Academic Writing

How to Write an Informative Essay

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Have you ever had the urge to teach readers about a specific topic? If so, you'll love writing informative essays.

In an informative essay, you're free to share knowledge you've gained on a subject you're interested in. By the end of the essay, you've educated your reader.

There are a few informative essay writing steps you'll want to keep in mind. Read on to discover how to write an informative essay thesis statement and construct a winning essay.

What Is an Informative Essay?

An informative essay educates readers about a specific subject, person, or event. Unlike a persuasive or argumentative essay, you're not constructing an argument or trying to persuade someone to agree with your point of view.

The goal of an informative essay is to offer objective information about a particular topic. 

If you've written essays in the past, an informative essay shouldn't be too unfamiliar because its basic structure includes an introduction with a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion.

Types of Informative Essays

If you've been assigned to write an informative essay, it may fall under one of the informative essay types below:

  • Descriptive: A descriptive essay describes a subject, person, concept, or event in vivid sensory detail and appeals to the five senses.
  • Process: A process essay describes the steps required to complete a specific procedure or task. You'll provide directions in chronological order to help with the procedure of doing something.
  • Compare/contrast: A compare-and-contrast essay highlights the similarities and differences between two subjects in the same category.
  • Cause/effect: A cause-and-effect essay offers a detailed study of an event or idea and investigates all the factors that led to the effect(s) of that event or idea.
  • Problem/solution: A problem/solution essay attempts to explain multiple solutions to a problem and the factors causing that problem.

Each informative essay type requires you to write an introduction with a thesis, a body, and a conclusion.

How to Start an Informative Essay

Before you begin working on your informative essay, it's good to get the lay of the land about what you're getting into.

First, make sure you understand your assignment. Have you chosen the topic, or have you been assigned one to write about?

Next, ensure that you understand the structure of an informative essay. Every informative essay has a beginning, middle, and end. Here's how these three sections should look in your essay:

  • Introduction (with a thesis statement)
  • Main body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

After that, it's time to choose (or verify) your topic, research it, and organize your content. Let's look at each of these steps in turn.

Choose Your Topic

To choose a topic for your informative essay, start by brainstorming. What ideas interest you? These subjects can range from Harry Potter to the consequences of global warming.

Make sure the ideas you brainstorm relate to the prompt or assignment your teacher has given you. The topic should be something you will enjoy writing about—you're in this for the long haul!

Lastly, when selecting a topic, do some initial research and ensure that there are credible sources available, such as peer-reviewed journals, reputable websites, newspapers, or encyclopedias.

If you get stuck choosing a topic, here's a list of informative essay topics that would suit an effective informative essay:

  • Branches of government in the US
  • Causes of eating disorders
  • Solo travel
  • Air pollution
  • Overcrowding in cities
  • Procrastination
  • Homelessness
  • Latest astronomy discoveries

Be careful to select a topic that is narrow enough in scope to address it adequately within your paper.

Research Your Idea

Next, it's time to research your topic to outline your informative essay. Focus on credible sources from accredited organizations (such as websites that end in ".gov"), and steer clear of sources that offer biased information and opinions.

Remember, the main goal of an informative essay is to educate your audience about your topic in an objective way. You should dig into the different angles of the issue you're writing about without sharing your opinion.

Take notes on your findings as you conduct your research. It's okay if you compile a large amount of information. It's always better to have too much to sift through than not enough!

If you're unsure where to find reputable sources, check out Merudio's roundup of free research databases

Organize Your Information

Now, it's time to organize the information you uncovered in your research. Essentially, you want to group together any related ideas you found in your research so you have a clear, informative essay outline to follow.

If the basic structure of an informative essay includes an introduction, at least three main body paragraphs, and a conclusion, you might look at all of your research and ask yourself: What is the best way to fit my findings into the informative essay structure?

The best way to do this is to sort your research into at least three categories. For example, if you were researching eating disorders, the three categories your research might fall under could be causes, effects, and recovery.

These three categories would then make up the main body paragraphs of your informative essay. Remember, not all the information found in the research process has to end up in the essay. The goal is to use information that provides an unbiased view of the topic.

Learn more about how to write an academic essay here. 

Write Your Essay

Finally, it's time to write your informative essay.

First, write your thesis statement. The thesis statement is a sentence that presents the core ideas of your entire essay and is usually at the end of your introduction.

Next, write your introductory paragraph. You want to grab the reader's attention in your introduction. However, if you aren't sure what to say yet, you can always write your introduction at the end.

Then, write your main body paragraphs, each of which includes a topic sentence and a closing sentence.

In your conclusion paragraph, summarize the main ideas of your essay. Conclude with a broad statement that leaves the reader with something to think about.

Format of an Informative Essay

The format of an informative essay begins with an introduction. This is where your thesis statement lives, as well as any information that will draw in the reader and prepare them for what's to come.

Following the introduction is the body of the essay. The body contains at least three main body paragraphs, each discussing your main idea's subtopics, such as benefits, causes, and effects.

Finally, the conclusion of your informative essay comes at the end. This is where your main ideas are summarized and your thesis is restated.

Introduction

It is important to understand academic writing conventions when learning how to write an informative essay introduction. The introduction of your informative essay should be one paragraph and should describe the topic or event you're about to discuss.

At the beginning, provide your readers with an opening "hook": a sentence that grabs your reader, excites them, and gives them a reason to keep reading. For example:

Informative Essay Example

If you can't think of anything exciting, you can always write your main body paragraphs first and come back to the introduction later. This way, you'll have a better grasp of your topic so you can open your essay with something compelling.

