An issue paper is a typical assignment in high school, college, and university courses emphasizing analytical writing. An issue paper provides arguments and evidence on an issue-based topic to support a focused opinion on an issue or topic.

It is a concise essay intended to persuade an audience, typically policymakers, legislators, company executives, citizens, or government bodies (stakeholder groups), to address certain societal issues. These articles examine national, regional, and global challenges and seek viable and sustainable solutions. Consider it more of a problem-and-solution essay.

When writing a paper on a problem, remember that it plays a crucial part in creating public or organizational policy about numerous societal challenges. It should be written to persuade individuals (stakeholders) to support a policy, amend it, or provide solutions to problems. Typically, issue papers range from 5 to 8 pages and focus on contentious topics.

Writing a research paper on an issue paper may appear complicated at first, but it is quite simple if you know how to accomplish it. And because so many students fail while attempting to write issue papers, we have compiled this detailed guide that explains the fundamentals of writing one.

Because an issue paper is a conventional essay focusing on a problem, you may follow our format. However, this one focuses on the skills and needs relevant to writing an issue paper.

Steps to writing a Convincing Issue Paper

We have prepared the Steps for Writing an Issue Paper, which you may use to compose virtually any essay or academic assignment. However, because an issue paper focuses exclusively on a problem and its solution, the following procedures are appropriate.

1. Choose an Issue of Focus

Assuming you have the freedom to choose the topic of your paper, you must engage in critical thinking, conduct research, and settle on a topic. In most instances, when requested to write an issue paper, you are expected to address matters of national, regional, and international significance.

Numerous such concerns affect society in various ways. You could, for example, write on global security, climate change, corruption, bad governance, global health systems, etc. Our blog has a complete selection of social concerns from which you can choose topics for your issue paper. You can read newspapers, periodicals, journals, books, course materials, and magazines about the problem or conduct an internet search for relevant news articles. Equally, you can consult your instructor for suggestions or verify that your chosen topic satisfies the criteria.

Consider the guidelines supplied by your instructor or professor while selecting a topic. Typically, they will provide you with latitude. For instance, they may be particularly interested in national issues that affect you personally or your neighborhood. This must be reflected in the topic you choose for your paper.

You can choose a topic with actual disagreement or ambiguity. It should influence or affect a particular group of people or stakeholders. It should also be an issue you wish to urge a solution to.

As you attempt to choose a topic, consider the following:

  1. What makes this topic the best one to research?
  2. Does the topic fit the criteria outlined in the rubric or essay prompt?
  3. Are you interested in finding solutions?
  4. Does the issue have an impact on you or your community?
  5. Is the problem contentious or urgently requiring solutions?
  6. Who are the parties or stakeholders involved in the issue?

2. Do a Preliminary Research

After selecting a subject that piques your interest from a list of prospective topics that match the rubric’s criteria, you must do research. To define and contextualize the problem, consult dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks. Online books, government reports, academic journals, blogs, publications, and reports are also available for familiarization and planning purposes.

Researching the topic beforehand assists you in determining the subject of your work. It facilitates the selection of a specific topic of interest and the formulation of a thesis statement. Researching the topic can also help you locate high-quality academic material sources to incorporate into your paper.

As you conduct research, you will construct a research question that will assist you in formulating an essay’s topic and title. For example, you could pose the topic, “Should wealthy nations compensate impoverished nations for damaging the environment more?” Alternatively, you might choose “Should males earn more than women? Or “should paternity leave be extended to men?”

Such a question enables you to frame your argument better. It assists you in addressing your possible audience while composing the paper, enabling you to fulfill the requirements. The response to these questions can serve as the title of your essay.

Not only should you take notes while researching, but you should also arrange and preserve the sources for use when planning and writing the initial draft of your topic paper.

3. Develop a Title

You must compose a title for your essay using the information you’ve acquired and the insights you’ve gained.

An engaging title for your topic paper engaged your audience from the moment they first encountered it.

A strong essay title includes the subject and important terms. It is concise, brief, and fascinating. Limit the length of the title of your issue paper to 10 to 15 words. The title should contain keywords that tell the reader about the subject matter. By reading the title of your issue paper, the reader should be able to discern the topic of interest.

4. Craft a Thesis Statement

In addition to selecting a decent title, write a well-developed provisional thesis statement. It is tentative because you can revise, polish, and update it as you write the body paragraphs or conduct research for the issue paper.

As with any other essay or academic paper, the thesis statement of an issue paper should consist of one or two phrases that convey the essence (main points) of your paper.

As you conducted the study, you formed some ideas, adopted a stance, and resolved to maintain a singular perspective. You will utilize these insights, viewpoints, observations, and arguments to create your thesis.

In one or two sentences, convey to the reader the subject of the entire document. It should be a claim regarding your topic. You should transform your topic into a thesis statement by asserting something about it.

To polish your thesis, analyze your research sources, consider what you feel to be true and what the audience needs to know, and then compose a statement outlining the issue paper’s key topic.

For more information on thesis statements, please see our writing guide for thesis statements.

5. Create an Outline

Now that you understand the fundamentals, you must outline your issue paper. Outlining your essay helps you structure the work to compose the draft with the final product in mind.

Create a rough draft of your work, identifying and noting the attention grabbers, introduction background, thesis statement, main arguments, supporting ideas, suggestions, examples, and conclusion.

Deconstruct the entire paper according to how you want it to appear after writing. Review the criteria and assignment guidelines as you create the outline so that you can limit the scope of the paper. You are aware, for instance, that the introduction and conclusion should each comprise 10 percent of your paper. This information assists you in structuring and planning the number of paragraphs in your essay’s body, which comprises 80% of your document.

