Essay Types: Three Categories of Writing

Essay Types: Three Categories of Writing

by Owen Fourie

How Many Categories of Writing Are There?

Commonly, you will find the types of writing divided into four categories: persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive. In my opinion, it is better to include narrative and descriptive in one category, which we’ll call creative.

Doing this allows us to have three main categories: persuasive, expository, and creative. This is how I categorize things in my mind when I am faced with the works that are available in a library or in a bookstore.

In this article, you will find a listing of the kinds of essays that fit into each of these categories. Some essays will be found in only one of the categories. Others will be in two of them, and a few will be found in all three.

Please do not regard this as an infallible standard. It is simply a guide to help you as you think about the essays that are assigned to you. Which category describes your particular essay on this occasion? Is it to be persuasive, expository, or creative?

Let me know in your comments, if you think that any type listed here would be better listed in another category.

This listing should not be regarded as exhaustive.

First Category: Persuasive

Persuasive writing is intended to induce the reader to belief or action concerning a particular matter. Exposition is necessary here, but persuasion is the primary objective.

  • Argumentative
  • Cause-and-Effect
  • Compare-and-Contrast
  • Dissertation
  • Evaluation
  • Evaluative
  • Five-Paragraph
  • Informal
  • Opinion
  • Persuasive
  • Problem-and-Solution
  • Research Report
  • Rhetorical
  • Scholarship
  • Statistical
  • Term Paper
  • Thesis

Second Category: Expository

Expository writing clearly explains a particular topic, especially a difficult matter, in detail. This is for the benefit of those who wish to be informed and who would like to understand the subject more thoroughly. Either there is no persuasion involved here, or persuasion is not the primary objective.

  • Admission
  • Analysis
  • Analytical
  • Business
  • Cause-and-Effect
  • Character Analysis
  • Classification or Division
  • College
  • College Admission
  • College Application
  • Compare-and-Contrast
  • Critical
  • Critical Analysis
  • Deductive
  • Definition
  • DBQ (Document-based Questions)
  • Evaluation
  • Evaluative
  • Explanatory
  • Exploratory
  • Expository
  • Five-Paragraph
  • Illustration
  • Inductive
  • Informal
  • Informative
  • Inquiry
  • Interview
  • Literary
  • Literary Response
  • Literature
  • Personal
  • Poetry
  • Problem-and-Solution
  • Process
  • Process Analysis
  • Reaction
  • Reflective
  • Research Report
  • Response
  • Response-to-Literature
  • Review
  • Scholarship
  • Statistical
  • Summary
  • Synthesis
  • Technical

Third Category: Creative

Creative writing requires originality of thought, imagination, and expressiveness. It produces works that entertain, inspire, and revivify the reader.

  • Autobiographical
  • Creative
  • Creative Writing
  • Descriptive
  • Expressive
  • Five-Paragraph
  • Informal
  • Memoir
  • Narrative
  • Personal Narrative
  • Scholarship
  • Short Story

In the several posts that follow, you will find some brief and some not-so-brief descriptions of the different terms used for essays. The various terms are grouped together in sections of the alphabet:

Under some of the terms appearing in this glossary, you may find a note telling you to look for the information under a different term.

You may also see links to articles in the “Different Types of Essays” category where you will find more information about a particular kind of essay.


What is your experience with the many different terms used for essays? Which types of essays listed here do you think should be listed in another category in addition to where they now appear or instead of where they now appear? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2010 by English Essay Writing Tips


    • Alex Vanderlaan on December 31, 2010 at 03:49

    You completed a number of nice points there. I did a search on the issue and found nearly all folks will agree with your blog.

    1. Thank you, Alex, for your comment and your search. It’s nice to have such support on the issue.

Comments have been disabled.