Writing an informative essay is a crucial academic exercise for students because it provides an opportunity to develop and perfect writing skills. Like any other papers, an informative essay has a format that comprises of three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Moreover, the significant difference between this essay and other types of papers is that its purpose is to educate the audience about a topic or an issue. Ideally, an informative essay: defines a term, topic, or issue; compares and contrasts; analyzes data, a problem, or a phenomenon; or provides a how-to guide on a subject. In turn, these four goals represent four categories of informative essays. Hence, students need to learn how to write a perfect informative essay to master their writing skills and shape knowledge on delivering an intended message to readers.
General Guidelines of Writing an Informative Essay
Informative essays are standard academic texts that students need to write during their college years. Unlike research essays that investigate a phenomenon to advance knowledge in specific fields, informative essays provide information or explain a subject, topic, or issue to readers. In this case, authors of this type of paper consider the audience when providing information that corresponds to their understanding level. Moreover, writers must never over-explain to experts if it is possible to make assumptions or under-explain to novices that lack basic understating. Since the purpose of these informative essays is to educate readers by providing in-depth information and a clear explanation of a subject, topic, or issue, tailoring the message to the readers’ level of understanding is key.
Why and Where to Write an Informative Essay
When it comes to why and when to write an informative essay, students should judge what an informative essay prompt requires them to do. Basically, there are four main categories of informative essay prompts. Hence, these elements are:
- Prompts that require students to define a term, topic, or issue.
- Assignments that require students to compare and contrast.
- Tasks that require analysis of data, an issue, or a phenomenon.
- Instructions that require students to provide a how-to guide on a subject.
Possible Examples of Informative Essay Topics
1. Domestic Violence
Here, informative essay prompts may require students to analyze data related to domestic violence with a view of educating readers about the trend that the vice is taking. In this case, writers need to inform cases of domestic violence that are rising or falling across communities and what dynamics are involved in either situation. After reading an informative essay, the audience must know what leads to domestic violence, including why it is on the rise or a decline in contemporary society.
Here, informative essay assignments may require students to educate readers about specific circumstances that lead to or reflect poverty. In writing an informative essay, a student may mention factors, like low levels of education, unemployment, a lack of basic amenities, substance abuse, policy failure, infrastructural barriers, and a lack of economic opportunities. Hence, writers should provide essential details that help characterize the reality of poverty in society.
3. Plastic Surgery
Here, informtaive essay tasks may require students to give a detailed explanation of what the term “plastic surgery” means. In their response, students should educate readers by defining the term and outlining its various manifestations. Then, a critical detail relevant to the audience would be why celebrities prefer to have plastic surgeries more than ordinary citizens. More importantly, writers should inform the audience of the pros and cons of having plastic surgery.
Here, informative essay instructions may require students to provide a how-to guide about stress management. Basically, the information that readers may find insightful includes what leads to stress, the adverse health effects of stress, and how stress affects social functioning. However, the bulk of the information should be about the mechanisms of stress management that readers may follow if they are stressed or advise a stressed person to follow to avoid adverse effects.
Here, informative essay prompts may require students to define procrastination and state its advantages and disadvantages. In writing an informative essay, authors should educate readers about a topic with a view of shedding light on whether one can consider it as a vice. Moreover, it would be beneficial for the audience to have all the facts about the benefits and drawbacks of procrastination in diverse settings, such as school and workplace environments.
6. Illegal Immigration
Here, informative essay assignments may require students to go into details about the issue of illegal immigration. Basically, important details should cover its history, recent trends, and political and social significance in today’s globalized world. Also, writers may identify countries that produce illegal immigrants and those that host them, giving specific reasons on why for each. In their conclusion, authors may provide suggestions as to what needs to happen to protect illegal immigrants’ human dignity in politically hostile environments.
Here, informative essay tasks may require students to define racism and give its various manifestations. Basically, students need to provide a brief background of the issue in their response, identifying its victims and perpetrators. Moreover, writers should choose a community or country as a case study and provide details that show whether the vice is historical or current and what sentiments prevail concerning it at the community and national levels.
