Students write informative essays with a purpose of conveying information or educating their audience on a particular topic. Devoid of a writer's personal attitude on the subject, it focuses on objective facts and evidence. It is neither meant to argue a point nor to convince the reader of a particular position validity. Being objective by nature, it allows readers to learn something new without having to consider the writer's opinion on this subject.
It also usually comes with a preset word count, therefore necessitating a careful selection of information to present. Not every piece of information will find its way into the final version of an essay. You should carefully scrutinize all facts and include only the most relevant ones. Conciseness is desirable in this type of essay. The writer needs to stay on topic, to present information comprehensively but briefly without diverging into digressions or treating the subject too broadly. Drafting an informative essay outline before actually attempting to compose an essay itself helps writers organize their thoughts and make a plan on how to communicate all gathered information most efficiently.
One can organize informative essays into 5 or more paragraphs with a typical structure:
- Formulating a hook designed to grab people’s attention
- Defining your topic.
- Presenting some general information to put the topic into a context and facilitate its comprehension, as well as its main implications.
- Relaying any pertinent information necessary for understanding an essay.
- Formulating a thesis statement in a clear an unambiguous manner, limiting the scope of an essay – determining what it will and will not encompass. A thesis statement is a principle idea
- around which your essay will revolve. Written in a sentence or two, it elucidates the issue in question and offers criteria upon which it will be studied and evaluated.
Body of the essay
- Contains three or more paragraphs.
- Serves the purpose of backing up your thesis statement with factual information.
- Each paragraph introduces a new piece of information (one) which is accompanied by examples or scientific evidence intended to reinforce the claim given in a thesis statement.
- Thesis statement is briefly mentioned in each body paragraph to remind readers of the topic and keep them focused
- All information you provide throughout the body of your essay proves why your thesis statement is true. Body paragraphs are meant to cover all the critical angles and leave nothing vague or indeterminate.
- You can provide illustrative case examples for all arguments given in body paragraphs to help readers understand it better and relate to it more.
- Brings an essay to an end, wrapping up everything said, and offers a closing argument to make an impression on the reader.
- Briefly reiterates your thesis statement and major points made in your body paragraphs. This doesn’t include a word-for-word repetition but rather paraphrasing meant to remind readers of the subject discussed in a paper.
- Recommends more in-depth examination of the topic in future essays, or its broadening to other related areas.
- Highlights strong points of the information presented while at the same time acknowledging possible limitations.
Useful tips to consider when writing an informative essay outline
- Extensive research provides a solid foundation upon which one can build an informative essay. Gathering all pertinent information and making a selection of the most appealing ones to present is a crucial element on a preparation phase that precedes writing tahe paper. This helps writers gain in-depth knowledge on their subjects. It's impossible to write convincingly and professionally on a topic with which a person is not well-acquainted.
- You should construct your informative essay on facts not opinions. Therefore, you need to collect an abundance of those in advance. Your essay should sound convincing, which you achieve by presenting credible information derived from trustworthy sources. Ideally, those should be articles from scientific magazines, books, or - on some occasions - tertiary sources (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.)
- It is best to create and modify your outline, even more than once, during the research phase of a writing project. It helps writers not to forget any important points they meant to make, or not to leave out any relevant piece of information. In this phase no attention needs to be paid to the style of writing, an outline is merely a tool to facilitate management of information. Gathering facts and organizing them in a meaningful way is a primary task any outline has to accomplish.
- Although informative essays are all about conveying information, this should not be done in a dull and uninteresting way. Reader’s attention can be caught by formulating your thesis statement in a remarkable fashion so as to instill interest and motivate your audience to continue reading. Going slightly off trail set by standardized statements usually given in this sort of papers can go a long way in securing readers’ attention.
- Not resorting to platitudes or overused expressions that have already lost meaning, is another point to consider. Creating original formulations instead is highly recommended. This is perhaps more demanding or time-consuming, but it always pays off.
- Using transitional words and phrases to assure a natural flow of ideas throughout an essay is beneficial. After having written the first body paragraph, the following one can start with words like "additionally," "moreover," "correspondingly," "furthermore," etc. Your conclusion can begin with "given these points," "all things considered," "on balance" etc. Essay writers are well-advised to stay away from words that state the obvious, i.e. that an essay has come to an end. Therefore, formulations like "in conclusion," "to summarize", "to conclude" etc. are best avoided.
- Opinions have no place in informative essays. Even if tempted to give a personal view of a subject, writers should refrain from doing so and save their attitudes and opinions for other types of papers, such as argumentative or persuasive essays.
- When presenting reasons to back up a thesis statement in body paragraphs, it's always wise to start with the most appealing point. Your aim is to engage readers, make them interested, and so, you should appear knowledgeable and well-informed on the subject.
- Writing a conclusion is critically important in determining how your readers will remember an essay and the information that it provided. If construed in a notable and impression-making way, it stays with your audience longer and even has a potential to inspire them for taking a particular action.
Things to avoid when writing an informative essay outline
- Starting an essay without a defined topic. It leaves readers in doubt concerning the actual content of the matter that you are going to discuss. Make sure your positions is crystal clear.
- Giving overly detailed information in the Introduction section exceeding the length of a single paragraph allocated to this part of an essay. Keep it short and simple.
- Formulating the thesis statement too broadly, failing to narrow down the scope of the essay.
- Listing a multitude of reasons to back the thesis statement instead of opting to choose only the most pertinent ones and to discuss them in more detail.
- Introducing new evidence in the conclusion of the essay. This should be decisively discouraged. The conclusion serves the purpose of restating the thesis statement and reformulating some of the essential information given on the topic to provide closure.