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How to Write an Informative Essay to Get Better Grades

William Ellis

August 9, 2022

If you want to convey information in a manner that is both accessible and easily retained, then there are few formats as effective as the informative essay. 

Informative essays are frequently used among academics and professionals to comment on current events, divisive topics, or simply convey information in a research paper. Here are the tools and writing process you will need to create an impressive informative essay.

Purpose of an informative essay

The sole purpose of an informative essay is to give the reader the information that they need on a given topic. A good informative essay sets out to give information before an opinion. There are many different types of informative essays, but they can be broken down primarily into two camps: objective and subjective.

How to write an objective essay

An objective informative essay does not feature the opinion of the writer. Instead, it focuses entirely on presenting only the facts of the topic. It features no commentary on the writer's part and no opinion other than cited opinions within the context of laying out facts.

How to write a subjective essay

A subjective informative essay is one that not only lays out the facts of a topic but the commentary and opinion of the writer as well. A subjective essay's ultimate goal is to sway the reader to the writer's point of view.

Then there are two types of subjective essays: persuasive and argumentative. 

A persuasive essay uses facts and sources to persuade the reader to the cause or opinion of the writer. 

An argumentative essay is usually written to comment on a topic that is in debate that seeks to sway the reader to the writer's side of an argument and away from another established viewpoint.

It needs to be said that when writing a subjective essay, whether argumentative or persuasive, facts are still necessary to support the goal of the essay. While one's subjective opinion can be used to interpret the information conveyed in the essay, the information must still be valid and easy to source and check.

Informative essay outline format

As with most research papers and essays, the basic format of an informative essay is introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. But let’s break down the informative essay structure a little further.


Introduction

Within your informative essay introduction, you want to get the attention of the reader by providing a solid hook, as well as a thesis statement that lets them know the main idea.

Body paragraphs

Your informative essay should consist of a few main points. Each main point would be its own paragraph, which starts with a topic sentence that relates to your thesis statement. Within each body paragraph, you will also give supporting evidence that backs up your topic sentence, and ultimately, your thesis statement.

Use transitions at the end of each body paragraph or the beginning of the next paragraph that helps telegraph to the reader that you are changing to a new topic sentence but keeps a nice transitory flow.

Conclusion

An informative essay conclusion summarizes all of your main points together as well as reiterates your thesis statement. 

Now that you have the basic idea of an informative essay format, let’s dive into some informative essay writing tips. How do I start an informative essay?

Starting an informative essay seems like it should be a straightforward affair, and it mostly is. Before you start writing, you need to do some prerequisite work to ensure your essay is coherent and of high quality.

Writing an informative essay

First and foremost, you should choose your topic. This seems like it should be easy, but you'll want to choose a topic you feel comfortable writing on. 

After you have chosen your topic, you need to do your research. In tandem with doing your research, you should be taking notes. 

Doing both of the aforementioned things allows you to get your outline set. Each of those steps must be handled with the utmost care to ensure that your essay is the best that it can be.

Choosing your subject

If you are creating the essay as part of your job or a class assignment, then you will likely have already had a topic assigned to you. In other instances where you must pick any topic to serve as your essay's topic, it is a good idea to pick a topic that you care about or feel that not enough people know about.

Doing your research

Research is arguably the most important part of writing an informative essay. One of the worst mistakes a writer can make before taking on an informative essay is assuming that they already know everything that they need to know to create a fully formed essay.

Doing research for an informative paper

Even if you consider yourself to be an expert on a subject, there is always at least a small nugget of vital information you may be missing or that is outdated. By doing thorough research, you can supply an essay to the reader that will give them everything they need to have a truly informed opinion.

You want to gather every credible information resource that you can. Look through books, documentaries, websites, and any other source of credible information that is available to you. Make sure that you have properly vetted the information. You'll want everything to be clear, easy to find, and, above all, accurate.

Take meticulous notes

While doing your research, you must be sure that you are taking meticulous notes. Take note of any facts that you think will stand out or will be particularly useful to the reader. It helps to use a highlighter to feature specific bits of information that stand out to you. These can be things that you want to use as key talking points or even just information that you want to make sure to cover.

Check your sources

When you are doing your research, you need to make sure that the source of your information is credible. One of the worst disservices that you can do for your reader is giving them false information that comes from bad sources or old information that doesn't hold up anymore. Not only does it misinform your reader, but it also damages your credibility as a writer.

Fortunately, there are ways in which you can verify the information that you are supplying. Here are some tips that will make it easier to give your readers good information from credible sources.

How to know if a source is trustworthy

One of the best things about the internet is that it has made knowledge and information more accessible than at any other point in human history. One of the worst things about the internet is that it has made misinformation more accessible than at any other point in human history. 

So how do you know if a source of information is trustworthy?

First of all, as useful as it may be for general knowledge, Wikipedia is not a valid source for a writer to cite in an informative essay. Wikipedia may be okay for obtaining general knowledge, but its crowd-sourced open platform can be edited by anybody and people online frequently vandalize it for this reason. Wikipedia is not a bad website, but it is not a reliable enough source to back your essay.

However, at the bottom of Wikipedia pages are sources where you can dig deeper and find credible websites and information. Whenever you are giving credit, you should always go straight to the source instead of crediting a site that is relaying that information.

One of the best ways to know if a source is trustworthy is to cross reference the information that you get. If you were writing a medical essay, for example, you would want to get your information from doctors, well-known medical journals, or accredited textbooks. 

You would not want to get your information from a blog that is run by a person who has no real medical background to speak of, even if that blog is particularly popular. It is the difference between using a well-known newspaper such as The Washington Post vs. a supermarket tabloid.