Here, informative essay instructions may require students to explain a tattooing trend, including its historical root. In writing an informative essay, students may provide details about this trend’s demographic distribution and its cultural significance. Identifying a link between pop culture and a tattoo trend is something that readers might relate to themselves by considering that a majority of celebrities in the modern world have tattoos.
9. Teen Pregnancy
Here, informative essay prompts may require students to provide a detailed explanation of teen pregnancy and why it is on the rise in urban centers compared to rural areas. In writing an informative essay, students may decide to compare and contrast teen pregnancy in urban and rural areas, giving specific details about some factors that lead to the trend in both cases. In their conclusion, writers should inform readers about what makes either region lead in teen pregnancy cases. In turn, details about parental failures due to career commitments can explain why teens are becoming pregnant in cities.
Here, informative essay assignments may require students to discuss the homelessness phenomenon, educating readers on why it is common in cities and not in rural areas. In writing an informative essay, authors should focus on diverse issues that lead to homelessness, such as population growth, failure of government policies, unemployment, substance use and misuse, and so on. Moreover, an informative essay should give readers insights about what leads to homelessness. As a case study, students can identify a city where official statistics show rising numbers of homeless people.
How Students Know That They Need to Write an Informative Essay
Like with any essay, students write informative essays due to prompts given to them by their instructors. Basically, students can write an informative essay after receiving direct instruction from their instructors or by judging that assignments suggest that papers should be informative. In turn, an assigned prompt indicating an essay needs to be informative falls under one of the four categories:
- define a term, topic, or issue;
- compare and contrast something;
- analyze data, an issue, or a phenomenon;
- provide a how-to guide on a subject.
Writing an Informative Essay: Step-by-Step Guide
Writing an informative essay is an academic exercise that requires students to observe specific protocols of effective writing. Basically, these protocols include preparation, idea generation, thesis development, creation of an outline, note-making, and actual writing. In this case, each of these activities is essential if students are to create documents that meet the scholarly texts’ threshold. For example, on idea generation and note-making, writers need to rely on extensive research. On its part, thesis development provides students with a guide on argument construction and defense throughout an informative essay.
Step 1: Preparation
The first step in writing an informative essay is preparation, which, basically, means ensuring everything is in order before the actual writing starts. Basically, some components of this stage are choosing a topic, generating ideas, and identifying the audience and its needs. In short, when writing an informative essay, students must prepare themselves adequately to avoid writing irrelevant content.
A. Choosing a Topic
In most cases, instructors provide essay topics that students should address in their writing. As already mentioned, these topics indicate a specific category of an informative essay out of the four identified above. However, it is not always the case that instructors provide students with a topic that offers such direct guidance. In such cases, writers should use creativity to guide their writing, including coming up with a topic.
B. Idea Generation
College topics that instructors provide to their students or ones that students come up with guidelines for the writing process mean those ideas that help writers on how to go about writing an informative essay. As indicated in the section about possible informative essay topics, students can develop ideas on how to address an issue. Generally, a good approach should fall within one of the four categories identified. Moreover, informative essay prompts may or may not direct students concerning the type of paper. In either case, authors should generate ideas about writing their papers, including what content is significant and what is not.
C. Audience Identification
One of the secrets to effective writing is understanding the audience and its needs. When writing an informative essay, students should first seek to understand who would read their texts and tailor the information to their understanding level. As mentioned earlier, writers should not over-explain for experts since they can make assumptions and should not under-explain for those that lack basic understanding.
Step 2: Setting Up the Stage
After preparation, the second stage in writing an informative essay involves setting up the stage for the paper’s actual writing. Here, students identify credible sources that they would use to strengthen their writing, make notes during research, create an essay outline for their papers, and create an annotated bibliography (if one is needed). In turn, this stage’s essence is that it boosts students’ confidence levels, an essential factor in effective writing.
A. Identification of Sources
During this initial stage of preparation, students should use a topic as a research topic. Basically, this aspect would help identify reliable sources, such as books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and official documents (such as government reports), essential for critical information. For example, official documents provide data and statistics about initial information, being useful in informative essays that require students to analyze data. In short, researching the topic gives access to documents that aid in generating ideas about the issue.
