There are a number of different ways in which an essay may be structured or formatted. Which essay should be used will depend largely on the purpose of the essay. A creative essay, for example, is a way for the writer to express himself or herself or to tell a story. A persuasive essay, on the other hand, is used to convince the reader of the essay to agree with, or adopt, a particular point of view about the subject of the essay. When writing a persuasive essay, logic and reason are used along with facts, statistics, and studies.
A persuasive essay begins by stating what position the writer will take on a given issue. For example, on the issue of capital punishment, the writer could write a persuasive essay in support of, or in opposition to, the use of capital punishment. As a rule, the introduction in a persuasive essay will explain the issue and inform the reader which position the writer intends to take on the issue.
During the body of the essay, the writer needs to both provide the reader with evidence to support his or her position and provide evidence that disproves the opposing point of view. Evidence used to support the writer's point of view should be logical, empirical evidence. Examples of evidence that may be used in a persuasive essay include results of scientific studies or research, established facts, or quotes by well-known and respected experts in the field. A good writer is able to use the logical evidence available to him or her in a way that leaves the reader with no other choice than to confer with the writer.
While providing evidence in support of his or her point of view is important in a persuasive essay, addressing the opposition is advisable as well. When a writer ignores the opposing point of view, it makes it easier to fault the writer's argument. By addressing, and dismissing, the opposing view point, the writer's argument is only stronger. A simple explanation of the prevailing opposing viewpoint with a well thought-out argument against it will increase the force of the writer's argument.
A short conclusion should be included in the essay. The conclusion generally briefly restates the writer's point of view and then summarizes the points he or she has made in favor of that point of view. No new evidence or argument should be introduced in the conclusion.