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How to Write a Profile Essay With Tips and Examples

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Written by
Dr. Helen Johnson
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 2927 words
  • Icon Clock 14 min read

Students may encounter profile essays in nearly all disciplines, which makes it essential for them to understand profile essay writing. Basically, this guide commences with a definition of a profile essay and highlights its traits. Then, the manual discusses the significance of interview or observation sessions in profile essay writing and elaborates on the differences between a profile essay and other forms of academic papers. Lastly, the guide deconstructs the structure of a profile essay and provides clear directives on the writing of each part. In turn, the manual contains a sample outline and profile essay, which exemplify the content of this guide. Hence, students need to learn how to write a profile essay to develop their academic skills and understanding of a concept.

General Guidelines for Writing a Profile Essay

1. Definition of a Profile Essay

A profile essay is a type of academic paper that presents a detailed description of a person, event, or place by using a well-organized structure. Basically, authors spend a significant amount of time researching a particular topic to collect the less obvious information that a reader cannot acquire through a simple web search. In this case, a profile essay contains vivid descriptions and clear explanations that students derive from various reliable sources. Therefore, a profile essay is an expository essay, which implies that authors write papers with the sole purpose of informing the audience regarding a given topic by using facts, examples, and other relevant evidence.

2. Distinct Traits of a Profile Essay

During the composition of a profile essay, students do not need to write a position or present an argument concerning a topic of interest. Basically, among other types of essays, the authorship style that learners use in writing a profile essay should not lead the audience toward any predefined conclusion regarding a topic. Instead, authors present readers with facts or evidence and provide them with adequate ‘space’ to reach individual conclusions. Accordingly, a thesis statement of a profile essay does not announce a central claim. In turn, profile essays have a high demand for objectivity because any attempt to persuade the audience to support a perspective undermines the purpose of a paper.

How to write a profile essay

3. Intrinsic Value of Interviews and Observations

Interviews and direct observations are critical to the formation of a profile essay. Mostly, interviews or observations are the main sources of information for a profile essay. In particular, students should plan to interview or observe the object, place, or event because it is the only way to write unique content for a profile essay. Also, learners must be prepared adequately for an interview or observation session to ensure that they can acquire the necessary information to complete their papers. During interviews or observation sessions, documentation is essential because it provides authors with an accurate record of the information. Specifically, the record is useful when writers need to verify some facts that they choose to include in a profile essay. In turn, video recordings, tape recordings, and notetaking are the preferred means of capturing information from interviews and observation sessions.

4. How Does a Profile Essay Differ From Other Papers

Profile essays are different from other types of essays because they have a low reliance on secondary sources. Basically, the use of secondary sources is widespread in academic writing because it is easy to locate and access such sources and establish their reliability from bibliographical information. However, authors of secondary sources may skew the meaning of information to achieve a specific purpose or exclude critical details that have no relevance to the source’s central claim. In consequence, secondary sources are rarely comprehensive sources, and writers of profile essays use them to verify facts rather than collect evidence. Moreover, primary sources are suitable for writing a profile essay, but the acquisition of credible sources is quite challenging, which causes students to conduct interviews or observe a place or event.

Structure of a Profile Essay

1. The Role of an Introduction

The introduction is the first distinct section of a typical essay structure. Mostly, the introduction has only one paragraph. In this case, the primary role of the introduction is to set the context of a profile essay and provide the audience with a reason to continue reading the remaining sections of a paper. Moreover, the introduction becomes longer with the increase in the profile essay’s word count. Nonetheless, the introduction’s word count should not exceed 10% of the essay’s word count. In turn, the introductory paragraph should not contain any in-text citations except for a situation where students use a direct quotation to begin a paragraph.

2. Roles of Body Paragraphs

This section of a profile essay is the most substantial because it takes up approximately 80% of the word count. Basically, the body section consists of at least two body paragraphs with no maximum number of paragraphs. For example, the appropriate number of paragraphs is dependent on the number of distinct points that writers intend to present to the audience. Also, there is no specific length for a body paragraph, but students should strive to have no paragraphs that are longer than half a page. Also, it is an excellent practice to ensure that each paragraph has a minimum of four sentences.

3. The Role of a Conclusion

The conclusion is a one-paragraph section, which appears at the end of a profile essay. Basically, the conclusion of a profile essay is a concise overview of the content of body paragraphs. Notably, the closing paragraph focuses on revisiting a thesis statement and topic sentences as a final effort to emphasize the value of a profile essay. In turn, this paragraph should not be longer than 10% of the word count. Mostly, the conclusion paragraph does not contain any in-text citations.

