How to Write an Informative Essay

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The purpose of an informative essay is to educate or inform the audience about a specific idea or topic.  In order to create a solid paper, it is necessary to have a strong understanding of the subject matter. And, while this does not necessarily mean having to be a true subject matter expert, it does require you to have some semblance of knowledge about the topic, or at least excellent research skills.  It is also helpful to understand how to deliver information in a clean and concise manner.

While the amount of detail involved in writing an informative paper may seem overwhelming, adopting a methodical approach to your writing will help to ensure your success.

What is an informative essay

As mentioned previously an informative essay, sometimes also referred to as an informative article or an expository essay, is intended to educate the reader – informing them on a particular subject or topic. It is not intended to present an argument, or to convince the reader to change their particular belief or opinion. The best informative essays are not only educational, they are also interesting and thought provoking.

What is informative writing – explanation

Informative writing takes many shapes, but the end goal is always the same: To educate and inform your reader.

There are four key steps that you can take when completing your informational writing. They are:

  1. After you’ve chosen a good topic, sit down and commence your informative research. This involves gathering all of the necessary details relating to the chosen topic and organizing them in the best possible format. It might even be helpful to create a list of things that you already know about your chosen subject matter, and make a list of things that you don’t have much knowledge of – or a list of questions that you hope to answer in your research – and use this as a foundation for the development of your paper.
  2. Next, you will create a content map. Doing this involves organizing each of the facts that you know – or have learned – about your chosen or provided subject. You will want to make sure that you are organizing your facts in the order of importance, and leaving room to add supplementary facts or key points as needed. Write a strong sentence statement for each of the primary facts that you will be including in the body paragraphs of your essay.
  3. Create an essay outline that will prepare you to organize your key points in a logical and easy-to-understand format. Soon you will start to create your first working draft.
  4. The final step, after actually writing your essay, is to edit it. This can be achieved by enlisting the help of another person – or if no one else is available, reading your essay aloud to yourself. Asides from gaging continuity and flow, it is also important to be mindful of things like syntax, spelling and grammar.

Informative writing allows you to share complicated ideas and topics in the least complicated manner possible.

Informative essay format

There are various steps involved in authoring an informative paper, they are the following:

  • Selecting a good topic, and then researching it
  • Creating an outline, or an essay template
  • Writing your first, and final draft

CHOOSING AND RESEARCHING YOUR TOPIC

Understanding the research assignment: In the event that you are authoring your paper as part of a post-secondary assignment, it is likely that you’ve been assigned a topic and the relevant required details of the paper (the word count, subject matter, etc.) However, if you’ve not been assigned a topic, there are a number of great topics for college papers and a simple Google search can turn up hundreds of options.

Before beginning your assignment, you will want to know:

  • How you should cite the sources you use so that you can properly track your research.
  • Any special formatting requirements. i.e. should the font be 12-pt, or should you use Times New Roman?
  • The due date – remember to start early and leave yourself time for rewrites.

Choose a great topic. Oftentimes, your professor will assign a topic based around whatever you happen to be studying at the time. However, if they don’t, you will need to choose your own topic. A quick Google search can turn up a number of good topics. Keep in mind that presenting yourself with too many options might hinder your success. There are a few things to remember when choosing a topic for your paper:

  • The best topics are neither too wide-reaching nor too limited. You should be able to source enough information about your selected topic to write an informative paper.
  • The topic you choose should be interesting and appropriate. Consider who your target audience is and what is important or valid to them. All things considered, if you are writing as part of a class assignment, it is safe to assume that the professor will be your audience, however, it is still vital to have a target audience in mind. Consider what they will want to know – and what they may not already know about the topic.
  • Preferably, you should choose to write about something that interests you. This will help you to create a finished paper that not only reads enthusiastically, but also engages your readers.

Conduct thorough research.  Conducting great research is especially crucial for papers that are intended to be informative in nature. You, as the author (or guide) have a responsibility to impart accurate information. Be mindful to use only objective sources – those written by subject matter experts in the topic you have chosen to write about. This is where your local library may come in handy. You will want to use multiple mediums in your research; the Internet, encyclopaedias, journals, newspapers and other relevant sources. Remember to validate your sources; the Internet, in particular, is full of unreliable sources.

Take lots of notes. While you are researching your topic, it might be helpful to keep a notebook close by. This way you can write down interesting facts as your uncover them. Remember, all informative essays require an introduction, no fewer than three primary points, and a conclusion.

