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A Guide to the Types of Essays

Almost everyone will have to write at least one essay at some point in their lives. A well-executed essay can get you into college, help you gain funding or approval for important projects, or inspire your readers. The links on this page will lead you to great resources that can help you navigate the different types of essays through guidelines, tips, and examples.

Persuasive Essay/Argumentative Essay

The persuasive essay, sometimes called an argument essay, is pretty much what it sounds like. A good persuasive essay tries to convince readers to take on the author’s point of view about a given subject. It is not, however, simply an opinion or editorial piece because anything you assert must be supported by logical arguments backed up by citable information.

Expository Essay

An expository essay must have two main things in order to be successful. First, it must thoroughly outline and explain a concept or an idea. Then, it must offer an argument about said concept, supporting the argument with credible information. The expository essay is similar to the persuasive essay, but is usually a bit simpler and typically requires less research.

Cause and Effect Essay

This kind of essay conducts an in-depth investigation into the causes of a certain condition or situation, backing the author’s statements up with supporting facts and evidence. These often focus on a particular event or situation, explaining all of the factors that precipitated it.

Compare and Contrast Essay

In a compare and contrast essay, the goal is to accurately demonstrate how two (or more) things stack up against one another by methodically listing and explaining their similarities and their differences.

Literary Essay

This type of essay focuses on a particular literary text, first reviewing and then offering evaluative insights to further explore the text and its meaning, value, and implications. While a good literary essay will rely on existing critical works, it must also add something new to the ongoing dialogue regarding the central text.

Informal Essay

The informal essay is sometimes called a narrative essay because it reads more like a story than an analytical or academic piece of writing. Of course, certain structural and grammatical orthodoxes still apply, but this type of essay allows for much more freedom and creativity on the author’s part – and there’s no need to provide empirical evidence for your statements. Informal essays often take on a more casual or conversational tone and there are no restrictions or limitations regarding topic choice (unless, of course, you are limited by the assignment guidelines as set forth by an employer or instructor).

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