The purpose of informative writing is to share information without any opinion or bias. In informative writing, there’s no room for your personal insights, feelings, and attitudes about the subject. The task is clear: educate the reader by conveying factually accurate and relevant information.
It may be presented in the form of an essay, an article, a textbook, a biography, a nonfiction book, how-to guide, a report, and more.
Also called explanatory or expository writing, informative writing comes down to writing about the facts, for the facts, with only the facts in mind.
The Fundamentals of Informative Writing
Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind as you craft informative pieces:
- Provides facts and details about a topic using examples and evidence from research
- Educates the reader
- Reports new or interesting findings
- Seeks to improve the reader’s understanding about a topic
Informative writing does not:
- Seek to change the reader’s opinion
- Persuade the reader
- Present an argument
What Is the Purpose of Informative Writing?
Informative writing can accomplish one or more goals:
Describe Something or Share Information
Informative writing may provide a detailed description of something – a person, an event, a thing, a place. “What to do at Yellowstone National Park,” “An examination of Post-WWII Japan,” or “A look at the lifecycle of a Monarch butterfly” – these are all examples of using informative writing to describe a place, thing, or event.
You can use informative writing to describe the effect of something or the how and the why behind things that take place. When addressing the why piece while establishing cause and effect, it’s easy to slip into persuasive or argumentative writing. So it’s important that in your description of cause and effect, you focus on providing factual information that reveals a connection between two factors, not an interpretation based on anything outside of the facts at hand. “How does stress impact your health?” and “What changes did the Civil Rights Movement bring about?” both provide an opportunity to explore cause and effect, and both also present a real challenge when it comes to putting feelings aside to tell the story.
Informative writing is often used to compare similarities or differences between two things. While comparing and contrasting can easily become argumentative (“Why premium gas is better for your car than standard unleaded gas”), it can also be structured in an informative, unbiased fashion (“Comparing the difference between premium gas and standard unleaded gas”).
“How to change your car’s oil” or “How the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was pained” are a couple of wildly different examples of how informative writing can provide readers with an in-depth description of a process. How-to guides and step-by-step tutorials are good examples of explaining a process.
Provide an Answer or Solution to a Problem
With this type of write-up, you identify a problem and then its solution. You can highlight one solution to the problem without showing a bias or preference, or you can provide several solutions to the problem at hand. Informative writing in this context provides one or more solutions to questions concerning practical matters like “How do I save money on my heating bill?” or “How do I find the best mortgage rate?”
Informative writing can detail how things work or why things happen using clear, unbiased, informative language. For example, “Why does the presidential election in the U.S. rely on using the Electoral College?” and “How does an internal combustion engine work?” both seek to answer a question.
The Best Way to Structure a Piece of Informative Writing
Informative writing must be clear and focused, but it doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. Informative writing can pack a punch by employing an authoritative voice and compelling statistics.
While this type of writing lends itself to a more formal presentation, you can keep the read interesting and engaging by switching up sentence structure and using a variety of bullet points, headings, and subheadings. Keep the flowery language at bay and watch your use of adjectives and adverbs because they can often take an informative piece or an expository or argumentative one.
Informative writing is best organized by providing:
Because informative writing is all about sharing detailed information and facts, it’s a good practice to keep each supporting paragraph organized and focused on just one point, detail, or aspect. It’s also important to present the information in a clear, organized manner that’s accessible to readers unfamiliar with the topic.
Veracity is King in Informative Writing
Informative writing revolves around credible sources and factual evidence – consider them the meat and potatoes of your writing. They provide the foundation for this type of writing and cannot be overlooked or undervalued. In informative writing, there’s no room to persuade, provide an opinion, argue your point, or provide your perspective. Even a personal anecdote can wreck informative writing. It’s all about the facts.
Citing credible sources helps give informative writing its own credibility. Without source citations, your informative writing piece won’t come across as a reliable, trustworthy read.
Don’t guess, don’t assume, and don’t take something you’ve heard as fact. Verify it, cite it, and use reliable sources.
Your best bet? Government sites (ending in .gov), academic sites (ending in .edu), scholarly journals, and trusted new sites.