Barbara P
Barbara P

Different Types of Essay: Definition with Best Examples

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Published on: Dec 20, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

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An essay is a thoughtful text that is meant to inform or persuade the reader. Before you start writing your first sentence, you'll need to understand some basics about how an essay works.

A good way to start thinking about essays is to identify the types of essays better to write that are assigned to you in high school, college, or university. Writing various kinds of essays effectively has become critical to academic success. That is why we are here to explain what types of essays exist and how they all serve different purposes. Let's get started!

Common Types of Essay and Examples

There are eight common types of academic essays, and each type has specific requirements. Below is a detailed definition of each essay type, as well as examples to help you understand.

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Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a personal way to tell stories with an academic argument in mind. They allow the writer to use their own experiences as examples. Also, make arguments or impart lessons through real-life events.

narrative essay can be written in any way the writer chooses. Autobiographical narratives make a connection with readers by adding emotions to every sentence. It allows more creativity which is what makes this type of essay so appealing.

The first-person point of view also creates an emotional attachment, but some writers use it differently than others. They may write about another person's story as their own or even create imaginary characters they never met in real life.

These stories have no limitations on time periods, topics, or genres. There are endless possibilities when telling personal tales through an academic argument.

Narrative Essay Example

Below is an example of a narrative essay to help you know how to build a strong essay by yourself.

Descriptive Essay

The perfect way to start writing a descriptive essay is by describing what you see, hear and feel.

What does the object look like? How do your hands react when they touch it for the first time? Does it sound echo in your head as someone has said it out loud, or did it come from inside?

The goal of a descriptive essay is to allow the reader to visualize and understand something. This kind of writing can be used for many different subjects, whether it's an object or person, experience or emotion.

The more detailed information your essay has, the more clear understanding it will develop for the readers. Describe what you have felt and observed through some specific event. Many writers start with a one-line description before moving on to complex arguments. This is the best way to start a descriptive essay.

First, writers include event details and then combine them with sensory details. It allows readers to imagine whatever scene the writer wants them to imagine.

Expository Essay

An expository essay is the most basic and simplest essay type. It provides the reader with a straightforward, information-centered presentation of facts or concepts.

It only aims to explain an idea or define a concept without making any arguments at all. This is usually a shorter piece of writing.

An expository essay is also known as a definition essay. It's useful for those who want an in-depth explanation without having to do too much thinking by themselves.

In order to make expository writing more interesting, writers use several essay variations such as comparison and contrast essays, cause and effect essays, or process essays.

Because facts matter in this genre of writing, you will not find any emotion expressed by a writer here.

The best example comes from science class, when students have to write an informative paragraph on how paper is made. They aren't allowed to use any argumentative techniques like persuasion because that is not what an essay is built for.

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An analytical essay is similar to an expository essay in that they both describe a topic. But the analytical essay takes one step further by investigating each side of the subject.

This analytical essay is more than just a descriptive piece. It takes an expository topic and then investigates the different sides of that subject.

For instance: An expository essay is about how presidents are elected. You might look at all aspects of this process to discuss its pros and cons.

An analytical essay investigates what would happen if we changed some parts or fully abandoned the electoral system altogether.

Persuasive Essay

Writing a persuasive essay can be tricky because it wants the writer's viewpoint and reasoning on a certain topic.

To ensure that your essay is clear, concise, and persuasive enough, you have to convince the reader. Think about what information would justify your arguments. It is a type of argumentative essay because they take a stance on an issue.

A good persuasive piece includes counterarguments for opposing views as well as data to back up the central thesis statement.

Compare and Contrast Essay

compare and contrast essay is a type of essay that examines two items. It compares their similarities while also pointing out the differences between them.

It's important to organize this essay into sections, one for comparisons and another section for contrasts. It is designed to show readers how topics or concepts differ or how they're alike.

A good way to start is by stating why you're doing a compare & contrast essay on that particular subject (i.e., how they relate back to each other). This will keep readers engaged throughout your whole essay.

Cause and Effect Essay

In a cause-and-effect essay, the writer establishes their argument by first defining the problem that is at hand. Next, they explain what caused it to happen in detail so as not to leave out any important details.

Cause and effect essays are often organized chronologically to show the relationship between two things, in particular how another influenced one thing.

