What Is Persuasive Writing? (Complete Answer With Examples)
No matter what you do in life, you will probably find yourself needing to master persuasive writing.
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is a type of writing that is used to convince or persuade someone of something. It is often used in business and marketing contexts but can be used in any type of writing. Persuasive writing uses logical, emotional, and structural techniques to seek agreement and initiate change.
In this article, I will answer the most common questions related to “What is persuasive writing?”
Table of Contents
What Is Persuasive Writing? (Detailed Answer)
A more complete explanation of persuasive writing is that it is a type of writing that is used to try to change or influence the opinion of the reader.
It can be used in many different contexts, such as in business, politics, or marketing, but it can also be used in other types of writing, such as essays or articles.
- Evidentiary support (facts, statistics, case studies, etc)
- Easy reading experience (transitions, word choice, etc)
In order to be persuasive, your writing must be well thought out, purposeful, and bookended with a strong introduction and conclusion.
Persuasive writing can be formal, informal, or even colloquial in style and tone.
As far as the point of view, you can use first-person, second-person, or third-person. No matter what point of view you use, keep the focus on the reader.
What Is the Purpose of Persuasive Writing?
The purpose of persuasive writing is to grab attention, compel readers to think differently, arouse emotions, challenge assumptions, facilitate agreement, change minds, and—ultimately—convince the reader to take a specific action.
- Website visitors to sign up to your email newsletter
- Blog post readers to click on an affiliate link
- Your manager to allow you to work remotely
- Clients to buy your product or service
- A politician to fix a broken streetlight
- An artist to hire you as a ghostwriter for rappers
- A literary agent to represent your novel or book
- Your favorite writer to respond to your letter to an author
- Dissertation reviewers to give you higher marks
- Readers to positively comment on your Power Rangers Fan Fiction
3 Types of Persuasive Writing
The three major types of persuasive writing are ethos, pathos, and logos. In my opinion, the best persuasive writing includes all three.
Here are definitions and examples of all three types.
Ethos is the writer’s character or credibility.
In order to be persuasive, a writer must establish trust with the reader. One way to do this is by being transparent and honest about who you are and your credentials.
You can also build ethos by using credible sources, such as statistics, case studies, and expert opinions.
An example of ethos in persuasive writing is:
“As a lifelong resident of this community, I know the importance of keeping our streets clean. I urge you to vote in favor of the cleanup proposal.”
Pathos is the emotional appeal to the reader.
The persuasive writer must connect with the reader on an emotional level in order to convince others to agree with them.
You can use word choice, stories, and “emotional” language to trigger a guttural feeling response in readers.
Here is an example of pathos in persuasive writing:
“Please fix this streetlight. It’s been broken for weeks and it’s very unsafe. Our children play in this neighborhood and I’m worried about their safety.”
Logos is the logical appeal to the reader.
The persuasive writer must make a rational argument in order to be persuasive. You can use facts, statistics, and expert opinions to make your argument.
Here is an example of logos in persuasive writing:
“The national evidence shows that working remotely can increase productivity by up to 43%. My productivity is even higher at 47%. Please consider allowing me to work from home.”
13 Forms of Persuasive Writing
There are many forms of persuasive writing.
- Editorials—Opinion pieces that argue for or against a position.
- Letters to the Editor—Written responses to articles or editorials, often voicing an opinion.
- Print advertisements—Adversiting materials that try to sell a product or service.
- Sales letters—Written materials used to sell a product or service.
- Pamphlets—Flyers or brochures that promote a product, service, or cause.
- Songs—Emotional music-based lyrics to inspire unity and action.
- Social media postings—Tweets, posts, and pins that try to create agreement.
- Speeches—Presentations given before an audience in order to persuade them of an idea or course of action.
- Treatments—Proposals made to individuals or groups in order to influence them.
- Websites—Pages or sites that attempt to persuade the reader to take a desired action.
- Poems—Verses that try to convince the reader to believe in a certain idea or course of action.
- Email marketing—Messages that try to convince the recipient to buy a product or service.
- Personal essays—Narratives that argue for or against a position.
What Is Persuasive Writing? (Examples)
One of the best ways to learn persuasive writing is to read actual examples.
What is persuasive writing?
Here are 5 persuasive writing examples to answer that question.
Example 1: Editorial on Car Accidents at an Intersection
It’s time for the city to take action and stop car accidents from happening at an intersection. There have been too many accidents at this intersection, and it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed.
The city needs to install a traffic light or stop sign to help control the flow of traffic.
This will help to prevent accidents from happening, and it will also make the intersection safer for pedestrians.
Example #2: Essay on Changing the School Mascot
The school should consider changing its mascot. There are many reasons why this is a good idea.
