Types of Essay and Writing Styles

An essay is a written piece of writing which presents the writer’s opinion, but the precise definition is uncertain, encompassing all those of a personal essay, a newspaper column, an article, pamphlets, and even a short story. Essays are traditionally regarded as formal and technical. The word “essay” in British English means a written work, whereas in American English it denotes something of particular interest or information. There are some people who regard all written works as an essay, irrespective of whether they are published or unpublished.


A five-paragraph essay is a composition in which the main material is presented in an outline or a simple essay form. The structure of this kind of writing is simple: the writer provides his or her opinion on the matter under discussion, leads the reader through the main ideas, leads the reader to the next idea, and so on. One of the most important pre-requisites of a five-paragraph essay is that the writer must be able to formulate and articulate a reasonable argument for his or her position. Furthermore, the writer has to follow the outline, incorporating his or her ideas in a logical sequence, progressively adding more relevant arguments supporting the main thesis. For example, in a review essay, the main points of the review are discussed first, followed by an evaluation of the book, its reviewer examines the writer’s arguments on the same topic, and finally the conclusion rests upon the review’s verdict.

An introduction is the first part of any written composition, and in this part the writer hopes to convince the reader that his or her thesis statement is correct, and offers reasons for this conclusion. Formal introductions usually contain at least three paragraphs, and an expressive introduction is one of the most important features of this type of essay. The main aim of an expressive introduction is to indicate the central point of the essay – the thesis statement. The writer uses various different types of language in his or her expressive introduction: using similes, metaphors, obvious statements, implied meaning, question and answer structures, and so on.

A narrative essay consists of either literary or documentary pieces, often occurring in two or more parallel ways. Although there are some great works of literature whose authors have never managed to write down a single essay, almost all good writers have at least one narrative essay which they have developed over time, usually as a means to earn an income. One of the advantages of this style of the essay is that it can be quite appealing to the majority of the readers because most narratives are based on personal experiences. The writer thus has a great deal of subject matter at his or her disposal. Another advantage of this type of essay is that the structure is relatively simple, with the essay ending with a strong conclusion.

A process essay is a kind of bad point essay – and that’s exactly what it is! This type of essay is meant to review or rate the writer’s previous writing. In addition, it is usually a lengthy process, since the writer has to compile a large number of individual opinions into something that can be read and understood by the reader. Most process essays are descriptive instead of analytical, and are written about the author’s personal experiences. These kinds of essays also follow a structured pattern, especially when dealing with the author’s life.

Finally, there are the argumentative essay. Unlike other styles of essay, it is filled with both personal opinions and very elaborate rhetoric. Argumentative essays normally attempt to make the most persuasive argument possible; however, the writer must also keep the number of people interested in reading his or her essay under control. Essays in this category are usually quite long, even when written in a simple way. The best format for an argumentative essay is a lengthy discussion between two or more viewpoints.