Exploring Different Types of Essays and How to Approach Them

Mike Russel
A person looking at a pile of papers
A person looking at a pile of papers

Many different types of essays can make your studying routine more enjoyable, boring, inspiring, or tedious. One style of an essay paper can be interesting and creative, while another will demand clerkly precision and hours of fact-checking. This guide is here to unveil different styles of essays you can encounter when getting a degree!

Essay as an Academic Paper: What Is It?

An essay in an academic context is a written piece of work that presents ideas and evidence to support a particular argument, concept, theory, or point of view. 

Students commonly write essays to demonstrate their subject knowledge and develop critical thinking skills. They are often used to assess the student’s ability to make connections between different sources, analyze data, and draw conclusions.

The theory (by Roman Witold Ingarden)

Roman Ingarden in an office
Roman Ingarden, the philosopher who studied aesthetics, ontology, phenomenology, and communication

We can perceive essay papers as acts of communication, aka discourse materials that must deliver a message that answers a question. That, in turn, motivates the Reader to conclude and let a thought evolve, supporting the communication act.

As a Writer, you have discourse A, a concept, thought, idea, verdict, etc. That discourse is formed by your interests, beliefs (religious or not), knowledge, culture, maybe even stereotypes, and other influential components that work as a kaleidoscopic frame and focus you on particular things. Hence, that leads to selective fact presentation (even when you are not biased) and prioritizing topics, arguments, expert opinions, etc.

For instance, you are a vegetarian. Creating a discourse for an essay, you will pick scientific evidence and facts that support your lifestyle. Yet, remember that your Reader may be a meat-eater, and their discourse differs from yours, meaning their memory holds other facts, beliefs, and evidence pieces that may contradict your concepts.

That also leads us to the moment when we see that your Reader has a discourse B. When reading your essay (with a discourse A), the Reader mixes your message with their thoughts and uses another “frame” to perceive what you strive to convey. 

Readers are also selective, so they comprehend 10-90% of your message, depending on their open-mindedness. If Readers have a resembling lifestyle and vision like you, your essay will be much more effective. Yet, those who disagree with you may ignore some facts and skip the essential conclusions.

Regardless of how that communication is effective, we have the following process of essay perceiving:

Discourse A + Discourse B = Discourse C

Replacing the “B” with any other idea will give you another result. For instance, adding the idea “X” to the concept “A” may give us the result “Y.”

The purpose

As an activity, different essay types help students learn how to present their thoughts, beliefs, and conclusions. So, a student mastering several types of writings learns how to

  • Evaluate the relevance of facts and events
  • Sustain balance while presenting opinions
  • Pick effective arguments that help to explain why this or that is important
  • Ensure informational hygiene and avoid spreading misinformation or being tricked
  • Think logically and impartially, and draw objective conclusions
  • Systematize information and facts
  • Write interestingly, engagingly, and influentially.

And, of course, students who work with different types of essays develop their artistic skills, enhance their vocabularies, and attain better clarity that helps them deliver their concepts with minimum ambiguity. All that is 100% helpful even during daily life, given that we are surrounded by information and must stay alert to distinct truths from falses.

Academic importance

Regarding what different kinds of essay papers are for academic society, most are materials for further investigation and debate. The results of each paper — be that a small essay about personal experiences or a dissertation about nano-technologies — are then used to solve existing issues and develop more theories. Science needs those small concepts, verdicts, and conclusions as contributions to the vast polylogue that filters relevant materials that can be practical and applicable.

Remember that your essay topic is a relevant question in some fields. Your writing is an answer, more like a solution even. In a nutshell.

The 4 Main Types of Papers to Write

A person writing in her notebook
There are 4 main types of papers to write

What are the 4 types of essays? What are their demands, purposes, and styles? Here is the answer to what the 4 kinds of essays are.


Expository writing is informative, educating the audience about a particular topic. This type of essay requires research and analysis to deliver facts and objectively explain them. Expository writing aims to inform, so it should be written in a straightforward and unembellished way without personal opinions or bias.