Maintaining objectivity in your essay

It can be argued that the most difficult part of writing a good informative essay is maintaining objectivity. It is easy enough to write on a subject when all you have to do is give your opinion. But when you are writing an informative essay, you must be impartial in the way you convey information. This prevents the reader from being influenced by your opinion and enables them to form their own.

The easiest way to maintain objectivity is to mentally remove yourself from the equation. This means completely avoiding writing in the first person perspective. Instead of thinking about how the facts make you feel or your opinion on the facts, you simply want to give the reader the facts themselves.

A good way to think when trying to write in an objective sense is to divorce the facts from any connotation of being “good” or “bad.” Instead, focus on the facts as they are. This allows the writer to present the facts in the purest way possible without any personal feelings attached.

Creating your outline

You may think that it is now time to write your essay, but you still have one more step to contend with: your outline. The outline is one of the most important pieces to write in preparation for your essay. The best way to think of your essay outline is that it is an abbreviated and simplified version of the essay you are going to write.

There are different ways to write an outline, but the outline should contain all of the information that you intend to cover in the order that you intend to cover it. Your outline does not necessarily need to feature fully written paragraphs, but a small breakdown of what you intend to write in those paragraphs is helpful.

An essay outline can also contain references to the notes that you took on the subject. This can actually help you write stronger content, as referencing your notes can bring up points about the informative essay topic that stuck out to you during the research phase that could be useful or interesting to the reader.

What is MLA format?

If you are creating your essay for academic purposes, then the format of your research paper that will most likely be required of you is the MLA format. This means that your margins are set to one inch. Fortunately for most writers, that is the base setting for any Microsoft Word user.

As for your font, you are required to have it set to Times New Roman at a size of 12. Your spacing should also be set to double. When you set the spacing to double, you are creating enough space between each line that it makes it easier for your reader to follow the information that you are presenting without all the words blurring together.

The benefits of the MLA format are many, but the foremost benefit is that it is a universal standard that all writers and students can utilize and understand easily. It ensures there is consistency across the board in a field and that one can know what to expect before they even begin reading.

How to write an informative essay introduction

Start your introductory paragraph with a hook in the first few sentences that grab the reader’s attention using statistics or interesting facts. Then give the reader some background information so they get an understanding of what your informative essay will be about. 

Then you’ll deliver the thesis statement, which is the basis of your essay, followed by a transition that helps your ideas and paragraphs flow nicely for the reader to follow. Let’s dive into a thesis statement a little more since it’s the focus of your informative paper.

What is your thesis statement?

The most important singular component of your informative essay is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is simply the core focus of your essay writing. It is the main point of your essay boiled down into a singular statement. 

Make sure to take your time narrowing this down and getting it correct. You want something that completely sums everything up without seeming chunky and messy. Then you can use a transition sentence that leads into your body paragraphs and topic sentences.

Essay body paragraph main components

When writing your essay's body paragraphs you want to write them in such a way that they are always supporting your essay. You need to think of your essay almost as a machine, and with every machine, some parts are essential for it to function properly. 

To write perfect supporting body paragraphs for your essay, you need to remember that they are made from three important components: a topic sentence (or claim), evidence, and an explanation.

Here is each component of a good supporting paragraph and how they work together to strengthen your essay writing.

What is the topic sentence?

The topic sentence, also known as the claim, is the central statement of the paragraph. It is the core information that the paragraph is meant to convey. You can think of it as the thesis of the paragraph. Without it, your paragraph has no body and no meaning.

What is the evidence?

After you have made a claim, you need to be able to back up that claim with evidence that supports it. This reinforces your claim to the reader and helps you establish credibility. Be sure that your evidence comes from a source other than the primary source, as the primary source is the originator of your claim. 

Remember to fully research whatever sources you are using to make sure they are credible and accurate.

What is the explanation?

The explanation is the link that you place between the claim and the evidence. It is essentially explaining how the evidence supports the claim. Even if the correlation between the evidence and the claim is apparent, you want at least a rudimentary statement that the reader can follow.

Writing your conclusion

Your conclusion is not only the ending of your essay, it is your last chance to tie all of the themes of your essay together for the reader. A good conclusion revisits the body of the essay and reiterates the way the prior paragraphs back up the thesis of the essay.

Be sure that you do not try to introduce any new information into the conclusion as this can lead to your essay feeling somewhat incomplete. Focus instead on ending your essay on a strong note that will stick with your reader and drive home your central themes.

Informative essay examples

Here are a few examples to show you the structure of an informative essay and help you write your informative essays. 

informative essay example
Source: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-informative-essays.html 

Example of informative essay
Source: https://www.examples.com/education/informative-essay.html 

Informative essay FAQs

What is the difference between an informative essay and an expository essay?

As you already know, an informative essay is to inform and educate your audience with facts. While an expository essay has a lot of the same elements and they are closely related, the main difference is that an expository essay should argue and prove your main point to the reader.

Can you ask questions in an informative essay?

Yes, you can do this in your hook in the opening sentences of your introduction to help pique the reader’s interest with a question to get them thinking.

What are the five parts of informative essays?

While educating your reader with facts on a certain topic, you’ll want to support it by answering these five parts throughout the essay: the who, what, where, when and why.

How long are informative essays?

While this depends on your assignment and depth of your research paper, a typical informative essay is usually around 800-1000 words, or 3-4 pages long using double spacing.

Conclusion on how to write an informative essay

Creating a strong informative essay is something that requires a mastery of one's voice. Whether choosing a subjective or objective format, the writer is responsible for creating a reading experience that conveys all of the information to the reader while also being easy to read and understand. Having a well laid out and properly sourced essay can be one of the most powerful tools in a writer's arsenal.


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