Informative writing aims to educate the audience about a specific topic. This type of writing is also called expository writing. Informative writing provides facts instead of persuading the reader of opinions or beliefs. There are several techniques students can use to provide the audience with information they can understand and remember.


Writers often define unfamiliar or vague terms so the audience understands the topic or information. Writers usually use definitions at the beginning of an informative essay to prevent any confusion. For example, a student writing about ethnocentrism in U.S. culture would first define the term ethnocentrism.


Description involves describing sensory details, such as the smell, sound or taste of an object or experience, for the audience. For example, an informative essay on the tropical rain forest could describe the humid, hot air and the sound of buzzing insects. Effective description helps the audience vividly imagine the topic.

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Narration refers to the writing technique of relating a short anecdote that illustrates or introduces the topic of the essay. Narration usually occurs at the beginning of an informative essay, and it usually relates the author's experience. For example, a student writing about seat belt safety could briefly describe a car accident in which her seat belt saved her life.

Cause and Effect

Describing and analyzing the causes or effects of a topic gives readers a clearer understanding of the information. For example, an essay about the benefits of extracurricular activities in schools should include evidence about the effects of extracurricular programs, such as improved attendance or less school violence.

Comparison and Contrast

Comparing and contrasting ideas or situations also helps readers contextualize information. For example, an informative essay discussing the relationship of school lunch length to student achievement could cite a study that measured student achievement in a school before and after they extended their lunch period by 20 minutes.

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.