What Are the 5 Types of Essays? A Complete Guide on Essay Types (2023)

For high school or college students, essays are unavoidable – worst of all, the essay types and essay writing topics assigned change throughout your academic career. As soon as you’ve mastered one of the many types of academic papers, you’re on to the next one.

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This article by Custom Writing experts provides the tools you need to attack any essay. It describes the five current major types of essays and five additional types! The article includes some thesis statement examples and numerous useful links to resources with sample essay papers. Keep reading and good luck with your assignment!


  1. 📑 5 Main Types of Essay Writing

  2. 🎈 Other Essay Types

  3. 👌 Essay Writing Tips

  4. 🔗 References

📑 What Are the 5 Different Types of Essays?

The five main essay types are:

  • Expository


  • Argumentative

  • Persuasive

  • Descriptive

  • Narrative

What Are the 5 Types of Essays? A Complete Guide on Essay Types (1)

Expository Essay

An expository essay aims to present opinion-free information on a topic that may be broad or narrow. This essay type is often assigned as an in-class or an exam task. Please find below useful expository writing tips!

  • An expository essay introduction should clarify the topic and briefly lay out its elements.

  • The first paragraph is to contain a well-defined thesis statement. For example, the following might be a great expository thesis statement:

    “The oil industry is a very large portion of the energy sector, and it has significant impacts on the climate and economy.”

    Note that this thesis statement does not criticize the oil industry. It does not even claim the effects on the climate are negative. While many people think the oil industry is bad, many people believe it is vital. Yet, this example essay thesis statement avoids taking a side in the controversy. This is the sort of objectivity you need in expository writing.

  • The body paragraphs of your expository essay should contain enough evidence to support your thesis statement.

  • Your expository essay conclusion should readdress the thesis in the light of the evidence provided in the body.

  • The transitions between the different parts of your expository essay should be very logical and clear.

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay requires a profound investigation of a topic leading to the collection and evaluation of evidence. Such an in-depth study shall result in an established position on the topic, written down concisely.

As a rule, this type of writing presupposes extensive literature research. Sometimes, argumentative assignments may require empirical investigation through surveys, interviews, or observations. Detailed research ensures a clear understanding of the issue and the different points of view regarding it. Thanks to the preliminary study, you will be able to make an unbiased decision on which opinion to adhere to, and your argumentation will be more persuasive.

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An argumentative essay shall follow the strict structure rules:

Paragraph 1: Introduction
  1. Set the context and review the topic in general.

  2. Explain the exigence: why do the readers need to care about the issue?

  3. Formulate an appropriately narrowed thesis statement.

Paragraphs 2 and 3: Body
  1. Select one idea supporting your thesis for each of the two paragraphs. Using more than one idea per paragraph can cause a loss of clarity.

  2. Begin each sentence with a topic sentence.

  3. Come up with evidence and facts.

  4. Explain how this information confirms your thesis.

Paragraph 4: Body
  1. Provide a counterargument.

  2. Which evidence makes some people support an opposing point of view?

  3. Why is their position wrong?

  4. Is the argument against your thesis objective?

Paragraph 5: Conclusion
  1. Restate your thesis

  2. Make some concluding remarks

(Video) Essay Types I Kinds of Essays I Narrative,Descriptive,Reflective,Analytical,Persuasive,Imaginative.

Difference between Expository and Argumentative Essay

Expository and argumentative essays abound in similarities and are often mistaken for one another. The principal difference is the amount of preliminary research. Argumentative essays are often assigned as final projects summing up the corpus of information mastered during a course. Expository essays are shorter and less based on research. They are used for in-class unprepared writing.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive writing is the polar opposite of expository writing. For this style of essay, your opinion should be the focus. A persuasive essay attempts to persuade its reader to have a specific opinion.

  • Your thesis statement should make it clear that the essay has an opinion. The following would be an excellent persuasive thesis statement:

    “Though the oil industry is an important part of our economy, it has negatively impacted our environment through climate change, smog, and the building of roads.”

  • Your position should be set from the introduction of your persuasive essay. Take care to maintain it throughout the text.

  • Your persuasive essay body should contain the arguments in progression: from the least important to the most important.

