minimal space for jotting down ideas to satisfy each of these requirements. Important headings include those for the main paragraph structure, meaning your introductory paragraph, your body paragraphs, and your conclusion paragraph. Under your introduction, include subheadings for the hook–how you plan to get your reader’s attention quickly–thesis statement, and arguments. A standard persuasive essay usually calls for three main arguments. Under each body paragraph, include space for each piece of evidence you’ll use to support that paragraph’s argument, followed by an idea for transition into the next. Finally, under your conclusion, plan space to decide how to restate your thesis and main arguments, and conclude with a punchy final statement that ties everything together succinctly and confidently.
Persuasive Essay Outline Format
a. Hook: story about friend cutting off thumb with chop saw
b. Thesis: Preparation saves time, effort, and money in the long run.
c. Argument 1: prep time is minimal but saves time-wasting mistakes later
d. Argument 2: if you prepare, you can find easier ways to do things than you first thought
e. Argument 3: errors due to poor planning can cost a ton of money
a. Argument 1
i. Evidence: saves time by finding holes in logic beforehand
ii. Evidence: forces you to order steps in the most time-saving way
iii. Evidence: saves time during project because you don’t need to stop after every step to decide what to do next
iv. Transition: saving time will also save effort…
b. Argument 2
i. Evidence: logic-ordered steps mean less running around for you
ii. Evidence: no constant reordering/thinking–your options have already been planned, just have to follow own instructions
iii. Transition: most importantly, saves you money…
c. Argument 3
i. Evidence: some mistakes are expensive, like hospital bills for lost limbs
ii. Evidence: small expenses add up, too; planning eliminates last-minute purchases
iii. Transition: with all these benefits, why not start planning now?
a. Restate thesis: Although it requires more of an upfront investment, thorough planning will help you finish faster, easier, and with extra cash in your pocket.
b. Restate arguments
c. Clincher: talk about how much happier friend would be if he had prepared first
Notice how this example includes all the necessary headings and subheadings. Most importantly, however, the notes are brief and informal; don’t spend all your time on your outline! Include just enough to remind you what you were thinking earlier, and let the real writing take place in your actual essay.