For this assignment, you will annotate an article. Please read the instructions and follow each step carefully. There are three steps. Turn on Track Changes under the Review tab in Word before you begin. Be sure your Track Changes shows All Markup not just a Simple Markup.

Step 1: Predict and preview

After reading the title and glancing over the text and author’s biography (below), what do you think the text will be about? What do you understand about the text from the title? What do you know already about this topic? What questions do you have about the text? Enter your response to the preview here:

Step 2: Read, summarize, and annotate

As you read the article, use the Track Changes function to annotate the text.

1. Double click the last word of each section, and then click the New Comment button under the Review tab to add a comment box. Type your one sentence summary (paraphrase) of the paragraph in the box. Summarize every paragraph in the essay. Group short paragraphs of the same topic together for summarizing.

1. What words do you not understand? Define them directly in the text next to the word. Only put the definition for the word in its exact context (not all the definitions).

1. Annotate the text. Use the functions in Microsoft Word to highlight sections or words and underline sentences or sections that are important, just like you would if you were annotating a hard copy of the essay. Use the following key to annotate your text:

· Highlight the main ideas of paragraphs, including the thesis

· Underline supporting details or interesting quotes/facts/ideas

Step 3: Vocabulary words

As you read the text, you need to list and words that you do not know here with their definitions. If you know all the words, you need to find and define at least TWO words that you think other students might struggle with. You should have a minimum of TWO words with definitions listed below:

Step 4: Answering questions about the text (after you read it!)

1. After reading these tips, do you have a better understanding of what is expected of you? Summarize what you think is the most important tip or idea in this handout?

2. What is your response to this handout? What knowledge or new understanding have you gained after reading it?

Ten Tips for a Successful Argument Essay

Created by the English Faculty at Richland College for the English Corner

1. Write in the present tense

Use past tense for real history. Whether you are discussing an actual historical event or your own personal experience, if it happened in the past, use past tense. However, always use present for literature and ideas. Ideas never die, so write about them in the present tense.

One of the prevailing social issues of today, and one that presses most strenuously upon the fabric of our society, is the right of same sex couples to marry.

2. Write in the third person

Use I sparingly. It’s clear that “you think” something because it’s your essay. I is acceptable for personal narratives or when you want to be emphatic. In other words, save your I statements for times when you want to really emphasize a point or be clear about where you stand.

Additionally, you is inappropriate in an academic essay. Instead of using you, try to figure out exactly to whom you are referring and then replace the you with that word. For example, you in an essay might refer to society, Americans, or simply readers. It might refer to students, men, or women.

First Person: I think marijuana should be legal because I see that it has been legalized in three states already.

Second Person: Marijuana should be legal because, as you can see, no one has died from a marijuana overdose.

Third Person: Since marijuana has already been legalized in three states and no one has ever died from an overdose, the US should consider legalizing it.

3. Include a clear thesis statement that takes a stance on a subject

Thesis statements are not facts or summaries, not questions, not issues of faith or personal belief, and not matters of opinion or personal taste. See the handout Creating Thesis Statements for more help.

Faith/Personal Belief: Smoking marijuana is immoral.

Opinion: I think smoking marijuana is a good idea.

Fact: Marijuana is a drug.

Question: Should marijuana be legalized?

4. Qualify your thesis statement

Qualifying a claim means that under certain conditions, or in certain circumstances, or with certain limitations, you concede that “they” are correct. An argument is rarely only two-sided: right or wrong. Your thesis and argument should represent your qualified claim (mixed feelings paper).

Too Broad: The government should legalize marijuana.

Qualified: Marijuana should be legalized with the same restrictions as alcohol.

The second statement concedes that some people shouldn’t smoke (under 21), and smoking should remain illegal in some situations (in the car, at work, at school, in public places).

5. Use a variety of evidence

Using a variety of evidence appeals to a variety of readers. Not all readers will be persuaded by the same type of evidence. Appeal to the readers’ emotions (pathos) but not to the point of manipulation. Appeal to the readers’ logic (logos), and express your credibility (ethos) through reliable sources and formal register. The following is a list of the different types of evidence you might want to consider using as support in your essay.

Facts—ideas that can be proven true: observations, scholarly research that is accepted as true

Statistics—numerical data produced through research, surveys, or polls

Examples—specific instances that illustrate general statements

Authorities—experts on your subject; interviews, surveys, questionnaires can be used as experts

Anecdotes—brief narratives that your audience will find believable: your personal experience or the personal experiences of others that can support your argument

Scenarios—hypothetical situations that describe a possible effect or a new way of looking at a situation or subject “What if?”

Case studies and observations—detailed reporting or in-depth examinations of a situation, group, or person

Textual evidence—quotes, paraphrases, and summaries from experts or primary and secondary sources

Visuals—charts, graphs, photos, drawings, or other visual texts

6. Use the Tell, Show, Share method for paragraph development

Paragraphs have three main parts: the topic sentence, the evidence, and the analysis or explanation. See the handout Paragraphing and the Tell, Show, Share Method for more help with this process.

Tell the claim or thesis statement, sometimes called a topic sentence. Your claim should invite discussion and be debatable.

Show the evidence (see examples above) to support your claim

Share the So what? Who cares? Why does it matter? Explain or analyze how your evidence or quote relates back to your thesis. Share your own ideas!

7. Use the quote sandwich method with a variety of quotes, paraphrases, and summaries

The quote sandwich model includes an introduction, the quote, an explanation, and commentary. The first time you introduce an author be sure to use his/her full name and title to introduce the quote or paraphrase. Link your words with the source material using a signal verb. After that, you can use the author’s last name in the introduction or following it in an in-text citation. Then explain the quote if necessary. Follow your explanation with commentary. Share how the quote relates to your thesis or reason. Don’t leave the reader hanging! Explain and comment after your quote; provide your own ideas. See the handout Integrating Source Material for more help with this process.

Dr. Kim Jones of the University of Texas at Dallas confirms “students need a strong disposition to earn a degree” (25). By this, Jones means that being smart is not enough. Hard work is needed to graduate college with a degree.

Here are some common signal verbs. See the handout Signal Verbs for more.





























points out







8. Introduce naysayers or objections

In other words, what types of arguments would the other side bring up? Don’t forget to acknowledge the other side of your issue and overcome any arguments against your issue; otherwise, your paper becomes biased and one-sided. But be fair and unbiased when acknowledging what they say. Refuting objections makes your argument stronger and more believable, allowing those of differing beliefs the ability to access your argument, so you can change their minds. See the handout Counterarguments and Refutations for more help writing these paragraphs.

9. Use clear transitions

Transitions help readers move from thought to thought—from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. Transitions can be used to show causes and effects, to show comparisons, to show contrast or exceptions, to show examples, to show place or position, to show sequence or addition, to show time, to elaborate, to concede, or to signal a summary or conclusion. Here are a few transitions to help you get started. For even more transitions and their purposes, see the handout Transitions.

Cause and Effect








for instance


as a result

in the same way






in contrast


in addition




after all





as an illustration

in fact


along the same lines

even though

to take a case in point


10. Use MLA citation and style

Avoid plagiarism by citing with MLA, in-text and with a Works Cited page following your essay. See the handout MLA Quick Tips and Style Guide, eCampus, your book’s section on MLA, or Purdue OWL for more help with citations.

Created by the English faculty at Richland College through the English Corner

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