Organizing Your Argument Purdue OWL® (2023)


This page summarizes three historical methods for argumentation, providing structural templates for each.

How can I effectively present my argument?

In order for your argument to be persuasive, it must use an organizational structure that the audience perceives as both logical and easy to parse. Three argumentative methods—theToulmin Method, Classical Method, and Rogerian Methodgive guidance for how to organize the points in an argument.

Note that these are only three of the most popular models for organizing an argument. Alternatives exist. Be sure to consult your instructor and/or defer to your assignment’s directions if you’re unsure which to use (if any).

Toulmin Method

TheToulmin Methodis a formula that allows writers to build a sturdy logical foundation for their arguments. First proposed by author Stephen Toulmin inThe Uses of Argument (1958), the Toulmin Method emphasizes building a thorough support structure for each of an argument's key claims.

The basic format for the Toulmin Methodis as follows:

Claim:In this section, you explain your overall thesis on the subject. In other words, you make your main argument.

Data (Grounds):You should use evidence to support the claim. In other words, provide the reader with facts that prove your argument is strong.

Warrant (Bridge):In this section, you explain why or how your data supports the claim. As a result, the underlying assumption that you build your argument on is grounded in reason.

Backing (Foundation):Here, you provide any additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant.

(Video) Rhetoric: Essentials of Argument

Counterclaim:You should anticipate a counterclaim that negates the main points in your argument. Don't avoid arguments that oppose your own. Instead, become familiar with the opposing perspective. If you respond to counterclaims, you appear unbiased (and, therefore, you earn the respect of your readers). You may even want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic.

Rebuttal:In this section, you incorporate your own evidence that disagrees with the counterclaim. It is essential to include a thorough warrant or bridge to strengthen your essay’s argument. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis, your readers may not make a connection between the two, or they may draw different conclusions.

Example of the Toulmin Method:

Claim:Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.

Data1:Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air-polluting activity.

Warrant 1:Due to the fact that cars are the largest source of private (as opposed to industrial) air pollution, switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution.

Data 2:Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.

Warrant 2:Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that the decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.

Data 3:Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.

Warrant 3:The combination of these technologies produces less pollution.

Counterclaim:Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages an inefficient culture of driving even as it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging the use of mass transit systems.

(Video) IWE: Paragraph Organization and Flow

Rebuttal:While mass transit is an idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work. Thus, hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population.

Rogerian Method

The Rogerian Method(named for, but not developed by, influential American psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers)is a popular method for controversial issues. This strategy seeks to find a common ground between parties by making the audience understand perspectives that stretch beyond (or even run counter to) the writer’s position. Moreso than other methods, it places an emphasis on reiterating an opponent's argument to his or her satisfaction. The persuasive power of the Rogerian Method lies in its ability to define the terms of the argument in such a way that:

  1. your position seems like a reasonable compromise.
  2. you seem compassionate and empathetic.

The basic format of the Rogerian Methodis as follows:

Introduction:Introduce the issue to the audience, striving to remain as objective as possible.

Opposing View: Explain the other side’s position in an unbiased way. When you discuss the counterargument without judgement, the opposing side can see how you do not directly dismiss perspectives which conflict with your stance.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):This section discusses how you acknowledge how the other side’s points can be valid under certain circumstances. You identify how and why their perspective makes sense in a specific context, but still present your own argument.

Statement of Your Position:By this point, you have demonstrated that you understand the other side’s viewpoint. In this section, you explain your own stance.

Statement of Contexts: Explore scenarios in which your position has merit. When you explain how your argument is most appropriate for certain contexts, the reader can recognize that you acknowledge the multiple ways to view the complex issue.

Statement of Benefits:You should conclude by explaining to the opposing side why they would benefit from accepting your position. By explaining the advantages of your argument, you close on a positive note without completely dismissing the other side’s perspective.

Example of the Rogerian Method:

Introduction:The issue of whether children should wear school uniforms is subject to some debate.

