An informative essay is a type of paper focusing on increasing the audience’s knowledge of a particular topic. Unlike other paper types and their goals to convince the reader, refute the argument, or take a personal stance, informative writing strictly relies on facts and abstains from including any personal opinions.
Below, you will find an informative essay guide. It provides an extensive definition and analyzes its five core types. You will also find tips on how to write an informative essay according to basic academic requirements.
What Is an Informative Essay? – The Definition
An informative essay, also called expository, is a piece that strives to inform the reader about a specific subject. When writing an informative essay, the writer should use their rationale, collect the necessary data, analyze, and synthesize it. They should also provide accurate, understandable, and, most importantly, unbiased information on the topic.
The purpose of an informative essay is to educate the reader and provide the necessary and clear information on a subject. You can go different routes to write this paper: by explaining an idea, describing the process, comparing elements to make it more apparent to the reader, exploring causation, or examining data.
Note: To learn more about essay basics, you can read our general Essay Definition article.
The following section provides more details on how to write an informative essay and what good informative essay topics are. We will also analyze five informative essay examples and provide an outline later on.
The Five Types of Informative Essays
As said previously, although an informative essay aims to improve the reader’s expertise on a certain topic, the paper per se can be divided into several sub-types. An informative paper can have an architecture of a definition, how-to, compare and contrast, cause-and-effect, and analysis essay. Let’s look at every type, defining their peculiarities along with some topic examples and good thesis statements.
1. Explaining a Concept (Definition Essay)
This informative essay focuses on defining the main point, idea, or object and tends to be one of the most used types in this genre. This essay uses synonyms, categories, or negations to educate the reader. Some papers might be better off laying out the information chronologically. In contrast, others can benefit from placing the least crucial examples first and leaving the most important ones till the end (or vice versa).
Topic example: “Natural Language Processing: What is it?”
Thesis statement example: “NLP is a branch of science that incorporates various fields of studies, of which the primary ones are Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, and Linguistics.”
2. Describing a Process (How-to Essay)
This one is an informative essay that leans toward describing a process and uses the features of how-to papers. Its goal is to walk the reader through the process to make them aware of the most critical stages.
Topic example: “Determining the focal steps in interviewing as the data elicitation technique.”
Thesis statement example: “The interviewer needs to get consent from the interviewee, do research before the interview, double-check hardware, and conduct the discussion, posing follow-up questions when necessary.”
3. Comparing Things (Compare-Contrast Essay)
By comparing and contrasting things in an essay, you’ll provide similarities and dissimilarities. You can choose this sub-type when writing an informative paper about a person, for example. It will let you explain how their behavior or viewpoints have changed during their professional career.
Topic example: “Detailing Peirce’s changes in theory of signs.”
Thesis statement example: “Charles Pierce had introduced his theory of signs in the 1860s, yet during his academic path, he had modified it several times, making the third, Final Account more detailed, sophisticated, and extensive.”
4. Exploring Causation (Cause-Effect Essay)
The cause-effect essay sub-type heavily relies on authoritative data and provides only information that can be checked.
Topic example: “Encapsulating the causality of Covid-19 lockdowns.”
Thesis statement example: “The coronavirus pandemic has forced the world to live in turbulence, with the governments implementing abrupt lockdowns based on low vaccination rates and high hospitalization–and especially lethal–cases; such decisions ultimately led to economic stagnation and population’s distrust in authority’s idleness and short-sightedness.”
5. Investigating Data (Analysis Essay)
Like the cause-effect paper, the data analysis sub-type examines data and helps the readers draw objective conclusions regarding the object, event, or idea. It is best to use this approach when having the right set of reliable data to write an informative essay.
Topic example: “Outlining key points of the new infrastructure bill recently passed by the White House.”
Thesis statement example: “The bill’s agenda includes numerous expenditures, of which the main points are roads and bridges, railroads, childcare, Child Tax Credit, and clean energy and climate.”
