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Learn to Write 9 Common Essay Types

Confused between narrative and descriptive essays? Not sure what is the difference between persuasive and expository essay? It is vitally important to know the different essay types because essay writing is the most common assignments in schools and colleges. It is also an essential part of standardized tests and plays a significant role in the college application process too. In order to clear all your confusion, we describe to you 9 common essay types to make sure you don’t feel perplexed while attempting different types of essay writing. The one-stop solution for different types of essay writing

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If you think you can handle writing different essay types on your own, here you will get all the essential information about the different essay types.

9 major essay types

Distinguishing between different essay types is only a matter of determining the purpose of writing the essay. If you are clear about the writer’s goals, it becomes easier for you to identify the types of essay writing. So let’s hand out the essential information that you need while handling variant essay types.

Essay types 1: Narrative essays (Telling a story)


In narrative essay writing, the writer narrates a real-life experience to his or her readers. A narrative essay always gives an account of something for your reader.



  • The hook
  • Set the scene
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraph

  • Para 1 – Beginning action – Supporting Evidence
  • Para 2 – Middle action – Passage of time
  • Para 3- - End Action – Transition


The moral of the story – Analyze and reflect on the action of the story

Characteristics of narrative writing

  • Characters:

Usually there are specific types of characters needed in order to develop storyline. Overall, each story needs characters to push forward to react to the events in the plot.

  • Plot:

Every story needs a setting or events to give the characters something to react to. Usually the plot consists of five components, the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

  • Conflict:

Imagine a story that has no conflict. Would that be interesting to hear? So every story needs a conflict: internal or external. In internal conflicts, struggle occurs within the characters. External conflict occurs between two characters.

  • Literary techniques:

Use of figurative language can bring vivid visualization to the narrative story. Give visual details of setting with writing techniques.

Essay types 2: Descriptive essay (Painting a picture)


The writer is supposed to describe a person, object, place or even memory of special significance. The descriptive essay aims to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In descriptive writing, the writer should use colorful words and sensory details to explain the scene or story to the readers.



  • Strong opening sentence
  • Explain the reason for description

Body Paragraphs

  • Para 1 – A vivid portrait of describing a object, person or place including all observed details
  • Para 2 – The surroundings of a object, person or place, metaphors and comparison
  • Para 3 – Sensual and emotional description, include metaphors and comparison.


The importance of described things; rephrases the thesis statement.

Characteristics of descriptive writing

  • Provide a vivid reception of the subject of description
  • Involve all the smallest and important details
  • Include the emotional background of the subject
  • Demonstrate the author’s response caused by the subject
  • Gradually indicate different aspects of the subject in each following paragraph
  • Use fresh descriptive words to project the picture in front of your readers.

Essay Types 3: Expository essay (Just the facts)


Expository essay should be informative piece of writing that represents a balanced analysis of a topic. Unlike descriptive and narrative essay writing, expository essay writing should be based on facts and no personal experience.



  • Opening sentence
  • Context (provide the information)
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Transition


  • The overview of main ideas
  • Show the significant of synthesis of information.

Characteristics of expository writing

  • You definitely want to engage your readers
  • Have a well defined thesis. Make sure you answer your questions or say what you are directed to do
  • Provide evidence to support your ideas. Incorporate examples to support your ideas
  • The essay should be concise, present your point and conclude your essay. Avoid repetition and over-stating the topic.

Essay types 4: Persuasive essay (Convince me)


The aim of persuasive essay writing is to convince the reader to accept writer’s points and agree on his or her opinions.



  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Definitions
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraphs (1 or 3 body paragraphs):

  • Topic sentence
  • Evidence
  • Analysis


  • Briefly sum up the main points
  • Establish significance
  • Bonus: give the readers food for thought.

Characteristics of expository writing

  • Have a definite point of view
  • Maintain the readers’ interest
  • Use sound reasoning
  • Involve solid evidence
  • There is no place for emotional sentiments in this type of essay writing
  • Avoid overdoing your language because this will bore the readers
  • Strong conclusion is must to leave an impression on the readers’ mind.

Essay types 5: Analytical essay (Synthesis of facts)


The writer of analytical essay examines and interprets such things as book, poem, event, play or other work of art.



  • Hook
  • Thesis statement
  • How you are going to prove this thesis

Body Paragraph (3 paragraphs)

  • Strong topic sentence
  • Make your claim
  • Provide evidence from the text to support your claim


Characteristics of analytical writing

  • Introduction and presentation of argument:

In introduction, you will define the idea or issue of the text that you desire to examine in your analysis. Here you also place your thesis statement by narrowing the focus of your essay.

  • Analysis of the text:

When you analyze the text, pay attention to your stylistic devices (the ‘how’s’ of the text) and convey some specific meaning by using them. Do not forget to back your ideas with relevant examples.

  • Personal response:

Your personal response demonstrates your deeper understanding related to the text. Do not make the mistakes of thinking you only have to present positive response to the text, it can be negative as well as long as you have the supporting material. Personal response should be evident throughout your essay, not tucked at the end.

