Types of Essay (Top 10 Essay Types)

Updated: Jan 29, 2016

Below are some common types of essay: Expository Essay; Persuasive Essay; Informal Essay; The Review; The Research Essay; Literary Essay; Argumentative Essay; Cause and Effect Essay; Comparison and Contrast Essay.

Types of essays

What is an essay? Interestingly, but the majority of students gets confused or even stressed the very moment they asked to come up with this piece of academic work.

Firstly, an essay evaluates an issue, with the purpose to present your personal academic opinion on a given subject.

Secondly, there are some really important differences between essays. Each format (type) is designed to convey a certain message and perform a certain function. Otherwise, there would be chaos in the world of academic writing. 

Thirdly, creating a good essay means planning it from A to Z. Fundamentally, you have to take various viewpoints into account, organize them properly & reflect the informed opinion on the topic.

10 Most Common Essay Types to Feel Quite at Home in Academic Setting

  1. Descriptive Essay
  2. Definition Essay
  3. Compare and Contrast Essay
  4. Cause and Effect
  5. Narrative Essay
  6. Process Essay
  7. Argumentative Essay
  8. Critical Essay
  9. Expository Essay
  10. Persuasive Essay

An essay is like an empty canvas. So, fill it with vivid & clear ideas! That said, vivid picture + clear understanding are your top priorities.

What are Most Typical Essays? These Are the Top Academic Formats to Take Home

#1 Descriptive Essay, or ‘What’s This?’

A descriptive essay describes whatever one likes, sees, feels, makes or how it works, happens, sounds, tastes, smells – from the beautiful flower in a vase to the process of honey-making by bees.
Descriptive essays provide every sensory detail of what is actually described.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for description: namely, that is (to say), such as, in particular, furthermore, as an illustration, for example

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#2 Definition Essays, or ‘Love Is…’

A definition essay defines the true meaning + importance of abstract concepts, timeless values, specific terms.

Definition essays explain deeper & more directly than dictionaries.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for definition: speaking about (this), in other words, (or) rather, moreover, in fact, on the one/the other hand, above all

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#3 Compare & Contrast Essays, or ‘Spot the Difference/Similarity!’

A compare/contrast essay explores either differences or similarities (likenesses) between 2 places, religions, people, things, concepts, etc.

Comparison/contrast essays focus on the similarities and/or differences, which is done to convince or entertain the reader. A compare essay reviews the similarities, a contrast essay reviews the differences.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for comparison & contrast: similarly, in the same way, likewise, either (neither), not only (this) but also (that) as well, alternatively, in contrast.

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#4 Cause & Effect Essays, or ‘How It Comes’

A cause/effect essay explains the way why things happen, how it comes & what follows next.

Cause/effect essays resemble a study of how it all began & what will be the conclusion of all this. This type of essays may address either causes & effects tied together, or each of them alone. For example, 3 effects as a result of 1 cause or 3 causes resulting in 1 effect.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for cause-and-effect: for the (simple) reason that, due to (the fact that), whatever happens, in case, even/only if, as a result (of this), thus/consequently/therefore

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#5 Narrative Essays, or ‘One Night I Fell to Thinking of the Past…’

A narrative essay always tells a story about a single personal experience – either a boring party or an exciting sightseeing excursion, daily routine event or life-shaping voyage.

Narative essays are generally written in the 1st person, using ‘I’.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for narration: to start with, more importantly, besides, but even so, nevertheless, still/yet, with this in mind

#6 Process Essays, or ‘Step-by-Step Guide’

A process essay typically guides on how to do this or that, how this or that is done. It’s a walkthrough, the so-called ‘stepwise refinement’.

Process essays work out in detail, demonstrating specific actions/giving specific instructions to be performed in a series.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for process discussion: in the (first, second, etc.) place, initially, next, eventually, last but not least, finally, in conclusion

#7 Argumentative Essays, or ‘5 Watertight Arguments Why Learn to Write Essays’

Man trying to talk to the audience and get his point across, as if reading an argumentative essay
An argumentative essay functions as a means for a writer to get a solid argument across to a reader. The purpose of this type of essay is to express an argument to sway the reader to see through the author’s point of view. It is a useful type of essay for students of any educational level, because it is good practice to not only argue a case, but also to articulate one’s thoughts on a certain matter.

This type of essay uses stern language, solid facts, and undeniable examples as proof that the argument present in the essay is immaculate. Without these features, the argumentative essay ceases to flow well and comes across as weak.

A good argumentative writer has a solid sense of what the writer believe needs to be said about whatever the case may be. They also have an organized idea of how to articulate the argument against possible opposing ideas.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for argumentation: generally speaking, all things considered, as shown above, in the long run, in short, on the whole, obviously/Definitely, 

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#8 Critical Essays, or ‘The Court Delivers a Verdict’

A critical essay brings somebody or something into focus, analyzing the strengths or weaknesses of things, events, people, etc.

Critical essays discuss how well the work is done & whether its creator has managed the task by conveying the message in his/her book, film, painting.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for criticism: frankly speaking, with attention to, important to realize, another key point, first thing to remember, most compelling evidence, on the positive/negative side

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#9 Expository Essay

An expository essay is an essay that requires extensive research on an idea or issue. The writer must present their evaluation of the issue and the conclusion they have come to based on their findings.

One function of this genre of essay is for students to learn how to conduct research on their own. Research requires a certain set of skills that take practice to obtain. Students may want to draw from their own experiences when discussing certain issues they write about. But through expository essay writing, students will find that doing research can be rewarding. Expository essay writing brings a new light to an aspect or idea they probably would not have come to on their own.

Expository essays are opinion based essays, so there are no wrong answers when presenting it. There just needs to be enough effort in the research done in order for it to be valid. The instructor will give thorough guidelines; however, expect this essay type to be at least 5 paragraphs in length.

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#10 Persuasive Essay

Unlike the argumentative essay, the persuasive essay’s main purpose is to persuade readers towards the author's case. Argumentative essays express an argument or opinion. They are not meant to change the reader’s perspective.

Most persuasive essays focus on current issues and what people should do about them. Persuasive essays can be a challenge to write. Students must show confidence and authority in their writing. They must come across as credible writers. When a persuasive essay loses its credibility, it will ultimately lose the reader.

In everyday life situations, charm can allow a person to easily persuade another. Since a persuasive essay is a written piece, it lacks that personal connection. So, the writer should present strong views to sway their readers. They must be careful in the tone they set, so they do not come across as pushy.

Most writers and persuasive essay authors are able to find their own personal connection to their readers through their many years of writing experience. Many students find this as a challenge early on, but with practice and guidance, they soon write persuasive essays naturally.

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