An instructor who asks you to write an expository paper will test you for knowledge of something particular. They also want to see you deliver your ideas clearly and without bias. Hence, you must have solid evidence, references, and citations when writing an expository essay. If you’re struggling with this type of essay, consider seeking help from professional expository essay writing services.


In contrast to expository essays, argumentative papers use more rhetorical devices like ethos/pathos/logos along with a powerful thesis statement to draw readers’ attention and persuade them to accept your point of view. An argumentative paper requires strong evidence, examples, and solid facts to support your thesis. Also, you must show why your viewpoint is better than the opposite or alternative solutions. 

This type of essay belongs to a debate genre where each side presents its arguments and counterarguments intending to prove its statements are right. To write an argumentative paper, you need to be well-versed in the topic, pay close attention to the details and nuances of each argument, and be ready to refute opposing points of view. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on how to craft a compelling argumentative essay, you can check out our post on how to make an argumentative essay.


Narrative essay writing requires you to tell a story and explain why it matters or what it means. It is an entertaining way of conveying information that allows readers full immersion into a story. The main objective of this type of essay is to show how the events have unfolded and what lessons readers can get from them.

When writing your narrative paper, you must include vivid descriptions, sensory details, characters’ descriptions, thoughts, and emotion-evoking language. Narrative essays also require strong structure and clear logic to help readers follow your story’s actions and plot.


Your goal with a descriptive essay is to provide detailed and vivid descriptions of a particular person, event, situation, or object. This type of paper requires more detail about the subject — you must use all five senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste) to create a colorful portrait in the reader’s mind.

Descriptive essays require an extensive vocabulary and precise language to convey emotions, feelings, and impressions. To write such a paper successfully, you need to use dynamic imagery and be able to describe an abstract feeling using concrete words. You should also provide interesting facts and anecdotes to help readers learn more about the subject you’re writing about.


Expository, argumentative, narrative, and descriptive essays are the four main papers you can expect to write in your academic career. They all have different purposes, styles, and demands. Depending on the type of essay paper you’re writing, do your research, know the audience you’re writing for, and select strong evidence to support your thesis.

What About the Additional Types of Essays?

A tired person sleeping at a desk
There is more?..

The four mentioned different types of papers to write could also be interpreted as sub-types of essay writing, except that the argumentative paper type could be called “persuasive.” But there are more different essay types you must know as a student. So, here are several types of narrative essays, as well as some types of persuasive essays. 


A review paper requires exploring the latest research, evaluating different sources, and presenting your opinion on a particular topic. You may be asked to write a review essay for a book, movie, article, or event. Such papers require critical thinking skills and analysis of the facts presented by other authors.

When writing reviews, you must use your voice and provide a strong opinion. You should also be ready to answer other readers’ questions, so ensure you understand the topic well.

You can find many great literature review topics here

Compare and contrast

This paper style requires students to compare and contrast two elements or topics. To write this type of essay successfully, you need to be able to analyze the differences and similarities between the two items. You must also consider all aspects of each topic and how they relate. For example: 

  • Both cats and dogs can be loyal companions
  • Stalin VS Hitler: different beliefs, identical methods
  • Do feminism and masculism have many things in common? 

To write a successful compare-and-contrast paper, you should include relevant facts, examples, quotes, or anecdotes from both topics to prove your point. Also, make sure that you pay close attention to the details and nuances of each element.

Cause and effect

The main goal of this type of essay is to explain the cause-and-effect relationships between two different events or topics. This style requires you to provide evidence, facts, and examples that elucidate how Something-1 leads to Something-2. For example: 

  • The effects of a sedentary lifestyle 
  • Overprotective parents bring up the most secretive children, and here is why 
  • Pessimism helps people plan better 
  • Modern lifestyle makes people face anxiety more often etc. 

