Putting Together Your Argument

If you want to reduce the basic structure to creating an argument, you could reduce it to this structure:

Topic Sentence

Statement / Claim

Evidence / Example

(Citation of Evidence, whether summarized or quoted)

Explanation / Transition

Topic Sentence: a sentence that expresses the main idea of the paragraph in which occurs.

Statement / Claim: expression of material information that builds upon the topic sentence and/or sets up your eventual example.

Evidence / Example: usually taken from some source aimed at supporting your statement/claim and ideally in support of your larger thesis.

(Citation for any Summary, Paraphrasing, and/or Quoting of material)

Explanation: Following your use of source to support larger claim or statement, usually aims to explain and connect quotation to larger overall argument expressed in thesis.

Transition: When finished explaining and moving on to a new paragraph, should help move the conversation/argument forward into a topic of conversation.

From this basic structure you can set up, integrate research information, and explain it, connecting it back to your thesis statement.

I did an example here, color coded to match structure above:


Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples relates the story of the parents Alana and Marko who despite their terrible circumstances do all they can to be good parents in how they seek to protect, care for, and love their child even though the circumstances in which they raise Hazel.


A second example of Alana and Marko showing good parenting was when they discussed what to name their new baby girl after they took their first look at her. They were deliberate about her name representing who and what type of person they wanted her to become and see her grow up to become. They already knew that Hazel’s future and current lifestyle set alongside with their past; she would not have a “normal” or boring life (Vaughan and Staples). The choice of her name was a declaration of her being and an expression of what kind of future they wanted for her. This ties into the article, “6 A’s of Good Parenting,” when the author states that “When we affirm a child’s feelings, it gives them a sense of authenticity” (Merril). So, by choosing a name other than “Pico,” which has a negative name to Marko or “Beatrice,” which Alana thought was too “girly,” the parents tried to give their new baby a sense of her authenticity by naming her Hazel. This served as a compromise and demonstrated another way that both Alana and Marko are doing the best, they can be good parents while on the run.

Example of Introducing, Integrating, and Explaining an Argument


Here are TWO examples of the same passage from They Say, I Say ch. 3.

The first here is a bad example, an example of a “hit and run quotations”.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 9.36.16 AM

There are a lot of things wrong here:

  1. No idea who Susan Bordo is.

  2. No proper framing/introduction to quotation.

  3. Quotation not integrated.

  4. Quotation not cited.

  5. No explanation or connection to thesis.

The second here is a good example:

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 9.40.33 AM

Let’s break this down with the Formula:

Topic Sentence

The feminist philosopher Susan Bordo deplores Western media’s obsession with female thinness and dieting.


Her basic complaint is that increasing numbers of women across the globe are being led to see themselves as fat and in need of a diet.


Citing the islands of Fiji as a case in point.

Evidence/Example (cited)

Bordo notes that “until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting” (149-50).

Explanation Transition

Bordo’s point is that the Western cult of dieting is spreading even to remote places across the globe. Ultimately, Bordo complains, the culture of dieting will find you, regardless of where you live. Bordo’s observations ring true to me because, now that I think about it, most women I know, regardless of where they are from, are seriously unhappy with their weight…