Types of Essays - Exploring their Meaning and Peculiarities

  • Sep 04, 2018

There are many students (and even people generally) who are not well-versed in writing essays. One of the major surprises they may encounter on their journey through college is all the types of essays that exist. You are probably already familiar with the most common ones like descriptive, argumentative, and narrative essays. But often, when you find out that there are other types (such as persuasive, definition, process essay, etc.), it comes with some degree of surprise. High school only offers you so much in terms of essay types diversity, whereas the college is like a wake-up call where the alarm ringtone is the list of all the papers you're supposed to know about.

In light of the observation sighted above, the focus of this text is on the different types of essays and how various types of essays writing may necessitate the use of different approaches. Generally, there are four main styles of writings:

  1. Expository - explaining, revealing, and clarifying information in order to enlighten the reader.
  2. Descriptive - attempting to vividly convey how an event occurred or occurs, or how a person or object looks.
  3. Persuasive - making arguments to convince the reader of your or somebody else's opinion.
  4. Narrative - storytelling from a personal standpoint.

It is essential to know how types of essays differ from one another, especially when you consider those that may seem very similar and therefore may be easily mixed up. For instance, descriptive essays when compared to narrative essays may seem to be nearly the same. After all, narrating or telling a story involves describing what happened and how everything unfolded. However, there are actually significant differences between them (which are explained further below). But one of the main differences is that narrative essays are almost always personal and subjective, therefore can be biased, whereas a descriptive essay should be as factual as possible in terms of painting a picture in the mind of the reader. If comprehending all this seems like too much of a hassle, just order your custom essay cheap from us!

Academic Essay Types and Definitions

When it comes to essay writing, one has to understand that there are different styles and approaches depending on the use case. For example, the way an article should be written as a post for social media or news piece would be very different from that for an academic essay. The latter has very specific requirements by which it should be written. Generally, those are more demanding and are expected to be strictly followed. It is a rather different area of writing. In fact, for the most part, this blog post is focused on academic essays and their definitions. You will get answers to such questions as, "What are the different types of essays?", and "Can I buy or order different types of essay online?" Well then, let's get right to it!

Expository essay

Expository essays are detailed papers in which the writer investigates, reveals insightful information, and clarifies issues or the topic under focus. Put simply, an expository essay serves to educate, enlighten, and inform the reader. When writing an expository essay, it is important that the content is factual, unbiased, straightforward, and laid down in a way that is easy to understand. Expository writing is one of the broadest types. For example, a definition essay is considered to be expository writing since it aims to clarify or expound on the meaning and use of a term. Also, the same can be said about a process paper since it provides clarifying information on how something works or something is done. To better grasp the idea of expository writing, consider a title such as the following: "How mobile phones have transformed our lives over the past decade." An essay with such a title can most definitely be called expository.

Descriptive essay

In a descriptive essay the writer describes an object, person, or experience with the goal of delivering a vivid image in great detail; hence the name "descriptive". In this essay, the writer is allowed to use descriptive words and literary devices to "paint a picture" in the mind of the reader. As simple as this may sound, it could actually be a real literary challenge. In fact, if, after reading your descriptive essay, the person does not feel as if they vicariously experienced or pictured what you have described, that most likely means you did not effectively engage the reader's senses or imagination. You should strive to appeal to their smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste as creatively and vividly as possible - it is the ultimate goal of any descriptive essay.

Definition essay

A definition essay is a type of essay that requires the writer to give the meaning of a term in detail to aid the reader's comprehension. The term or object could be physical such as books or cars, or abstract - care, intelligence, altruism, power, and so on. In any case, your essay should convey crucial and possibly new information to the reader about what is being defined. Using clarifying examples, citing useful data, or comparing the term with a similar word can help to achieve the aforementioned goal. An interesting point to remember is that the more abstract a term is, the more open it is to subjective interpretation. If you are required to write extensively on a topic, then it is wise to consider choosing that kind of a term.

Process essay

Process essay's goal is to provide the reader with a rich explanation of how something is done. In other words, they reveal the steps necessary to accomplish a task (say, how to prepare sushi), perform a certain activity like dancing salsa, or use a device (for example, a new printing machine). Unsurprisingly, they are also known as how-to essays. A process essay is essentially a guide. Interestingly, it can also describe how something works. Although in the academic context they are not as frequently assigned as other essay types, process essays can give the students a better or deeper understanding of the procedure involved in completing the activity or figuring out how something works. For example, they can write about how to prepare a particular cuisine, how to perform a specific dance, how to use a certain application to accomplish the desired goal, or how an electric vehicle works.


Narrative essay

When a task requires you to put into words an experience or past event, the most appropriate way of going about that would be to set your mind on a narrative essay. It simply involves writing a story as lucidly and vividly as possible to bring the reader's imagination into the narrative as though it were real to them. Your other goals would be to make it interesting and relatable for someone who might have gone through similar experience or simply make the person understand and appreciate your viewpoint based on the shared story. In other words, the intent of telling a story might slightly differ. In short, writing a narrative essay is a process of creative storytelling. Perfecting these skills requires practice. Narrative essays often tell about personal experiences or anecdotal situations, although not in all cases.