Breaking Down Five Informative Essay Examples
Here, we will review several informative essay examples, analyzing if they have a good opening, clear and precise body paragraphs, and appropriate ending. We will also check the essays’ type and explain whether or not they look like informative papers. Most examples were provided by Saint Leo University.
Essay Example 1: Defining Emotional Intelligence
This essay about emotional intelligence begins with a famous quote, drawing the reader’s attention right away. Using a quote is one of the most common ways to start an essay. Although the main statement could have been made more precise, it still sparked the audience’s curiosity.
When it comes to body paragraphs, two paragraphs provide various definitions of emotional intelligence. These sections are well-written and consist of reliable data that helps the author establish credibility. Overall, the writer did good work and made the essay fall into the category of a definition paper.
Essay Example 2: How Football Players Prepare for Football Season
The second example is an attempt to follow the main purpose of an informative how-to essay. The writer intends to describe how exactly football players prepare for every upcoming season. Unlike the previous piece, this essay doesn’t stand out in terms of its opening. Neither does it have a clear thesis statement. The entire introductory paragraph appears a bit fuzzy.
As for the body paragraphs, it is necessary to indicate that paragraphs are a bit too large and incoherent, i.e., there is no clear transition between paragraphs. Also, the author didn’t narrow down the work; they tried to cover too many aspects in one essay. However, the last section is well-written, summarizing key information presented within the paper.
Essay Example 3: Comparing Life Before and After Having a Child
This Life Before and After Parenthood paper is an excellent example of an informative, compare-contrast essay. The writer managed to provide a robust opening, contemplating about starting a family. He then smoothly moved to the argument and made it solid and precise. The main part is well-designed, containing three paragraphs, each describing the unique aspects stated in the thesis.
Furthermore, each body paragraph includes a robust topic sentence that sets the right context and lets the readers know what the paragraph is about. The ending is well-written; it isn’t too pushy to call others to act and start a family. Yet, it touches upon philosophical issues and the matters of rest, finances, and spare time.
Essay Example 4: Causes and Effects of Fast-food Popularity
This one is an example of a cause-and-effect informative essay. In trying to provide the cause for buying fast food and what effects such consumption can bring, the writer decided to make the essay revolve around three aspects: convenience, commercialization, and tastefulness.
Although the beginning was quite involving, the writer failed to include the thesis statement, proceeding to the central part instead. The central part had rather weak topic sentences, which were then developed by more potent examples. Besides summarizing key information, the last paragraph contained redundant and new information absent in the previous sections.
Essay Example 5: Analyzing Spendings
Last but not least, this analysis essay investigates the data of a school attendee Tina. The author evaluated the ways Tina spent her time and money within one semester. The paper is a good example of an informative essay that investigates data. The opening is accurate and lets the reader learn more about the paper’s purpose.
However, it is unclear where the thesis is. Other than this hiccup, everything else is crystal clear: the main part is detailed and contains visual elements, which is a good move to help the audience understand the data better; the ending is also done well.
How to Write an Informative Essay (7 Steps)
Writing an informative essay is similar to any essay writing process. It requires understanding the task, coming up with the ideas that’ll be developed in the piece, building a layout, and more. Below, you can find seven essential steps to writing a thought-provoking and faultless informative paper from scratch.
1. Analyze the assignment
Before delving into writing, the first step to creating an informative essay involves reading and comprehension. So, once you are given the assignment, check if you are assigned the topic, or you have to come up with one. Apart from that, carefully read what type of informative essay you should follow, the citation style you must use, and the structure you need to meet. Here’s what your assignment might look like. Only after you complete these can you move on to the next stage.
2. Outline the Structure
Assuming you are well aware of your job and its specifics, it is time to develop an informative essay outline. The format of the outline hinges on the structure of the essay. Academic institutions can set unique requirements as to the structure and formatting style. However, a standard high-school informative essay would usually consist of four to five paragraphs, meaning your informative essay outline would need to resemble the same structure. Following is an example of such an outline:
Note: You can read our detailed article – Making Outlines for Essays – with various examples to learn more about this step.
