Informative Essay Characteristics

Informative Writing

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 27 Feb 2017|*Discuss


If you're writing an informative essay, you need to make sure that you're using the right techniques; otherwise, your piece could wind up without any substance (or, worse yet, in the bottom of the "circular file.")

Too often, so-called "informative" essays are actually flowery, doctored-up creations. Though they may cite one or two facts, they leave the reader without any more knowledge of the topic area than when he or she began reading the piece.

If you truly want to inform your audience, you need to follow some simple guidelines that will ensure that your words are memorable, informative, and concise. Below are seven helpful hints to get you started on an essay that is fact-based, pithy, and powerful.

1. What's The Point?
Before you ever begin your informative essay, create a thesis statement; in more basic terms, this means you must have a "point". By formulating a hypothesis and using that as the basis of your informative essay, your work won't meander like a snaking stream. Instead, it'll stay on point from beginning to end.
2. Ditch The Flowery Prose
Flowery language can be effective in the right forum; however, overly embellished sentences do not belong in your informative essay. Keep your verbiage simple and straightforward, or your reader will pay too much attention to your overuse of adjectives and adverbs.
3. Put Your Feelings Aside
You probably have an opinion about what you're writing, but unless your essay is meant to be read as a personal syndicated column, leave your feelings at the door. Instead of editorializing, tell the facts like a good journalist; if you do, your readers will be able to draw their own conclusions instead of having yours foisted upon them.
4. Get Your Facts Straight
An informative essay needs to have supporting data to give it clarity and authority. However, that doesn't mean you can rely on any statistics you find online. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web is filled with "facts" that are actually only half-truths (or even outright lies.) Make sure the ones you choose for your work are from reliable sources, such as well-known companies or government agencies.
5. Go to The Sources
If you need to interview individuals to add power or legitimacy to your informative essay, make sure you choose your interviewees carefully. Avoid the temptation to allow just anyone to use your essay as a mouthpiece. Judiciously pick who you want to quote, then make sure that your quotes are accurate.
6. Active Voice = Strong Essay
Present your information in a strong tone, using active words and powerful adjectives that "pop" off the page, not simply dribble down onto the reader's lap. For instance, replace words like "good" or "bad" with much more expressive counterparts. Remember, though - your goal isn't to be poetic; it's to add proper emphasis to your thesis and supporting information.
7. Write About What Interests You
If you don't like the topic of your informative essay, no one else will, either. Of course, we cannot always choose what to write about (unless we're very lucky authors, indeed!) Therefore, you owe it to yourself and your readers to find an element of your essay that intrigues you. Even if you have to manufacture enthusiasm for your work, that's okay; just never allow your audience to hear your disinterest or they'll surely follow suit.

By using some or all of the above seven ideas, you can ensure that your next informative piece of writing is strong, interesting, and succinct.

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Characteristics of different types of Essay

Note: With all the types of rhetorical strategy mentioned below, we are not talking about essay "types", but about rhetorical styles which writers use for particular purposes. Some essays ask for a more expository than argumentative style, and for particular strategies within those styles. As we shall see later, authentic essays actually require you to use a combination of these styles.

"Exposition" is a rather formal term which really means either "information" or "explanation", modes of communication we might use to write a manual, offer instructions on how things work or  where to find things, or recount what happened during a revolution, etc.
Below we have identified 4 types of expository essay found in university curricula: 

Science-related essays often require background description: of a thing, process or state of affairs - analyzing it into its parts. This can be done chronologically, serially, hierarchically, etc. It is a test of your ability to select and synthesise ‘factual’ information.


This approach is asked for in essay looking for an account of reasons or causes in relation to perceived effects or results. In most Social Science disciplines, you will be asked to draw on theory to support your explanation. Your interpretation demonstrates how well you understand the relevant theories.


This could be fairly descriptive, but illustrations need to be relevant and appropriate, and written with explicit reference to the theoretical point being supported.


This could apply to experimental data, or to an argument or text. It is the process of breaking down something into its component parts, often in order to analyse patterns or categories based on a theoretical position.

Argumentative (mainly)

literally refers to everything that involves debate and possible disagreement, and to opinion as opposed to the uncontested facts of exposition. It means agreeing or disagreeing with a given proposition, either strongly or tentatively.

In more general terms it refers to a more subjective style of writing, where writers engage in defining their terms or interpreting and evaluating the views, evidence or data very clearly from their own perspective or viewpoint.


Essays which expect a strong defining component are common in philosophy, but also feature in Sociology.
A question may look factual- e.g. ‘Do we have free will?’ , but the way to answered it is by careful definition of what is meant by the concept of free will.

In Sociology, in particular, competing definitions often need to be explored at length, particularly in essays on social stratification or social class.

Some essays require you to pass judgement or make an assessment, according to stated criteria. In cases when you could say ‘Well, it depends what you mean by (X) ... ’, it is important that you define theterms by which you apply or explore these criteria. Terms, such as "success" or "effectiveness", are often value-laden.. Basically, you may be asked to judge how good or bad something is, or how far it is true.
E.g.: Evaluate the contribution of political parties to the development of
the movement for democracy in Hong Kong

Note: Interpretation + Evaluation:Critical Review Essays typically combine these processes and styles of writing 

In all argumentative essays, you are expected to
consider all sides of an issue before taking a stand, and then to
argue for the validity of your own position
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