Types of Essays in Academic Writing: 4 Major + 12 Common
Essays are one of the most common types of writing used in academia. They are an essential part of many different disciplines, and they serve various purposes. There are several different essays, each with its purpose and style.
This article will discuss the four main types of essays and 12 additional types you may encounter in your studies or work.
16 Types of Essays in Academic Writing
There are 16 various types of essays. Each type has its distinctive features and purpose. The structure of each type is also different from the others and a simple essay.
All types of essays include:
- Cause and effect
- Comparison and contrast
- Autobiography essay
4 Main Types of Essays
There are four major types of essays: descriptive, argumentative, narrative, and expository.
- Descriptive Essay – This type of essay describes some object or phenomenon. The key feature of such essays is the description. It means that they describe something by using details and facts to provide a clear image in the reader’s mind about it;
- Argumentative Essay – this type of essay is written to convince its readers about some ideas or points that have been mentioned earlier;
- Narrative Essay – this type of essay tells a story about some personal experience;
- Expository Essay – This kind of an essay explains something in detail according to the facts presented there
1. Argumentative Essay
An argumentative essay is a type of essay that requires the author to take a position on a given topic and provide evidence in favor of it. It is also known as a persuasive essay. An argumentative essay has three distinguishing features: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Introduction: The introduction should state your paper’s subject matter and main points in an interesting manner that will capture your audience’s interest. Remember to make your thesis statement clear from the beginning, so readers know what you will write about in this particular essay.
2. Expository Essays
An expository essay is an informative piece of writing that should have no reference to your opinions about a subject. The reader should be informed, entertained, and educated by the content of an expository essay.
Expository essays provide information and analysis on a topic. Expository essays are generally objective in tone and are not persuading (for example, there’s no attempt to persuade the reader to agree with or accept any position).
An expository essay may or may not have an overt central argument, though it does set forth points of view on the topic. Some definitions of expository essays include “examples” as part of their structure. For example, “[a]n example-based exposition might begin with some representative examples from each branch [of knowledge], followed by a general account explaining why those examples represent branches.”
Five main features of an expository essay.
- Instructive – an essay is informative and instructive if it presents an issue or topic to the reader and explains how to solve it.
- Specific – an essay must be specific to attract the attention of its readers. You must explain the main idea through details and examples.
- Well organized – the main idea of your essay should be clear from the beginning to the end so that it will not confuse your audience.
- Semi-formal- Academic writers usually prefer a formal style, but sometimes you may want to use semi-formal language to scare your readers away with complicated words or phrases; however, try not to overdo this! Your goal is to make them understand what you’re talking about!
3. Descriptive Essay
Descriptive essays are used to describe something or a person. They are used to depict the characteristics of a person or a thing. A well-structured descriptive piece of writing has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
In this type of essay, you can describe different places that you have been to in your life. You can also describe your favorite places, such as your hometown, school, etc. For example, I have lived in New York since my birth, but I feel like going back home every year because it is much better than here with so many crowds around me, and stress is killing me slowly but surely!
4. Narrative Essay
A narrative essay is a type of story that tells about an event or experience of the author. It can be written in the first person and the present tense, making it a personal essay. It can also be written as a reflection or memory of what happened to someone else, as an account told by an eyewitness. Narrative essays often contain familiar elements to many people, such as love stories and other relationships between human beings (family members), animals (pets), etc. Still, they may also contain more unusual content like supernatural phenomena or historical events where real people play important roles.
A narrative type of essay has five distinctive features:
- Plot – the events that occur in the story and their sequence;
- Setting – where and when the story takes place;
- Themes – what universal issues do you see in your personal experience? What do these issues mean to you?;
- Characters – who are they, what are they like, how are they related? What do their actions reveal about them? Do any of them exhibit characteristics that make them appealing or unattractive to readers;
- Conflict -what is at stake for one or more characters in the story? Why does this conflict matter (or not)?
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Common Types of Essays for Elementary School
Elementary school is the second-lowest level after kindergarten and ranges from grades one to seven.