As mentioned earlier, there are some important-to-consider differences and similarities between descriptive and narrative essays. Let's start with the more obvious ones - the similarities. Those include:

  • Both usually involve writing about past events or occurrences.
  • Both attempt to engage the reader's imagination by vividly conveying ideas or events in the way that is interesting, revealing, or stimulating to the reader.
  • Both usually point out the significance of the description or narration to the writer or the people concerned.

The differences include the following:

  • Narrative essays tell a story about experiences the writer had gone through. Therefore, they are generally more biased and personal and involve frequent use of first-person words like 'I', 'mine', 'my', and similar words. By contrast, descriptive essays are not always personal stories and are more factual and less biased in attempting to paint a vivid picture of how something happened or happens. They also include frequent use of third-person words like 'they', 'them', 'their', 'it', and so on.
  • The events in narrative essays usually follow a chronological order, whereas in descriptive essays you don't have to keep to a strict time sequence.
  • Narrative essays are made more meaningful and effective by using more action words that convey what had happened. By contrast, descriptive essays are made more powerful and meaningful by greater use of adjectives and literary devices like similes, or metaphors and analogies.

Compare and Contrast essay

With compare and contrast essays, the writer presents and analyzes the differences and similarities between two objects, ideas, or people. To compare means to present the similarities, while contrasting means to convey how the objects differ. The aim of a compare and contrast essay is not merely to present the differences and similarities between the objects but also project the writer's view or argument about one or several objects.

Cause and Effect essay

A cause and effect essay (sometimes written as cause-effect essays) involve writing about what happened or happens (effect) and why (the causes). In other words, it is an exploration of the relationship between the properties or behavior of things, phenomena, or events and what led to them. Essays of this kind will often include words like 'effects,' 'why,' 'reasons,' and 'causes' in their titles. Consider the following sample essay titles:

  • Causes of obesity
  • Why people often fail at achieving their goals
  • Effects of divorce on children's mental health

Without thinking much, it should be obvious what cause and effect essays are about.


Critical essay

A critical essay is a paper type in which the writer analyzes a piece of writing or any other forms of conveying information like videos or audios. The object of analysis could be a book of any kind, blog or article, a documentary or film, a song or speech. The goal of such an analysis is to assess what issues or themes are contained in the material and how they are exhibited. It also can be conducted to reveal an unusual meaning or perspective of the material using its content as evidence cited to support the analysis. Based on how the writer understands, interprets, and assesses the material, a critical essay is, to some degree, subjective. A case in point is when a group of people is asked to come up with a critical paper on a specific material, each of its members' essays will vary in the kinds of critique they offer. The assessment could be positive or negative or even neutral even though the word 'critical' is commonly understood as carrying a negative connotation. The main thing to note is that the writer should put forth a clear argument or claim in the thesis statement and then present the analysis to support the argument.

Argumentative essay

An argumentative essay is a type of essay in which the writer takes a stance or position on an issue and extensively makes arguments to support the said position. Such an essay involves in-depth research of the issue under focus. This allows the author to fully understand and reveal the facts and relevant points that support their arguments, and also those that weaken the opposing stance. In fact, the primary aim of an argumentative essay is to support an arguable claim and convince the reader that the opinion you're presenting is valid.

Persuasive essay

A persuasive essay is an essay that aims to project a viewpoint coherently and logically with strong arguments and evidence to persuade the reader to accept the stance or argument. A persuasive essay is often confused with an argumentative one because both involve convincing and persuading. However, persuasive essays and argumentative essays have differences as follows:

Point of DifferencePersuasive essayArgumentative essay
The first taskChoose a topic and your stance.After choosing a topic, learn more about it before choosing your stance to argue.

Primary goal

Convince the reader to accept your stance.Convince the reader to see and accept the validity of your stance.
The tone of writingMay be more assertive, coercive, or forceful in order to achieve the aim.Has a less forceful or assertive style, striving only to create acceptance of the validity of the stance taken.
Writing techniques
  1. Emotionally charged.
  2. May project a claim without evidence.
  3. Lopsided by only projecting one side of the argument - the writer's side.
  4. Typically projects only the ideas that support the stance.
  1. Rooted in Facts.
  2. Typically supports a claim with evidence.
  3. More balanced by admitting opposing views even though it is known which view the writer has.
  4. Can involve a comparison of ideas.

To round up, remember that you can always contact us for assistance if you are having issues writing any kind of essay. Also, for the, "Can I order different types of essay online" question, here is the answer: Yes, you surely can! We offer online essay writing by highly qualified professionals who are also experienced and knowledgeable about specific subject areas.


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