  • Use ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade your readers.

Descriptive Essay

There is no more clearly-named essay than the descriptive one. Here, the goal is to describe something: a person, an object, a place, etc. The oil industry theme used to demonstrate an expository thesis statement would not be typical for a descriptive essay. Instead, descriptive writing would far more likely focus on an object associated with the oil industry, such as an oil drum, an oil tanker, or even the liquid oil itself.

  • A sample descriptive thesis statement could sound like this:
    “Crude oil is a black, viscous liquid that gives off an odd smell like plastic or many sorts of fuel.”

  • Your descriptive essay body should be very logical. Each of its paragraphs is to focus on one of the aspects of the topic.

  • The language you use in your descriptive essay should be vivid and varied. It is a good idea to appeal to the senses of the reader when you are describing something.

Narrative Essay

The meaning of narrative writing is very similar to a story. It may be moving, emotional, anecdotal, or insightful. You are allowed to write using first-person pronouns, and creativity is appreciated. A narrative essay is subject to all the story rules and shall comprise an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, and conclusion. The only case when a narrative assignment does not have to comply with a story outline is a book report. This informative narration is impersonal and unemotional.

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  • The thesis is the purpose of your narrative essay. Although it doesn’t need to sound as formal as in other academic papers, make it clear why you decided to tell the story.

    (Video) IELTS Writing Task 2 - Understand the 5 Essay Types

  • First-person narration is not a must but is welcomed.

  • Don’t switch between points of view. If you decide to write a third-person narrative, keep it consistent throughout the text.

  • A narrative essay is closer to fiction than to a scientific document. Use artistic language that will have an emotional response in the reader.

  • Although this is not a standard five-paragraph essay, it should have an introduction and a conclusion. An unfinished piece of writing is as bad as a too wordy one.

Difference between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

A narrative essay is aimed to tell the reader a complete story of personal experiences. A descriptive essay dwells upon a separate object, place, concept, or phenomenon. It does not have a climax or any development of action.

🎈 Other Essay Types

Cause and Effect Essay

In a cause and effect essay, the text should focus on the impact of some phenomenon or physical thing—in other words, a cause and its effect.

The simplicity of this essay allows you to explore any topic. All you need to do is consider its consequences and write. Again, the oil industry can be the focus of a cause and effect essay thesis statement:

“The oil industry has had a tremendous impact on our world, enabling the automotive industry, contributing to climate change, and generating great wealth.”

Reflective Essay

In this essay, the goal is simply to respond to or reflect upon a species person, place, thing, event, or phenomenon. You may be required to reflect upon a poem, a military battle, or perhaps even another essay. By its definition, reflective essays should be very subjective. You should use personal pronouns like “I” and “me” in these essays! This type of essay should be very personal. Check out some examples of reflective writing to see this yourself.

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For example, this would be a great thesis statement for a reflective essay:

“The oil industry has provided many benefits to society, but I worry deeply about its potential costs to our planet and its species.”

Analytical Essay

In many ways, analytical writing is the objective cousin of reflective writing. Prior to attempting this style of essay, you should reflect. But you should also conduct research. The reflection is personal, while the analysis is rooted in facts and logic.

Compare the following example thesis statement with the one from the previous type of essay:

“As the oil industry has grown, the levels of greenhouse gases have increased along with temperatures and concentrations of particulate matter in the atmosphere.”

This statement outlines factors that will be analyzed in the body of the essay. It DOES NOT insert personal feelings, personal pronouns, or subjective language. You can even try and use an informative thesis statement generator and then compare the results to see it more clearly.

By staying objective, an analytical essay is much more like a report. In fact, an outline for an analytical paper should be interchangeable with a section of an outline for a much longer research project. But most importantly, any analytical paper should avoid using personal pronouns.

Comparison and Contrast Essay

In a compare and contrast essay, you make a comparison of two or more issues. You may look at their similarities, differences, or both. The focus of your analysis should be reflected in your thesis statement. Consider this example:

“While both the oil industry and the solar-power industry will be major sources of energy in the future, oil has more environmental costs than green solar power.”

