Students will be called upon to write essays many times during their academic careers. Essays are a piece of writing that focuses on a particular subject or theme. There are many different essay formats out there. Writers choose the format best suited to the purpose and subject of the piece. The most common formats are argumentative, compare and contrast, cause and effect, description, and narrative.
Argumentative essays, also known as persuasive essays, are pieces written to convince a reader to a certain point of view. This kind of essay is the most common one used for educational and professional settings. Persuasive essays begin with an explanation of the issue at hand. The writer will then cover several points in favor of their point of view about the subject matter and theme of the piece. Persuasive essays may look at the opposing viewpoint, with arguments against that viewpoint to further highlight why their stance is the correct one.
Compare and Contrast Essays
Compare and contrast is another standard essay format. For a compare and contrast essay, the writer chooses several items within a category and compares them for the reader. These pieces look at the pros and cons of different things. For example, an essay of this type written about computers could include comparisons of the differences between a laptop and a desktop computer. These pieces are not written to convince the reader of one thing or another, but educate them more about the subject matter at hand.
Descriptive and Narrative Essays
Descriptive essays are fairly self-explanatory—this kind of essay providers readers with descriptions of, and information about, the subject matter. Descriptive essays are focused on their topic and rarely discuss something unrelated. The object of this kind of essay is to offer factional and objective information about something for a reader.
Narrative Essays are similar to descriptive essays, but they are written from a more personal and subjective viewpoint. This kind of essay allows a writer to tell a story from their own perspective and share information as they see it. Narrative essays are written from a first-person perspective.
Cause and Effect Essays
Last but not least is the cause and effect essay. This kind of essay is formal in both tone and nature. Cause and effect essays only include facts and objective information without any subjective perspectives. The piece begins with the outcome/effect and explains to the reader how this point was reached. For example, a cause and effect essay could claim that long prison sentences reduce recidivism. The “outcome” is the drop in recidivism, with the paper arguing how the “cause” (long prison sentences) leads to this outcome.
Which Essay Format is Best?
The simple answer to this question is that there is no “best” essay format. Different essays require different formats, so it’s more a question of which format is “right” for your essay. In general, your teacher or professor will make it clear how they want the essay written. If writing an essay for a professional reason, then part of the research process may be to look at which essay format you should use.