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How to Write a Successful Opinion Paper

Have you ever wondered what an opinion essay is? You are not alone since there are many other students facing an assignment for an opinion paper. Many students may have found it confusing to differentiate between a research essay and an opinion essay. In the simplest possible terms, an opinion essay requires you to share your standpoint on the subject content. You should back your opinion with relevant examples and arguments to help the reader understand your point of view. Most importantly, your opinion essay should address your audience directly. This article will expound on the opinion writing checklist as well as the dos and don’ts of writing opinion essays.

Do you want to write a compelling opinion paper? Follow these steps when writing opinion essays:

What you should do before you start writing

Your checklist for essay writing must begin with pre-writing activities. Before you engage in opinion writing, you need to establish the question you intend to address in your essay. It is advisable that you choose a topic from a subject area that you are passionate about or interested in. Otherwise, you may find the process of writing an opinion paper extremely boring.

Once you have identified the topic that you will address in your assignment, you should then ascertain the points that you need to share with the readers to convince them. The most important step here is to determine what your readers already know about your topic. It will help you in developing an argument that makes your academic writing successful.

The next step is to develop your primary argument. It is here that you should determine the arguments you will use to support your standpoint. It is important that your standpoint is logical and relevant to make your essay is both meaningful and academic.

The structure to use in writing opinion essays

When writing an opinion paper, it is important to adopt an easy-to-follow structure. Once you have determined the topic, the central arguments, and the points you need to share with your readers, you should now begin your writing. It is important that you present your essay in a format that is easy to understand. Most professors prefer that you use a 5-paragraph format that includes:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraph 1: First argument
  • Body paragraph 2: Second argument
  • Body paragraph 3: Third argument
  • Conclusion


The introduction is a vital element in writing an opinion paper. It should address your readers directly. You must ensure that the first sentence is captivating to elicit readers’ interest and capture their attention. It might include a quote or a rhetorical question. You should then ensure that the next sentences are more specific. The last sentence should be the thesis statement. It is your main point of argument and determines the direction of your paper.

Body paragraph 1: First Argument

The first body paragraph will help you to back up your argument with evidence. You will then further expound the same to help your readers understand your point. You may support your point with evidence or examples to help the readers determine how true your point is. You should end the paragraph with a closing sentence that summarizes your point while transitioning to the next paragraph.

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Body paragraph 2: Second Argument

Like the first body paragraph, the second body paragraph explains your second point. Ensure that the first line of this paragraph transitions from the last line of the first paragraph. Most importantly, provide evidence and examples to prove that your second point supports your main idea as expressed in your thesis statement.

Body paragraph 3: Third Argument

Just like the previous body paragraphs, you will discuss your third point here. Remember that the first line transitions from the previous paragraph’s last line. Provide evidence and examples to support your argument and show how your third point supports the thesis statement. Since this is your last point, the last sentence here should close your thesis statement. Reiterate your stance.


The conclusion is the last element in the 5-paragraph essay structure. Here you are required to sum up your supporting points and reaffirm your thesis statement. The most important point to note here is that you are not supposed to introduce any new ideas or quotes.

Here are the summary of the paragraph structures:

  • Hook sentence
  • Point
  • Evidence
  • Explanation
  • Link
  • Conclusion

The Dos and Don’ts in the opinion writing checklist

The Dos

  • Remain Formal: Treat your essay as if it is one of your final papers.
  • Ensure your facts are accurate and verifiable.
  • Discuss every point in a separate paragraph.
  • The concluding sentence in every body paragraph should serve as a link or transition.
  • Try to use active voice as well as present tense.
  • Cite outside sources and materials used to support your arguments.
  • Be precise.

The Don’ts

  • Avoid slang and jargon.
  • Do not use contractions or short form words.
  • Avoid overgeneralization.
  • Avoid plagiarism or using other people’s ideas without citing. 
  • Do not include personal experiences or examples.
  • Do not repeat points or arguments.
  • Avoid expressive vocabulary.

Include the following aspects in your opinion paper

Captivating beginning: Since you need to capture your reader’s attention, always ensure that you start off your essay in a captivating way. Include startling statistics, facts, quotes, or a question.

Transitional words: Transitions are important in maintaining the flow of the essay. You should select appropriate transitional words to help the readers follow your thought process to the end.

Sentence variety: To make your essay interesting for the reader, you should use different sentence styles in opinion writing. You should not begin all your sentences the same way. For instance, some sentences should use describing words while others may use transitional words.  

Word choice: Word choice plays an important role in leaving a lasting impression. Select powerful words that are suitable for the subject matter and not difficult for the readers to understand.