Whether or not you have a passion for it, writing is a crucial life skill that you will need to employ at various stages in both your academic and professional career. Becoming an effective writer will improve your grades as much as it will improve your job prospects in the future. From professors to potential employers, effective writing skills are undeniably valuable tools to have in your toolbox. Fortunately, you don’t have to love writing to do it well; you simply need to understand and employ the strategies and techniques that set good writers apart from the mediocre.
Overview of the Informative Writing Style
The informative writing definition is precisely what its name implies – writing that is designed to inform the reader about a given topic. Informative writing, which is sometimes called expository or explanatory writing, uses evidence and information from credible sources to support a focused and logical explanation of the topic at hand. The informative writing style demands that you thoroughly educate the reader on the given topic without including your own opinions.
Choosing a Topic for Informative Writing
Sometimes the topic for informative writing is assigned by a professor, but other times you may be required to come up with it yourself. If you are responsible for choosing the topic about which you will write, start by brainstorming subjects that are interesting to both you and your reader. Your topic should not be too broad or too narrow. For example, you would not want to choose health as a topic for informative writing because it is far too broad of a subject. Instead, you could narrow it down to something specific about health, like how to optimize health during the summer months. Another important consideration when choosing a topic is whether you can find enough reliable sources of evidence to thoroughly support your explanation.
The Structure of an Informative Essay
When it comes to structure, an informative essay follows the same basic principles as argumentative writing. The main difference between the two is the purpose. While an argumentative essay is designed to persuade the reader to agree with the position argued in its claim, an informative essay’s sole purpose is to educate the reader.
Structure your informative essay using multiple paragraphs that follow a logical order and include relevant information that is properly cited. The introductory paragraph should include a general introduction to the topic followed by a clear thesis statement that will serve as the road map for the rest of the essay. Each body paragraph should include a topic sentence that addresses the specific subtopic of that paragraph followed by at least two pieces of relevant evidence from reliable sources that are properly cited. End each body paragraph with at least two or three sentences that clearly show how the evidence presented in the lines above relate to and support the thesis statement.
Planning for Informative Writing
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” and this philosophy certainly applies when it comes to informative writing or any type of formal writing for that matter. If you just jump right into writing your informative essay or article, you are likely to get stuck at some point, and the entire process will be far more challenging for you than if you take the time to do a little planning first. While planning is not a mandatory part of most writing assessments, it is a strategy that can significantly improve your performance.
Whether you use a traditional outline or a graphic organizer, taking some time before writing to identify the thesis statement and the details that you will use to support that thesis statement will make the writing process much easier for you once you begin. If you are having trouble coming up with a thesis statement, ask yourself what information is most important for the reader to know about the given topic and the reasons why it is important. This should help you formulate a thesis statement and then start planning the best way to support it.
The Thesis Statement in Informative Writing
The thesis statement is arguably the most critical component of your informative writing because the entire essay is built around it. A thesis statement is comprised of one or two sentences that clearly address the question in the writing prompt. An effective thesis statement is precise and lets the reader know what to expect in the rest of the essay.
While the thesis statement is designed as a road map of sorts for the reader, you don’t want to make it too obvious either. This means that you should not use “this essay will explain" as part of your thesis statement. Instead, write a sentence that explains it without such obvious forewarning. For instance, if you were writing an informative essay about recycled art, you might use a thesis statement that says, “Recycled art gives garbage new life and allows artists to express themselves in unique ways.” Based on this thesis statement, the reader can reasonably infer that the first body paragraph will include details and examples that explain how recycled art gives garbage new life and that the second body paragraph will focus on explaining how recycled art allows artists to express themselves in unique ways.
Informative Techniques That Improve Writing Quality
Biased information is the bane of informative writing, and you should avoid it at all costs. Be as factual as possible so the readers can use the information provided to draw their own conclusions about the topic without you influencing that conclusion in any direction. Another helpful technique to improve your informative writing is to be as specific as possible. Try to provide the reader with clear answers to the what, where, when, how and why of the topic you are explaining. The more precise you are in your writing, the more likely the reader is to understand the information.
Prioritizing information is another useful informative technique. Start your writing with the information that is most relevant to your reader’s understanding before you include details that are nice to know but not necessary. Finally, use language that is clear, formal and free of bias.
Features of Informative Writing
The key feature of informative writing is unbiased information about a given topic that is presented in a way that helps the reader truly understand the subject. It uses language that is easy to comprehend, and if technical terms are included, clear definitions and explanations of those terms are also included.
When educating readers about a given topic, it is important to only include the most relevant and essential details. Informative writing uses a variety of sentence structures to keep the reader from getting bored, and ideas are organized in a way that makes sense. Each body paragraph should focus on explaining a single idea that was introduced in the thesis statement and that develops the topic in a logical manner.
The concluding paragraph in an informative essay or article should summarize the main points made throughout the essay and should also restate the thesis statement in a new way. Never introduce new evidence in the conclusion. New evidence only belongs in the body paragraphs where it can be properly explained.
- BBC: Literary Techniques: Informative Language
- Kamm Solutions: Guidelines and Resources for Teaching Informative Writing
- Institute of Education Sciences: Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively
- JLV College Counseling: Writing Guide and Topic Ideas for an Informative Essay
- YourWriters: 100 Informative Essay Topics to Jumpstart a Writing Process
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and works full-time as a classroom teacher in a public school. She teaches middle school English to a wide range of students from struggling readers to advanced and gifted populations. In her spare time, she loves writing articles about education for TheClassroom.com, WorkingMother and other education sites.