Exemplification Essay

An exemplification or illustration essay is one of the most flexible essays you might be assigned. In simple terms, this essay is all about picking vivid examples. In other words, you want to make points that exemplify or illustrate your thesis statement.

(Video) 4 Common types of Essay you need to know Expository, Descriptive, Narrative and Argumentative Essays

For an exemplification essay, you should focus on the examples that will make your point without serious effort. In other words, if you are trying too hard, you are missing the point of the essay. Consider the following example thesis statement:

“The oil industry has had serious effects on the environment as demonstrated by the impact of massive oil spill on wildlife, the uncontrolled fires and explosions caused by oil and oil derivatives, and the melting of the polar ice caps caused by climate change.”

In the body of this exemplification essay, the writer should devote a paragraph to each of these arguments. Descriptions of seagulls or penguins coated in oil would be perfect examples of the effect of the oil industry on wildlife. Similarly, descriptions of major oil refinery explosions will also grab the reader’s attention.

Once again, the conclusion should restate the introduction, providing less background, and reminding the reader of the examples one last time.

👌 Remember These Important Essay Tips

These tips and tricks are just the basics of essay writing.

When you are writing any assignment, always pay close attention to the instructions. The standard interpretation of any particular essay style is never as important as your teacher’s definition of the assignment. When in doubt, ask questions! No teacher will be upset with you asking for reasonable clarifications. It is better to write the essay your teacher expected, rather than surprise your teacher with a creative effort. And, subsequently, get a poor grade.

  1. You may also notice that every one of the rough examples described fits into the 5-paragraph essay format. This essay structure is a powerful way to organize your thoughts. Becoming skilled at applying this structure will strengthen your writing. Soon after, you’ll write both shorter and longer essays with ease.

  2. If you’re still confused, watch one of the many helpful videos on essay writing.

  3. Start writing your essay early! No matter the essay type, your revisions will be better than your first drafts. If you have time for second, third, and fourth drafts, you will be much happier with your final grade.

🔗 References

  1. Guide to Different Kinds of Essays – Gallaudet University

    (Video) How to Write All 7 Types of IELTS Essays By Asad Yaqub


What Are the 5 Types of Essays? A Complete Guide on Essay Types? ›

There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

What are the main types of essays? ›

There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

What are the 7 types of essays? ›

The following seven essay types are likely the most common types that you'll find in academic writing courses.
  • Cause and Effect Essays. ...
  • Compare and Contrast Essays. ...
  • Descriptive Essays. ...
  • Evaluative Essays. ...
  • Persuasive Essays. ...
  • Problem-Solution Essays. ...
  • Process Essays.

What is the 5 part structure of an essay? ›

As a result, such a paper has 5 parts of an essay: the introduction, writer's arguments, counter arguments, refutation, and conclusion.

What are the 6 types of essays? ›

6 Different Types of Essays Every Student Should Know
  • 1 Expository essays. ...
  • 2 Narrative essays. ...
  • 3 Argumentative essays. ...
  • 4 Descriptive essays. ...
  • 5 Compare and contrast essays. ...
  • 6 Cause and effect essays.
Apr 24, 2022

What are the parts of essay type? ›

The main parts (or sections) to an essay are the intro, body, and conclusion. In a standard short essay, five paragraphs can provide the reader with enough information in a short amount of space.

What are the 8 types of essay? ›

Here are eight types of essays you may write in school.
  • Expository Essay. The most basic form of essay is an expository essay, also known as a definition essay. ...
  • Analytical Essay. ...
  • Narrative Essay. ...
  • Descriptive Essay. ...
  • Compare and Contrast Essay. ...
  • Cause and Effect Essay. ...
  • Critical Analysis Essay. ...
  • Conclusion.

What are the 4 elements of essay writing? ›

To achieve these ends, an essay must incorporate four elements: an appropriate tone, a clear thesis, a coherent structure, and ample, appropriate evidence.

What are the 7 parts of essay structure? ›

Parts of an Essay
  • Essay Hook.
  • Essay Thesis.
  • Introduction Paragraph.
  • Body Paragraph.
  • Supporting Evidence.
  • Conclusion Paragraph.

What are the 4 types of academic writing? ›

The four main types of academic writing are descriptive, analytical, persuasive and critical. Each of these types of writing has specific language features and purposes. In many academic texts you will need to use more than one type.

