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Persuasive writing

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Persuasive writing is a form of writing intended to convince or influence readers to accept a particular idea or opinion and to inspire action.[1] A wide variety of writings, such as criticisms, reviews, reaction papers, editorials, proposals, advertisements, and brochures, utilize different persuasion techniques to influence readers. Persuasive writing can also be employed in indoctrination. It is often confused with opinion writing; however, while both may share similar themes, persuasive writing is backed by facts, whereas opinion writing is supported by emotions.[2]

Persuasive writing is non-fiction writing where writers utilize logical arguments, and carefully chosen words and phrases. Some pieces of literature rooted in the fiction genre can also be categorized as persuasive writings.[3]


To establish credibility and authenticity, strong evidence, such as facts and statistics, statements of expert authorities, and research findings, is presented. Readers are more likely to side with the writer's position or agree with their opinion if it is backed up by verifiable evidence.[citation needed] Concrete, relevant, and reasonable examples or anecdotes can enhance the writer's idea or opinion. They can be based on observations or the writer's personal experience. Accurate, current, and balanced information adds to the credibility of persuasive writing. The writer not only presents evidence that favors their ideas but also acknowledges some evidence that opposes their own. In the writing, though, their ideas would be sounder.


Persuasive writing can be categorized into five types: rhetoric, craftsmanship, authenticity, reflexivity, and imagination.[4] Rhetoric refers to the various techniques used to appeal to the audience such as ethos, logos, and pathos. Craftsmanship involves the skillful use of language, such as the proper use of grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure, to effectively convey the intended message. Authenticity refers to the credibility and trustworthiness of the writer's arguments. Reflexivity involves the writer's reflection on their own biases and perspectives to ensure the objectivity and fairness of their argument. Lastly, imagination entails the use of creative and innovative ideas to make the argument more compelling and engaging.


The art of persuasion lies at the core of rhetorical writing. Three principal rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos, play crucial roles in constructing a persuasive argument.

Ethos refers to the credibility or ethical appeal of the writer. It is achieved by presenting the author's qualifications, reputation, or experiences that make them an authority on the subject.

Pathos appeals to the reader's emotions, values, or desires. It includes creating an emotional response or motivating the audience to act by eliciting feelings such as fear, pity, or joy.

Logos is the logical appeal, relying on reasoning and evidence. It involves presenting a clear, rational argument supported by facts, statistics, or expert testimony.


Craftsmanship in persuasive writing involves employing language effectively. This includes the use of appropriate vocabulary and grammar, clarity in expressing ideas, and creating a logical flow of ideas. The writer also makes use of rhetorical devices like repetition, analogy, and metaphor to enhance the persuasiveness of their argument.


In persuasive writing, authenticity is established when the writer's arguments are credible and believable. This is achieved by using sound reasoning, presenting well-researched and verifiable evidence, and addressing counterarguments. It also involves the writer's honesty and transparency about their stance and the limitations of their argument.


Reflexivity in persuasive writing involves the writer's critical self-reflection on their own perspectives and potential biases. By acknowledging and addressing their biases, the writer can make their argument more objective and credible. Reflexivity also includes considering the perspectives of the audience and how they might perceive the argument.


Imagination plays a key role in persuasive writing, especially in creating engaging and compelling arguments. The writer can use creative approaches to present their argument, including storytelling, metaphor, and vivid imagery. This can make the argument more relatable and memorable, thereby increasing its persuasiveness.


Persuasive writing is a widely used and accepted form of communication, but it is not without its critics. These criticisms range from its potential for manipulation to its inherent bias.

Manipulation and Misinformation: Critics often draw parallels between persuasive writing and propaganda, expressing concerns about its potential misuse for spreading misinformation. Instead of fostering critical thinking, persuasive writing may lead the reader to a predetermined conclusion, particularly through the use of emotional appeals (pathos). The Oxford English Dictionary defines propaganda as "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a particular political cause or point of view."[5]

Oversimplification and Lack of Objectivity: In an attempt to make an argument compelling and clear, persuasive writing can oversimplify complex issues, resulting in a biased presentation of an issue that leaves out critical nuances and perspectives. Critics argue that persuasive writing, by its nature, is designed to convince the reader of a specific point of view, which may not always represent a balanced or objective viewpoint.

Education Practices: Specific criticism is aimed at the educational practice of teaching the "persuasive essay format" in schools. This format often encourages students to remove hedge words and make definitive assertions, fostering a sense of absolute certainty. For instance, students might be advised to replace subjective phrases like “I think that this character is confused,” with more definitive assertions such as “This character is confused,” ostensibly to convey confidence.[6]

Countermeasures: In response to these criticisms, some advocate for a more holistic approach, akin to the dispassionate methodologies of scouts, scientists, or judges, rather than the zealous advocacy often associated with lawyers or warriors. They promote strategies to eliminate internal bias and encourage the pursuit of evidence dispassionately, fostering a more nuanced understanding of complex issues and equipping readers to critically engage with the information presented.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guillain, Charlotte (2016). What is Persuasive Writing?. Raintree. ISBN 9781406296891.
  2. ^ Isma, Amy. "LibGuides: Persuasive Writing: Persuasive Writing". materchristi.libguides.com. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  3. ^ Frederick, Peter (2012). Persuasive Writing: How to harness the power of words. Pearson UK. ISBN 9780273746164.
  4. ^ Jonsen, Karsten; Fendt, Jacqueline; Point, Sébastien (January 2018). "Convincing Qualitative Research: What Constitutes Persuasive Writing?". Organizational Research Methods. 21 (1): 30–67. doi:10.1177/1094428117706533. ISSN 1094-4281. S2CID 149398715.
  5. ^ "Propaganda: Definition of Propaganda by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com". Lexico Dictionaries.
  6. ^ "Julia Galef: Why you think you're right -- even if you're wrong". Ted Talks.