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How to Write a Pros & Cons Essay

by Kori Morgan

A pros and cons essay is a type of persuasive assignment where you discuss both sides of a debatable issue before revealing your own position. The objective, balanced structure allows audiences to formulate their own opinions before hearing your final analysis. You can write a good pros and cons essay by giving fair, equal treatment to both sides of an issue, describing its advantages and disadvantages with clear, specific research and summarizing your own position in the conclusion.

Choosing a Topic

Because a pros and cons essay involves equal treatment of both sides, topics are usually controversial and debatable. This type of essay works well for these topics because the structure encourages readers to carefully weigh both positions as they read. One way to brainstorm topics is to think about issues you face in your daily life. For example, you might choose to write about the advantages and disadvantages of the growth of cell phones in society. Then, you can make a list of the issue's positive and negative aspects to reference as you write.

Balanced Topic Treatment

The tone of a pros and cons essay is objective and even, giving equal attention and respect to both sides. The essay should enable readers to equally weigh the different concerns instead of being pushed toward one perspective from the start. Your introduction should contribute to the balanced structure by summarizing both sides and presenting a neutral thesis statement. A sample thesis might read, "While cell phones provide conveniences, entertainment and ways to stay in touch, they also create serious distractions, enable social bullying and create an easy crutch for critical thinking."

Describing Pros and Cons

The body paragraphs of the essay should provide details and examples to further develop the arguments for each side of the topic. You can organize them however you want; some writers present one side of an argument and then another, while others provide a point followed immediately by a counterpoint. Either way, your discussion should be well-researched, with clear, specific examples to support every assertion. According to the University of Calgary, using transitional phrases can also provide fluency and focus within the essay. To introduce new points, you might use phrases such as "many people believe," "another viewpoint is" or "on the other hand."

Conclusion and Evaluation

Although the conclusion should reveal the writer's viewpoint, it still needs to be stated in an objective, unbiased manner. Using first person phrases like "I believe" corrupts the balanced tone you have set throughout the course of the essay. Similarly, tearing down the opposite position can alienate readers, even if they have found your essay useful to this point. Instead of focusing on yourself, try to center your statements on the information you've presented. For example, your concluding paragraph might begin, "Taking everything into consideration, the social and technological benefits of cell phones outweigh their potential to be misused."

About the Author

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.

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