Argument Essay Outline in Mla Format Howe Engl 1301

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Engl 1301
Fall 2009

                                             Essay 3: Argument Essay

The Assignment: For this essay you will construct a logical argument for one side of an issue. Your issue should be
controversial (one that people disagree over) and substantial (one that most readers would find worthy of
consideration). Your argument must be based on an opinion, not a belief, and you must use the argument structure
discussed in class (refer to your notes).

The Guidelines:
      Your piece must:
              -take a stance on a current issue
              -utilize the argument structure to present a logically thought out argument
              -use paraphrasing as well as integrated quotes to convey researched information
              -be in MLA format
              -use appropriate tense
              -use appropriate pronouns
              - exhibit use of good writing

Length: 1,800-2,000 words

The Format: This should be written in MLA format. You must use a minimum of 8 credible sources and include a
works cited page for your sources. Three of the eight sources must be books, and only ONE of the eight sources
may be an original internet source. If you are unsure what entails an original internet source, come see me for help.

Additionally, first and second person are entirely unacceptable for this essay.

Unsuitable Topics: abortion, teen pregnancy, euthanasia, gun control, the death penalty, animal rights, the use of
steroids by athletes, cloning, legalization of marijuana, smoking, substance abuse, drinking and driving, global
warming, and pornography

Your topic must be approved by me before the end of class on Friday, November 20th.

The First Draft Conference: You must be prepared to meet with me by Wednesday, December 2nd to discuss your
progress. To conference with me, you must have a rough outline of your paper with a working thesis, an enhanced
works cited page, and your note cards.

The Due Dates: The first draft is due December 8th, 2009.

The final draft is due December 15, 2009. You must submit a copy to and provide me with a
hardcopy by the beginning of class on this day.

    your claim must be one of opinion, not belief
    do not bash your opponents
    avoid fallacies
Sample Structure:

        Explains and introduces the topic at hand and why it has become an issue in society today.
        Incorporates a startling statistic designed to make the reader take notice.
        Builds to a claim that concisely explains the differing perspectives concerning this controversy.

Body Paragraphs
       Reports on these different positions fairly and accurately.
       Divides the essay into clearly delineated perspectives. Does not jumble different opinions within
        one paragraph.
       Summarizes, discusses, and occasionally paraphrases or directly quotes a pertinent point that
        articulates each position.
       Develops each paragraph with a clear topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding
        statement to create a balanced and objective report on the controversy.
       Remains neutral throughout the report.

       Wraps up the report with a brief explanation of the writer’s interest in the topic (why he or she
        selected this from the many choices).
       States the writer’s analysis of the situation, including which position seems more


The issue of drilling for oil in Alaska is a current controversy, but people would differ on what they see as
the problem. Some might argue that the problem here is a national shortage of oil, or an overdependence
on imported oil, to be remedied by drilling; others would see the problem as the potential threat to the
environment and wildlife caused by oil extraction, and would presumably propose alternative sources of
energy or other ways of reducing our demand for oil. A compromise between “to drill or not to drill”
might be one of new technologies that would allow both limited drilling that would not disrupt the
ecosystem and the adoption of fuel alternatives in the foreseeable future so that the nation might be
weaned from its dependence on oil.


Write as a reporter for a publication aimed at the academic community; the tone and style should be
reasonable, fair minded, and well informed.


With three different perspectives, you will need at the very least three different sources that speak well for
the ideology and argument espoused by these differing opinions. But three is the barest minimum and
should not be mistaken for the first few sources found on the topic. Finding two different sources that take
the same position, albeit in different fashions, would be ideal, which would bring the sources cited in the
paper to six.
As the “Teaching Guide” at Colorado State explains,
             A helpful metaphor for the ongoing expression of positions on an issue is that of a
             conversation. We could say that making an argument of your own is adding your voice to
             the conversation and that you need to know what is being said by others before you can join
             in. Investigating and preparing to join the conversation on an issue are the goals of the
             Exploratory Paper. (par. 1)

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