This article will discuss some common academic writing papers for the elementary school level.
Persuasive essays are the form of writing meant to persuade the reader. In this type of essay, you try to make someone agree with your point of view. The main purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince readers that your viewpoint or opinion about a topic is right. In persuasive writing, there are two types of essays:
- Exposition: A persuasive exposition describes an issue or problem in detail and then presents evidence supporting your position on the issue or problem. You can use logical reasoning and evidence from reliable sources such as books and websites to support your claims.
- Argumentation: An argumentative essay uses logic and sound reasoning to develop an original position on a topic in light of competing positions (usually at least one other person’s viewpoint). This type of essay often uses counterarguments, rebuttals, and counter-rebuttals to convince readers that its conclusion is correct.
As the name suggests, process essays are used to describe a process. Process essays can be useful when you want to provide a step-by-step explanation of how something is done or when you have an interesting way of doing something.
Process essays usually have five sections: an introduction that describes what the reader can expect in this essay; a body that consists of several steps or stages; and finally, a conclusion that summarizes everything said in the preceding sections.
Common Types of Essays for Middle School
Middle school is like a bridge between elementary and high school. The good news is that some types of papers at the elementary level are part of the middle school curriculum, so you can start working on them now.
The following are the types of essays in English for middle school:
Analytical essays are quite different from other essays because they require writers to analyze the topic at hand thoroughly. This type of essay is often used for analytical papers and research papers.
To create an interesting analytical essay, you must logically present your arguments. It would help if you used critical thinking so that your readers can make sense of what you have written. You must also ensure no holes or contradictions in your argumentation.
The cause-and-effect essay is an analytical type of writing that tells the causes and effects of an event. It provides explanations for why things happen. A writer must provide a detailed analysis of a specific topic, usually in chronological order.
A cause-and-effect essay’s structure and main features include an introduction, body, and conclusion. you should always write a good cause-and-effect essay in chronological order to make it easy for readers to follow along with the events being discussed.
An expository essay is a kind of writing that explains something. The purpose of the essay is to explain a topic understandably.
Expository essays are written in different ways depending on the subject matter, but they are usually written clearly and concisely. Like any other type of essay, you should write expository essays with a neutral point of view, so you should avoid using your own opinions or beliefs.
The tone used when writing expository can vary as well. However, some general rules apply to all types of expository essays. They should be formal (meaning they don’t use contractions) and shouldn’t be opinionated or biased towards any particular viewpoint or belief system (neutral point-of-view). Their endings should wrap up nicely by summing up everything you said before.
The features of exposition or expository writing include:
- Clear and concise language. In this type of writing, the author does not make assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of the subject or use overly-complex vocabulary. Instead, they use simple words to describe their ideas in an easy-to-understand way. This helps readers who are unfamiliar with a topic understand it more easily. It also allows you to use shorter sentences so that your audience will not get bored while reading your essay.
- Creates a clear picture of a person, place, event, or thing. In this type of essay, you should provide specific details about people and things so that readers can visualize them in their minds as they read through the text. For example: “The building was five stories high – three floors above ground level plus two below street level – made out of brick painted white with blue shutters around its windows.” (Source)
- Focus on facts – Exposition papers should be based on facts instead of opinions or speculation that could change over time (it’s okay if you do this sometimes but be careful). Use evidence such as statistical data graphs, pictures, quotes, etc. to support your claims, so they seem more credible;
- Varying rhetorical strategies – When writing expository texts, avoid using only one strategy like narration, description analysis, argumentation, etc. instead, use multiple strategies within each paragraph or section;
- Text organization– The order in which you present ideas impacts how readers will understand them. So make sure there isn’t too much repetition within paragraphs. Also, make sure that paragraphs follow logically from one another instead of jumping around without an explanation for why things were placed where they were placed (this helps readers follow along better).
- It uses a variety of evidence: such as facts and statistics, quotes from experts, examples from the real world, anecdotes, and stories to support its argument.