One reason is that the current mascot is offensive to some people.
Another reason is that the mascot doesn’t reflect the diversity of the school’s student body.
Changing the mascot would be a symbolic gesture that shows that the school values all of its students.
Example 3: Letter to the Editor about Gun Control
I am writing in support of gun control. I believe that we need stricter gun laws to prevent mass shootings from happening.
The current laws are not working, and we need to take action to make our schools and public places safer.
I urge you to join me in supporting gun control. It’s time for us to take a stand and make our voices heard.
Example 4: Advertisement for a Credit Card
Looking for a credit card that offers low-interest rates and no annual fees? Look no further!
Our credit card has everything you need and more. It offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers, and no annual fees.
Apply today and get started on your path to financial freedom!
Example 5: Email to Teacher to Allow Extra Credit for Class Participation
I was wondering if I could get some extra credit for class participation. I have been trying to participate more in class, and I think it has improved my grades and helped the entire class feel more motivated.
Is there any way that I could get an extra point or two for my participation grade?
Thank you for your time and consideration!
What Is Persuasive Writing? (Famous Examples)
- Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Tilbury Speech by Queen Elizabeth I
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine
- Ain’t I A Woman by Sojourner Truth
- Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony
What Is Persuasive Writing? (The Parts)
Persuasive writing is made up of several parts. To truly answer the question, “What is persuasive writing?” it’s helpful to understand these various parts.
What Is a Hook in Persuasive Writing?
A hook in persuasive writing is a technique that writers use to capture the reader’s attention. It’s a way to get the reader interested in what you have to say.
Here is a good example of a hook in persuasive writing:
“Birth control is not about birth, it’s about control.”—Anonymous
This quotation is a good hook because it is provocative and makes the reader think. It gets them interested in the topic of birth control and makes them want to read more.
What Is a Claim in Persuasive Writing?
A claim in persuasive writing is a statement that you make to support your argument. It is your position on the topic that you are discussing.
Your claim should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. You should also be able to back it up with evidence.
Here is an example of a claim:
“Donating to Clean Water International will save thousands of innocent lives.”
What Is a Counterargument in Persuasive Writing?
A counterargument in persuasive writing is a statement that opposes your position.
It is an argument that the other person could make against you.
You should be prepared to address any counterarguments that the other person might raise. This will help you to strengthen your argument and convince the other person of your position.
Here is an example of a counterargument:
“Donating to Clean Water International is not a sustainable solution.”
What Is a Call to Action in Persuasive Writing?
A call to action is a request that the reader takes some specific action. It is a plea for the reader to help you achieve your goal.
Your call to action should be clear, specific, and actionable. You should also make it easy for the reader to take action.
Here is an example of a call to action:
“Please donate to Clean Water International today to help save thousands of lives tomorrow.”
Persuasive Writing Techniques & Tips
When writing to change hearts and minds, there are techniques and tips you can use to maximize your results.
- Reframing—Presenting the issue in a different light.
- Framing—Using specific language to create a particular impression.
- Bandwagoning—Emphasizing that many people support your position.
- Pathos, Logos, & Ethos—Appealing to the reader’s emotions, logic, and association with authority.
- Figurative language—using creative language to make your argument more impactful (stories, analogies, similies, etc).
- Repetition—Using the same words or phrases to convince the reader. Repeating your claim.
- Language patterns—The artful use of phrases to subtely shift a reader’s thinking.
- Rhetorical questions—Asking the reader a question that forces them to think about the issue.
- Speak directly to the reader—Making a direct appeal to the reader.
When using these techniques, it’s important to be aware of your readers and their interests.
Tailor your message to match their needs, hopes, fears, and belief systems.
What Is a Persuassive Writing Map?
A persuasive writing map is a way to structure and organize your argument.
- Start with a strong and clear claim.
- State your reasons for supporting that claim.
- Include supportive evidence.
- Sprinkle in persuassive techniques.
- Address any counterarguments that the other person might raise.
- Finish with a short and simple call to action.
Using a persuasive writing map can help you stay on track and make sure that your argument is clear and easy to follow.
It can also help you to be more persuasive by addressing the other person’s interests and concerns in the most compelling way.
A persuasive writing map is also known as a persuasive writing outline.
How Is Persuasive Writing Different than Other Forms of Writing?
Persuasive writing is easy to confuse with different types of writing.
- Argumentative writing
- Expository writing
- Informational writing
Persuasive Writing vs. Argumentative Writing
Argumentative writing is a type of persuasive writing. It is a more formal type of writing that mainly uses evidence to support your position.
The big difference is that argumentative writing is based more on logic and reason.