Writing an Outline for a Profile Essay

A profile essay’s outline is a hierarchical layout of the main points of body paragraphs and annotations of the information that students intend to write in the introduction and conclusion sections. Primarily, an essay outline acts as a guide for the drafting stage of the writing process, which ensures that learners do not unintentionally exclude a point that is crucial to a profile. Furthermore, such an outline allows authors to document the specific evidence that they plan to use to support the main point of each paragraph. In turn, students should allocate adequate time to the writing and reviewing of an outline to ascertain the compatibility of the evidence and central point of each paragraph, which prevents false starts and reduces the likelihood of extensive revision.

Sample Outline Template for a Profile Essay

I. Introduction

A. Hook.
B. Background information.
C. Thesis statement.

II. Body

A. First body paragraph

  • Write the main point of the first paragraph.
  • Provide evidence supporting this paragraph’s main point.
  • Write explanations of the evidence.
  • End with a concluding statement.

B. Second body paragraph

  • Write the main point of the second paragraph.
  • Provide evidence supporting this paragraph’s main point.
  • Write explanations of the evidence.
  • End with a concluding statement.

C. Third body paragraph

  • Write the main point of the third paragraph.
  • Provide evidence supporting this paragraph’s main point.
  • Write explanations of the evidence.
  • End with a concluding statement.

III. Conclusion

A. Restatement of a thesis statement.
B. Summary of the three main points in body paragraphs.
C. Closing remarks emphasizing the significance of a profile essay.

Converting an Outline to a Profile Essay

1. Research

Research after interviews or observation sessions is vital to writing a profile essay. Typically, a student conducts some research before interviews or observation sessions to identify areas of interest that are worth investigating. After collecting information, authors must engage in research to develop a deeper understanding of responses or actions of a subject. In turn, this research stage ensures that the author’s unfamiliarity with specialized vocabulary and conventions of discipline-specific discourse does not result in incorrect interpretations or summaries.

2. Writing an Introduction for a Profile Essay

A. Hook

A hook sentence is the first statement of the introduction. Basically, it serves the purpose of triggering the audience’s interest in the subject of a review. In this case, students may use a variety of strategies to develop a hook, for instance, making a comparison, using a vivid quotation, mentioning a surprising fact, and asking a question. In turn, if learners know how to write a hook, they ensure that this sentence relates to the reader’s knowledge or experience, which allows it to be an impactful statement on its own.

B. Background Information

This segment of the introduction contains information that responds to four main questions:

  • Who or what is the subject?
  • What are the important traits of the subject?
  • Why is the subject interesting?

Responses to these three questions provide background information on the subject. Moreover, statements narrow the scope of the purpose of writing a profile essay, which sets the stage for announcing a thesis statement.

C. Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the last element of the first paragraph. In particular, it informs readers of the purpose of interviews or observation sessions, which are the source of most information in a profile essay. Essentially, a thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of the main points that students write in each paragraph. In turn, a thesis statement should be succinct and clear.

3. Writing Body Paragraphs for a Profile Essay

A. Topic Sentence

This statement informs readers of the main point that authors discuss in a particular paragraph. Basically, topic statements do not present the author’s claim in a profile essay. Instead, if students know how to write a topic sentence, they provide a brief and direct answer to an interview question or a question that motivates authors to observe the subject. In turn, topic statements contribute to the development of a thesis statement.

B. Evidence

In this segment of a body paragraph, students present specific details that support a topic statement. Basically, learners may incorporate evidence into a profile essay by using three main techniques: direct quoting, paraphrasing, and summarising. Mostly, authors acquire evidence from records of interviews or observation sessions. In turn, writers should ensure that the meaning of the evidence is not lost, especially during paraphrasing and summarising.

C. Explanation

Students elucidate the significance of the evidence to a topic statement in this section of a profile essay. In particular, learners provide necessary information for the audience to interpret the evidence correctly because a piece of evidence is merely a snapshot rather than an entire account. Also, objectivity is critical while writing an explanation segment of a paragraph with bridge sentences. In turn, the length of explanations varies with the perceived complexity of the evidence.

D. Concluding Sentence

This statement is the last element of a paragraph. Usually, it is one sentence that appears at the end of the paragraph. Moreover, a concluding statement offers a summary of the content of a paragraph. In this case, the primary role of this summary is to connect the paragraph’s content to a thesis statement. Furthermore, such a sentence contributes to a transition effect because it informs the audience that a paragraph is complete.

4. Writing a Conclusion for a Profile Essay

The concluding paragraph has three essential elements: a restatement of a thesis, a summary of the main points, and closing remarks. Basically, students begin the final paragraph with a statement that has the same meaning as a thesis statement, although it employs an entirely new set of words and different syntax. Next, authors provide an overview of the content of body paragraphs. Lastly, learners write one or two sentences that link the introduction, thesis statement, and body paragraphs to create a sense of unity between individual parts of a profile essay. In turn, students must refrain from introducing new information while writing the conclusion part.

