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Down and Dirty Tips: Persuasion Essay: Persuasion

Tips for students on writing a Persuasive essay. While this guide is not comprehensive, it does provide enough information for to students to follow and pass the assignment. This guide is especially helpful for those who don't have much time.

Persuade the Reader by Appealing To:

Authority (ethos)

Emotion (pathos)

Logic (logos)

(if permitted)

  • Use credible resources
  • Interview experts in the field
  • Provide credentials in the text

  • Appear competent, fair, and trustworthy
  • Give unbiased voice to opposition
  • Acknowledge the human condition
  • Use rational reasoning
  • Provide ample evidence
  • Avoid faulty logic (see below)

NOTE: The point of a persuasive essay is to get people who disagree with you to change their viewpoints and/or behavior. Keeping that in mind, try not to alienate the reader with the following:  ranting, logic missteps, offending tone, insulting words, biased language, sarcasm, exclamation points, credibility issues, and using questions to make points.

Avoid Faulty Logic

Logical Fallicies

  • Begging the question: treating an opinion that is open to question as if it were already proved or disproved.
  • Non sequitur: drawing a conclusion based on a false assumption.
  • Red herring: introducing an irrelevant issue to distract readers.
  • False authority: citing as expert opinion the views of a person who is not an expert.
  • Inappropriate appeals: appealing to readers’ fear or pity
  • Snob appeal: appealing to readers’ wish to be like those who are more intelligent, famous, rich, and so on.
  • Bandwagon: appealing to readers’ wish to be part of the group.
  • Flattery: appealing to readers’ intelligence, taste, and so on.
  • Argument ad populum: appealing to readers’ general values, such as patriotism or love of family.
  • Argument ad hominem: attacking the opponent rather than the opponent’s argument.
  • Hasty generalization: asserting an opinion based on too little evidence.
  • Sweeping generalization: asserting an opinion as applying to all instances when it may apply to some or none.
  • Reductive fallacy: generally, oversimplifying causes and effects.
  • Post hoc fallacy: assuming that A caused B because A came before B.
  • Either/or fallacy: reducing a complicated question to two alternatives.
  • False analogy: exaggerating the similarities in an analogy or ignoring key differences.