Argumentative Paper Format - What You Should Know

  • Apr 02, 2020

For people who do not know how to structure an argumentative essay, it is necessary to clarify what we mean by the format. When applying this term to an argumentative genre, we mean the way it should be structured, and appear as an organized piece of writing. Bearing this in mind, when starting an essay, you should make out the structure before you begin the actual writing. This means splitting your ideas and arguments into fragments. An argumentative essay should have three key parts, which should all be organized into paragraphs:

  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion

Let's look at our argumentative essay structure example. The introduction is the opening or first paragraph, and it allows us to outline the topic and issues that are being brought up. You can do it by providing a brief background of the matter (perhaps with a short example) and explaining why it is worthy of debate. The writer's position or stance should be clearly expressed without subtlety. The piece that reveals the writer's opinion is known as a thesis statement. It is typically placed at the end of the introduction, as in the argumentative essay format.

In this argumentative essay format example, the body is the main piece of the paper in which presents the writer's arguments. For an argumentative article to be compelling, this section has to be well written. The aim of writing an argumentative essay is using rational and coherent arguments to convince that the stance or position taken on the issue is valid. The objective is not necessarily to tweak someone's opinion but to get them to follow your reasoning. To succeed at this, arguments presented by the main body should be coherent, and based on facts, analytical in style, and show your grasp of the opposing views, while establishing why they are weak in contrast to your arguments. This is not easy to accomplish, no matter what kind of writing you are doing. However, using statistics and verifiable figures and anecdotes can help strengthen your case. The body should be organized into paragraphs, where each presents an important point, and logically flow into the following ones. The sections one, two, and three can be arranged to advance the points, while paragraph four or the final one is for weakening or discrediting the opposing stance.

The conclusion is always the last part of the paper. It allows you to finish the whole argument. The summation should remind readers of the main point of view and a few of the reasons, cited from the given points, that demonstrate why your opinion should be considered valid. One good technique of ending an argumentative essay format is to ask a question that may be rhetorical but nonetheless invites to think deeper and broader about the issue in ways previously ignored, or simply not considered.

APA Argument Essay Format

The APA format is a roadmap for creating academic documents like essays, research papers, and books, or other pieces that originated from the American Psychological Association (a scientific institution organized in July 1892), APA for short. It is a guideline for formatting documents. These rules are intended to make the comprehension of written work easier, increase the clarity of expression, and decrease partiality in the choice of words. This style is popular in social science areas.

So, you already have some basic background info about the APA guidelines. Next, we'll see what useful features it includes that is relevant for essay writing, specifically for the argumentative essay format. Before we continue, it's important to state that these rules generally apply to documents tailored to the APA format. However, some of them, like title page formatting, may not be relevant for writing essays. This is true since an argumentative piece is not expected to have a cover page.

Nonetheless, other guidelines can be useful. The simple way to figure out what can help is to engage your basic understanding of what kind of writing you are doing and then determine for yourself what rules are relevant. Here we will examine the typical formatting rules for APA papers and then the expected structure of the document. But we'll look only at the main body section (since it is more relevant and common to an argumentative essay). So, here are some general APA document formatting rules:

  • The document is to be written using white sheets each 8.5 by 11 inches.
  • You should make a 1-inch margin on all four sides of every sheet.
  • The font type is Times New Roman, and its size - 12pts.
  • Double-spacing the document is necessary.
  • Indent the starting word of every paragraph by half an inch.
  • Each page should have a capitalized page header that is aligned to the upper left corner. The header is the name of your piece. If you see that it is too long, you can shorten it. It should not exceed 50 characters, including spaces.
  • Numbering should be placed at the top right corner without using abbreviations. A good APA rule to take up for working with an argumentative essay format is using only the Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3).

So, those are major formatting rules that apply for APA style documents. They are by no means complete but should provide you with the most important info.


APA Style Structure

Now, for the structure, the APA expects a paper to consist of four parts or sections:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main Body
  4. References

The title page is also called the cover page. As already mentioned, for essays that aren't lengthy, there's no need for a cover except when it is specifically requested.

An abstract serves as an overview of the whole process. It comprises of the info on what topic is brought up, the methods used when researching or analyzing the issues, and the major findings. Make it no bigger than 250 words.

The references are the record of sources used in creating the content. Citations should be put in a section titled References or Bibliography.