5. Revision of a Profile Essay

Once students complete the first draft, they should revise a profile essay to eliminate any errors, which may result in the audience deriving the wrong meaning from particular statements. During revision, learners assess the suitability of the audience and voice, the correctness of a thesis statement, rationality of the arrangement of body paragraphs, and the quality of evidence. Then, authors should take a break of a few hours or a whole day before revising a profile essay because it increases their objectivity. Moreover, writers may use a checklist to guide a revision process to guarantee that they do not neglect any of the items on the assessment criteria. Besides individual revision, students may subject their profile essays to peer review, which provides them with useful feedback on the meaning-related flaws of a paper.

6. Editing of a Profile Essay

The editing stage yields the final draft of a profile essay after it eliminates surface errors and ascertains the clarity and effectiveness of sentences. Basically, surface errors are mistakes that affect the readability of a profile essay, such as spelling errors, comma splices, sentence fragments, verb errors, and pronoun errors. Then, parallelism, incomplete sentences, dangling modifiers, and unclear pronoun references are issues that students consider when evaluating the clarity of sentences. Moreover, authors examine the sentence structure and length, use of appropriate language, smoothness of transitions, and succinctness of sentences to determine its effectiveness. In turn, writers should conduct editing for surface errors, clarity, and effectiveness in three different readings of a profile essay because of the expansive nature of dimensions of editing.

Example of Writing a Profile Essay

Topic: What It Takes to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

I. Introduction Sample of a Profile Essay

At 35 years, Abraham Jake is the youngest billionaire in the tech industry. In particular, Jake is the founder, owner, and chief executive officer of Futuristic Tech, which is a company that manufactures microprocessors for Apple, Intel, Dell, and other leading electronics firms. Moreover, an interview with Jake reveals some experiences that are responsible for his exceptional character as an entrepreneur. In turn, Jake’s failures and numerous bouts with fear and optimism in decision making shape his solitary lifestyle.

II. Examples of Body Paragraphs in a Profile Essay

A. 1st Body Paragraph: Character Traits

Failure is a dominant theme in Jake’s life, which makes perseverance one of his readily observable character traits. During the period between 2005 and 2015, Jake began five different businesses that collapsed within eight months of opening. Particularly, the fifth business crippled Jake financially, which left him with bank loans and no savings. In this case, the constant failure in setting up a business took a toll on Jake because he found himself in a vicious cycle of saving heavily only to losing everything. Furthermore, the strain of performing at work while trying to build a business left him mentally and physically exhausted. On multiple occasions, Jack was at the brink of quitting on his dream to open his own business each time he had to shut down the business after months of struggling to keep it afloat without any success.

B. 2nd Body Paragraph: Fear and Optimism

The balance between the pull of fear and optimism defines Jake’s decision making strategy. For example, Jake sarcastically laughed as he said, “fearfulness and optimism are equally dangerous but learning how and when to call upon these traits is a lifelong endeavor.” Basically, it took Jake four months after to finally shut down the first business after seeing red flags that he knew were not reversible. Conversely, it took him two weeks to decide to close down his fifth business. Moreover, Jake experienced situations where he had to make decisions that hinged on his fear of losing capital and optimistic beliefs of the business’s recovery. In turn, Jake does not claim that the decision to close a business became any more straightforward. Instead, he suggests that one becomes more comfortable when faced with these decisions, which improves an individual’s decision-making abilities.

C. 3rd Body Paragraph: Solitary Lifestyle

Jake notes that he became accustomed to a solitary lifestyle, which he believes is a consequence of the lack of time to build meaningful relationships. Jake recounts a particular six-month period where he did not attend any social gathering or event. In a voice burdened with disappointment, Jake remarked, “if there is one thing that I regret about my entrepreneurial journey is the loss of friendships and lovers.” In this case, Jake’s attempt to juggle full-time employment and the running of a company left him with very little time to spare for nurturing personal relationships. Also, he lost touch with friends and could not keep up with the time demands of an intimate relationship. Eventually, Jake’s dual-focus lifestyle left him with professional relationships, which had minimal value when he needed emotional support.

III. Conclusion Sample of a Profile Essay

Jake’s past played a critical role in the emergence of the successful businessman we see today. Basically, consistent failure at opening a business is responsible for his “never give up” attitude. In this case, understanding the complicated relationship between fear and optimism gives Jake a sense of control when making tough choices. In turn, Jake recognizes that he leads a solitary lifestyle, although he is not proud of it. Thus, Jake’s personality shows that rational and emotional aspects play equally important roles in the success of an entrepreneur.


  • Students should plan the writing process to ensure that they do not skip or rush through any step.
  • Interviews or observation sessions should rely on specific guiding questions that authors design to generate content for writing a profile essay.
  • Writers should refrain from including their opinions or steering the audience toward a particular conclusion.
  • A profile essay should contain detailed descriptions.

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