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ENG 110: How to Write Well (Harman, FA2021): Types of Essays

Informal versus Formal Writing

Informal writing

  • Text messages
  • Facebook posts
  • Twitter, Instagram, etc
  • Email

Informal writing are intended for specific people or audiences who do not expect you to back up your ideas with resources, data, facts. 

Academic (Formal) Writing

Text message and twitter posts, even Facebook posts don't always use complete sentences, correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling. They may include emojis, slang, and TGIF, LOL, ROFLS etc., that are not acceptable for formal academic writing.

Academic writing should be well thought out, carefully crafted, and use proper grammar and punctuation. It should be able to withstand a grading process, and use appropriate resources.

Types of Essays you will encounter in FORMAL ACADEMIC WRITING

Narrative Essay Argument Essay Research Essay Rhetorical Analysis Response to Readings
Telling a story or relating events that have occurred Persuasive in nature Locate, evaluate, analyze sources all related to one topic An examination of the ways the elements of a text/story/poem, etc work together Thoughtful reflection and discussion of a reading
You are expected to use a thesis statement, which identifies your main argument or point You are expected to use a thesis statement, which identifies your main argument or point The thesis statement identifies your position, identifies a problem, or asks a question.  Thesis statement directly addresses the main focus of your topic, concerning the text/poem/writings that have been selected for analysis. Opening paragraph includes a direct statement of your reaction to the text.
Include details that help the reader understand the topic and your point of view You are expected to support your argument with facts and data, and NOT simply your opinion. Includes information that is directly cited or paraphrased; summarizes current ideas/research, also may include historical data/information, and some background for the reader. ALSO includes critical analysis, instead of simply regurgitation of ideas. Examines various aspects of the text/poetry/writings. For example, choice of language, imagery evoked, emotions, ideology, gender issues, etc.  Includes  the central idea, theme, or position of the author/text being responded to.
Uses first person (I, me, my) or third person (they, he, she, it) point of view ALSO tries to discuss opposing viewpoints, and refute/dismiss their counter arguments using accurate information, data, facts. Tries to persuade the reader that your idea/argument is the correct one. Sometimes includes charts, graphs, tables, and figures to support the thesis. May use formal headings such as "Methods" and "Data Analysis" and "results, in order to separate sections and guide the reader through the main ideas. Uses supporting documentation as part of the research. Supports your ideas with direct quotes from the item(s) being analyzed, as well as through summaries, and paraphrasing. Identifies points of agreement/disagreement. May include a personal reflection that relates to one's own experiences or emotions. May include reflective questions that you answer as part of the reflection.