Topic: Detailing the benefits of a fixed-gear bicycle
- Introduction: “It never gets easier, you just get faster” – Greg LeMond
- Statement: Riding a fixed gear provides numerous benefits, of which the three most critical ones stand out – cardio, simplicity, and aesthetics.
- Main part
- Fixed gear forces you to pedal all the time.
- Fixed gear is simple.
- Fixed gear is visually-appealing
- Fixed gear forces you to pedal all the time.
- Thesis rephrased
- Key information provided in the main part
- Clincher sentence, calling the target audience to act (do further research or discuss the topic)
3. Develop a Thesis Statement
Similar to any other writing piece, an informative essay comprises a thesis statement. It is a short sentence, usually placed at the end of your introduction. The statement’s central goal is to explain what the essay focuses on and what points the writer will develop in the succeeding sections. You’ll want to create the thesis in the first place to determine the elements you will include in each body paragraph.
4. Write the Main Body
The main body is the central part of any informative essay. A typical short essay would contain three body paragraphs, with each body paragraph consisting of a topic sentence, example, evidence, explanation, and a concluding sentence transitioning to the following paragraph.
It is best to leave the introduction aside and deal with the body and conclusion first, as writing them is less time-consuming and demanding. Besides, having pre-written middle and last parts will help you write a catchy and straight-to-the-point introduction.
Note: Learn how to write the main body successfully by visiting our general Essay Writing Guide.
5. Write the Conclusion
The primary aim of the conclusion is to remind the readers of the main statement and its central points. The final paragraph also provides key information from the central part so that the audience understands the relationship between the thesis and the information provided in the following sections.
Finally, the last part can end the chosen topic by asking the readers to take various actions, i.e., continue to research the topic, discuss it with others, etc.
Note: Check our Conclusion Writing Guide to get a good grasp of how to end an essay correctly.
6. Write the Introduction
When you draft the thesis, body, and conclusion, return to the introduction. The first paragraph usually consists of an opening sentence, background information, and a thesis statement. Since you already have the thesis, proceed to the hook and background parts.
The hook can manifest in various forms, depending on your target audience and its interests. The background information, in turn, aims to enrich the readers’ knowledge and make sure they can understand the chosen topic in its entirety.
Note: For more details on how to start essays, visit our Introduction Writing Guide.
7. Pause and Revise
Upon drafting the essay, it is advisable to step away from the piece to retain initial focus and productivity. Once you take a break, reapproach your paper and get ready to complete the final stage.
The last phase of writing an informative essay is the revision phase. When revising an informative essay, the most important thing to keep in mind is the accuracy of the factual support. In other words, pay attention to the evidence you include in your work.
No matter the sub-type you follow when working on an informative essay, the facts you rely on must be clear-cut and specific. Carefully go through the piece and ask yourself whether your research is relevant, topic sentences correspond with the thesis, create a smooth transition between sections, and be accurate.
Don’t hesitate to use spell-checking tools to eliminate mistakes related to mechanics. Polishing your paper to shine may take an hour or two, so if you want to write an informative essay, ensure you aren’t short on time.
point is to grab the readers’ attention and make them curious enough to keep reading the paper. The hook can have many forms, such as a quote, shocking statement, question, anecdote, etc. Ensure to evaluate the audience before writing. Knowing your readers better will help you write an informative essay quickly and easily.
The best way to end the informative essay is to write a striking conclusion. Notably, the conclusion of an informative essay should reiterate the central statement, summarize critical information, and state how this information supports the thesis.
It is your instructor who sets the word count limit for the informative essay. Such kind of information is usually presented in the requirements attached to the task. However, if you don’t have the length of your essay predetermined, it depends on the topic and the main points you aspire to cover. Either way, you are encouraged to write an informative essay outline first and stick to it to score high.
Yes, as long as the author does effective research and rests upon credible and interesting facts, avoiding personal opinions, an informative essay can be written about a work of literature.
Yes, if the audience analysis shows that the question would be the most appropriate way to begin an informative essay, you can start it with a question.