Persuasive Essays – Tips & Examples of How to Write Them

20.02.23 Types of academic essays Time to read: 6min

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A persuasive essay, which is a significant aspect of the academic essay, is a concise piece of writing, typically ranging from 500 to 2000 words, that advocates for a particular viewpoint. Rather than deconstructing, attacking, or refuting another argument, persuasive essays passionately argue to inform and convince readers that their expressed opinion is the most valid. Within the realm of academic writing, persuasive essays serve as a powerful tool to influence and shape the opinions of the readers.

Persuasive Essays – In a Nutshell

The following article on persuasive essays covers:

  • What persuasive essays are
  • What makes a persuasive essay great
  • How persuasive essays are structured
  • Persuasive essay examples
  • The three Aristotelian themes of persuasive essays
  • How to write a persuasive essay step by step

Definition: Persuasive essays

  • Persuasive essays always cover subjective themes. With any topic under intense debate, an effective persuasive essay can succinctly argue a particular viewpoint by presenting the facts (as the author sees them).
  • Decent persuasive essays are more than just a bland ledger of factual statements. A great persuasive essay relies on three core rhetorical tools – Ethos (authoritarian appeal), pathos (emotional appeal), and logos (logical appeal). These themed elements flow together in prose to appeal to all biases.
  • The open-ended applications of persuasive essays are immense. A quality persuasive essay can argue the merits of brand-new, fresh perspectives just as easily as defending a centuries-old status quo. It’s your choice.
  • Nevertheless, persuasive essays aren’t always the best way to frame written debates. More in-depth topical explorations and scientific (objective) studies might benefit more from segmented projects or long-form articles.
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Persuasive essays: The introduction

A good introduction establishes your controversy, the broad limits of said debate, and which side of the divide you (personally) fall on. It should also briefly explain why your chosen material is relevant (today) and use “hooks” to convince your reader to care.

You can structure your introduction with these rhetorical questions:

Rhetorical Question Answer Structure
What does this article cover? Briefly explain your chosen topic.
How is this topic important? Link to current context (e.g. The news).
Alternatively - When was this important? Good for historical context.
Why should I care? Link your topic to events, ideals, or principles.
Where does the author stand? Summarize your opinions and theories.

Here’s a short (fictional) example for reference.


Cosmic Voyage: The Second One (1987-2002) is often considered the best weekly sci-fi show ever made for American television. The Byronic Captain Jimmy Blorbo charmed viewers with his debonaire yet diplomatic engagement style, bare-knuckle astronaut action, and trademark love of teatime.

Jimmy’s classically-trained actor, Sir Charles Casserole, is now (somehow) in the running to be the next secretary general of the UN. His nomination has been publically controversial, derided as “unserious” by world leaders. Can actors really embody the traits of those they pretend to be?

I think so. Heroic actors have exemplary people skills and commanding charisma – vital strengths for a public speaker. And playing a great leader on screen can easily translate into real-life political success. Here’s why.

Persuasive Essays: The body

The body of your persuasive essay is where you make your main argument in themed paragraphs. It’s the core of your persuasive essay.

The body consists of a series of points that provide evidence for your central assertion (e.g. heroic actors make excellent politicians). When used skillfully, the body can also house themed threads and subtle appeals to positive emotions (e.g. nostalgia, enthusiasm, happiness).

You can use the simple TEEL method to structure each paragraph in your persuasive essays:

  • Topic – A single sentence summarizing a good supporting point.
  • Explanation – Elaborate on why it’s a good point.
  • Evidence – Provide solid proof as to why the point’s true.
  • Link – Reference your core argument or the next paragraph (or both).

If we applied TEEL to the argument above, parts of a paragraph might look like this:


  • Topic Sentance – Despite his seemingly frivolous background, Casserole commands a positive online fandom who draw on his life lessons and nuanced geopolitical opinions.
  • Explanation – Charles has become a committed advocate for global peace, justice, and fairness. Followers consistently praise his well-measured yet empathetic responses to traumatic current events.
  • Evidence – One recent solidarity post he made contained only his characters’ iconic catchphrase, “Injustice: No Thanks!”. It broke all records for social media with over twenty million “likes”.
  • Link – Charles clearly has a deep well of public respect, recognition, and acclaim for his informal, populist, and often unconventional diplomacy.

The body can also refute counterarguments. However, try to keep your defensive writing brief. Solid persuasive essays avoid spending too much time anticipating criticism or better ideas – you’re making a positive, firm statement about your opinion.

Don’t deviate much, either. You don’t need to state the context of every point you mention. Stick to the present tense wherever you can.

Persuasive essays: The conclusion

Your conclusion briefly restates your core themes, context, and the most relevant points before summarizing why the argument you’ve just made is correct.

It should contain a recap threading all your evidence together and a final statement as to why the reader should adopt your opinion. It’s also an excellent place to make your “golden” point. Finish on a positive note by promoting the very best piece of evidence for your views.

Your final lines should be climatic, strong, simple, clear, and decisive. No one enjoys reading a passionate argument that finishes by hedging or “fence-sitting”.

Here’s another (fictional) example:


Casserole has leveraged decades of well-deserved fame, taking lessons from his most famous role to promote a stuffed, informed platform for ethical, positive change. As a result? Charles already boasts an extraordinary +60 worldwide approval rating (RESGOV, Dec. 2022).

With an appreciative audience of billions, an uncanny knack for predicting the “right side of history”, and a lot of ready-made, crowd-pleasing press, the idealistic Voyage ethos he still embodies is more than ready to go global. Justice? Yes, please.

The three elements of persuasive essays

The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle identified three rhetorical elements at the heart of every great persuasive argument. The ability to appeal well to people’s sense of authority (ethos), emotions (pathos), and reality (logos) can make or break a persuasive essay.


Ethos is general proof that you know your topic. Your life experience, reading, qualifications, sheer interest, essays, work, and reputation count – when cited appropriately and effectively.

Beware! An authoritative ethos alone isn’t enough to fully justify your opinion. Excellent credentials count for nothing if your fundamental topical understanding is poor or based on fiction.


Pathos is an appeal to the readers’ sense of empathy and emotion. It’s central to making an ethical case as to why it’s good that readers should do, say, or believe in something.

Pathos can also invoke positive connections as a form of persuasion. Readers value evidence that what you’re advocating is linked to emotional memories they like and value.


Logos covers the practical, logical, and objective evidence that backs up your argument. Reasoned theories, factual proof, measured data, and anecdotal evidence fall into this category.

Without provable, coherent logos? Your persuasive essays will collapse under close academic scrutiny. Facts put validity and strength behind your words.

Writing persuasive essays: Step-by-step guide

  1. Identify your audience – Who is your work to convince?
  2. Research your subject – Examine arguments and pick a side.
  3. Draft your points – Select the best available evidence.
  4. Build your case – Link useful facts, data, and anecdotes.
  5. Anticipate counterarguments – Are there any objections?
  6. Write and refine – Fine-tune your finished argument.
  7. Call to action – Tell your reader what they should do.
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Persuasive Essays are short-form written pieces that make a positive, evidenced case for one side of a particular argument. A persuasive essay can also introduce brand-new perspectives.

Convincing others to think like you is the foundation of all power. Well-written persuasive essays can sell controversial products, public figures, policies, and projects.

No – watch out! A talented author can fake logos by using circular reasoning, “common sense”, emotional blackmail, and repeating the opinions of others.