- Unbiased: The tone is objective and unbiased; it does not take sides. There is no opinion expressed in an exposition paper because it objectively presents both sides of an issue or topic. These papers are purely informative, so you will not find any argumentative language.
Common Types of Essays in High School
There are many types of essays used in high school. This is because essay writing helps students understand what they are writing about and gives them the chance to express their feelings and thoughts about a particular topic. Here are some examples:
Reflective essays are a type of essay that many students find difficult to write because they require the writer to look inward and analyze their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Reflective essays often ask you to reflect on something that has happened in your life.
This type of writing is usually done in the first person so that it sounds like you are speaking directly to your reader about an experience you have had (or even if you have read something). It’s important that when writing this kind of paper, you use sensory language to describe things so that it feels like we’re right there with you while reading it!
Make sure that whatever idea or topic is chosen has some personal significance for yourself. For example: If someone asked me why I chose my university major, then I might say something like, “I wanted something challenging but also exciting”; however, if someone asked me why I love being an accountant, then maybe I would say “I enjoy problem-solving” or “Accounting requires discipline”…etcetera…so basically anything goes as long as there’s some truth behind what’s being said!
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Critical Analysis Essay
A critical analysis essay is an academic paper that demonstrates a student’s ability to analyze a piece of literature or cinematography. Such an assignment aims to evaluate how well the author has done their job in creating their work. The student must then present their opinions about the text, outlining its strengths and weaknesses and providing evidence for why they believe what they say.
The significant parts of a critical analysis essay include an outline, introduction, body, and conclusion. In this section, we will examine each of these parts individually so that you can better understand how they fit into your overall project.
The significant parts of a critical analysis essay include an outline, introduction, body, and conclusion.
- The outline allows you to organize your essay before it is written. It also provides an organizational framework for the entire piece and individual paragraphs.
- A critical analysis essay’s introduction should contain an attention-grabbing statement or question that will keep readers interested in your argument throughout the rest of the paper.
- The body should consist of three or four paragraphs supporting your thesis statement or main idea with evidence from well-documented sources and cited properly (including parenthetical citations).
- Finally, you can use a concluding paragraph summarizing what was said in earlier parts of your essay and emphasizing how important it is for people reading this writing to understand how different disciplines interact.
Common Essays in College
Your college years will be a time when you write many essays.
Your professor usually assigns these, which won’t be graded in the traditional sense. Instead, the essay is used for assessment and evaluation.
The most common essays include:
Compare and Contrast Essays
A compare and contrast essay is a kind of writing that compares two ideas or things to show how they are similar or different. The main idea of the compare and contrast essay is to point out how two things are similar and then explain why they are the same.
Compare and contrast essay has the following distinguishing features:
- Thesis statement (topic sentence). A good compare and contrast essay starts with the thesis statement, which states the main idea of your paper. It should be clear, concise, and specific to tell readers what you will write about in your essay.
- Organization. You need to organize your content logically, so it is easy for readers to follow along with your ideas. You can categorize things by type or category or period etc. For example, if you were comparing two cars, it would make sense to divide each car into different categories such as engine size, speed, etc.
- Introduction. An introduction helps set up what is going on in your essay and why it matters. It should be short but informative enough so that readers will want more information after reading this part!
- Body: This is the bulk of the essay where you’ll explain how the two things compare and contrast. You can use supporting details or quotes from different sources to illustrate your point (more on that later). The body should be divided into three paragraphs—one for each comparison/contrast point, so if three items are being compared and contrasted, there will be three paragraphs in this section too!
- Conclusion: This part ties everything together by restating what was said earlier; however, it’s important not to repeat yourself here because readers may lose interest if they feel like they’re reading something they’ve already read before! Instead of simply saying “this is my opinion,” try using another way of phrasing it, such as “in conclusion.”
Three ways a writer can approach a compare and contrast essay
To decide which method you want to use, think about what you’re comparing and contrasting.
