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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Writing an Informative Essay: Examples and Tips

The way things are now, regarding high-school and higher education, you will most certainly be asked to write an informative essay at one point or another. Depending on the assignment, you could be given a topic to write on, or you might be free to choose one yourself. Many different factors, such as length, requirements and the nature of the essay, will narrow down your options. Quite often, you will be required to write on a topic that you know close to nothing about. This is entirely normal, and you should not be alarmed. If you continue reading, you will learn everything that you could need to know about writing an informative essay.

Defining an informative essay

The good news first. You have probably written an informative essay in the past, and you might not have even been aware that it was an informative essay that you were writing. To fully understand what an informative essay is, as well as its whole concept, you must first understand its definition. So, what is an informative essay? The end-game of every informative essay is to teach something new, and something valuable, to the reader. The reader needs to be informed about a particular subject after he finishes reading. The point of an informative essay is not to persuade the reader or give strong arguments regarding a particular topic. The focus of an informative essay is often the comparing and contrasting of certain viewpoints on any given subject topic.

How to choose an informative essay topic?

As we have mentioned before, sometimes you will be assigned a topic and, sometimes, you will be free to choose a topic of your liking. In case you are free to choose the topic, this will be the first step in writing an informative essay. Selecting a subject to focus on can sometimes be difficult, and students often wreck their brains while choosing the best one. This is very important as the topic you choose will define your whole informative essay. Do not rush into it; take your time and consider all the implications of choosing a particular topic. Here are some ideas for choosing an essay topic:
  • Choose the topic with the range it covers in mind. Your topic should not be overly broad, nor should it be overly narrow. You need to choose a topic that will provide you with plenty of information for you to write about but is not overly complex so that you don’t end up writing a full-length novel.
  • You need to choose a topic that will engage the reader, and which will be of interest to your targeted audience. Always keep in mind your audience and ask yourself if they will be interested in the topic you have chosen and if they can benefit from learning about it.
  • Lastly, don’t pick a topic that you are not at all familiar with; neither choose one that you are not interested in. It is much easier to write about something that you already know a lot about.
At times, it will be required of you to submit a speech or a presentation alongside your informative essay. With that in mind, try to find a topic that will appeal to a wider range of people. Something that almost everyone can relate to and be interested in. A couple of good topic examples are:
  • The evolution of technology
  • The origins of war
  • The best way to make yourself more productive
  • The benefits of psychotherapy
  • Legalization of euthanasia
  • Cybercrime
  • The path to true happiness
  • Virtual reality
  • How to battle with addiction
  • The meaning of dreams

What do you need to do before you start writing?

Before you start writing your informative essay, or anything else for that matter, you need to take the time and make a plan. Plus, certain things need to be done before you start writing; and, if you do them correctly, the writing will go much smoother and be more manageable.
  • First, choose your topic. We have talked about this before so there is no need to go into much detail but let us summarize once again quickly. Choose a topic that you are familiar with, and that can be of interest to the broadest possible range of people. It is all right to go a little outside of your comfort zone if you are sure of yourself, but do not take it too far. Don’t forget. Your topic should not be overly broad, nor should it be overly narrow.
  • Write down your ideas. Brainstorming is always a good idea as it will give you the time to think things through. Often, one idea leads to another and so on and so forth, and you just might end up with something entirely different from what you had in mind, initially.
  • Make an outline. It is hard to stress enough how vital this step is. It is one of the most commonly overlooked ones and for no good reason. Students like to think that they can “wing it” and that the words will come as they write. This, however, is quite far from the truth. A good outline will make the writing process easier and faster as well as make your essay flow smoother.
  • Gather the information. When you have collected the facts, you can bend them to your will. Informative research is a key part of writing anything, even if it's creative writing, let alone an essay of any kind. Use as many credible primary and secondary sources as you can. Primary sources can be defined as physical pieces of evidence on any given subject. Secondary sources are academic articles and papers on that same subject. For example, if you are writing about evolution, your primary source would be Charles Darwin’s “On the origin of species.” Your secondary source could be any paper or article regarding evolution as a concept.
  • Before you use as many sources as you can, you need to check their credibility and make sure that they do not overlap. Every one of your listed sources needs to bring something different to the table. Always use recommended sources first. This will usually be books that your teacher has assigned. You can find more on the Internet but remember that Wikipedia is not a credible source. You can use the links at the end of the Wikipedia page to find sources that are credible but do not list them as “wiki” links and always double-check them.

Making an outline

What should an outline consist of? To answer this, we need to go over the two most common types of outlines that exist when it comes to informative essays. The first type of outline is usually the one you will write first. It does not have to have a specific form, nor are there any rules when it comes to writing one. To put it in the simplest of terms, the first outline you will make is just what your general idea of what the essay should look like. After you have settled upon something more concrete, you can make another outline. This outline should consist of three main parts if it is written in the standard essay style. Those include an introduction, three (or more) body paragraphs, and conclusion. The introduction should ease the reader into the essay and familiarize him with the main argument. The three body paragraphs serve as the support pillars of the thesis presented in the introduction. The conclusion summarizes the main points elaborated upon in the essay and highlights your arguments.


