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Types of Essays

If you're not sure what kind of essay to write, you can use this handy list of essay styles. This essay tutorial uses argumentative paper examples, but the same principles can be used in other essay types as well.

Argumentative Essays
Typically in high school or college assignments, you will be asked to write a persuasive, or argumentative, essay. In this essay, you present a point of view and back it up with evidence, from a novel, interviews, your own research, etc.

Argumentative style essays are powerful tools because they help develop your ability to persuade an audience, in this case your reader. You can use argumentative papers to write about just about any topic, from a literary analysis of the Odyssey to the effects of the Great Depression.

Here is a sample topic for an argumentative essay:

Some have argued that the United States should legalize drugs like marijuana. Others have said that doing so will endanger public safety. Conduct research and present an informed opinion on this issue in a 10 page paper.

This tutorial will show you how to draft and present a great argumentative essay step by step.

View sample argumentative essays and examples.

Comparative Essays / Compare and Contrast
The comparative essay, also called a comparison or compare and contrast essay, is not as popular as the argumentative style, but it is a good tool for building analytical writing skills. Comparative essays are typically used to describe multiple subjects. The following is a sample topic for a compare and contrast essay:

Compare the writing styles of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. How do they approach the subject of nature, and what is distinct about each author?

Comparative essays can be difficult to write because your teacher will want you to discuss multiple authors or works. For beginning writers, consider alternating paragraphs about each author. Be sure to use transitions like "in contrast to Thoreau, Emerson employs a different writing style," so that the essay continues to flow. More advanced writers should not be afraid to compare different authors or works in the same paragraph.

Here is an example of a simple comparative essay. You can also check out an example of a more advanced comparative essay.

Be warned - some students think that because an essay doesn't use the word "contrast," they can simply write about how the two authors are similar. But to optimize your score, you will definitely want to analyze how the differences in the works effects one's understanding of them. This tutorial can also apply to comparative essays because the writing style and organization involved is very similar to creating an argumentative paper.

View sample comparative essays and examples.

Counter-Argument Essays
A counter-argument style essay is similar to an argumentative paper, except that the student will be asked to rebut a position. Here is an example topic of a counter-argument assignment:

Many have argued that Odysseus is the epitome of a Greek hero. How can it be argued that Odysseus, in fact, does not qualify as a hero?

Narrative Essays
A narrative style essay tells a story about some person, place, or event. It uses description to bring details to life. Narratives may involve recalling and/or analyzing a personal story, describing the life of someone else, or using research to retell a historical event.

Here is a sample topic of a narrative essay:

We are said to have "turning points" in our lives. Describe one turning point in your life and how you have changed since then.

Cause-effect Essays
The cause and effect essay will ask you to analyze a situation and see how events unfolded. You be asked to give an opinion on whether the "effects" were positive or negative.

An example topic for a cause-effect essay:

What factors led up to World War I, and how were the major powers affected by this conflict?

For examples of counter-argument, narrative, and cause-effect essays topics, visit this website.

 


 
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