The Ultimate Guide to MLA Format Argumentative Essay

Essays make up the bulk of assignments in college. Knowing how to write a good essay is thus of much importance for your academic success. This article will analyse various elements of an argument essay, helping you manage your paper without much confusion. 

What is the purpose of an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay is usually geared to support a thesis statement by analysing all the data available on the topic. As opposed to a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay presents both sides of an argument. You may however conclude by selecting one idea over another provided that your body tackles all sides of an argument. 

What is a claim in an argumentative essay? 

A claim is a statement that introduces an argument, topic, or issue and supports it with evidence to convince/ persuade a reader toward a given point of view. The claim is thus an argument for an opinion you make within your paper. 

e.g., From the findings of Kellin’s research, visual learning can be employed in schools to improve student performance. 

Argumentative essay MLA format 

If your tutor has advised that you follow the MLA format argumentative essay, here are the guidelines to follow in your paper:

  • Font size 12 Times New Roman
  • 1-inch page margins 
  • Line spacing is doubled. 
  • Indent new paragraphs by 12″ 
  • Capitalization of headings in title case 
  • Including a running head comprising your last name and the page number on the right of the header

Argumentative essay outline template


Hook: a statement that directs your reader’s curiosity toward your argument

Background information: why did you feel it relevant to study this topic? What is the extent of research in the field?

Thesis statement: the main claim that your paper intends to investigate


Paragraph 1

Argument 1: This is also known as the topic sentence. A claim that you intend to investigate within your paragraph. 

Supporting evidence: what existing sources back your assumptions? 

Warrant: how did the supporting evidence support your claim? 

Subsequent paragraphs should follow the same outline. Also, note that your paper should have at least five paragraphs.


This paragraph should identify the arguments against your claims and the data that discredits these claims. 


Highlight the key argument of your paper and indicate how your essay has disproven various counterarguments. You may also recommend some changes to the field and suggest studies that can clarify your topic. 

Argumentative essay rubric

Here is a rubric to help you gauge the quality of your paper and make necessary adjustments.

Very good
Below average

The introduction offers a background of the argument and includes a well-thought thesis statement 

Introduction offers a background of the topic and a clear thesis statement.

The background study is not sufficient to warrant the research

Little background to the topic and a vague thesis statement

Its hard to establish the thesis. The background information is shallow

Body Paragraphs

At least three points are well developed with the necessary evidence.

Counterarguments are acknowledged

The learner has developed more than three arguments. One or two arguments lack evidence/ support.

Does not recognize counterarguments

Ideas are poorly investigated counterarguments may be omitted or poorly presented

The paper investigates less than three ideas. The points covered are poorly covered


The points in the essay are logical and structured in a manner that clearly shows the theme of the paper.

Quality transitions used within the paper


Paper is well developed, enabling a reader to follow through the arguments. Mature transitions included in the essay

Sloppy development that may lead to ambiguity in some sections of the essay.

Some transitions are used in some sections of the essay

Writing lacks direction in development and thus brings about confusion and ambiguity.

Transitions are forced into the paper


The conclusion summarizes the key points and shows the importance of the essay and recommendations for change

Conclusion shows main points and shows the importance of the paper. Some new ideas have been tackled in the conclusion

Conclusion is repetitive with multiple summaries from the paper.

The writer does not highlight the importance of the topic and recommendations for change

Many new ideas have been introduced in the conclusion. Does not highlight the importance of the paper or recommend any changes

Works cited

References are properly integrated into the text.  All sources included within the text are included in the works cited section

All sources are indicated in the proper manner within the text and works cited section. Some references do not follow the recommended format

Most references are not styled in the recommended format

Few or no sources are used in the paper.  

The references used are styled in the wrong format

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