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The Most Common Essay Formats

Has your professor assigned you an essay topic but not many other details, and you have no idea what paper format you should choose to approach the issue? Have a look at the main essay types and what they’re all about, and you’ll find it easier to decide on the right strategy for your composition.

Argumentative Essay

In an argumentative essay, you are required to choose a side on a specific issue and support your opinion using logical arguments and evidence. If, for instance, your teacher asks you to explain your perspective on abortion or on the death penalty, it means you must write an argumentative paper. Such a paper usually entails an intro which should contain your thesis and some background information, the body, in which you develop your argument and refute opponents’ arguments, and the conclusion, where you can talk about the importance of your issue and summarize your opinions.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a story about a real-life experience or a fictional event. It is often written in the first person and must build towards a personal statement or a conclusion. Being more conversational in style and offering more freedom, narratives may seem easy to write, but it can be quite challenging to engage the readers and keep them interested until the end. Topics that fit under this category include: a near death experience in the mountains, the day you got your first pet, your first day of school, the moment someone or something changed your life, etc.

Research Paper

A research essay requires you to, well, research a topic and come to a conclusion regarding it. Usually, you must narrow your focus to a smaller, precise part of the general topic, so that you can cover it well in the given word count. Such essay types often require you to answer a specific question after reviewing relevant literature and studies in the field. One title example can be, for instance: “Does classical music improve work performance?”

Cause and Effect Essay

Cause and effect essays talk about the causes that led to a situation and the outcomes of that issue. For instance, if you are asked to write about what causes sibling rivalry and how that affects family life, your topic certainly fits into this category.

Descriptive Essay

Similar to narrative essays, descriptive papers may describe an object, a place, a person or even a memory using sensory details. They provide details about how something feels, looks, smells, tastes, sounds, and so on. If you’re assigned topics such as painting an image of your favorite place, your mother, or an object that is special to you, you know you must write a descriptive essay. The important thing you need to remember here is that you must communicate a deeper meaning through your descriptions and appeal to the readers’ emotions. Proper word choice is critical here, therefore.

Expository Essay

Expository essays explain an issue in a straightforward, rational manner, presenting a balanced, unbiased analysis of the topic based only on facts – no personal opinions, no emotions, no bells and whistles. If your topic contains key words such as “define” or “explain”, you are most probably facing an expository paper.

These are the most common essay formats students are usually required to write. Take a good look at your topic, review the details presented here, and you will surely figure out what type of paper you must craft.

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