Persuasive writing usually relies heavily on emotion-laden opinions.
Expository Writing vs. Persuasive Writing
Expository writing is a type of informative writing.
It is a less formal type of writing that explains a topic or idea.
The main difference between expository writing and persuasive writing is that persuasive writing attempts to convince the reader to take a specific action.
Informational Writing vs. Persuasive Writing
Informational writing is a type of non-fiction writing. It is a formal type of writing that provides information about a topic or idea.
Persuasive writing might inform but its main goal is to change thinking, feeling, and behavior.
Persuasive Writing vs. Narrative Writing
Narrative writing is a type of creative writing.
It tells a story and uses the writer’s own experiences to support the story.
The main difference between persuasive writing and narrative writing is that persuasive writing is non-fiction and uses evidence to support the argument, while narrative writing is fiction and does not have to be true.
However, narrative writing can include elements of persuasive writing.
Persuasive Writing vs. Technical Writing
Technical writing is a type of informative writing. It is a formal type of writing that provides information about a technical topic or idea.
Both types of writing are nonfiction.
One major difference is that technical writing is usually written for people who are already familiar with the general topic, while persuasive writing might be written for people who are not as familiar with the topic.
Technical writing also includes step-by-step guides on how to perform a specific task.
What Is Persuasive Writing for Kids?
Many kids start to learn persuasive writing in first or second grade.
As kids get older, their teachers give them more challenging persuasive writing assignments.
In high school and college, students often write persuasive essays, speeches, and arguments.
Here is a short video that goes over persuasive writing for kids:
What Is a Persuasive Writing Anchor Chart?
A persuasive writing anchor chart is a visual tool that helps younger students learn and remember the key elements of persuasive writing.
- The 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why)
- The 3 C’s (claim, clear evidence, clever reasoning)
- How to Appeal to Emotions
- How to Appeal to Logic
- How to use Persuassive Devices
A persuasive writing anchor chart might also give students sentence starters to help jog their creativity.
It serves as a kind of “Mad Lib” or “fill in the blank” template for students.
Why Is Persuasive Writing Important?
Persuasive writing is important because it can be used in so many different contexts.
It’s a great way to get your point of view across or to convince someone to do something. Additionally, persuasive writing is an essential skill for business and marketing.
If you know how to write persuasively, you can write better resumes and cover letters.
That can get you a better job—with more pay.
If you sell anything (and, let’s be honest, we ALL sell something), you can attract more clients. You can also convert more clients into customers.
In school, you can get better grades. As an employee, you can foster better teamwork and move people to action.
Persuasive writing can also convince funders to give money to worthwhile causes, such as feeding children or bringing clean water to people in need.
In short, persuasive writing can make the world a better place for all of us to live.
Can You Use Persuasive Writing in Any Type of Writing?
Yes, persuasive writing can be used in any type of writing. However, it is often most effective when it is used in business or marketing contexts, where the goal is to change or influence the opinion of the reader.
- School assignments (reports, essays)
- Nonfiction books
- Grant proposals
- Reviews (movies, books, products, etc)
- Blog posts and articles
- Love letters
- Internal newsletter
- Affiliate marketing
- And much more!
What Are Some Tips for Writing Persuasively?
- Know your audience: In order to be persuasive, you must understand who you are trying to persuade.
- Start with a strong claim: In order to be persuasive, you must make a strong argument that is not easily deconstructed or debunked.
- Support your claim with evidence: This is where the rubber meets the road. You must back up your argument with facts, data, and expert testimony (if applicable).
- Use deep reasoning to explain the evidence: Once you have presented your evidence, you must then explain why it supports your argument.
- Make an emotional appeal: People are often persuaded more by emotion than logic. You can use powerful words and images to create an emotional response in your reader.
- Be succinct: Don’t ramble on and on. Get to the point and make your argument understandable by everyone.
Persuasive Writing Topics
There are an almost unlimited number of persuasive writing topics. Below you’ll find a few ideas to spark your own creativity.
- Education: Should college be free?
- Dating: Is it bad to give up on dating and relationship?
- Prosperity: How to achieve financial prosperity
- Politics: Is it time for a new political party?
- Lifestyle: Veganism – pros and cons
- Environment: Should we all become vegetarians?
- Morality: Abortion – is it right or wrong?
- Art: Books are better than TV
- Texting: Do guys like good morning texts?
- Science: Is cloning moral?
- Technology: AI will one day take over the world
- Food: Is our food killing us?
- Energy: Should we all live off grid?
- Health: Is organic food better for you?
- Pets: Should exotic animals be kept as pets?
- Transport: The rise of the electric car
- Religion: Is there a God?
