How to write an informative essay
What is an informative essay?
An informative essay is similar to an expository essay in that it serves to inform or educate the reader on a topic. However, an informative essay only provides facts and straightforward information. Unlike an expository essay, an informative essay should not contain any personal opinions or arguments. The purpose of an informative essay should merely be to present facts and information to the reader. This article, for example, is an example of informative writing.
Since most informative essays should keep to factual details as much as possible, it is recommended that you conduct prior research on the topic you plan to write about. Construct a plan for your essay and list down all the facts or evidence you wish to include in your writing. Be sure to save the websites or published works that you used, in case you are required to provide references to show where you got the information from. It is good practice to ensure that the sources you use facts or evidence from are reliable.
While you write, keep in mind that informative essays should not be used to present your personal opinions on the subject matter. Instead, informative essays should be used for these purposes:
- Informing your readers of facts they were not aware of
- Emphasizing the importance of your subject matter
- Presenting data or research on a topic
- Studying cause-effect relationships
- Comparing controversial viewpoints on a topic
As such, aim to keep your writing objective. Refrain from making your own inferences or writing to sway the reader to a certain point of view, and try to avoid using phrases such as “I think” or “I believe” in informative writing. If you find yourself struggling to stick to the facts, a good way to stay impartial while writing is to make sure every claim is backed up with solid evidence – nothing anecdotal.
Read through these two quotes. What do you think is the difference in terms of objectivity? Which sounds more opinionated, and which is more impartial? How can you tell by the phrases used?
Smoking is not a good habit as it can have many negative impacts on one’s health. Furthermore, people should not smoke in the vicinity of non-smokers, as second-hand smoke exposes non-smokers to over 70 carcinogens and is worse than first-hand smoke.
Due to the various impacts smoking can have on the human body, the general consensus is that smoking is bad for health. Furthermore, it is advisable that people do not smoke in the vicinity of non-smokers, as second-hand smoke can potentially harm non-smokers. Second-hand smoke contains over 70 carcinogens. As such, it is often considered to be more dangerous than first-hand smoke.
Possible topics for an informative essay
Informative essays can be about a wide variety of topics. When choosing your topic for informative writing, pick something that you have enough information to write about, but keep it concise – your readers probably would not want to pore over a novel on the topic.
Although informative essays are meant to be factorial, that does not mean they cannot be engaging as well. As such, it is a good idea to select a topic that most of your audience will be able to relate to. Best of all, find a topic that you would be interested to write about.
If you need a prompt, consider these possible topics for informative writing:
- Understanding the impacts of smoking on health
- The evolution of women’s rights
- The pros and cons of going vegan
- How to stretch before a workout
- Caring for potted plants
- How do incandescent bulbs work?
- How to interpret your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- Introducing the South Beach Diet
- How to purchase a good car
- A journey through Baroque, Classical and Romantic art
- How did the Cold War impact the United States?
Structure of an informative essay
Informative essays should follow the general structure of most essay forms, containing an introduction, a body paragraph for each point made, and a conclusion. It is good practice to plan out your essay before you actually start writing, so that you have an idea of how your essay will flow. Decide how many points you are going to introduce, and list out the points and evidence you are going to use for each paragraph. Remember that in objective writing, each piece of evidence should be a fact from a reliable source.
The introduction does not have to be too long as most of the essay content should be presented in the body section. Ideally, begin with giving your readers a general idea of your subject matter, and then gradually move on to more specific terms. Finish off your introduction with a thesis statement.
The more engaging your introduction, the better. A good way to grab your readers’ attention is to start off with a solid hook line that interests them at once. This can be a rhetorical question, a shocking statistic, an anecdote (an anecdote is fine to include as long as you do not use it as evidence to support a claim), or something else that you think will turn heads.
Did you know that smoking causes more than 7 million deaths per year? According to the World Health Organization, if people continue to smoke as much as they do today, this statistic could increase to over 8 million deaths per year. It is widely known that tobacco use results in numerous health hazards, but let’s look at exactly why smoking can be such a major liability.
In a nutshell, the body is where you get to say what you want to say. Using the standard essay structure of one point per paragraph, make your point at the beginning of each paragraph, and then present the related evidence and explanation.
Point 1: Smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer among other health hazards.
Evidence: Smoking causes 9 out of 10 of all lung cancer deaths (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Point 2: Smoking can lead to a number of vision problems.
Evidence: In studies, smoking has increased the risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma, and Dry Eye Syndrome, among other ocular complications. (New York State Department of Health)
Point 3: Smoking can negatively affect bone health.
Evidence: Smoking produces free radicals that overwhelm the body’s system, such as hormones including estrogen and calcitonin, which are important for maintaining strong bones. (WebMD)
Just as you started, finish off strong as well. Summarize the points you made earlier (but refrain from drawing any inferences from them), and leave the reader with a lasting impression of your topic.
As seen, smoking can potentially cause a number of health risks both to the smoker and to the people around them. Is smoking really worth the risk of becoming affected by lung cancer, vision problems or low bone density, among other health concerns?