Now, as for the main body (which we will examine in more detail), there are many formatting rules and writing guides by the APA. We'll start with some general guidelines and then shift to formatting and structure rules.

The text is expected to be rich with fool-proof arguments backed with verifiable data or hard evidence. The words projecting or suggesting personal bias or opinion should be left out, unlike in an argumentative essay format. The word choice should be pertinent to the subject and help the reader understand the written text and the intended meaning. Keep in mind, this is why we even have formatting guides. The conventions that also apply here are proper punctuation and grammar.

As for structure, the main part - the body - starts with an introduction, the section where the topic is introduced. The author goes into greater detail in contrast to the abstract. He or she explains the background of the issue. This can involve giving figures or statistics, using personal stories to shed more light on the realities and scale of the problems. In the next paragraph, the ways of researching the issues should be specified and explained. You should also convey how the data was collected.

The next part is the results. Center-align the subtitle and make it bold. The summation should involve graphs and other visual media. The last section is the discussion, which is also in bold and center-aligned. This place is the one where the writer gives his explication of the result and shows how the outcomes informed the findings and whether the writer's initial view was backed or contradicted by the outcome. The extents of the research, and ways to improve it, should also be included. These rules are essential to know regardless of what kind of paper you are working on, argumentative essay format included.

When you use information from a secondary source, mention it. This can also be called the in-text citation. The APA simply requires indicating the name and when the cited work was published, both enclosed in parentheses. For example, (Atkins 1998).

Outline Format for an Argumentative Essay APA Style

It is time to gain insight into how an argumentative essay written in this style can be outlined. But before we begin, it helps to have and idea what an outline means. An argumentative essay layout is a rough content listing of a piece of writing. It is intended to provide the writer with the flexibility when planning the structure, and a choice of what material to implement as well as where to do it. In other words, you can compare it to the foundation upon which a house is built or the skeleton that gives shape and supports every part of the animal's body.

When using an outline method, try to come up with the critical sections of your piece and organize them into paragraphs. This will be the skeleton of your paper. Under each of them, place the most important ideas that are to be conveyed. The APA argumentative essay outline format is also expected to keep the key sections: introduction, body (with paragraphs each conveying a vital point), and conclusion. Right now, you may wonder, "Is there a uniform way for creating an outline?" The answer is no. Not everything will be handed to you by guidelines, especially when faced with an argumentative essay format. The process of creating a layout is individual and creative. People differ in style and choices. You can always create yours just like you prefer. That being said, the best or most effective way to help you get a hang on this is by way of example. Below is an outline sample.

Argumentative Essay Topic: Should People Be Forced Into Arranged Marriage?


  • Personal story of a real person highlighting how he or she was forced into an arranged marriage, and the impact it had on them
  • Cite a statistic to support the heft of the issue of forced marriage or its effects.
  • The thesis should be clearly expressed here.

Essay Body:

  • Paragraph 1: The main causes of forced marriage and the cultural, social, or economic influences that inform the practice.
  • Paragraph 2: how the practice affects the people involved and their loved ones. Using anecdotal evidence and statistics can be very effective here to support your claims.
  • Paragraph 3: Why the practice should be banned or permitted to continue in the modern world. Mention the opposing opinions and make counter-arguments.

Essay Conclusion:

  • Transition: mention your key idea or thesis.
  • Connection: pick a sentence, or a couple of them, from the previous parts that corroborate your key idea.
  • Closing Words: expand the issue by asking an especially sharp question or mentioning a relevant fact.

With argumentative essay format and all the other ones, you should be aware of the required formatting.


MLA Essay Format

Now we'll focus our attention on another type of writing format. Yes, yet another one. You might be thinking why we have to do this. The fact is, there are numerous styles of academic writing, and it might happen that you will be given an assignment that involves using a specific one. Consequently, the more you expose yourself to the various types, the more comfortable and prepared you will be to take on such tasks. So what is the MLA format? It is a guideline for specific writing that provides conventions for formatting and presenting papers or documents. It was developed by the Modern Language Association of America, hence the abbreviation, MLA. The MLA is an institution of scholars in literature and linguistics. It was founded in 1883. The book containing the info regarding this style is titled the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. It was first published in 1985 but, sadly, is not in print anymore. A simplified version for students, the MLA handbook, also exists. The most current iteration is the eighth edition published in 2016. This framework is popular within the humanities fields of study, particularly in English literature, comparative literature, media, and cultural studies, and similar disciplines.