(Video) ENGL 311 Organizing Your Argument - Toulmin Method

Opposing View:Some parents think that requiring children to wear uniforms is best.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):Those parents who support uniforms argue that, when all students wear the same uniform, the students can develop a unified sense of school pride and inclusiveness.

Statement of Your Position: Students should not be required to wear school uniforms. Mandatory uniforms would forbid choices that allow students to be creative and express themselves through clothing.

Statement of Contexts:However, even if uniforms might hypothetically promote inclusivity, in most real-life contexts, administrators can use uniform policies to enforce conformity. Students should have the option to explore their identity through clothing without the fear of being ostracized.

Statement of Benefits:Though both sides seek to promote students' best interests, students should not be required to wear school uniforms. By giving students freedom over their choice, students can explore their self-identity by choosing how to present themselves to their peers.

Classical Method

The Classical Method of structuring an argument is another common way to organize your points. Originally devised by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (and then later developed by Roman thinkers like Cicero and Quintilian), classical arguments tend to focus on issues of definition and the careful application of evidence. Thus, the underlying assumption of classical argumentation is that, when all parties understand the issue perfectly, the correct course of action will be clear.

The basic format of the Classical Methodis as follows:

Introduction (Exordium): Introduce the issue and explain its significance. You should also establish your credibility and the topic’s legitimacy.

Statement of Background (Narratio): Present vital contextual or historical information to the audience to further their understanding of the issue. By doing so, you provide the reader with a working knowledge about the topic independent of your own stance.

Proposition (Propositio): After you provide the reader with contextual knowledge, you are ready to state your claims which relate to the information you have provided previously. This section outlines your major points for the reader.

(Video) Purdue Owl and Toulmin Model of Argument

Proof (Confirmatio): You should explain your reasons and evidence to the reader. Be sure to thoroughly justify your reasons. In this section, if necessary, you can provide supplementary evidence and subpoints.

Refutation (Refuatio): In this section, you address anticipated counterarguments that disagree with your thesis. Though you acknowledge the other side’s perspective, it is important to prove why your stance is more logical.

Conclusion (Peroratio): You should summarize your main points. The conclusion also caters to the reader’s emotions and values. The use of pathos here makes the reader more inclined to consider your argument.

Example of the Classical Method:

Introduction (Exordium): Millions of workers are paid a set hourly wage nationwide. The federal minimum wage is standardized to protect workers from being paid too little. Research points to many viewpoints on how much to pay these workers. Some families cannot afford to support their households on the current wages provided for performing a minimum wage job.

Statement of Background (Narratio): Currently, millions of American workers struggle to make ends meet on a minimum wage. This puts a strain on workers’ personal and professional lives. Some work multiple jobs to provide for their families.

Proposition (Propositio): The current federal minimum wage should be increased to better accommodate millions of overworked Americans. By raising the minimum wage, workers can spend more time cultivating their livelihoods.

Proof (Confirmatio): According to the United States Department of Labor, 80.4 million Americans work for an hourly wage, but nearly 1.3 million receive wages less than the federal minimum. The pay raise will alleviate the stress of these workers. Their lives would benefit from this raise because it affects multiple areas of their lives.

Refutation (Refuatio): There is some evidence that raising the federal wage might increase the cost of living. However, other evidence contradicts this or suggests that the increase would not be great. Additionally, worries about a cost of living increase must be balanced with the benefits of providing necessary funds to millions of hardworking Americans.

Conclusion (Peroratio):If the federal minimum wage was raised, many workers could alleviate some of their financial burdens. As a result, their emotional wellbeing would improve overall. Though some argue that the cost of living could increase, the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.


What does Owl Purdue say about organizing your argument? ›

In order for your argument to be persuasive, it must use an organizational structure that the audience perceives as both logical and easy to parse. Three argumentative methods—the Toulmin Method, Classical Method, and Rogerian Method—give guidance for how to organize the points in an argument.

