Writing a good argumentative essay is a common task both for a student and for a copywriter. Success is not guaranteed if you are not aware of some typical dos and don’ts. This article focuses on the most common mistakes and ways to avoid them. Let’s begin with a concise list:
- Badly formulated topic;
- Non sequitur arguments;
- Bad evidential support;
- Weak conclusion;
- Missing citations;
- Wrong style.
Now let’s focus on each common mistake.
Badly formulated topic
If your client wants to buy argumentative essay, he usually provides you with a topic. This is where you should watch out! If the student formulated the main statement badly, there won’t be much of an essay. But this is where you can make a mistake too. The essay prompt must be reflected in the introduction, which concisely states the main statement. If you write the introduction poorly and fail to mention the entire statement itself, the whole essay will fall short of its goal.
The very first paragraph of the essay must contain a clearly formulated thesis statement that forms the entire topic of the essay. If the thesis is not obvious from the prompt provided to you by the client, you should clarify the issue as soon as possible.
Non sequitur arguments
If you have a good thesis statement, make sure that the arguments you use in favour of the chosen point of view actually do support the statement. This is a very common mistake. For example, the thesis statement goes “World War II led to the formation of a bipolar world”, while in the body of the essay you write everything you generally know about World War II except facts that are relevant to the chosen topic. You pontificate about battlefield casualties, provide tables of major battles and count every soldier in every army… but nothing about the treaties of Yalta and Potsdam which actually shaped the postwar bipolar world.
Bad evidential support
All arguments must be supported by facts. Arguments do not work without facts. If you fail to provide facts, or, even worse, cite myths and factoids, the entire argumentative essay will, most likely, be rejected.
Make sure that you understand which sources are considered valid for this essay. The client should provide this information. Usually, scientific journal articles are the gold standard of authoritative sources, books next, and websites sometimes qualify as authoritative sources and sometimes do not. In many cases absolutely no websites as sources are allowed; you must use either journal articles or books as your sources. Generally, the hierarchy of authoritative sources goes as following, in descending order:
- Scientific journals;
- Non-fiction books;
- Scientific websites;
- Miscellaneous websites;
Note that Wikipedia goes last in this list. Most professors reject its validity outright. It is best to never use it as an authoritative source.
A weak conclusion is a sloppily written one that merely repeats the main thesis of the essay. The role of the conclusion is not to repeat it, but to reformulate it while incorporating arguments and facts you included in the body of the essay. A conclusion must concisely restate every argument and summarize how all these arguments speak in favour of the chosen thesis.
When you use authoritative sources and cite facts, each source must be properly cited. This is easy to miss, but missing citations can sink an otherwise quite sound essay. Essays are written in one of several most common formats. In the United States, the most common formats are APA, MLA and Chicago/Turabian. Each format has its own standards for citations, and they must be always upheld.
Start your citation check-up with your list of “Works Cited”. Make sure that every book, article or website you refer to is listed here in the proper format. If it is so, proofread your essay and make sure to catch every argument and fact that uses outside sources. Every instance of such usage should be marked with a citation in the proper format.
The formatting styles are not just about citations. They also dictate the page format for the essay, headers, footers and other seemingly insignificant details. Make sure that every formatting detail conforms to the standards.