- Parenting: Raising a child in the internet age
- Gaming: Can a DM cheat at D&D?
Best Persuassive Writing Tools and Resources
I’ve been writing persuasively for over 20 years.
Here are my favorite persuasive writing tools and resources:
If you only try one tool, I highly recommend Jasper AI (formally known as Jarvis and Conversion.ai).
I use Jasper every day to automatically generate thousands of original words for persuasive writing, blog posts, contracts, and more.
Final Thoughts: What Is Persuasive Writing?
The next step in learning persuasive writing is lots of practice. You’ll get better the more you do it.
There are a ton of helpful articles on this site about how to write better.
- How To Write An Editorial (Your Expert Cheat Sheet)
- How to Write an Ode (Step-by-Step with Examples)
- Time Skips in Writing: 27 Answers You Need To Know
Hello, I’m Christopher Kokoski, the creator of this site. Read more
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The Purpose of Creative Writing: Persuasion
The third lesson will focus on a different purpose as to why an author writes. The writer may be trying to persuade their readers. Persuasion is the effort to change the opinions, actions, or beliefs of the audience. The use of sources and vocabulary can influence a person to say, for example, consider to stop smoking or start a business. There are different ways to persuade a person which are called modes of persuasion :
- Ethos– Greek word meaning “character”; focuses on the credibility, or trustworthiness, of the author. We tend to believe people we have respect for and has authority. If the author has a good reputation, then it helps the author in his writing.
- Pathos–Greek word meaning “suffering or experience”; persuading through affecting the emotional response of the reader. It can cause feelings of happiness, anger, or sadness.
- Logos–Greek word meaning “word”; it’s the persuasion using evidence (facts).
Identify the following situations as ethos, pathos, or logos. Explain.
- A writer, who is an award-winning chemist, tells you a chemical formula in his book.
- The author convinces the reader the dangers of driving without a seatbelt by stating statistics of injuries that have happened because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
- An author wants a reader to donate money to a child in need. He does this by describing the living conditions of the child and his family.
Did you identify correctly? The first situation above was ethos. The writer, who has experience in Chemistry (he earned an award), was giving the reader a chemical formula. This writer has credibility because of his professional experience. The second situation was logos, or persuasion using evidence. The author was persuading the reader to drive with a seatbelt by telling them how many drivers get hurt when they were not wearing a seatbelt.
The third situation was pathos, or emotional persuasion. The author is trying to “tug at your heartstrings” by describing the poor life of a child and their family. That way, you might donate money. Now, let’s see an example using one of the modes of persuasion.
I will write two paragraphs using one of the modes of persuasion (I chose pathos ). I am briefly writing about the impact of youth gang violence. This will give an idea of how one of these modes can be used in everyday writing. Hopefully, this will ease your mind on writing using persuasion.
“When I was six years old, I had an older cousin named Derrick. Derrick was a straight-A student, played basketball with his neighborhood friends, and always did what his parents (my aunt and uncle) asked him to do. Everyone loved him; I know I did. I would follow him everywhere like a puppy. I would listen to his advice as if he was a sage. He taught me how to play basketball, and said that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Despite our 6 year difference, he never felt ashamed to hang out with me. That all changed when he started hanging out the wrong crowd.
He went from all A’s to D’s and F’s. He would disobey his parents, start hanging out late at night, and other things I don’t want to talk about. Derrick wasn’t the same Derrick I used to hang out with. One Thursday night, my mom received a phone call from my aunt. My mom told me that Derrick was in the hospital. It turned out that Derrick joined a gang and had been beaten up by an enemy gang. The number of gang-related violence, including what happened to Derrick. That is one of the reasons why gangs should not exist and more should be done to prevent tragedies such as this.”
Pathos was used in the paragraphs above through the experience of gang violence that impacted the author. The story gives an emotional and personal introduction this way and a good way to transition to persuading the reader why gangs should not exist and how to stop tragedies such as Derrick‘s.
Write a one-page paper on any desired subject. You must use one of the modes of persuasion in the paper.
15 Awesome Persuasive Writing Prompts
Whether you are working on a persuasive unit or preparing your students for assessment, these writing prompts can serve as a starting point for building persuasive (argument) essays. Encourage students to use the PAST strategy to analyze the prompts, and share six strategies for writing arguments to help them do their best work.
Beginning Persuasive Prompts (Grades 4–5)
Share these prompts with students who are beginning to write essays.
1. What Season Is Best?
Some people love hot summers at the beach or pool. Others love cold winters with sleds and snowmen. Maybe you like crackling fall leaves or tender spring flowers. Write an essay that names your favorite season and gives reasons why it is best.