Most experts’ advice that the introduction should start with a bold, flashy statement that will hook the reader in. You can do this if you are sure in your arguments. Do not do this just for the sake of grabbing the reader's’ attention. The statement needs to be tightly connected to the topic, and that is why some like to start with an informative rhetorical question. After you have done this, you should give the reader all relevant information regarding the essay. Think of those as things that he will need to know to fully understand your paper. This will clear the path to a comprehensive thesis statement. The last part of the introduction should contain the thesis statement itself. It is the core of your informative essay, and your paper should be based upon it. So, take care of the thesis statement. The point is not to validate the sources you used. The idea is for you to pose the question you wish to pose and answer that question with the help of the sources.

Body Paragraphs

The primary purpose of body paragraphs is to validate and support your presented thesis statement. This means that content presented in the body paragraphs must be perfect and bulletproof. Body paragraphs need to start with a topic sentence. The topic sentence serves to inform the reader of the main idea, discussed in the paragraph. This will allow for a seemingly flawless transition between the introduction and your first body section. Do this for both the second and the third paragraphs as well. Each body paragraph needs to have a target point and a supporting detail. A target point is one of the points of your thesis that you are trying to validate with arguments and credible sources. External validation in the form of sources is what makes the supporting detail. They serve to give your arguments more validity and enrich your arguments. The CCE format (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) is used to write the core part of your essay. This comes after you have introduced your topic sentence and it starts with a claim. This is, in essence, your main argument for this body paragraph. The overall strength of your essay depends on how well your thesis is defended. For that, you need to make sure that the three central claims are valid and as indisputable as claims can be. After you have done this, you need to validate the claim you made. This is done with evidence; that is, the physical proof you use to defend the claims you make. This is the right place to support your claims with sources you have previously chosen. It can be a primary source or a secondary one, or both. Just make sure that the sources are relevant to the claim you have just made. If you don’t support your claims with some external sources, you are basically asking the reader to take your word for it. The last step in the CCE formatting is the explanation of the claim. You, as the writer, will need to explain how the claim you have presented connects to the thesis statement and validates it. This is an integral part of any academic paper, and you must explain it as coherently as you can. If there is a need, you can also dive deeper into the explanation and provide evidence which validates the claim. If there is no need for this, don’t do it just because you can. Everything you write must serve a purpose. You should finish a body paragraph with a sentence that coherently summarizes the presented argument. This sentence serves to highlight assertiveness. The purpose is to show the reader that you are confident in the presentation of your arguments and that your opinion is more than just an opinion - it is an indisputable fact. This will make your essay look more coherent and give an aura of professionalism.


The conclusion, which comes after your three main arguments, is the “punchline” of your informative essay. You should start the conclusion by restating your thesis statement. You can reword the thesis statement as the reader is already familiar with it and show that it is not a linear one. Leave some space for a flawless transition. This space should be used to go over your main arguments and highlight their importance. Make sure that this part is well connected and that the transition between the restating of the thesis statement and the main arguments feels natural. In the end, you need to come up with a concluding statement, which will serve as a finishing touch upon your informative essay. This statement needs to inform the reader as to why your arguments are of importance. Why is this important to the reader and the whole world? This statement does require a bit of creativity so take your time and come up with one that is not without substance.

The after-writing process

The first thing you need to do after you have finished writing your informative essay is to check the language and make sure that it is suitable for the academic paper you have written. Edit your work to make sure the word choice meets academic writing standards. The second thing is to proofread your paper. Even if your ideas are bright, grammatical errors will negatively affect your grade. Checking the grammar (and the spelling) is easy, and you can also use programs to help you with that. Next, make sure that your essay is understandable to someone who does not know much about the topic. Sometimes, the essay might seem coherent but only because you are the one who has written it. Lastly, have some of your fellow students read the paper. It won't cost you anything to have another pair of eyes look at it. As we have mentioned, sometimes the essay can make sense to the writer but not to the reader. Don’t be arrogant and try to defend your work but rather take into consideration the flaws pointed out to you and correct them.

Additional advice

As the idea of an informative essay is to explain something complicated in relatively simple terms, keeping your readers in mind is very important. They don’t know everything that you do, and you must write accordingly. Research is the key to an excellent essay. Before you can write something, and explain it to someone else, you need to inform yourself. The more time you research, the less time you will spend writing. Don’t choose a topic that sounds the most interesting. Choose one that will fit your essay the best. Spend as much time as you need to select the topic. Make sure that your information is credible. Sources give validity to your essay, and if they are not credible, your whole paper is not credible either. Always make an outline. It will help you with your writing, and it will ensure that your essay has a nice flow. You don’t have to choose the thesis statement right from the start. Choose one after you are confident that you have all the information that you might need.

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