After your opening hook, your introduction should state the purpose of your essay and end with your thesis statement. Your thesis statement sets the foundation for your essay and lets the reader know what they're in for, so it should go at the end of your introduction.

Example

Let's look at an example of an introductory paragraph and thesis statement for an informative essay.

This is an example of a descriptive informative essay in which an event or subject is vividly described to appeal to all five senses:

Informative Essay

Notice how the opening hook appeals to the senses. More importantly, notice how the informative essay thesis example clearly informs the reader of the focus of the essay. This makes the paragraph effective as a whole.

Thesis

Your informative essay thesis statement is the most crucial sentence of your essay because it presents your central idea.

As the last line of your introduction, the thesis gives the reader clarity about what you'll be discussing in the paragraphs ahead. Sometimes a thesis can be multiple sentences, but usually, it's a single sentence that briefly states the scope of your paper.

After you write a great thesis statement, you may stumble upon new ideas that don't fall in line with your thesis—that's okay.

Your thesis doesn't have to be etched in stone right from the beginning. If it no longer makes sense after you're midway through writing, you can always edit it so it jives with the rest of your essay.

Body

The body is the next part of the informative essay format. It comes right after your introduction and supports your thesis statement.

Each body paragraph has four parts: a topic sentence, supporting evidence or research to expand upon the topic sentence, an explanation as to why the evidence or research is relevant, and a closing sentence summarizing the paragraph's main idea.

When writing your topic sentence, make sure it outlines the focus of your body paragraph. Any supporting research you include after that should be evidence to back up the claim of your topic sentence.

Once you're done with these two sections, offer an explanation of why the evidence is significant and close with a one-sentence summary of the paragraph. Note that the supporting evidence and following explanation are not limited to one sentence each in longer paragraphs; this is just a general guideline.

For a quick refresher, check out How to Write a Paragraph.

Conclusion

Your conclusion comes after your body paragraphs. It's the last part of your essay, where you'll present your closing statements.

In this final part of your essay, restate your thesis, summarize the major points, and close with a statement that gives the reader an idea of how the facts you just presented apply to the broader framework of their lives.

For example, should they become involved in a community to learn more? Should they go somewhere to find further knowledge? What should they consider about this topic in the future?

Strive to leave your readers with something to ponder or investigate further, but refrain from introducing any new ideas.

If you're still struggling, learn How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph in 3 Easy Steps.

Mistakes to Avoid While Writing an Informative Essay

You might think that an informative essay is easy to write, since you're not being asked to create a compelling or persuasive argument.

However, there are a few common mistakes you want to avoid when learning how to write an informative essay:

  • Choosing topics that are too general: Try to be as specific as possible so your topic is manageable. Broad topics like love, confidence, and comedy can be hard to pin down in a short informative essay because of the sheer volume of information available.
  • Using source material with no author or date of publication: Make sure your sources are credible and verifiable. Stick to peer-reviewed journals or websites from official organizations. Remember that your sources should be traceable so that your references can be checked if the instructor wants to do so.
  • Including personal beliefs: An informative essay should not include any of your personal views or beliefs. Present the facts as objectively as you can without letting your personal opinions interfere.

You can also check out common mistakes to avoid in academic writing to help strengthen your essays.

How You Can Improve Your Informative Essay Using Merudio

Informative essay writing isn't hard if you break it down into manageable actions: choose a topic, research it, organize your research, and start writing.

If you get stuck finding quality research to include in your essay, you can access peer-reviewed articles in a variety of research databases.

As you near the end of your informative essay, it's always helpful to have a second set of eyes on it. Use Merudio to sharpen your essay and find out where it can be improved.

Our editors are experts in essay editing and can engage with your content objectively.

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FAQs

How Many Paragraphs Are in an Informative Essay?

At a minimum, there should be five paragraphs in an informative essay: an introduction paragraph, the main body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.

However, your essay is not limited to five paragraphs. Sometimes, the body section of your informative essay can have more than three paragraphs.

How Do I End an Informative Essay?

End your informative essay with a conclusion paragraph that restates your thesis and summarizes the main points of your paper.

Because you're sharing a great deal of knowledge in an informative essay, your conclusion paragraph should also leave your readers thinking about how your topic applies to their own lives.

For example, you can invite them to read more about an event you're discussing or visit a place you're describing.

What Is the Purpose of an Informative Essay?

The purpose of an informative essay is to educate and inform readers about a certain subject, event, or phenomenon.

The essay should clearly and objectively present the different angles of a subject. It should also be interesting or thought-provoking enough for the reader to want to learn more about the topic afterwards.

Writers of an informative essay should assume that their readers have little to no knowledge of their topic, so the information presented should be comprehensive enough for the reader to gain a thorough understanding of the subject.

What Is an Informative Paper?

An informative paper, or an informative essay, is a piece of writing that offers unbiased information about a certain subject.

This type of essay is designed to give your reader information about a subject without including your opinion on it—you're just offering the facts. The goal is to educate and enlighten your readers about your subject and help them expand their knowledge.

How Long Is an Informative Essay?

The length of an informative essay can vary depending on the assignment. Generally, the minimum length is five paragraphs, which includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Informative essays can be much longer, depending on how many key facts you want to present in the body of the essay or how many paragraphs your instructor has asked you to write.

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