Which is the correct way to organize an argument? ›

Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay
  1. Pre-Write/Outline. ...
  2. Make sure you begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. ...
  3. Make sure every topic sentence (and therefore, every paragraph) relates directly back to your thesis statement. ...
  4. Use effective transitions between paragraphs. ...
  5. Re-read your paper!

What are the 4 pillars of argument? ›

Arguments can be divided into four general components: claim, reason, support, and warrant.

How do you organize an argument in a presentation? ›

Organizing the Argument
  1. Introduce your issue. At the end of your introduction, most professors will ask you to present your thesis. ...
  2. Present your case by explaining the issue in detail and why something must be done or a way of thinking is not working. ...
  3. Address the opposition. ...
  4. Provide your proof. ...
  5. Present your conclusion.
Sep 5, 2022

Why is organizing an argument important? ›

This helps ensure that you have specific examples to illustrate each of your ideas. You can also ensure that your major arguments are grouped together with these supporting examples and begin to see how to organize your paragraphs.

Why is it important to organize your argument? ›

Having an organized argument aids someone to follow a new line of thought and for the argument to be effective. Organization also helps communication be concise.

What are the 4 steps to a straightforward organization of an argument essay? ›

How To Outline an Argumentative Essay in 4 Steps
  • Introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of your essay should outline the topic, provide background information necessary to understand your argument, outline the evidence you will present and states your thesis.
  • The thesis statement. ...
  • Body paragraphs. ...
  • Conclusion.
Sep 9, 2021

What are the 5 steps of an argument? ›

Here are five essential steps to follow when building an argument:
  • Introduce the problem. Introduce the problem or issue at the center of your argument. ...
  • Present your claim. ...
  • Support your claim. ...
  • Acknowledge the opposing side of the argument. ...
  • Restate your claim.
Dec 9, 2022

What are the 3 parts of an argument? ›

Toulmin identifies the three essential parts of any argument as the claim; the data (also called grounds or evidence), which support the claim; and the warrant. The warrant is the assumption on which the claim and the evidence depend.

What are the 5 key parts of a strong argument? ›

The Five Parts of Argument
  • Claim;
  • Reason;
  • Evidence;
  • Warrant;
  • Acknowledgement and Response.
Nov 21, 2019

What are the 4 important components a good argument must have? ›

Information is used, but it is organized based on these major components of an argument: claim, reason, evidence, counter-claim, and rebuttal.

What is the basic structure of an argument? ›

An argument can be broken down into three basic parts: the conclusion, the premises, and the assumptions.

What makes an effective argument? ›

A good argument is one where there is a logical connection between the assumptions presented and the final conclusion. If you've taken a geometry class, it's a bit like writing a geometric proof: Given that this is true, therefore, that must be true.

How do you make a strong argument? ›

9 Ways to Construct a Compelling Argument
  1. Keep it simple. ...
  2. Be fair on your opponent. ...
  3. Avoid other common fallacies. ...
  4. Make your assumptions clear. ...
  5. Rest your argument on solid foundations. ...
  6. Use evidence your readers will believe. ...
  7. Avoid platitudes and generalisations, and be specific. ...
  8. Understand the opposing point of view.

What is the most important part of making an argument? ›

The thesis can be one of the most important parts of your written argument. Even though it's usually only one sentence long, an effective thesis statement can engage readers, communicate your key ideas clearly and introduce the rest of your paper.

What are the two important elements of an argument structure? ›

Structure of an Argument

Arguments consist of two main parts: conclusion and evidence.

What is the most important part in an argument? ›

Thesis. Probably the most important element of any argument essay besides research is the thesis statement. The thesis statement summarizes, usually in one sentence at the end of the introductory paragraph, the essence of your argument.

Why is it important to organize ideas before writing? ›

In your writing you must make your ideas not only clear for yourself, but also for your readers. Being organized is a matter of balancing your ideas and how you convey them to your readers.

