The primary purpose of informative/explanatory writing is to increase knowledge. When writing an informative/explanatory text, the writer answers questions of why or how. Informative writing educates the reader by imparting straightforward information on a certain topic. Unlike other types of writing, informative writing does not aim to change the reader's thinking or move the reader to take action.
A well-written informative essay should include the following elements:
Has an introduction that introduces a topic and grabs the reader's attention
Clearly conveys information and ideas about a topic
Develops a topic with a variety of specific, relevant details, such as facts, examples, quotations, and anecdotes
Clearly organizes ideas and information, using strategies such as compare/contrast, cause/effect, definition, and classification
Uses formatting, graphics, and multimedia, such as hyperlinks when appropriate
Uses precise language and vocabulary appropriate to the topic
Uses appropriate transition words and phrases that clarify the relationship among ideas
Uses a formal style and tone
Ends with a conclusion that summarizes the main points and follows logically from the information presented
Follows the conventions of standard English
This checklist is a great tip sheet for students to keep in their folders! Teachers can access this checklist in the Informative/Explanatory Writing Kit.
In many essays, the first paragraph should introduce your topic to readers and include a thesis statement, or claim. A thesis statement is one or two sentences that state your main idea.
A strong introduction also needs to capture the readers’ attention. Students can use one of the following to get readers interested right away:
Introduction examples for informative/explanatory texts...
WEAK – Money has been important to people throughout history. This paper will describe the history of money and explain why people started using it. It will also describe different types of money.
STRONG – Think of these four things: knives, beads, cows, and whales' teeth. What do they have in common? The answer is that people have used them as money in trades. Through history, different cultures have used some surprising forms of currency.
Students should use their conclusion to bring your writing to a satisfying finish. Students can use the following strategies to wrap up an essay:
Download a tip sheet for students that outlines strategies for writing introductions and conclusions for informative/explanatory texts!
A well-written informational essay uses techniques to build coherence between and within paragraphs. Coherence in writing means that a reader can move easily and clearly from one idea to the next. To achieve coherence, writers use transitions words and phrases. Linking ideas and key information with transition words and phrases will tie one sentence to another and show the connections between ideas.
Below is a tip sheet that lists transition words and phrases that can be used to build coherence between and within paragraphs. Download my Informative/Explanatory Writing Kit to make get the worksheet for your students!
There are a number of ways for students to practice writing informative/explanatory texts. Some of my favorite informative writing assignments are:
WRITING ASSIGNMENT IDEA #1
My Informative/Explanatory Writing Kit includes an informational writing activity worksheet for students! With this informative writing assignment students will write about something they like to make or do. It could be their favorite recipe or craft, a game they like to play or hobby. Using the worksheet, students will write the directions of how to follow the rules, recipe, or steps to create something. In addition to writing about something they like to make/play, students will underline all linking words and draw an illustration!
Below are two additional writing assignments you could assign students to work on their informative writing skills. In addition to looking at the ways your students write informative or explanatory texts, you will also have the chance to check that proper nouns are capitalized properly. What a great way to combine writing and grammar!
WRITING ASSIGNMENT IDEA #2
To assess how well your students write informative/explanatory texts, use calendar holidays as a writing topic. For instance, you might ask students to choose their favorite holiday and explain in writing why they like it the best.
To help students choose a holiday for an explanatory essay, you could provide them with a list. Some common holidays follow:
WRITING ASSIGNMENT IDEA #3
Want to be more creative? You can add a twist to the informative essay and provide your students with some lesser-known days of celebration. This would encourage students to do some research and inform their audience. Here are some possible calendar celebrations students could research and write about:
Informative or explanatory writing follows an organized format. Using the anagram INFORM, teachers and students can easily remember the elements of an informative essay. Download a poster to remind your students about the parts of the INFORMative essay!