With some background info about the guide already in our heads, let us find out what the MLA format specifically requires. We will look at the general rules for working in an argumentative essay format or other kinds of academic writing. They are:

  • The document should be written and printed on white sheets of paper, each 8.5 by 11 inches.
  • Excluding the header, you should make a 1-inch margin on each side of the page.
  • Remember about double-spacing. Keep tabs on single spaces after periods or other punctuation used, except when someone specifically requested otherwise.
  • The font type here is the Times New Roman, and the size - 12pts.
  • If you have chosen a different font type, the MLA recommends that you make regular and italics text different enough to avoid confusion.
  • Put a header on every sheet. Numbering should be placed in the top corner to the right.
  • Indent the beginning lines of each paragraph by half an inch. When doing this, MLA suggests using the tab key.
  • Use italics very carefully. Apply it for the lengthy titles of other works, and in rare situations, for emphasis.

An additional vital part of the discussed format is the section heading. This can also come handy for an argumentative essay format. If you want to divide a paper into pieces, it is recommended that each section is marked with a number and a period, then space, and the head. Additionally, the beginning letter of every word should be capitalized. Here are some examples.

  • The Beginning
  • The Initial Efforts
  • Going Full Scale

When referencing someone else's material, use parenthetical citation. What this means is placing the name of the author inside a set of parentheses. Specifically, it is required to mention the name and the page from which the quote was lifted. The surname and the page number of the quoted work should appear in the text. Complete info on the quoted material should be provided in the bibliography section. Here are some examples:

The power of the mind in unleashing creativity is best captured in Socrates' work (24).

The power of the human mind to unleash creativity is unquestioned (Socrates, 24).

In the instance 1, we see that the surname is given in the sentence, but the numbering is provided in parentheses. In example 2, both are inside the brackets. You have written a piece in an argumentative essay format, and someone expressed an interest in the quoted material, he can get more detailed info from the references page.

For the sake of clarifying, look at this sample reference showing how citations work on the bibliography page.

Socrates, George. The Human Mind: A Rich Tapestry. Cambridge UP, 1960.

As you can see, the surname is given first, then a comma, after which goes a single space before the name. Don't forget to mention who published it and when.

With that said, you can follow other guidelines for formatting title pages. However, the mentioned ones are the most relevant for an argumentative paper format. More details can be found by searching the web or reading the MLA handbook.

MLA Format Argumentative Essay Outline

Now, we'll concentrate on the process of writing an MLA essay outline. The purpose of this should be clear to you since we have previously talked about the concept. Frankly, the outline in this format is pretty much the same. In other words, you won't find many specifics of doing this. In fact, the layout previously provided by us can be used too. The main difference is only in the finished look and styling. The differences in styles are important to know when working with an argumentative essay format. For clarity, take a look at this example.

Is Smoking Harmful to Teenagers? Should Smoking Products Be Legally Controlled or Banned for Teenagers?


  • Open with a statistic from a reputable organization about the harm caused by smoking.
  • Make a statement on why the issue is serious and must be debated and acted upon.
  • Express your opinion on the issue (your thesis).

Essay Body:

  • Paragraph 1: why people take up smoking. Use real people as examples.
  • Paragraph 2: how smokers have been affected and also their loved ones.
  • Paragraph 3: what solutions should be applied. Here, the main argument should be advanced as to whether it should be legally controlled or banned. Using actual examples of implemented solutions with the results can make your case stronger.


  • Transition: Reiterate your key idea and the serious weight of the issue.
  • Connection: Select one or two sentences from your paper to support the main point.
  • Closing Words: Stimulate the reader by asking something. This will help to push your argument further, and convince the opposition that your points are valid.

In the Works Cited (References) part, remember to arrange the authors in alphabetical order.

Finally, remember that planning out the essay structure before writing is crucial for creating a remarkable paper deserving of a high grade. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So use the knowledge you have acquired from reading this article to plan your argumentative essay format structure with ease.

That said, if you realize that for whatever reason you cannot write a paper yourself, we invite you to reach out to us to talk about your academic writing needs. We have skilled and experienced writers who are deeply knowledgeable in their disciplines. The combination of these qualities means that you can be sure you will get truly remarkable pieces of writing specifically for you, according to your desires or given requirements.

We look forward to playing a significant part in helping you achieve academic success!


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