Now here’s the most basic essay students are assigned in high school and college classes. If you’ve ever been assigned a five-paragraph essay, chances are you’ve already written an informative essay even if that’s not what the teacher called it. Informative essays can run the gamut from the causes of the civil war to climate change to the reason dogs make good pets. As long as the audience can be informed regarding a particular topic, then that subject is fair game for an informative essay.
What is an Informative Essay?
An informative essay aims to educate the audience about a particular subject. The essay does so by introducing the topic and providing background information, providing specific details within body paragraphs, and ending with a conclusion which reviews the main points.
The informative essay is typically five paragraphs but can be more – if more points need to be covered in the body paragraphs. It relies greatly on facts, and should contain a good amount of cited research from reliable sources. The informative essay’s goal is solely to provide information instead of persuading or entertaining the audience.
Writing the Informative Essay
Ready to get started? This guide will provide the key steps to creating an A-level informative essay. We’ll provide the help you need to craft a great introduction, compelling body paragraphs, and a solid conclusion. So, here is what constitutes the process of writing the informative essay:
Initiate research and pre-draft your ideas
At its core, this essay aims to inform the audience. In order to inform the audience, you’ll need a bevy of facts. You’ll also need to consider the audience. What information are they likely to know? What information do they need to know? Always remember to consider the audience you’re writing for. This academic essay form requires research; so before beginning to write, know exactly what you need to research. Here are some helpful pre-writing and research tips:
- Generate a list of questions that the essay should answer
- Brainstorm at least 10-20 search terms for research
- Know the citation method required for the paper
- Create a research outline to document which paragraph the research will go into
- Check to make sure you have research to support each idea in the paper
Once you’ve got your research, it’s time to begin outlining your informative essay. A good outline can save tons of time during the drafting process. Let’s take further steps to
While the body paragraphs share the specific points that strengthen an informative essay’s viewpoint, the introduction paragraph works to hook the readers with an engaging beginning. A good introduction paragraph typically contains three key elements:
- An attention getter
- Background information
- Thesis statement
The attention getter can take several different forms including a rhetorical question, a quotation, a fact or statistic, or personal anecdote. A good goal of any writer is to gain the audience’s undivided attention and keep it until the last sentence in the conclusion. Therefore, make the audience sit up and take notice; think about what would capture your attention and work to create it for the reader. Following the attention getter should be relevant background information; such information varies depending upon the subject discussed within the informative essay. However appropriate background could include historical context, specific vocabulary, or introducing important people or places discussed within the essay. Finally, the last sentence should be the thesis statement. This sentence acts as a transition between the general idea of the subject and the specific argument that will evolve within the paper. Therefore, the thesis statement should be concise and contain a roadmap outlining the argument you plan to make as the writer.
Draft body paragraphs
Need a bit of inspiration heading into the hardest part of the essay? Take this advice from a literary giant:
“You fail only if you stop writing” Ray Bradbury
Here’s the thing about paragraphs: they each contain a new idea that supports the argumentative statement or thesis. In a typical informative essay, a teacher requires at least three body paragraphs to support the thesis. This means that for whatever subject the paper discusses, you’ll need to organize three supportive ideas. For example, if the paper is on the detriments of climate change, the writer would need to brainstorm three reasons why climate change harms the environment. Here’s an outline example:
Thesis: Climate change negatively impacts the planet by increasing water levels, changing weather patterns, and affecting animals.
- Body paragraph 1. Climate change poses a threat to populations living on the coast.
- Body paragraph 2. Climate change alters weather patterns, affecting farmers’ crops.
- Body paragraph 3. Climate change contributes to higher temperatures, negatively affecting animal migration.
By brainstorming three reasons climate change negatively affects the planet, the student now has a clear idea of what type of research he or she needs to find and support each idea.
A typical informative essay body paragraph contains at least five different kinds of sentences; each builds on the last in order to form a cohesive and comprehensive argument in support of the thesis. The five sentences a well-written body paragraph should include:
- Topic sentence
- Background information
- Quotation from research
While five sentences would be the absolute minimum per paragraph, most students find that it’s beneficial to include two to three cited quotations from their research to support the idea put forth in the topic sentence. Additionally, the analysis portion may be several sentences as the student works to make their point.
Each body paragraph should contain a single idea; if the writer wants to introduce a new idea, he or she should begin a new body paragraph.
Sum up the conclusion
A conclusion paragraph’s purpose is to review the main points established within the body paragraphs and remind the reader that the argument put forth in the thesis has been supported. While the conclusion reviews these points, they shouldn’t be verbatim; instead, they should be echoed or simply reworded. Additionally, no new information should be introduced in the conclusion; the conclusion should exist solely as a mirror for the most important information already shared within the paper.
Polish and revise your essay
While perfection is the goal, first drafts are often riddled with mistakes, and that’s okay. The goal of the first draft is to get the ideas on paper – then it’s time to go back and polish them. Once you’ve got the first draft, use the following questions to make it even better:
- Does the hook grab the audience’s attention and make them want to read more?
- Does the introduction contain helpful background information relevant to the topic?
- Is the thesis at the end of the introduction paragraph?
- Does the thesis clearly explain what the essay will be informing the audience about?
- Does each body paragraph begin with a clear topic sentence?
- Do all body paragraphs contain cited research to support the topic sentence?
- Does the conclusion review the main points?
- Are all sentences complete and grammatically correct?
Tips from Our Expert Writers
If you have the opportunity to select your own topic, choose one that interests you! Take the opportunity to educate others about a subject you find interesting! Unlike some other forms of essays, the informative essay should be devoid of persuasion or emotion – its overall purpose is to dispassionately educate the audience regarding a particular topic. This essay should stick to the facts and only the facts.
- Before beginning to write an informative essay, it’s always a good practice to review any rubrics provided by the teacher or professor.
- While formatting and font size is important, it’s additionally important to know length expectations and citation guidelines. For example, does your teacher prefer MLA, APA, Chicago, or another form of cited research? Knowing before you begin to outline and then draft can save you a ton of time later!
- Perhaps most importantly, know the due date and begin to count backward in order to figure out a reasonable timeline to complete the informative essay on-time. Take into consideration the time you’ll need to set aside for research, outlining, drafting, and revising before arriving at the final essay.
- It’s harder to catch your own mistakes, so try to have another set of eyes (or two, or three) look over the paper before handing it in. Whether you have another classmate, a tutor, the professor, or an editor look over the paper, get a second (or third) opinion and take any constructive criticism in stride. Sometimes it takes a village to create a masterpiece.