Houston Community College Libraries

Library Instruction Tip Sheet

Writing an Essay

Types of Essays

The narrative essay includes any piece of writing that recounts events with a detailed sense of time, dramatic action and/or climactic order.

The descriptive essay creates detailed word pictures of persons, places, objects, and/or emotions.

Process analysis
Activities are reformed by processes carried out is a series of steps. There are two kinds of process analysis essays: directional and informative. While the directional essay tells how to do or make something, the informative essay tells how something works.

Comparison and contrast
A comparison/contrast essay requires the writer to identify and examine similarities and/or differences. In essay writing the purpose of comparing or contrasting is to enable the reader to understand the theme of the essay more clearly and make a judgement.

Classification groups things together on the basis of their similarities or differences. We often do this unconsciously in organizing our environment. In essay writing you should divide or classify a subject according to a single principle.

The purpose of a definition essay is to clarify the meaning of a term or topic. When writing, you should define in a clear and straightforward manner.

Cause and effect
Cause and effect essays examine the relationships between an event of action (the cause) and the result of the event or action (the effect). Multiple causes and/or effects are possible.

Persuasion and argument
Persuasive or argumentative essays attempt to win the reader over to a particular point of view by using supportive evidence which can include facts, opinions statistics, etc. One should also consider opposing viewpoints(s) in an argument.


For information about essay writing and examples of essays, consult the books from the list provided below. Check the microfiche catalog to determine the campus location of the book(s) you want or ask the librarian for assistance.

Additional sources about essay writing can be found by using the following call numbers to browse specific shelf areas or by looking under the suggested subject headings in the microfiche catalog.

Call Numbers: PE1408, PE1417, PE1471

Subject Headings: