Creating An Argumentative Paper Outline

Many people have trouble writing an argumentative paper from scratch. That’s why it’s always a great strategy to first create an outline in order to organize your thoughts. There are some commonly used elements that make up a well-structured argumentative outline that will lead to an effective paper.

The following outlines the generally accepted structure for preparation, introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions in a 5 paragraph argumentative paper:

Part 1: Preparation of Your Paper’s Argument

  1. Develop your thesis. Your thesis is more than a general statement about your idea; it is your central argument of your paper. Each sentence that follows should be written to support this argument.
  2. Brainstorm ideas related to your argument. Gather quotations or facts from your primary and secondary sources and write any notes and questions that come to mind. Brainstorming helps you determine your paper’s main and sub-points.
  3. Gather related ideas to narrow your argument. Organize your ideas into three major points of arguments. These will make up your body paragraphs.

Part 2: Creating Your Outline

Start with the Roman numeral I. The main headings of each section should begin with capitalized Roman numeral and contain the topic of that paragraph. Continue by labeling subheadings beneath main headings with capitalized letters. Secondary subheadings should begin with lowercase numerals, and tertiary subheadings should begin with lowercase letters.


  1. Thesis statement:Professional soccer is the greatest sport ever invented.
  2. I. Soccer as a sport

    a. Sport has several accepted definitions

    i. Less active sports

    1. Golf, Auto Racing, Horse Racing, and others

    ii. More active sports

    1. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey

    II. Soccer as a more active sport

  3. Introductory Paragraph. The intro paragraph is a broad beginning of your paper and should start with general ideas and end with a specific argument. The first sentence sets the context for your paper and can consist of anything from an observation or a question, but it should always get the reader’s interest and attention. Each successive sentence within the intro paragraph should then narrow the topic down to your thesis, which should be the last sentence in the paragraph.
  4. Body Paragraphs. The body paragraphs will make up the main substance of your paper. In an argumentative paper, you will have 3 body paragraphs to complete your argument. Each paragraph should explore a separate idea to support your argument as stated in your thesis, as well as include evidence from primary and secondary sources.
  5. A well-written conclusion will provide a sense of closure, as well as leave the topic open for more discussion.