As students go through various sources, they should make notes. Ideally, this process involves writing down data, statistics, arguments, findings, and any other information that they determine useful in writing an informative essay. Although authors may have generated ideas during the preparation stage, note-making serves to strengthen those ideas by providing evidence, such as statistics and research findings. Therefore, when making notes, writers should have in mind their topics and ideas that they have generated on how to go about writing an informative essay. In turn, identifying the category of a paper out of the four mentioned above is critical when making notes.
C. Creating an Outline
Essay writing requires students to follow a particular essay structure, which becomes an essay’s outline. For example, a standard outline means an introduction-body-conclusion structure, and students should observe it when writing an informative essay. Moreover, creating an outline is essential because it enables writers to separate information that should go to each part of an informative essay. Depending on the essay’s length, writers use their outlines to determine some essay’s sections, headings, and subheadings.
D. Creating an Annotated Bibliography
By definition, an annotated bibliography summarizes scholarly sources that a student decides to use to get critical information, such as statistics and arguments. Unless there is a direct requirement for an annotated bibliography, writers do not need to provide one when writing an informative essay. However, they can create it during the identification of sources that they found relevant to their topics. Thus, an annotated bibliography helps students to link the information to source documents with easy citations.
Step 3: Actual Writing
The third stage in writing an informative essay is the actual writing of a paper. Here, students start by writing the draft document, organizing their ideas, and developing a thesis. Moreover, the draft document is vital, as it allows authors to make mistakes that they can later correct before writing the final paper. In turn, the draft enables students to organize their thoughts to make an informative essay have a natural flow of ideas. Besides, developing the thesis allows writers to determine what arguments should be in the main text.
A. First Drafts
Writing the first draft is essential in writing an informative ssay. Basically, this process allows students to make mistakes that can be costly if found in the actual document that they submit. In this case, the first draft is mostly unorganized and has many instances of illogical arguments and conflicting ideas. Since it is not the final document, students use this draft to perfect their paper. Then, another critical role of the first draft is to give authors a chance to develop a thesis and develop arguments in body paragraphs that align with the thesis statement‘s central argument.
Step 4: Wrapping Up
The final stage in writing an informative essay is where students get to wrap up their papers. Basically, this aspect involves revising areas that seem off and editing grammatical mistakes. Moreover, such a strategy involves ensuring that each paragraph has a topic and concluding sentence with transitions that create a natural flow. In turn, writers take time to format their papers in line with academic writing conventions, subject an informative essay to peer reviews, and write final drafts.
A. Revision and Editing
As stated, the first draft is usually full of mistakes and errors that undermine the natural flow of arguments and ideas. Basically, these mistakes and errors include inconsistent statements and grammatical errors, such as wrong or missing punctuation. When wrapping up an informative essay, students should correct these mistakes by revising their papers. After writing the first draft, authors should read it through at least twice to identify mistakes and errors. Where writers identify grammatical errors, they should edit their papers as appropriate.
B. Topic Sentences
One of the standards of academic writing is that students should begin body paragraphs with topic sentences. Basically, if authors know how to write a topic sentence, they introduce an argument about a topic that strengthens a thesis statement. As an informative thesis guides an essay, a topic sentence represents what students write in their body paragraphs. In turn, the idea that writers should focus on when writing a topic sentence is that the paragraph’s content should be congruent with a central thesis.
C. Concluding Sentences
As the name suggests, a concluding sentence ends each paragraph in the main text. Here, writers rely on the evidence provided in the section to make concluding remarks about the idea introduced in a topic sentence. When writing a concluding sentence, the most important thing for authors is to connect a topic sentence to a thesis statement.
One of the main factors that determine the quality of an informative essay is the flow of a paper. Basically, a natural flow indicates a high-quality paper, and an illogical flow suggests a low-quality informative essay. In turn, such features that enhance the natural flow are transitions – words and terms that connect ideas between sentences and paragraphs throughout an informative essay. Moreover, examples of transitions include “additionally,” “hence,” “furthermore,” and “as a result.”
