for Wendy Lewis

Argumentative Essay

Choose Your Own Topic–Identify a Controversial Issue

An appropriate topic for the argumentative essay should be one that

•Interests you•is neither too broad nor too narrow,•is open to controversy, and•is not already overly argued by other people.

Make sure your topic interests you.

Whatever topic you choose, it should be something that interests you, something that you feel strongly about, something that you’re passionate about. If it’s an argument that affects you and that you have personal experience about, it will be easier for you to build your ethos with personal experience.

Make sure your topic is neither too broad nor too narrow.

A topic like “presidential campaigns” might be too big for you to handle in a few pages. In contrast, “the use of scare tactics in presidential campaign ads” might be easier to handle. In a similar way, “advertising” sounds vague and broad while “truth in advertising” is more focused. On the other hand, too narrow topics are those that deal with trivial topics that your readers are not likely to be interested in.

Make sure your topic is controversial.

A controversial topic is one that people have different opinions about. For example, the “illegitimacy of thefts” is not a controversial topic while “the appropriate punishment for first-

Time theft offenders” is a more controversial one. Similarly, “the harmful effects of smoking” is not really a topic of controversy, but “heavy taxation on cigarettes” might be.

Make sure other people do not already overly argue your topic.

Topics such as “abortion” or “the death penalty” might yield easy arguments, but they have been argued so much that it’s very hard to come up with anything new to say about them. Unless you have something really unique and original to contribute to such topics, I’d strongly recommend that you avoid such topics.

Topics, which should not appear as subject, matter for this essay: abortion, capital punishment, and legalizing marijuana.

Choosing a good topic is not easy, and it’s critical for a good argumentative essay.


An argument essentially contains a central claim (your thesis) backed up by several supporting claims, which are further supported by concrete evidence–examples, other people’s opinions, etc. This argumentative essay not only will involve sound, logical reasoning but may also include some of the other techniques you’ve learned and used in the previous essays: narration, description, and analysis. One thing to keep in mind is that since you’re making an argument on a controversial issue, there’s always the other side. It’s vitally important that you address the other side if you want to present a fair and convincing argument.


Write a classical argument supporting your position about controversial topic. The outline for the essay has been posted, via link, on Blackboard!

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

A good argumentative essay may be supported by a balanced use of ethos, pathos, and logos. Although you don’t have to use each persuasive approach in your essay, keep in mind that without ethos, your essay will not carry credibility; without pathos, it won’t have effective emotional affect; and without logos, you might not necessarily expect your audience to buy into your argument. You may need to think about which persuasive approach would be more convincing for your audience.

SourcesAt minimum, three sources (credible or academic) should be used to write your essay.


Your audience for the argumentative essay will be people who are relatively familiar with the issue in question. They may or may not have a preconceived idea or argument on the issue, but most likely they do.

Some Technicalities

Please follow the following guidelines carefully. •Length- minimum 3 pages double spaced •Format- 12 point Times New Roman•MLA Format


Your essay will be graded primarily, though not exclusively, on the following: •Ideas/Choice of topic/Argument•Development•Organization

•Audience•MLA format•Grammar and Mechanics


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