No two essays are alike, but we can divide them up into categories. Here are four types that you are likely to encounter: argumentative, persuasive, expository, and analytical.
Knowing the type of essay you are writing can help you better understand how to structure your paper, the types of questions you need to ask and answer, and how to direct your research.
Argumentative essays are focused on trying to prove an argument. They should be very focused and clear. Your goal is to demonstrate the validity of your position over and against others. These essays tend to rely on factual evidence and provable methods.
Example: Bigfoot is real because…
While similar to an argumentative essay, the goal of a persuasive essay is to change the mind of your reader instead of proving the validity of an argument. Persuasive essays can use facts to support their arguments, but they can also rely on emotional, spiritual, or psychological appeals to convince their reader.
Example: People should believe in bigfoot because…
Every magazine loves a good exposé. While expository essays aren’t about uncovering drama and intrigue - it is about explaining a theme or idea. Instead of trying to prove or persuade your reader, your goal is to impart new knowledge to them. You may encounter this type of writing most frequently when asked to write a response to something; you are explaining how and why you feel the way you do.
Example: I admire bigfoot because…
The goal of analytical papers is to offer an analysis and interpretation of an idea or object. These essays will often contain an in-depth review of various perspectives and then offer an evaluation of the reviewed material. Analytical writing allows the writer to engage others in and through their writing.
Example: Recent studies suggest that bigfoot’s habitat is shrinking because…
Tip: These categories aren’t intended to limit how you approach your paper. Many of the best papers take from each of these four styles to craft their own unique argument.
5 Paragraph Essay
The 5 paragraph essay is one of the most common and fundamental structures for a paper. While it is not appropriate for all types of writing, it can be a useful starting point. It consists of individual paragraphs for an introduction, three supporting arguments, and a conclusion. The simplicity of its structure allows it to be easily used for almost all essay types. Be careful that what should be a helpful starting point doesn’t become a crutch for all of your papers.
Specifics About Research Papers
One of the most common papers that any college student has to write is the research paper. Here are a few things you might need to know specifically about writing research papers.