When writing an informative essay, students should pay attention to several things, one of which is formatting. Here, the format that writers are required to use in their paper is critical. For example, there are different formatting standards for APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian papers. When perfecting the first draft, students should confirm that their documents satisfy applicable paper formatting standards.
F. Peer Review
The main aspect that makes an academic text to be of high quality is the lack of mistakes. For example, scholarly documents, such as journal articles, are academic documents of high quality simply because they meet the highest quality standards. Basically, these standards include the absence of grammatical mistakes, well-developed arguments, and a natural flow of ideas throughout a paper. To ensure that an informative essay meets these standards, authors need to subject them to a peer review. In turn, this exercise involves giving a written document to friends, a mentor, or an instructor to determine a paper’s quality. Also, if they highlight mistakes and errors, it is an indication that students need to revise and edit their work accordingly.
Step 5: Writing a Final Draft of an Informative Essay
The last stage of writing an informative essay is writing the final draft. Basically, it is the document that writers submit to relevant authorities for assessment. In this case, final papers represent the culmination of the essay writing process. However, since mistakes are natural when writing any document, authors must read and reread the final draft to be sure it is perfect. Upon being satisfied with the paper’s quality, students submit their informative papers. In article writing, this process culminates with the publication of a written piece in a journal or a website. In short, the final draft reflects quality writing.
Informative Essay Outline
The outline of an informative essay consists of three major parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Firstly, the introduction must conclude with a thesis statement, which becomes the guide for the entire informative essay. Then, body paragraphs represent ideas that support the thesis, while the conclusion captures the writer’s concluding thoughts about an informative essay. Generally, the body, which is the main text, is longer than the introduction and the conclusion. Hence, a simple outline of an informative essay should look like:
II. Body Paragraphs
1. Defining Features of an Informative Outline
Several features define the outline of an informative essay. Basically, these elements include: an introduction that concludes with a thesis; a body that consists of several paragraphs; and a conclusion that restates a thesis, summarizes main points, and captures writer’s concluding thoughts. In turn, body paragraphs should have topic and concluding sentences.
2. How to Determine if an Essay is Informative
When students write an informative essay as per their tutor’s instructions, they should check that they have, indeed, presented an informative essay. Basically, the way that authors can tell that an essay they have written is informative is by confirming that it falls within one of the four main categories. In turn, an informative essay should: define a term, topic, or issue; compare and contrast; analyze data, a problem, or a phenomenon; or provide a how-to guide on a subject.
3. How an Informative Essay Differs From Other Papers
Generally, there are different types of essays, and an informative essay is one type. Basically, the main feature that differentiates this essay from other types is that its mission is to educate readers. Then, authors focus on providing information that advances the audience’s understanding concerning a topic or an issue. In contrast, an argumentative essay, for example, focuses on defending a position and convincing the audience to adopt the writer’s perspective about a topic or an issue.
Components of an Informative Outline
As indicated, the main components of the informative essay’s outline are introduction, body, and conclusion. About the introduction, writers should introduce the topic and the paper’s main agenda. After providing a brief background on the topic, students should develop a thesis statement, which is the introduction’s key defining feature. When it comes to the body, the key elements are body paragraphs that begin with a topic sentence and a concluding sentence. Consequently, other features that make the body well-developed are transitions and the sandwich rule. Then, transitions are words that enhance the natural and logical flow of the main ideas. Moreover, the sandwich rule enables authors to offer content between topic and concluding sentences. In turn, this evidence serves to support the claim that writers make in the topic sentence, which should align with the paper’s thesis.
A. How to Write a Better Introduction
- Narrow the informative essay’s scope.
- Contextualize the topic by providing background information.
- Develop a persuasive thesis that captures the audience’s attention.
- Ensure that there is cohesion between the background information and the thesis.
- Focus on content that aligns with the audience’s level of understanding.
- Avoid cliché wording.