Keep accurate source notes. It is paramount to the success of your paper that you keep accurate notes of each and every source that you have used during the creation of your essay – even those that you might not mention in the body of your paper. Typically, you should track the author, the title of the source, the publisher, any special copyright information and the website address of all online sources.

Put your ideas on paper.  After you are confident that you’ve gathered as much information as necessary to create an educated and well-researched paper, it is helpful to structure your ideas on paper so that you can begin to create an outline.

  • Create a concept map. This can be achieved by drawing a large circle in the center of a piece of paper, and drilling down the most relevant facts about your topic around the main circle. Connect each concept to the idea and begin to add additional details or supplementary information.
  • Write freely, and allow your ideas to flow. This is also called an ‘idea dump.’ This is done by writing your topic in the middle of a piece of paper and filling in the white space with whatever information or ideas pop into your head.

CREATING THE OUTLINE OF YOUR PAPER

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The outline of your paper involves breaking your topic down into an essay introduction, the body paragraphs and the conclusion.

More on this in the next section.

WRITING YOUR INFORMATIVE ESSAY

Create a working rough draft.  This is where your outline will really come in handy, and will help you to fill in the ‘meat’ of your paper.

  • At this time, pay little attention to errors in spelling or other mistakes. This is only a rough draft. The point here is to get the information on paper. Focus on writing, and get your facts out there – you will edit your writing later.
  • You may either use a pen and paper or a word processor, whichever is easiest.

Every paragraph must have a topic sentence. The goal of a topic sentence is to inform the audience of the primary concept or idea of the paragraph. It might also act as a transition from the idea presented in the previous paragraph.

Give your essay some structure.  All great essays have, at minimum, an opening statement, a body and a conclusion. Every paragraph in the body of the paper should follow the C-E-E method: Claim -> Evidence -> Explanation. Remember to use as much supporting information as necessary to expand on your topic and ideas.

Edit the first draft. After you’ve completed your rough draft, read it over a couple of times and consider the following:

  • Are you sharing everything you need to share about the topic with your reader?
  • Have you created a clear and concise thesis statement?
  • Is every paragraph related to the thesis?
  • Does every paragraph have one primary idea, and is each idea supported by accurate facts?
  • Does the conclusion summarize the topics without citing opinion?
  • Does the paper flow well?
  • Have you taught the reader something new?
  • Have you properly cited your sources?

WRITE YOUR FINAL DRAFT

Now that you’ve completed your rough draft, and are confident that you’ve delivered all of the information needed to inform your reader, the next step is to create a solid final version.

  • As you complete your final copy, make sure that the information is properly organized and offers the information in a clear and easy to understand format.
  • Have someone read over your final copy to check for grammar or spelling errors, and to provide a second opinion.

Informative essay outline

Plan for a strong introduction, one that hooks your reader.  By now, you likely have a few thoughts on how you would like to deliver your thesis statement. A thesis statement is typically three sentences in length and clearly articulates your argument.

  • There is no point in stressing over getting your thesis statement perfect at this point in time, that will all come later. If you are not yet ready to write your thesis, don’t. In fact, many people have adopted the practice of writing their introduction AFTER they have finished their paper. Jotting down a few ideas about what you want to say in the paper will suffice.

Reference only one key fact per paragraph in the essay body. The body of the paper is the section that falls between the introduction and the conclusion. Choose key facts from your research that demonstrate your thesis.

  • The number of facts you will use will depend on the overall length of the essay. If you are instructed to write a five paragraph essay, you should only use three paragraphs for the body – meaning you will have three key facts.
  • Remember to call upon the most relevant details.
  • Any of the information you use to support your thesis is known as evidence.

Reiterate your thesis (or introductory statement) in your conclusion. The closing statement summarizes everything you’ve stated and presents a broader understanding of the thesis statement. What is does not do is offer your readers a new fact or point. Think of it as your final chance to ensure that your reader understands everything they’ve read thus far

How to choose informative essay topics

Informative essays, also known as articles, or expository essays are extremely useful. They present a comparison of viewpoints on controversial subject matter, but do not promote the opinion of the writer. They might also be used to analyze data, such as the cause and effect of a specific situation or may be used to educate the audience and teach them how to solve a particular problem.

Examples of topics for an informative essay include:

  • An explanation between the pros and cons of drug-related harm reduction programs like the use of Methadone
  • An analysis of easy access to high quality education and how it affects homelessness in the inner city
  • How to weave a basket

Informative essay examples

If you are assigned the task of writing an informative essay, but you aren’t quite sure what that means, it may be helpful to review examples of such essays online to allow you to gain a better understanding of what is expected.

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