Different Types of Essays Writing: 4 Main + 12 Additional

By: Angelina Grin

21 min



Different Types of Essays Writing: 4 Main + 12 Additional

An academic essay is a piece of writing whose focus is to persuade and inform. It achieves these goals by developing ideas and arguments through analysis, evidence, and interpretation. Several essays fall into four major categories: descriptive, expository, argumentative, and narrative essays.

There are also different types of essays for elementary, middle school, high school, and higher learning levels like universities and colleges.

16 Types of Essays

While paper writing is part of academic progress, many students do not differentiate the various types of academic essays. Understanding all the paper types makes it easier for the scholar to create a well-organized paper that is understandable to the reader.

The internet makes it easy for students to research and get relevant information, but that is not enough without knowing essay writing styles. Every topic in academic writing falls under a particular type of essay.

The main types of essays include:

4 Major Types of Essays

There are 4 main types of essays. 

Before settling to write any essay paper, it is critical first to answer the question, “what are the different types of essays?”  Know their distinguishing features and where to apply each of the essays. Four modes of essay writing are known as the organized, the chronological, the functional, and the cause-effect.

It would also help to understand the different kinds of essay formats since each paper follows a specific format. Check out the main essay types and definitions below.

 1) Argumentative Essay 

An argumentative essay focuses on an intensive argument concerning a particular thesis statement. The writer has to take a firm stand on one side of the argument and aim to convince the reader about your thesis by citing pieces of evidence. Your stance on the discussion should be clear near the end of your introduction.

An argumentative essay has three distinguishing features.

Introduction - it captures the reader's attention and prepares them for what to expect. It should present the appropriate topic and clearly outline the writer’s point of view.

The body paragraphs - should present your main ideas in a systematic order. Present your argument and evidence for it to your audience.

Conclusion - construct a summarizing paragraph emphasizing the importance of your argument. You need to create a strong conclusion, and the following tips might help:

  • 🤝 Sum up the main points of your paper.
  • 🤔 Make it clear why your stance matters in the argument.
  • 🎯 Aim at impressing the reader.

Argumentative essays are common in higher learning levels like college and university. It tests your research skills and your ability to defend your position on a given topic.

Academic papers for colleges and universities are more detailed and complicated than the lower levels. It requires you to employ your research techniques in practice. In addition, the knowledge and skills you gain from experience will help you stand by your opinion even after graduation.  

 2) Expository Essays 

Expository refers to the art of describing or explaining something. An expository essay clearly describes a given topic, set of ideas, or process. It provides a balanced view on the topic rather than proving any point. They are more natural than argumentative essays, which rely majorly on research.

It is a type of essay that provides facts and information. It aims to test the scholar’s ability to express themselves or present an explanation on a given topic. You need to consult statistics and find factual examples to write a perfect descriptive essay.

Below are the five main features of an expository essay.

  • Instructive - it should provide accurate information with facts.
  • Specific - you need to be clear and precise when giving a factual explanation.
  • Well-organized - always follow the order of events.
  • Semi-formal there are no first-person nouns in the paper.
  • Objective - its purpose is to equip the reader with information without subjective opinions.

A perfect expository essay structure requires the following components.

  • An introduction that provides background information on the topic in question.
  • Body paragraphs that elaborate on the facts.
  • A solid conclusion to wrap up the main ideas in the essay.

Expository writing is the most common kinds of essays for middle and high school levels. These academic essay genres intend to test the student’s understanding of the subject and composition skills.

Expository essay writing styles are helpful in school and teach the student how to express any issue in their own words. 

 3) Descriptive Essay 

A descriptive essay vividly describes a general situation, object, or place. It mainly involves a more abstract case, like an emotion. It is the most creative of all types of essays. It tests the writer’s ability to use language to convey a memorable image of the object creatively and originally.

These genres of essays are common assignments for students in high school and also for composition classes. A well-structured descriptive piece of writing has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

 Introduction  - should establish the purpose of your writing. Also, set the tone of the impression by clearly showing what you want your audience to focus its attention on.

 The body  - the body includes factual, sensory, and figurative details. It also involves your feelings and thoughts and should be in local order. Use a transition to connect your ideas.

 Conclusion  - restate the main idea and briefly summarize the ideas in the body.

A descriptive paper equips the writer with the skills to use language figuratively to describe life’s events, both in school and after-school life. 

 4) Narrative Essay 

Narration is a story, and therefore a narrative essay involves telling a story. Most of the time, it consists of the narrator’s personal experience. Unlike other essay forms, the narrative gives you room to get creative and unique when telling your story, and you can freely use first-person nouns.

The following are the five distinctive features of a narrative type of essay with examples.

Plot refers to the events and how they follow each other in your story. For instance, you can narrate your first day in college, what happened, and how the events influenced who you are currently.