Why is there a need to arrange and structure an argumentative essay? ›

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

What are the three main ways to structure an argumentative essay? ›

The main parts of an argumentative essay are the introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction introduces a topic and the essay's thesis. The body of an argumentative essay should introduce evidence and commentary that supports the essay's thesis.

What are the 3 techniques in writing argumentative essay? ›

There are three main areas where you want to focus your energy as you develop a strategy for how to write an argumentative essay: supporting your claim—your thesis statement—in your essay, addressing other viewpoints on your topic, and writing a solid conclusion.

What is the 3 step argument approach? ›

There are three stages to creating a logical argument: Premise, inference, and conclusion.

What are the six elements of good argument? ›

Developed by philosopher Stephen E. Toulmin, the Toulmin method is a style of argumentation that breaks arguments down into six component parts: claim, grounds, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing.

What are the rules of an argument? ›

There are three main ways to respond to an argument: 1) challenge the facts the other person is using; 2) challenge the conclusions they draw from those facts; and 3) accept the point, but argue the weighting of that point (i.e., other points should be considered above this one.)

What makes an argument weak? ›

Weak argument: A weak argument is the one which is illogical, impractical and irrelevant. Also, extreme statements and examples are weak arguments. These may not be directly related to the question and the reasoning factor is weak. Such arguments can be opinion based, ambiguous or superfluous.

What makes a bad argument? ›

If the argument is invalid, then it's a bad argument: it's an argument that is intended to give conclusive support for it's conclusion, but fails to do so.

What are the 8 types of arguments? ›

The following are the primary types of arguments used in daily life:
  • Causal argument. ...
  • Rebuttal argument. ...
  • Proposal argument. ...
  • Evaluation argument. ...
  • Narrative argument. ...
  • Toulmin argument. ...
  • Rogerian argument. ...
  • Classical Western argument.
Mar 10, 2023

What is a checklist for analyzing an argument? ›

EVIDENCE Is there enough evidence to support the claim? Is all of the evidence relevant to the claim (there are no extra facts)? Do the data collection, analysis, and interpretation seem reasonable? Is there enough reasoning to justify why the evidence supports the claim?

What are the 5 types of arguments? ›

The five types of argument are therefore text, intent, precedent, tradition, and policy.

How do you analyze an argument? ›

When writing an argument analysis paper, consider the following:
  1. Who is the author's target audience?
  2. What is their argument?
  3. What supporting evidence does the author provide? ...
  4. What is the quality of the sources which they use as evidence?
  5. Is the author making assumptions?
  6. Does their evidence support their conclusions?
Apr 12, 2023

How do you analyze the structure of an argument? ›

Steps for Analyzing the Argument:

1) Read the argument and instructions carefully. 2) Identify the argument's claims, conclusions and underlying assumptions. Evaluate their quality. 3) Think of as many alternative explanations and counterexamples as you can.

What are the three tests a good argument must pass? ›

A good argument is an argument that is either valid or strong, and with plausible premises that are true, do not beg the question, and are relevant to the conclusion.

What are the standards of a good argument? ›

Arguments must conform to a well-formed structure: first, they must contain reasons (or else they're merely opinions); and second, they must contain reasons that don't contradict each other or assume the truth of the conclusion.

What makes an argument logically strong? ›

logical strength: An argument has logical strength when its premises, if true, actually provide support for its conclusion. Notice that the (logical) strength of an argument does not depend on the truth of the premises.

How do you strengthen a weak argument? ›

Does the topic shift in a meaningful way? If so, then connecting the topic in the support and the topic in the conclusion in a logical way might strengthen the argument. In the same manner, making the topic in the support less related/connected to the topic in the conclusion may weaken the argument.

How do you start an effective argument? ›

Writing an effective argument follows certain steps:
  1. Introduce. Introduce your argument by setting the context. ...
  2. Establish. Establish your context for writing the argument and the context for your topic. ...
  3. Clarify. Clarify the issues; explain why the topic is important.