The cause-and-effect essay should be organized so readers can easily follow the relationships between different elements. Ensure you provide clear explanations for each point so that readers can understand your argument.

Now, to the Styles of Essay Writing

A person writing something
A style choice greatly changes how you present facts in an essay

There are more types of writings! What styles of essay writing can you use?

Objective writing

This style of essay writing is the most demanding for research. Staying impartial and “cold” can be challenging, but the objective style of essay narrative requires your unbiased thought on an event, phenomenon, object, or figure.

Sustaining neutrality while presenting facts and statistics can be achieved by using neutral language and referring to experts, witnesses, and news in a balanced manner. That means you should present an idea that supports a topic, also a concept that contradicts it, and a discourse that offers an alternative option or criticizes the polar thoughts. To be successful with such an essay, you must use formal language and cite reliable sources.

Subjective writing

Among all the styles of essays, subjective is the easiest to complete but the hardest to prepare for. Your mere opinion kinda works, but it remains less solid without evidence. Hence, you’ll need to provide examples and facts and discuss the topic from different angles.

When writing a subjective essay, use your voice to interpret a phenomenon and draw conclusions based on evidence and facts. Make sure that your opinion is grounded in strong logic and sound reasoning. Also, don’t forget to include a personal reflection or comment on the subject matter. 

Technical writing

Of all the different types of essays, technical-centered ones are the most tedious assignments you will have to do. But, this essay writing style is essential: from engineering to psychology and computer science to biology.

Technical papers require an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and must be written with precision and accuracy. They should include precise descriptions and clear instructions on completing certain tasks or figures that help explain concepts more easily. Furthermore, technical papers must be written unbiasedly and should not contain any personal opinions unless explicitly stated.

Creative writing

Forget all the essay types and definitions because we have got to the best assignment you can get.

Creative papers have one purpose: they give you chances to generate and express ideas without demanding practicality. That is when you brainstorm, watch an epic series in your head, and lay it all out on paper, and no one has the right to criticize your ✨ art ✨

This type of essay writing requires you to express your ideas, thoughts, and feelings uniquely. To write a successful creative essay, you should be able to communicate your ideas clearly and play with words to make them sound more interesting. Furthermore, you must use vivid language and visual imagery to create an atmosphere for readers so that they understand the story and live it through with a character or with you (well, you can be the MC).

Creative writing is a free style of essay completion, and there is beauty in how you approach such assignments. It can be entertaining and enjoyable, and it might be the best task you get for all types of college essays.

What Types of Essays are There by Format?

A tired person lying in a pile of studying materials
Some things we normally never call essays are actually essays as well

What do you think when hearing the “what are different types of essays?” question? Do you imagine a three-page paper with several references? That counts, but some types of papers to write can be unexpectedly different.

  • Dissertations. This type of essay is mostly written as an argumentative paper and is usually MUCH longer than others (as a rule, that is a whole book). It requires comprehensive research, statistics, and deep analysis of the topic and must include eighty and more references to reliable sources. Most often, dissertations, aka thesis essays, cover a long period or many cases with a connection or resemblance. 
  • Research papers. These are long pieces with intense research on a given topic. They require a large set of information that has to be analyzed and presented in an organized manner. Research papers must be well-structured, including an introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and reference list.
  • Annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a type of paper that includes the citation of the source followed by a short annotation of it. It is an extensive list of research materials, including books, articles, newspapers, and other documents. The purpose of the annotation is to provide a summary of the content and a description of its relevance to the research topic. Yet, that is more of an essay part than an independent paper. 

And yes, these all are different kinds of essays. There’s actually more. Fascinating! (no, but at least you know more now).

Final Words

The types of essays are diverse, and they should not be underestimated. Each type has its rules and requirements, which you must meet to create a high-quality paper that follows the standard. 

Don’t worry. Practice makes perfect! So keep up with all your assignments; soon enough, you will master them all! And if you need help — there are always online writing services and tutors to lend a helping hand. Good luck!

Mike Russel

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