Setting: it refers to the location and time of the events, for example, at a particular school in the winter of a specific year.

Character: a protagonist drives your story, but you may have some support characters. In this case, you are the protagonist; your support characters could be the people you met on your first day in school.

Conflict is the challenge, problem, or moment of tension the protagonist has to solve or win.

Theme: it is the moral of the narrative or what you learn and want the reader to know. For instance, the challenges you face as a new student and how to counter them.

Narrative essays are common in high school and university composition classes. It places a student in a position to write a personal statement correctly when making applications even after graduation.

Common Types of Essays for Elementary School

Elementary school is the second-lowest level after kindergarten and ranges from grades one to seven. 

Learners in these grades are equipped with writing skills in easy essay types and different types of essay formats. The following are some types of academic essays for the elementary school level.

 Persuasive Essays 

A persuasive essay aims at convincing the reader to take sides or adopt the writer’s opinion. It involves factual pieces of evidence and emotional appeals. A writer can include emotional and moral reasoning to connect with the audience to support a cause or argument.

The basis of a persuasive essay is sound reasoning, relevant facts, and evidence. The following features distinguish a persuasive paper from other types of essay writing styles.

 Clear and concise thesis as a writer, you need to present your thesis in the first paragraph. Clearly define your take on the particular topic.

 Introduction you need to create a strong introduction that captures your readers' attention and presents the ideas of the central issue in question. Clearly communicate the background information of the issue. A strong introduction will persuade the audience to buy the writer’s opinion on the topic.

 The body the body develops the argument in a clear evidential manner. The writer needs to start from known to unknown. Consider the reader’s point of view on the topic before introducing your take as a writer.

 Conclusion a firm conclusion in persuasive writing readdresses the thesis touching on the evidence provided in the essay.

A persuasive paper must meet the following characteristics:

  • 👉 Readability
  • 👉 Understandability
  • 👉 Relevance
  • 👉 Reliability
  • 👉 Logical consistency

The skills in persuasive writing enable the learner to tackle more complicated different type of essays at higher levels.   

 Process Essay 

It isa type of exposition essay that explains how something works or how to do something. A process essay writer must maintain clarity and organization by following a chronological order. It must have the following elements.

 Introduction:  it presents the process you will be communicating in your essay.

 The body  paragraphs should describe the process step-by-step in chronological order. Transitional words will help you to connect one step to the next.

 Conclusion:  summarize the entire process in your conclusion. For example, learning how to prepare chicken is the best experience anyone can enjoy.

Process essays are common in elementary school, as early as the third grade. They equip the learner with skills and the ability to break down the process of writing and achieve better results in other types of academic essays.

Common Types of Essays for Middle School

Middle school is like a bridge between elementary and high school. It serves adolescent students in grades five to nine. The higher middle school grades, 7 to 9, are commonly referred to as junior high school grades.

Some types of papers at the elementary level are part of the middle school curriculum, while some high school essays start in middle school. The following are the types of essays in English for middle school.

 Analytical Essays 

It is a type of argumentative writing that outlines the relationship between two subjects. In an academic paper for a typical cause and effect essay writing, the writer details how an event, person, or object influences another one directly.

In a school setup, cause and effect essays are meant to teach persuasive writing, logic, and critical thinking. In a professional setting or academic writing, these paper formats are in the form of a research paper, scientific studies, or lab report abstract. In either case, the author explains a phenomenon and attempts to explain its causes.

There are different essay structures for each type of paper. Below are the structure and main features of a cause-and-effect essay.

 Introduction:  the introduction should give background information about the topic to the context of your essay. To make a solid introduction, avoid cliché phrases and words.

 Body:  the body paragraphs include a topic sentence and supportive sentences. A topic sentence introduces the paragraph's main idea and captures the reader’s attention to the supporting sentences. Support sentences give persuasive facts.

 Conclusion:  summarize the content of your essay in conclusion. Please do not introduce any new information at this point. You can re-state your thesis in the introduction. Listing the causes in your essay body is another alternative way of creating a solid conclusion for the cause-and-effect essay.

 Expository Essay 

It is an essay genre where the student has to investigate and expound on an idea. The scholar then examines the evidence and clearly presents an argument on the same idea. Accomplishing this requires comparison and contrast, definition, or cause and effect analysis.

The features of exposition or expository writing include the following.

Informative: the main point of expository text is to give information.

Clarity: the writer needs to use words that communicate what the text is talking about.

Text organization: an excellent exposition should retain its focus on the topic and outline the events in chronological order.

Impersonal: it does not encourage the use of the first person but instead uses the second-person pronouns “you.”

Unbiased: an exposition aims at providing information and does not openly disclose the author’s opinion.

The structure below holds an exposition together.

A statement of the thesis should be clear, concise, and defined.