Why is it important to organize and lay out your ideas before finalizing an argumentative essay? ›

A strong outline details each topic and subtopic in your paper, organizing these points so that they build your argument toward an evidence-based conclusion. Writing an outline will also help you focus on the task at hand and avoid unnecessary tangents, logical fallacies, and underdeveloped paragraphs.

Why is it important to organize and layout your ideas before finalizing an argumentative essay? ›

It allows the writer to understand how he or she will connect all the information to support the thesis statement and the claims of the paper. It also provides the writer with a space to manipulate ideas easily without needing to write complete paragraphs. Outlining is a process that takes time and patience to perfect.

What is the controlling idea or central argument the author is trying to convey? ›

The controlling idea contains your opinion about the topic. It shows what direction you are going to take in writing about the topic. It helps the reader understand your purpose for writing the paragraph or essay.

What is Owl Purdue and why is it useful to you? ›

Welcome to the Purdue OWL®

The online writing lab offers global support through online reference materials and services for creating citations, cover letters, major-specific writing help, and general writing advice.

What are the 3 ways to arrange to organize a cause and effect essay? ›

End your introduction with a thesis that states the main cause, the main effect, or both. Organize your essay by starting with either the cause-then-effect structure or the effect-then-cause structure. Within each section, you should clearly explain and support the causes and effects using a full range of evidence.

Why is it important to organize your thoughts before writing? ›

It's important to organize your thoughts and ideas because this practice can help you to: Improve your productivity: Developing strategies to organize your thoughts can help you stay focused on the task you're performing, which can help you improve your productivity.

Why is it important to organize and connect ideas in writing a paragraph? ›

The purpose of connecting sentences, ideas, and paragraphs is to guide the reader along the path you develop. That is a solid way to prove an argument. An essay writer does not leave it to the reader to make assumptions or to fill in the blanks.

How important it is to organize your ideas in writing an academic text? ›

An important feature of academic texts is that they are organised in a specific way; they have a clear structure. This structure makes it easier for your reader to navigate your text and understand the material better. It also makes it easier for you to organise your material.

Why is it important that ideas should be organized well in constructing paragraphs? ›

Almost every piece of writing you do that is longer than a few sentences should be organized into paragraphs. This is because paragraphs show a reader where the subdivisions of an essay begin and end, and thus help the reader see the organization of the essay and grasp its main points.

What is the controlling idea of your argument? ›

A controlling idea is the argumentative bond that allows all the pieces of your writing to adhere together into a logical whole. It is the big idea you are pursuing and that will ultimately become a thesis statement or a formulation of your research problem.

What is the controlling or main idea of an argument also known as? ›

What is a Thesis Statement? A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”

What is called to the main topic and controlling idea of a paragraph? ›

The "topic sentence" is the sentence in which the main idea of the paragraph is stated. It is unquestionably the most important sentence in the paragraph. The topic sentence generally is composed of two parts: (a) the topic itself and (b) the controlling idea.

What are the pros cons of Purdue? ›

"Pros: excellent academic opportunities, great job scene, competitive environment. Cons: weather, graduate assistantships are hard to come by." "I think our grad program should focus on teaching the way writing paper rather than just basic courses.

What does Purdue look for in applicants? ›

Average GPA: 3.69

The average GPA at Purdue is 3.69. (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. With a GPA of 3.69, Purdue requires you to be above average in your high school class. You'll need at least a mix of A's and B's, with more A's than B's.

What makes Purdue stand out? ›

Purdue is a Big Ten school that provides "a world class education" with a name "that is known all over the world and not just the state of Indiana." The university is especially "known for being a great engineering school," but has a bevy of amazing programs including "a great nursing program," "a great Pharmacy ...


1. The Toulmin Model of Argument: Organizer
(William McConnell)
2. Purdue OWL Podcasts: An Introduction to Logos
3. Writing Literary Analysis Part 3: Body Paragraphs
(English Nerd)
4. Writing an Argument
(NCWU Writing Center)
5. Developing Academic Arguments
(Dissertation by Design)
6. Capstone Study: OWL Argument Presentation
(Baden Hill)


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