You will determine whether your essay requires three or more body paragraphs.

6. Write the First Draft of the Issue Paper

After completing the outline, the following step is to write the first draft. When writing, the primary attention should be on writing, followed by editing. This attitude or method to writing enables you to generate ideas and retain the paper’s flow, then concentrate on polishing it once you’re finished writing.

You can either start writing your essay with the introduction and proceed to the conclusion or start with the body paragraphs, the introduction, and the conclusion. Regardless of your method, you should be able to produce the first draft of your subject paper at the end.

Choose a good hook or attention-getter when composing the beginning. In addition to the title, the opening line of your introduction should persuade readers that the work is worth reading. You can incorporate facts regarding the subject, such as statistics or statements that pique the reader’s curiosity to read further. The following stage is to provide context for the topic. Explain to the audience why the topic is important, why they should care about it, and why you choose to address it. In conclusion, provide the thesis statement.

Subdivide the body paragraphs following your primary points. Remember that each paragraph of the body must support your thesis statement. Consequently, each topic sentence must be distinct and address a specific idea related to your thesis. Within the essay’s body paragraphs, you should elaborate on your perspective on the topic at hand. And as you do so, back your thesis with arguments for or against your position. Utilize academic phrases and transitional words when writing the body paragraphs to ensure a logical progression of thoughts.

The conclusion should include a summary of the paper. Restate the premise, summarize the important points, and conclude with a call to action.

Some individuals prefer writing the introduction last, which is OK, provided the paper’s flow is maintained. If you do so, ensure that the introduction indicates the direction of the article.

7. Polish the Paper

Since you focused on writing, it is probable that you rushed and committed errors, which is perfectly acceptable. After completing the first draft, it is best to take a break from writing to gain objectivity, generate new ideas, and edit the work without prejudice. As you polish the paper, consider your audience and the professor’s instructions.

Start by verifying and correcting the paper’s grammar, punctuation, and language errors. You should review your paper’s tenses, voice, diction, and syntax. Ensure continuity from the introduction to the conclusion of your paper. As you edit, proofread, and revise the paper, ensure that it receives the best grade possible according to the grading rubric. Ensure that an accurate in-text citation accompanies each paraphrased point from a source.

And if you have utilized quotations, check that they are formatted properly and that you provide the page number from the source.

In addition, run your paper via grammatical correction tools, such as Grammarly or Hemmingway Editor, to edit and eliminate errors.

Once you submit the paper, you may also run it through plagiarism checkers to correct and lessen similarity levels so that you are not accused of plagiarism.

Read also: How to write an Imaginative Essay

Formatting an Issue Paper

Your topic paper should be formatted similarly to other academic essays and papers. Here are the technical requirements for a topic paper:

  1. Written using a word processor with a 12-point Times New Roman font
  2. There should be no single spacing and no extra spaces between paragraphs. Use single spacing only if instructed to do so by your instructor.
  3. Should include a heading or cover page with course information, the professor’s name, your name, and the date.
  4. Four-inch margins are required on the top, bottom, left, and right.
  5. Page Numbers: Page numbers should be included in accordance with the specified formatting style (APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard formats).
  6. The essay’s title should be in the same font as the essay’s body.
  7. Put the first line of each paragraph indented.
  8. The text in the essay should be aligned to the left rather than justified.

When formatting your topic paper, be sure to adhere to the specific formatting style you were instructed to use, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.

Issue Paper Structure

You may be wondering what goes into an issue paper. Certain that it involves arguments regarding a given issue and the most effective means of addressing it, your topic paper should be organized as follows:

Title/cover page

An issue paper’s title or cover page includes information about the course, institution, and instructor. It should also have a title that is written and styled according to the appropriate style. This is the introduction to your paper.


The issue is outlined in the opening of an issue paper, making it easy for the reader to determine what the paper is about. It should include:

  1. An attention-grabbing phrase or a hook. This is a sentence that attracts the reader’s attention. This is the first phrase of your introduction. It may be a statistic, fact, piece of historical context, or comment.
  2. Explain why it is worthwhile to pursue the issue or topic of interest.
  3. Thesis statement. The central argument of your paper.

Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs concentrate on your claims to support your thesis statement.

Each paragraph should include:

  1. A topic sentence. This gives the reader the topic of the paragraph. It should focus on a distinct and specific facet of the topic.
  2. Supporting sentences. A series of sentences provide instances, evidence, and other materials to support the argument in the topic sentence.
  3. Concluding sentence. To conclude the paragraph and move the reader to the following paragraph.


Your essay’s conclusion should not contain any new information. Instead, it should have:

  1. A sentence that restates or reformulates the thesis statement.
  2. A series of words outlining the essay’s main points
  3. A concluding statement, appeal, remark, or call to action is addressed to the reader of the essay.

It should provide readers with closure and shut the loop in your writing by directing them back to the opening.

Reference List

Your topic paper should include a list of references detailing the sources you studied while writing. The reference list should be formatted according to the chosen writing and formatting style, such as APA, MLA, or Harvard. The list should be arranged in alphabetical order from A to Z.

And if you have used any figures (graphs, images, photos, tables, or drawings), place them in the appendices section that follows the reference list. Again, based on the identified/preferred formatting style, use the correct names in the body (APA, MLA, or Harvard).

Final Remarks!

To create a successful issue paper, you must select a topic that focuses on an issue of interest, conduct extensive research, then plan, draft, and edit the paper. You should focus on a topic that fulfills the professor’s requirements. If no criteria are specified, choose controversial social issues that affect you or your community and in whose resolution you have a real interest. It should be a topic for which information is readily available.

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