- Block method: This method is the simplest, but it is usually used for shorter essays because it requires a lot of planning. The writer lists one idea on each side and compares and contrasts them in detail. This method can be great if you have two specific ideas that are very different from each other but are related, like “Why I Like Cats” and “Why I Like Dogs.”
- Alternating method: In this method, the writer alternates between paragraphs describing similarities between two things or points out differences between them—for example, in an essay comparing cats versus dogs, one paragraph could describe how both animals have fur or whiskers (similarity), while another paragraph would describe how cats are more active than dogs (difference).
- Similarities and differences. Start by discussing all the similarities between the two variables, then handle the differences.
A definition essay is a type of academic writing that explains the meaning and significance of a term, concept, or idea to the reader. A definition essay may be written by any student who wishes to learn something new, but it is most commonly assigned in high school or college classes.
The definition must be thorough and well supported by research and evidence. Students need not only explain what their topic means but also explain how this meaning differs from other meanings associated with it in popular culture or through common usage.
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A research essay is an essay in which you are supposed to research a given topic. The research essay aims to demonstrate that you have read and understood the topic. You should be able to answer questions related to the topic in a detailed manner.
The following are some important points about writing a Research Essay:
- you can write Research Essays on any subject matter, but it must not be irrelevant or unrelated. It would help if you wrote about what interests you and makes sense for your audience. For example: if there is an upcoming history project at school, focus on something that relates directly to this event, like how it affected people or what their lives were like before/after, etc.
- You should always remember that this paper requires more than just gathering information from books or online sources. It also requires proper analysis and evaluation of said information so as not only to learn but also understand better why things happened as they did, thus making your work interesting as well as informative!
Reviewer essays are a type of essay writing to summarize another work. They should be written in formal language and include a summary and an opinion.
Review essays can take many forms, but they usually:
- Summarize the work being reviewed. This may mean analyzing the plot, characters, or themes, discussing how successful the book meets its purpose, or giving an overview of how it fits into its genre(s). Reviewers may also compare this book to other works in their field. For example, if you were reviewing JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series for The Achiever Magazine (a magazine for students). You could compare it to other books about growing up with magic powers that your readers might be familiar with (such as Percy Jackson) or point out some similarities between Rowling’s books and those by other authors like Roald Dahl or Dr. Seuss.
- Provide an opinion on whether they liked/disliked it—or something else altogether! For example, if your review was based on the latest action-adventure movie from Marvel Studios called Avengers Endgame, which recently came out, I think most people would agree it was great so far, but there is a need. More explosions! So maybe write about how excited everyone was about seeing all those superheroes together again, fighting against Thanos once more!
An autobiography essay is a person’s life story written by another person mainly in a narrative tone. This type of writing usually includes the basic aspects of the writer, such as their achievements, experiences, etc.
You can write autobiography essays for different purposes. They can be used as information for other people interested in knowing more about your life history. To write this type of essay, you should use the first-person point of view, which means you will be writing about yourself (I). You may write about any aspect of your life but make sure that it is interesting and related to your readers’ interests. If not, you will lose their attention from the very beginning!
Explicatory essays are one of the most popular types of academic papers. This type of essay aims to explain some subject by presenting a very clear and complete picture of other people’s views on this certain situation or event. The main goal of such an essay is to help the audience to understand the topic under consideration.
There is no one right way to write an essay. There are many different kinds of essays, and each can be used to achieve a different purpose. Understanding the various essays available will help you choose the right one for your needs and goals.
The most important thing is to choose the essay type that best suits you and your goals. If you’re writing about yourself or your experiences, consider using either an autobiographical essay or a personal narrative (depending on whether it’s written in the first person). If you want to share something important with readers but don’t have anything interesting to tell them about yourself, then look into using an expository theme instead.
At this point, we’ve covered everything there is to know about each type of main topic essay: how they’re structured, what their defining characteristics are, which other types they’re related to, where they could be applied best; etcetera… We hope this article has been helpful! Remember: always remember: The best kind of wordplay is well-written wordplay.”
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Common Writing Assignments, Apps & Tests
Find helpful writing tips and example papers for various types of writing.
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