Hello there! Welcome back to the Kibin blog.
Our focus on the Kibin blog is to explain ways to write specific essays and improve your general writing skills. We do this through informative writing.
Often this takes the form of “How to” posts on argumentative essays, thesis statements, essay topics, outlines, etc. The goal of an argumentative essay post, for example, is to teach you how to write an argumentative essay. Simple enough, right?
But today I’ve been asked to get meta: write a piece of informative writing on how to write a piece of informative writing.
It’s a little disorienting. It reminds me of taking education classes at university. When I was there, the teachers were teaching me how to teach, which is easy enough to understand.
But some of those teachers were actually PhD students who had teachers who were teaching them how to teach us to teach. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Let’s start slow, for your sake and mine. Before we dive into how to write an informative essay, let’s look at the nature of an informative essay.
What Is an Informative Essay?
As you can guess, an informative essay is meant to inform your reader on a subject, but aren’t all essays meant to inform?
I’m sure, as a student and reader of this blog, you’ve heard of the argumentative essay. It’s the most common type of essay. In an argumentative essay, you inform your reader of a subject, but then also strive to convince the reader of your view on that issue.
An informative essay takes a different route. You’ll find no argument here. Instead, the informative essay is meant to only inform your reader, not convince.
When writing an informative essay, you should focus on the facts, not opinions.
For example, an argumentative essay may argue that Pluto should or shouldn’t be classified as a planet. But an informative essay would only cover the way planets in our solar system are classified and how this has changed throughout the years.
Because the informative essay must avoid any opinion, choosing a topic is an important step in the process.
Because the essay is focused on facts and information, your research must be well-executed.
Because you’re informing your readers of a subject that they may know nothing about, the structure and flow of your writing are pivotal to the success of the essay.
We will touch on each of these important areas below, so you can learn how to write an informative essay that tells all.
How to Write an Informative Essay That Tells All
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of each of these areas on how to write an informative essay, commit these steps to memory:
- Choose a good topic
- Conduct research
- Structure and write
Choose a good topic
There are a couple of routes students usually take when choosing an essay topic. An informative essay is no different.
One, they choose a topic that they already know a lot about, therefore cutting back on their overall research time.
Or two, they choose a topic that they’re really interested in so that the research doesn’t feel like forced labor.
There are merits to both of these options but also potential pitfalls. When writing an informative essay on a subject you already know a lot about, it can be hard to see the areas that may trip up your reader.
The subject is already so familiar to you that it can be hard to see what might be confusing to your reader. This can lead to holes in your essay that make it less informative than it should be.
Moreover, if it’s a subject you’re too close to, it can be hard to separate your writing from your preconceived opinions on the subject. And as we’ve discussed, opinions are a no-no.
When choosing a topic because it piques your interest, you can forget to consider whether it will interest the reader. And since informative essays are all about informing your reader on a new subject, it better be a subject your reader will find interesting.
The best course of action is to find a balance between these two routes. Choose a topic that that you already know a little about but one that you, and others, would like to know more about. Approach it with a clear mind, and keep your opinions out of it.
Moreover, it’s important that your topic isn’t too broad. Check out this post for some great informative essay topic ideas.
The lifeblood of your informative essay is the information you provide to your reader. You’re the teacher, and your reader is the student. And no one appreciates an unreliable teacher.
The information must be credible and easy to process. No matter how much you think you already know about your subject, you must cite research from reliable sources.
That means no third-grade teachers, no Wikipedia, and no Facebook memes.
Sources aren’t the only things to consider when doing your research. You should also consider what type of information will best educate the reader on your topic.
This could include quotes from experts on the subject or hard facts and figures from studies that have been conducted.
Once you have a set of research that you think clearly illustrates your topic, it’s time to start thinking about how best to gather that information into essay form.
Structure and write
Although at this point in your process you know a lot about your subject, you must keep in mind that your readers probably don’t.
Therefore, it’s important that you start with the basics. Your introduction is for laying the foundation. Provide your reader with any background information that will be needed to understand later portions of your writing.
For example, if there’s any lingo that’s specific to your subject, you should explain it here. If you’re writing about Pluto, you shouldn’t assume that your reader will know what a dwarf planet or the Kuiper Belt is.
In fact, when writing an informative essay, you should assume that your reader knows nothing about the subject.
Once you’ve covered the important background information in your introduction, you’ll use the body paragraphs to explain the main aspects of your subject.
This is when it becomes important that your subject isn’t too broad. The topic must be narrow enough that you can cover it here without your essay becoming too long.
Writing about the entire history of planet formation and discovery won’t be feasible within the word count provided by your professor. However, focusing solely on the history of Pluto could be.
In this example, you could focus on three important aspects:
- Pluto’s formation and history as we know it
- The way we classify planets and how this has changed
- The circumstances by which Pluto is today considered a dwarf planet
Each of these could be covered in separate portions within the body of your essay.
Your conclusion will be used to tie the information in your body paragraphs together. How does one thing relate to the others? The conclusion can also be used to discuss how things could change in the future based on new discoveries, advances, and understandings.
However, when talking about the future of your topic, be careful not to wade into your own opinions on its direction. Instead, stick to the views of the experts that can be cited from your research.
Once you’ve written the first draft of your essay, the work isn’t finished. As in any essay, revision is of the utmost importance. Perhaps it’s even more important in an informative essay.
No matter how clearly and comprehensively you think you have described and explained your topic, there will most likely be holes in the first draft of your essay.
The reason is simple: when you spend so much time researching a topic, you have a wealth of information in your head. This can make it difficult to identify questions that may arise for readers who haven’t researched the subject beforehand.
Therefore, even if you think you know how to write an informative essay, it’s important that you have someone look at your essay with fresh eyes. It’s even better if the person knows little about your topic before reading.
Ask your reader to write down every question and comment that comes to mind while reading. With these notes, you can close these holes in your informative essay in subsequent drafts. The result? An informative essay that tells all, not just one that tells most.