The purpose of your essay is determined by your goal as a writer, as well as your subject matter. There are numerous types of essays, but essays usually fall under one of the following purposes for writing: to inform, persuade, explain or entertain.

Writing to Inform

When you write to inform, your goal is to give your audience information they don’t already have. In this case, your job is to report facts, not provide your thoughts on the subject. An example of an informative essay might be one that focuses on three types of dog breeds. If you are asked to include research in your informative essay, choose reputable resources that provide facts, not opinions.

Writing to Persuade

When you write to persuade, your goal is for your audience to take action — or at least, to want to take action — based on what you’ve written. An example of a persuasive essay might be one in which you persuade your audience to vote for your chosen presidential candidate. If you are asked to include research in your persuasive essay, your thesis statement should let the audience know what you want them to do, and the research you provide in your essay should explain why.

Writing to Explain

When you write to explain, your goal is to help your audience understand a process or situation. An example of writing to explain might be an essay in which you explain to your audience how to bake a birthday cake. If you’ve been asked to explain how to do something, choose a process you know well and are interested in.

Writing to Entertain

When you write to entertain, your goal is to provide an emotional experience for your audience. An example of writing to entertain might be an essay in which you tell about your most embarrassing moment, or recount your most memorable vacation.