The Introduction gives a clear link or transition between the introduction and the body. The body paragraphs should concentrate on the main idea of your writing to maintain clarity and direction all through the essay. It should be creative and factual, logical, or statistical evidential support. Create a solid conclusion by readdressing your thesis in light of some of the evidence in the body.

Common Types of Essays in High School

High school teachers introduce more complex essays to students than those in middle school. Some of the papers in high school progress to the college level. Below are some essays for high school students.

 Reflective Essays 

A reflective means you have to reflect on your own experiences. A reflective essay requires the writer to communicate their thoughts and feelings about a specific person, situation, or place in their point of view. Many scholars confuse a reflective paper with a narrative essay.

A reflective piece of writing includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.

 Introduction:  you need to be specific about what you reflect upon in your paper. Make the reader understand your position in the subject you are assessing.

 The body:  each paragraph in the body must start with a topic sentence. Speak your thoughts and experiences concerning the topic. You may include a thesis and statements if you are writing an academic paper.

 Conclusion:  it requires a precise articulation of your thoughts and feelings to create a solid conclusion.

  • ✍️ The writer should maintain the essay formal and conceivable to differentiate it from the narrative essay.
  • ✍️ Apply some descriptive skills.
  • ✍️ Use a classical structure.
  • ✍️ Avoid being personal.

 Critical Analysis Essay 

It is an essay writing style that incorporates critical thinking, reading, and writing to communicate to the audience. The writer identifies a piece of art or literature and tries to analyze the author or artist’s thoughts. It focuses on the writer’s opinion, thesis, and argument using logical reasoning and citing evidence.

The significant parts of a critical analysis essay include an outline, introduction, body, and conclusion.

 The outline:  think critically about what you are writing about. Outline the main ideas in bullet form.

 Introduction:  the introduction should state the aim of the initial author of the work you are writing about. Make the introduction as engaging and captivating as possible to capture your reader’s attention.

 Body:  focus on the ideas in your outline and introduction. Each body paragraph should tackle a single notion for flow and consistency.

These tips 👇 will help a writer create a captivating critical analysis essay.

  • 📝 Use transitional words to link your ideas.
  • 📝 Be logical and concise.
  • 📝 Use third-person narration.

Common Essays in College

The highest level of essays applies to college and university scholars. The following are some of the paper types for college.

 Compare and Contrast Essays 

It is an essay style that shows the differences and similarities between two subjects or more. It is a perfect way of showing what unites or separates two subjects or objects, especially if people tend to confuse them.

Compare and contrast essay has some similarities to other paper types, but it has the following distinguishing features:

 Thesis:  Carefully pick the subjects you want to compare. If it is not given in the question, you have to be keen to select the one you can handle comfortably.

 Organization:  These essays follow a specific paper structure. The essay format includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.

 Introduction:  you need to elaborate on your thesis or the subject you will be discussing.

 Body:  it is the central part of your paper. It would be best to list the differences and similarities between your subjects of discussion here.

 Conclusion:  summarize and clearly wrap up your points.

There are three ways a writer can approach a compare and contrast essay:

  • Block method where you will discuss one subject after the other.
  • Alternating method where you have to give point by point. Here you tackle one subject on a particular aspect then the other subject follows immediately.
  • Similarities and differences. Start by discussing all the similarities between the two variables, then handle the differences.

Other essay types for college include research and definition. Reflective papers are also part of the college curriculum.


What Are the 4 Major Types of Essays?

The four major types of essays include argumentative, descriptive, narrative, and expository. Expository and argumentative aim at giving clear points and information, while narrative and descriptive test the writer’s creativity.

What Are the 10 Types of Essays?

There are more types of essays besides the four major categories. Below are ten of these essays.

  • Descriptive
  • Comparative
  • Cause and effect
  • Narrative
  • Process
  • Argumentative
  • Critical
  • Persuasive
  • Expository
  • Definition

What Is the Most Common Type of Essay?

An argumentative paper is the most common essay type. It tests the writer’s research skills and ability to present their position on a particular subject. It is common at the college level.

What Is an Essay Format?

An essay format is a series of guidelines that influence how you arrange your academic paper. It includes:

  • Title page
  • Page basics
  • Structure
  • Essay outline
  • Conclusion
  • Citation

How Many Types of Essays Are There?

There are many different types of papers to write, but there are four major ones. The essays are subdivided according to their complexity and students’ level of education.

Learning the different types of essays in English language is the first step toward being an excellent writer. You will be able to differentiate each type with its format, writing style, and structure.

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Angelina Grin

Creative Writer and Blog Editor

Despite my relatively young age, I am a professional writer with more than 14 years of experience. I studied journalism at the university, worked for media and digital agencies, and organized several events for ed-tech companies. Yet for the last 6 years, I've worked mainly in marketing. Here, at Studybay, my objective is to make sure all our texts are clear, informative, and engaging.

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