The essay might start with a cause, for example, an unfair law. Then it will go on to explain its effects which can be anything from people rioting or animals fleeing.

This type of writing is usually structured like this: first explaining why something happened (which is called the “cause”), then exploring how that event had consequences (referred to as “effects”).

Critical Essay

Critical writing follows the same guidelines as persuasive writing. The difference is that a critical essay is a literature-based piece of writing.

It breaks down literature into its simpler components, so the reader better understands what they are reading. As well as be able to make an argument about its meaning. The writer usually uses textual evidence as well as other critics when making their points.

An introduction that presents your thesis statement followed by evidence from both text-based sources (other critics) and outside knowledge (personal accounts). The body then gathers this information in order to create a sound argument, backed up not just by textual analysis but also contextual understanding.

As writers spend their lives trying to come up with new ways of expressing themselves. Some express themselves through artistic mediums like painting, songwriting, and poetry; others use more traditional means in essays or books.

Now, you have to know how different types of essays to write. Make sure you write without any mistakes.

Basic Essay Format

Writing a basic essay can be as easy as following three simple steps. The key to writing an insightful essay is having these parts work together in harmony for the best readability possible.

  1. The Introduction

    The introduction is the first thing that your reader will read. It should be engaging and interesting so it can attract the reader’s attention.

    It should also offer some background information on what they are about to read. The ideas in an introduction can start very general or specific; whichever you choose depends entirely on you.

  2. Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement works as a road map for the entire essay. It shows readers what writers have to say and how the writer will support their ideas. Thesis statements are vital because they state the main idea of an essay concisely.

    It is necessary to avoid any confusion about where the essay is going or why certain arguments matter more than others. The basic essay format sets limits on topics by narrowing them down instead of making comparisons with every other.

  3. Body Paragraphs

    The body of the essay supports the main points of the thesis statement. It provides specific details in each paragraph that tie together ideas to make a convincing argument for the thesis statement.

    Each paragraph has specific details to back up ideas, using a mix of research or personal experience. The author’s own analysis ties with these supporting facts and conclusions drawn from presenting those findings that support their thesis statement throughout this section.

    The use of transitions is also important because they can get readers from one thought to another. They can be as simple as a word or two (e.g., ‘next,’ ‘also’). Or they may take more than just a sentence by providing background information for the reader before switching topics entirely.

  4. Conclusion

    The conclusion is the last section, but it's not just a summary of what you talked about.

    Instead, think of your conclusions as an opportunity to make readers feel like they've had their interests satisfied and won't have any unanswered questions after reading through your paper!

    Think back on everything that was said in all sections - even those topics or points brought up which never got followed-up with later explanation - and tie them together, so there are no loose ends for viewers' minds to wander around in.

    It may also address the implications of this argument too; if you left anything out when first presenting it then now would be a good time to mention how that point impacts things at large.

Essay Writing Tips

You have to keep in mind some useful essay writing tips while writing any type of essay.

  • Understand the Prompt

    Understand exactly what is expected of you. It's a good idea to break the prompt down into sections.

  • Make a Plan

    Organizing and brainstorming your ideas will make your life much easier while writing. It is a good plan to make a web of your ideas and supporting details.

  • Use and Cite Sources

    Carry out your research. Use quotes and paraphrases from your sources, but NEVER plagiarise.

  • Write an Essay Draft

    Drafts are a great way to get any “poor quality” ideas out of the way and are frequently required by professors and instructors.

  • Make a Strong Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement (main argument) of your essay is the most important thing you'll write. So, make it a focal point.

  • Respond to the following prompt

    After you've ironed out any kinks in your first draft, you can begin writing the final draft of your essay.

  • Proofread

    Carefully read your response to ensure that there are no errors and that you did not overlook anything.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 parts of an essay?

All academic essays are consist of three parts: 

  1. Introduction 
  2. Body 
  3. Conclusion 

What are the important elements in an essay?

Here are five important elements of an essay: 

  1. A strong claim 
  2. Supported by arguments, ideas, and evidence 
  3. Analysis and summary of other writers' opinions and research 
  4. Clear structure (includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion) 
  5. List of references 

What is a good essay?

A well-written essay has a single clear central idea and each paragraph should have a main point or topic sentence. Good essay writing flows smoothly, makes sense to the reader, and sticks together because everything in it is logical.

Barbara P


Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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