Many struggle with writing an essay. Where do you begin? What do you include? This lesson describes a step-by-step process for writing an informative essay.
The essay can be a daunting assignment, especially since different essays have different purposes, which only adds to one’s anxiety. However, you can reduce your stress by having a clear plan of action.
This lesson focuses on the steps to write an informative essay, which is an essay aimed at providing details and facts to educate your reader on a specific topic. Informative essays strive to present information void of any type of bias. This means you are not to insert your personal opinions.For example, imagine you are assigned an informative essay on a current hot topic of your choice. You choose stem cell research, so your goal is to write about the facts of stem cell research without trying to persuade your reader. You must put aside your personal beliefs on the morality of the issue and cover both perspectives in your essay.
Keep in mind, your purpose is to educate your reader without trying to persuade him or her.
Choosing a Topic
The first step to writing an informative essay is to choose a topic that applies to the given prompt. Do this by brainstorming, which means to produce thoughts or ideas in a spontaneous matter. Write down any ideas that come into your head that both interest you and relate to the prompt. Review your list, and rule out ideas that won’t work or don’t make sense.
Once you have your list narrowed down to a few solid ideas, do a little preliminary research to see what kind of information is available. Choose a topic with plenty of accessible research and one that you enjoy, since essays can take weeks to complete. Overall, this step should take you a day or two.
Once you have chosen a topic, you need to research, which is a systematic investigation of sources in order to establish the facts or information on a specific topic. Use the Internet to find reliable resources, which are ones that are published by accredited experts or organizations. Avoid any resources that give an opinion on the matter. You are looking for only facts.
Record all relevant information. Having too much information is always preferable to having too little, as you will decide later what to include and what to omit from your essay. Last, remember that your purpose is to inform, so be sure to find information from both sides of the issue. This step should also take a day or two.
The third step is to organize. This means you need to arrange all the facts you have found in a specific order or structure. This could be a very difficult stage because there is no set strategy for this.
Instead, you have to skim over your research to see the connections between the ideas.Looking at the stem cell example, during this phase you might split the information into three categories: history of the research, the process of it, and the benefits of it. Each of these categories will be the focus of one body paragraph. The last part of this stage is to assign the information from your research to each category.
At this stage, omit any information that no longer fits into your essay. Spend about a day organizing your research.
The fourth step is to write. This is obviously the most intimidating phase, but having thorough research and organization should make it much easier. First, write a rough draft of the thesis statement, which is the sentence that states the main idea and focus of the whole essay. Write one broad sentence that describes your main topic and your subtopics.
You will revise your thesis later on, so don’t try to make it perfect.Once you have a general thesis, you can begin the actual writing. Start with the introductory paragraph only if you already have a strong idea for an attention grabber. However, if you struggle with this, write the body paragraphs first. Choose which subtopic is the most significant and write that paragraph first. Remember, each paragraph must have a topic sentence, which outlines the main idea of the paragraph, and a closing sentence, which summarizes the main idea of the paragraph.
Continue with the body and then write the introduction and concluding paragraphs. Having the middle already written should give you an idea of how to begin the introduction in an interesting way that will lead up to the first body paragraph. Include your thesis statement at the end of the introduction. For the conclusion, summarize your main points and end on a broad statement. The writing process can take anywhere from 3-6 days.
Revise and Edit
The final step is to revise and edit your essay. Revising consists of rewriting, reorganizing, and restructuring sentences or paragraphs.
Editing means to check for the mechanical aspects, like proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Revise your essay first. Look to vary word choice and sentence structure. Insert transitions between sentences and ideas. Also, since this is an informative essay, remove any instances in which you may have inadvertently inserted your opinion on the topic.
At this stage, revise your thesis, as well. Rewrite your thesis if some ideas in the essay have changed. Make your thesis as strong as possible. Look at the following examples of a weak and a strong thesis:
- Weak: Stem cell research is a very complicated issue.
- Strong: Although a complicated issue, the history of stem cell research, the complex process of it, and the expected benefits, require an in-depth exploration of the subject.
Finally, edit your essay for any grammar errors.
Having another person proofread your essay is always a good idea. Spend a day or two to revising and editing. Once your essay is clear of any mechanical errors, you are finished!
To review, an informative essay is one aimed at educating the reader. It should be void of any personal bias or opinion.Here are the steps to writing an informative essay:
- Choose your topic: brainstorm ideas, narrow them down, then choose a topic with relevant information available
- Research: record information related to the topic
- Organize: arrange information into categories
- Write: write a first draft of a thesis, then the body paragraphs, then the introduction and conclusion
- Revise and edit: rewrite sentences and paragraphs; improve the thesis; remove any personal opinions; check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors
Follow these steps, and writing an informative essay will be a breeze!