2. My Pet of Choice
If you could have any pet, what pet would you choose? Dog? Cat? Snake? Tarantula? Write a letter to your parent or guardian naming the pet you would most like to have and giving reasons why you should get to have this pet.
3. Time for a Vacation
What vacation would you like most? Hiking in a state park? Visiting Grandma? Going to an amusement park? Write an essay to your parent or guardian naming what would be a perfect vacation and giving reasons you would like to take it.
4. A Change I’d Make
Think of a problem at your school. What causes the problem? What bad things happen because of it? What should be done to fix the problem? As a concerned student, write a persuasive essay noting the problem, suggesting a solution, and convincing your principal to take action.
5. Valuing a Second Language
Many schools require students to take foreign language courses. Does your school? Do you think it’s a good idea for students to learn a second language? Why or why not? In an essay, make a case why it is (or is not) important to learn a foreign language.
Intermediate Persuasive Prompts (Grades 6–8)
Share these prompts with students who regularly write essays.
6. What’s My Age Again?
Is it better to be a child, a teenager, or an adult? What are the benefits of each age? What are the drawbacks? Choose the period of life that you think is best and write an essay arguing why it is the best time of life. Support your position with anecdotes from your own life as well as facts and details drawn from the lives of others.
7. Preparedness vs. Overplanning
John Lennon once observed, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” If that is true, is it better to live life without a plan, to carefully follow a precise plan, or to somehow balance planning and spontaneity? Write an essay arguing for how a person should plan (or not plan) life. Support your claim using examples from your life and the lives of other students.
8. Future President
Some day, you and your classmates will be the adults in charge of running the world. Is that thought exciting or terrifying? Which of your classmates would make the best president of the United States? Write an editorial announcing a presidential bid by a classmate of yours (or yourself). Tell why the person would make an excellent president, provide the person’s qualifications, and urge readers to vote for the candidate.
9. What Is Music For?
Archeologists have uncovered ancient flutes carved from bird bones and mammoth ivory, showing that music has been with us for a very long time. Even so, what is music for? It doesn’t provide food or shelter. It doesn’t cure disease or solve problems. What does music do? Write an essay that tells what music does for human beings and argues for its value in our lives.
10. New Class Offerings
Think about a class not currently available that you would like your school to offer. Now write an editorial to your school newspaper that identifies the new class and provides strong reasons for including it in your school’s curriculum.
Advanced Persuasive Prompts (Grades 9–12)
Share these prompts with high-school level writers. Refer them to the 7 C’s for Building a Rock-Solid Argument infographic to review the key parts of an effective argument.
11. Drug Testing for All?
The Supreme Court ruled that random drug testing is constitutional for high school students involved in athletics and other extracurricular activities. Write an essay that argues for or against random drug testing of all students.
12. Would You Eat Test Tube Meat?
Some 9 billion animals are killed and used for food each year in the United States. The animal waste produced by factory farms causes water and air pollution. Yet the demand for meat grows stronger. In an attempt to curb the use of factory farms while satisfying the population’s demand for meat, food scientists have begun producing in vitro meat—muscle tissue that’s cultured from animal cells and grown in a laboratory. How comfortable would you be eating test-tube meat? Write an essay that argues for or against in vitro meat.
13. Tests, Tests, Tests
Standardized tests are used as a measuring stick for student performance. Your test scores decide, in part, whether you are admitted to certain colleges. They are also used to measure readiness for certain careers, such as law and medicine. Test scores impact the funding that public schools receive from the federal government. Write an essay that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of standardized tests. In your essay, decide if standardized tests are the proper measuring stick for student performance. If, in your opinion, they are not, describe alternatives that could be used to measure achievement.
14. Should the Internet be Copyright Free?
In 2011, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill was introduced to the United States House of Representatives. Among other things, SOPA would expand criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted movies, music, and television. Many free-content sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit boycotted the bill as a threat to free speech. A draft of the bill was postponed in 2012, and it remains tabled today. Write an essay that weighs the interests of copyright holders such as recording artists and movie producers against the rights of users of the free Web. Should sites be able to host copyrighted material free of charge? Is it ethically right to stream pirated music and movies? Provide reasons for your response.
15. Tackling National Debt
In last 40 years the United States federal government has accumulated unprecedented debt, meaning that it has spent more money than it has collected in revenue. In fact, the national debt is approaching $20 trillion and rising by the day. The debt crisis is a complex problem that could eventually cost citizens and weaken the U.S.’s standing in the global community. In a problem-solution essay, explore the causes and effects of the national debt problem. Then outline possible solutions and recommend how the federal government should act to solve the crisis.