What are the 5 structure of writing? ›

The five-act structure is a formula that breaks a story into distinct sections: the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

What are the 5 parts of an argumentative essay? ›

Information is used, but it is organized based on these major components of an argument: claim, reason, evidence, counter-claim, and rebuttal.

What are the five parts of an informative essay? ›

A well-written informative essay should include an introduction (hook, bridge, thesis), a body (topic sentence, research, explanation), and a conclusion (reframed thesis and call to action). While the body section will include several paragraphs, an informative essay will include at least three body paragraphs.

What is an essay format? ›

What is an Essay Format? An essay format is a series of guidelines that determine how your paper should be arranged. It covers the title page, basic essay structure, essay outline, conclusion, citations, etc.

Why are different types of essays important? ›

It's important to know exactly what type of essay your assignment falls into – even before you start the planning and research. The essay type affects how you structure your essay, your writing style, the tone, the techniques you use, and how you use evidence.

What are the 3 structures of an essay? ›

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

What are the characteristics of an essay? ›

An essay should have a single clear central idea. Each paragraph should have a clear main point or topic sentence. Each paragraph should support or expand the central idea of the paper. The idea of each paragraph should be explained and illustrated through examples, details, and descriptions.

What is a Type 2 essay? ›

This type of IELTS Task 2 question is sometimes called a 'direct question' or 'two questions' essay. It has one statement with two different questions after it. The questions may or may not be linked. Key tips: You must answer both questions fully.

Is 8 paragraphs an essay? ›

No rule says an essay needs to have a certain number of paragraphs, but an essay must be at least three paragraphs. Many people say an essay should be five paragraphs, but it's an extremely limiting rule, and unless you've been instructed to write a five-paragraph essay, there's no reason to stick to it.

How many words is an 8 paragraph essay? ›

8 paragraphs is 800 – 1,600 words for essays, 400 – 800 words for easy writing. 9 paragraphs is 900 – 1,800 words for essays, 450 – 900 words for easy writing.

How long is an essay? ›

Essay length guidelines
Type of essayAverage word count range
High school essay300–1000 words
College admission essay200–650 words
Undergraduate college essay1500–5000 words
Graduate school admission essay500–1000 words
1 more row
Jan 28, 2019

What are the 4 steps process in making an essay? ›

Four steps of Essay Writing
  1. defining appropriately the problem;
  2. carrying out the research;
  3. analysing the evidence;
  4. writing the paper.

What is the best format for an essay? ›

Double space: Your entire essay should be double spaced, with no single spacing anywhere and no extra spacing anywhere. There should not be extra spaces between paragraphs. Margins: According to the MLA, your essay should have a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, left, and right.

How do you write a level 7 essay? ›

Key concepts of level 7 writing

make sound judgements and communicating your conclusions clearly. demonstrating self-direction in problem-solving. acting autonomously, using own initiative and taking personal responsibility for professional practice. critical awareness of professional practice, including self- ...

What is hook in essay? ›

A hook is an opening statement (which is usually the first sentence) in an essay that attempts to grab the reader's attention so that they want to read on. It can be done by using a few different types of hooks, which are a question, quote, statistic, or anecdote.

What are the 5 different types of essays? ›

The 5 Types of Essays Every High School Student Needs to Know & Easy Tips On How to Write Them
  • Descriptive - Paint a Mental Picture.
  • Expository - Explain Something.
  • Narrative - Tell a Story.
  • Persuasive - Convince the Audience of Your Point of View (POV)
  • Argumentative - Explore a Topic and Establish a Point of View.
  • FAQs.
Mar 9, 2022

What are the 6 factors of academic writing? ›

These are Audience, Purpose, Organization, Style, Flow and Presentation.

What are the 5 steps in academic writing? ›

The general steps are: discovery\investigation, prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing.

What is level 5 writing? ›

Children working at level 5 show their ability to select words, sentences and styles for different types of writing. They use a mix of sentence types and vocabulary, including imaginative structures, and using a full range of punctuation.