  • Conclusion:

Conclusion should demonstrate the relation of analyzed text and the presented argument.

Essay types 6: Argumentative essay (Your opinion matters)


In this essay type, you prove that your opinion, theory and hypothesis related to an issue are correct or truthful than those of others. Only difference is that you are arguing your opinion to be truthful and not directly pursuing someone to believe or adopt your opinions.



  • State purpose of writing
  • Required elements
  1. If you arguing a literary work – state the author and his or her work
  2. If you are presenting an issue or theory in your argument – brief explanation of your theory or issue
  • If you are arguing a film – provide the name of direction and film along with releasing date.

Body Paragraphs

Background Paragraph:

  • Summary of work being discussed
  • Definition of key terms
  • Explanation of key theories

Supporting Evidence Paragraphs

  • Purpose topic sentence
  • Explanation of your topic sentence
  • Introduce evidence
  • State evidence
  • Explain evidence
  • Concluding sentence

Counter-argument Paragraph:

The possible argument that your readers pose against your argument


  • Summary of your evidence to remind your readers that you have proved
  • Illustrate that you thought critically and analytically about the discussed issue

Characteristics of argumentative writing

  • The argument should be clear and focused
  • Topic should be something that you can support with solid evidence
  • The usage of good transition words/phrases
  • Don’t keep repeating your points. It should be one paragraph for one topic, and the natural progression from one text to the next.

Essay types 7: Cause and effect (The reasons behind happenings)


Cause and effect is built on a study of the relationship between two or more events or experiences.



  • Background of the topic
  • Setting out the issue
  • Focusing the argument – the purpose of the essay

Body Paragraphs

  • Description of the ‘cause’
  1. What the specific conditions are
  2. Specific illustration of those conditions
  • How these specific illustrations represent other situations


  • Description of ‘effect’
  1. What is the specific effect?
  2. How you get the specific conditions to the specific effects
  • Specific illustrations of these effects
  1. How these specific illustrations are representative of others.
  • Cause and Effect relationship
  1. Why analyzing this relation is important?
  2. Some recommendations to avoid negative effect


  • Summing up
  • How perspective of others related to this topic can be changed by your analysis
  • Appeal to the reader – how this situation effects us.

Characteristics of cause and effect writing

  • A clearly stated topic with which the relation between cause and effect will be explored
  • An explanation of how particular cause or trail of causes produce or might produce certain effects
  • Facts, examples and statistics and other details to support the main idea that is core of your essay
  • Clear organization helps the readers to perceive the connection between the events and its results
  • Transition sentences that smoothly and clearly connect ideas.

Essay types 8: Compare and contrast essay (Are you better?)


In compare and contrast essay writing, the writer mainly describes the similarities and dissimilarities between two or more things.



  • Introduction of specific topic
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence

Aspect One: Cats make less impact on owner’s lifestyle

  • Topic 1: Cats
  1. Detail: Cats don’t need personal attention during the day
  2. Detail: Easier to get care if owner travels
  • Topic 2: Dogs
  1. Detail: Dogs should not be left alone
  2. Detail: Harder to get care when owner is away
  • Transition Sentence

Body Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence

Aspect Two: Taking care of cats less expensive

  • Topic 1: Cats
  1. Detail: The expenses of cat food and health care are less
  2. Details: Less likely cause of property damage
  • Topic 2: Dogs
  1. Detail: Food is more expensive
  2. Detail: Causes some health damage
  • Transition Sentence

Body Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence

Aspect Three: Cats don’t need separate accommodation

  • Topic 1: Cats
  1. Detail: Don’t take up much space
  2. Detail: Less intrusive
  • Topic 2: Dogs
  1. Detail: Often need separate accommodation
  2. Detail: Require more safety and protective measures
  • Transition Sentence


  • Summary of main points
  • Evaluation of potential future developments
  • Last words about the topic.

Characteristics of compare and contrast writing

  • When structuring your essay, keep it simple
  • Identify and define three or more major points that two or more subject have in common and different.
  • Avoid vague thesis statements
  • Develop strong thesis that indicates your position (one subject is stronger than other or both subjects have their own strengths and weaknesses)
  • There are two major ways of writing a compare/contrast essay, subject-by-subject comparison (when two blocks are built separately on the subjects you intend to compare) and point-by-point (writing each major point of the subject to compare them).

Essay types 9: Definition essay (What is it called)


The writer has to define a specific term. It can simply be a word, place, person or abstract concept.



  • Generic definition of the term
  • Contradiction to the term to contrast it
  • Your own definition of the term


  • Point One
  • Point Two
  • Point Three


Characteristics of definition writing

  • Your personal understanding of particular concepts and term
  • It should convey your understanding and what experience has taught you about the concept or term
  • Simply put, definition essay should describe how a member of general class and how the subject is different from others in that class
  • It should state your differentiating characteristics precisely.

Remember this vital information when dealing with these essay types, or composing different types of essay formats.

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