B. How to Write Better Body Paragraphs
When it comes to an informative essay’s body paragraphs, students should develop three main arguments, each in a separate section. For example, authors must consider two points when writing this part of an informative essay: the target point (thesis) and the evidence (supporting facts). As indicated previously, each paragraph should open with a topic sentence that introduces the idea that informs the paragraph’s content. In turn, the statement must blend with the target point. What follows is the evidence, which must be credible. Moreover, students must cite academic sources from where they have taken supporting facts.
C. How to Write a Better Conclusion
When writing the conclusion part of an informative essay, students should restate the thesis and explain each of their central arguments. Basically, the goal should be to advance the agenda of their work. In this case, they should avoid introducing new information in this section. Also, writers should only summarise the informative essay’s main points. Asa result, authors close with a personal statement that captures their thoughts about the topic, such as suggestions or recommendations.
An Example of an Informative Essay
Informative Topic: The Great Gatsby and the Great War
The Great War was a significant moment of disruption of order in different parts of the world. In the United States, the government conscripted young, energetic citizens to military service and sent them to Europe, the War’s battleground. In his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald makes a case of the devastating effects of the Great War on Americans’ lives, noting how Gatsby, the novel’s main character, lost his lover Daisy and sunk into depression upon returning home.
II. Body Paragraphs
A. Background Information on the Great War
The Great War made many American youths leave everything they held dear, including their families and loved ones, to fight a battle in an unfamiliar battleground. By considering the fact that a majority were conscripted into the military service, the whole experience altered their lives inexplicably. In this case, the European terrain was terrible, with many soldiers being forced to launch offensive and defensive strategies in conditions that defied human dignity. Moreover, Fitzgerald blames this experience for driving many Americans insane after returning home (Bloom, 2010). What is more shocking or annoying is that the government took no initiative to help the veterans live a dignified life. The novel states how many ended up living in deplorable conditions, even unable to afford basic amenities. Hence, the story of Gatsby is heartbreaking.
When Gatsby went to fight in Europe, he was unexpectedly separated from his lover Daisy. Although they corresponded regularly via letters, Daisy eventually got tired of waiting and married Tom Buchanan. In this respect, the Great War cost Gatsby the love of his life. Even more heartbreaking is that after returning home, Gatsby, who was supposed to be an American hero, could not afford to buy civilian clothes. Then, the novel talks of how he struggled to survive from day to day, still dressed in his military attire. On one occasion, Meyer Wolfshiem offered him lunch, and it is said that Gatsby “ate more than four dollars’ worth of food in half an hour” (Bloom, 2010, p. 179). In turn, this description paints a picture of an individual whose dignity has been taken away from him. Therefore, whether it is by the government or circumstances is a matter of personal opinion.
C. Results of War
Nonetheless, what is clear from this sad story is that the Great War destroyed Gatsby’s life. Basically, with no money or decent living, he could not attract Daisy, even if she was still single (Bloom, 2010). In turn, Gatsby’s story is the story of many Americans whose youth was forcefully taken away, and their adulthood spent in want.
Despite the necessity of the Great War, Fitzgerald paints it as a period in world history that brings back many bad memories for many Americans. In particular, Americans that the government forcefully sent to the battleground lost not only their youth but also many things that they held dear. For Gatsby, his service to the nation cost him his relationship with Daisy and took away his pride. Moreover, spending months with his military attire, because he could not afford civilian clothes, was a low moment for him. In turn, by reading Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, one can only conclude that fighting in the Great War was a great price to pay for many young Americans.
Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
Summing Up on How to Write a Good Informative Essay
An informative essay is a type of academic text that provides students with an opportunity to develop and perfect their writing skills. Like any other essay, an informative essay’s outline has three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Hence, for writing an informative essay, students should remember:
- Develop a clear thesis in the introduction that determines the purpose of an essay.
- Open body paragraphs with topic sentences and close them with concluding sentences.
- Use transitions effectively to foster a natural and logical flow of ideas and arguments.
- Observe the sandwich rule.
- Do not offer a personal opinion on the subject matter but researched facts.