An opinion essay is an opportunity to express your feelings on an issue or topic you feel passionately about. You can make your argument even stronger by substantiating your opinions with logical arguments and credible evidence.
Steps in Writing an Opinion Paper or Essay
Careful planning and thorough research of the issue will help you formulate your opinion and successfully complete the assignment.
- Choose an issue to write about. Research local, national or international news stories in order to find inspiration for your writing project. Be sure to choose a topic that has at least two opposing viewpoints, as this will give you the most substance for your assignment. Avoid choosing a topic that most everyone agrees upon.
- Decide what side of the argument you are on. Make a list of the reasons why you have the opinion you do. If you do not know why you are siding with a particular group, you may have problems supporting your opinion within the body of your essay.
- Research the opposing opinions of the topic in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of the issue. Create a list of primary arguments or key points that you disagree about.
- Write the introduction of your paper. In this section, introduce the topic with a neutral and professional attitude so that the reader may gain an understanding of the issue. After you have covered the topic, introduce the viewpoint you will be taking throughout the body of the paper. Typically, the introduction of an opinion paper is one to two pages.
- Write the body of the paper. This is the portion of the paper where you make your stance shown and express why you have the opinion you do. Begin discussing your opinion and support your ideas with credible sources, being sure to cite any references you use. Present the major facts and arguments of the issue. In order to strengthen your position as a writer, address the viewpoints of the opposing side. Do so respectfully in order to show your credibility as a writer. This section is usually two to five pages long, but may vary, depending on the assignment.
- Write the conclusion by wrapping up your ideas. Reiterate your viewpoint of the issue. This portion of the paper is merely for concluding the assignment. Adding additional or new information is not advised. The conclusion should be the shortest part of your paper.
- Compile your bibliography according to the required style guide. List any resources you consulted during your project, even if you did not cite them within the body of your paper.
How to Write an Opinion Essay
1) Conduct Research on a Controversial Topic
Choose a subject you feel strongly about that’s debatable or controversial. Social, school or local issues are ideal topic choices. Read a variety of credible perspectives to expand your understanding of the debate. Avoid simply reading sources that support your own opinions. If your position changes in light of your research, that’s OK. Take notes on ideas, facts and statistics that you can use to support your argument. Also take notes on others’ perspectives to include in your essay to provide contrast.
2) Write the Introduction to Your Opinion Essay
Write an introduction that asserts a serious and logical stance on your topic and explains why it’s important. The introduction should end with a thesis statement that clearly states your opinion and why you feel the way you do. For example, if you are arguing against animal testing, you could reason that it is inhumane, that other research methods are available and that animals are too physiologically different from humans to yield relevant results.
3) Write Body Paragraphs to Develop Your Opinion
In the body of your essay, write one paragraph about each reason for your opinion. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that states the point you will discuss. Include quotes, examples, anecdotes or lines of argument from your research to support each point, and explain how each piece of evidence contributes to your position. Then write at least two paragraphs in which you respond to views that differ from your own. Summarize each opposing view and provide reasoning or evidence that shows why it is untrue, problematic or contrary to your perspective. For example, if an opponent states that animal research is regulated to protect animals, explain why the regulations are insufficient and illustrate how they continue to suffer.
4) Write a Strong Conclusion and Bibliography
By the time you get to your conclusion, your argument is complete. Summarize by restating the importance of the topic, reviewing the essence of your argument and leaving your reader with a final thought or question. Include a bibliography in the appropriate format for your assignment.
Tips on Writing an Opinion Paper
Opinion essays state a clear opinion and then back it up with facts taken from reliable sources. Once writers become successful in the forum of opinion essays, they can use their abilities to persuade and make readers think about their own viewpoints. Writers can seek out tips to ensure they are creating a quality opinion paper that will inspire intellectual discussion.
To successfully write an opinion piece, writers must first start with a quality introduction section. In the introduction, writers must bring up the topic they intend to discuss and make it clear where they stand on the issue. Writers must then provide readers with multiple paragraphs that support the central argument of the paper. In these paragraphs, writers should use facts to convince the reader that their point makes more sense than the arguments made by opposing forces. Once the middle portion of the essay is completed, writers should use a conclusion to drive their point home. This is done by reiterating points previously made in the paper and finding a new way to make the reader view the topic at hand. If writers follow this pattern of organization, they can introduce their opinion, support it thoroughly, and then solidify it at the end.
Writers can use different methods to more effectively persuade a reader during their opinion paper. First off, it is best to address readers directly and make sure all opinions are clearly understood from an outside perspective. Writers can also use quotations from respected sources as a method to convince readers of their point. Statistics are also a good way to convince readers of opinions, as they can be used when they support a viewpoint. To maintain credibility with the reader, writers should also eliminate any personal stories or information and make sure that all facts presented are cited properly.
Make sure that any sources used to write an opinion paper are highly reliable. If possible, try to use sources that are widely known to be accurate and credible. Readers are more likely to identify with a writer’s opinion if they recognize that reputed sources agree with what is being presented. All sources that are used should be included in the paper’s reference section and no liberties should be taken with the information given by the sources.
- Always cite all of the sources you used in a bibliography. If you do not, you run the risk of plagiarism, which is a serious offense at any institution of learning.
- Keep your paper formal. Just because you are expressing your opinion does not mean you should stray from good writing habits. Avoid contractions, colloquial expressions, generalizations and emotive vocabulary.