What is the 5 structure of academic text? ›

The Structure of the Entire Text and of Each Section. Most academic texts in the sciences adhere to the model called imrad, which is an acronym for introduction, methods and materials, results, and discussion.

What is a informative essay? ›

What is an Informative Essay? An informative essay educates your reader on a topic. They can have one of several functions: to define a term, compare and contrast something, analyze data, or provide a how-to. They do not, however, present an opinion or try to persuade your reader.

What is an expository essay? ›

An expository essay explores various angles of a specific topic to provide information in an objective manner. For example, if the subject is universal healthcare, the paper would provide information on what universal healthcare is, how it works, which countries use it and how it differs from privatized healthcare.

What is a descriptive essay? ›

The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student's ability to create a written account of a particular experience.

How do you write a 5 paragraph essay? ›

But for your five-paragraph essay, here's a good outline to complete:
  1. Introductory paragraph. Jot down your thesis.
  2. First body paragraph. Identify a main idea or point that supports your thesis.
  3. Second body paragraph. Identify a second idea or point that supports your thesis.
  4. Third body paragraph. ...
  5. Conclusion paragraph.
Feb 10, 2020

What are 5 examples of informative writing? ›

Informative Writing Samples
  • Inspiring Nations.
  • Deduce, Diffuse, De-cycle.
  • Four-Hoofed Therapy Machines.
  • Animal Control.
  • Tattoos: Changing Fashion Fads.
  • The Bird Flu: Fish or Fowl.
  • Tenacity: Vital to Success.
  • The Reconnection of a City.

Which of these is not a type of essay? ›

There is no such essay as an explanation essay.

What is the personal essay? ›

A personal essay is a piece of writing that serves to describe an important lesson gathered from a writer's life experiences. The essay often describes a significant event from a first-person perspective, and can be done in various writing styles, like a formal essay or as creative nonfiction.

How to write a essay? ›

Six top tips for writing a great essay
  1. Analyse the question.
  2. Define your argument.
  3. Use evidence, reasoning and scholarship.
  4. Organise a coherent essay.
  5. Write clearly.
  6. Cite sources and evidence.

What are the steps of a basic essay? ›

Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion. Revision: Check the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

What is the basic structure of essay? ›

An essay consists of three basic parts:

Introduction. Body. Conclusion.

What is a thesis in an essay? ›

A thesis statement is the main idea of an essay. It consists of the topic of the essay and the writer's claim about the topic that will be proven throughout the essay. The thesis usually appears at the end of the introduction, often as the last sentence, and lets the reader know what to expect.

What are the 3 main purposes for writing an essay? ›

Answer and Explanation: The three main purposes for writing are to persuade, inform, and entertain.

Which part of an essay is the most important? ›

Your thesis is the most important part of your essay because it's the point you're making.

What does an essay format look like? ›

A basic essay consists of three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Following this format will help you write and organize an essay. However, flexibility is important. While keeping this basic essay format in mind, let the topic and specific assignment guide the writing and organization.

What are the 4 main types of essay and its definition? ›

There are four basic categories of essays, with variations accounting for the remaining. Argumentative and Expository Essays are concerned with delivering facts and making clear arguments, but Narrative and Descriptive Essays are concerned with expressing oneself creatively and writing in an engaging manner.

What are 4 elements of an essay? ›

To achieve these ends, an essay must incorporate four elements: an appropriate tone, a clear thesis, a coherent structure, and ample, appropriate evidence.

What are the 4 stages of an essay? ›

Writing is a process that involves at least four distinct steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. It is known as a recursive process.

What are 4 main things an essay should include? ›

Essay basics
  • your point of view, supported by ideas, arguments and evidence.
  • the summary and analysis of other writers' research and opinions.
  • a clear structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • a reference list.
Aug 19, 2022

What is an example essay? ›

An exemplification essay uses one or more well-developed examples to support a thesis statement. What is an exemplification essay? An exemplification essay is an argumentative essay that provides examples to prove a point.

How many parts of an essay? ›

Most writers think of essays as having three main parts: Introduction. Body. Conclusion.

Does an essay need a title? ›

An essay title is important because it accomplishes a few things: Tells readers what the essay is about. Catches potential readers' attention. Helps researchers sort essays and find the ones most relevant to their work.


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