The purpose of an informative essay, sometimes called an expository essay, is to educate on a certain topic. It is not for giving an opinion or convincing someone to do something or change his beliefs. In addition to being informative, it needs to be interesting.
Structure of an Informative Essay
The basic structure of an informative essay is very simple. It needs to have a beginning, middle, and end.
- The beginning needs to present the topic and grab the attention of the audience. It needs to include the focus sentence for the entire essay.
- The middle will be the main bulk of the essay and it will contain all the important facts that you are covering. This is where the audience will get their questions answered. Remember to answer these questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
- The end is a conclusion where you will summarize the essay. It should spur the reader or listener to learn more about the topic.
Here is an example of the beginning of an informative essay:
As you are listening to me, you might not think that today is the day that you will save a life. It is quite easy to save a life any day and it only takes a little bit of your time. I’m not talking about being a paramedic or fireman; I am talking about donating blood.
Here is an example of a closing:
So that now you know how easy it is to donate blood, it’s time to take action. After all, you have plenty of blood, so why not share? When you do, you will feel good about yourself and you will save a life.
Subjects of Informative Essays
Informative essays, sometimes called expository essays, can be used for many purposes. They can compare viewpoints on a controversial subject as long as they don’t include the author’s opinions. They may analyze data, like in a cause and effect situation, or educate the audience on ways to do something, like solving a certain kind of problem.
- An informative essay might explain the pros and cons of the death penalty, using statistics on crime rate reduction as a pro and statistics on innocent men being found guilty as a con.
- An informative essay might analyze whether lack of education is a cause of homelessness by using statistics and information about the educational attainment of homeless men and women.
- An informative essay might educate the audience on how to open a bank account.
Informative Essay Titles
To help you get a better idea of the different types of informative essays, here are some possible titles for this type of essay:
- Understanding the Link Between Cholesterol and Heart Disease
- How to Buy a House
- Understanding Your Credit Score
- Defining Poverty in the City of Chicago
- The Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
- The Importance of Regular Daily Exercise
- The Causes of Global Warming
- Reducing Carbon Emissions with Alternative Fuels
- Cost Savings of Hybrid Vehicles
- Understanding Geothermal Heating and Cooling
- Why Cleaning Your Ducts is Important
- Qualifications of Contractors
- How to Get your Commercial Driver's License
Steps in Creating an Informative Essay
Most of the work on an informative essay is done before you actually sit down to type. Here are the general steps to take:
- After you have chosen the topic, you will need to research and gather all the pertinent details on that subject. You need to ascertain what you already know about the subject and then decide what you would like to know.
- You will need to make a list of the important facts and then list the main steps in your paper. Make sure all your facts are accurate. You will need to write a topic sentence for each fact and write a focus sentence (thesis statement) for the entire essay.
- Create an outline that will organize your facts in a logical way. Then you will be ready to make your first draft.
- Editing is an important step for any writing project. Reading your essay out loud will help you notice places where the writing is awkward or unclear. If possible, have someone else read it and give you their ideas for improvement. Of course, you will need to pay attention for grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and other errors.
An informative essay is the best way to explain something that is complicated...in an uncomplicated way.
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Examples of Informative Essays
By YourDictionaryThe purpose of an informative essay, sometimes called an expository essay, is to educate on a certain topic. It is not for giving an opinion or convincing someone to do something or change his beliefs. In addition to being informative, it needs to be interesting.
A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.
Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.
What is a “thesis statement” anyway?
You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.
Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument. In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.
2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive
Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.
For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.
To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.
This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).
Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.
In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.
2 Styles of Thesis Statements
Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.
The first style uses a list of two or more points. This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.
C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.
In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.
In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.
Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.
In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.
Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis
One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:
___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.
Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:
___________________ is true because of _____________________.
Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.
The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement
When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.
Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.
Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.
Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.
Example of weak thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.
Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.
Example of a stronger thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.
This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.
Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.
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