Informative Writing

reformated from Bitesize (http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/standard/english/writing/informative_writing/revision/1/)

What is an information essay about?

An information essay can cover a number of things -

  • it could be that you are asked to provide information about yourself (for example, a hobby or pastime you enjoy)
  • it could be about an historical event (for example, the Titanic, the discovery of penicillin, or the modern computer)
  • it could also be based on a topic such as 'Becoming Fit'

The list is endless! These are only a few examples of the kinds of topic available.

The sections below will help you in completing the task of writing an informative essay. Before you look at them in more detail, read over the provided example of an informative essay, Information Essay A  - The Titanic

Having read the essay over, you might ask yourself a few questions -

  • What is the essay's main topic?
  • What does each paragraph focus on as a sub-topic?
  • How is the information ordered?
  • Are there any examples of good linkage?
  • Has the tone of the essay been formally maintained?
  • Is the level of vocabulary and expression of some quality?

Reading the essay and thinking about these points should help you to get ready to write your own informative essay.

Sample Informative Essay

The Titanic (Information essay A)

     The Titanic was the largest ship of its time and was thought to be unsinkable. It was a luxury liner which was sailing from Southampton to New York on its maiden voyage. There were 2,340 passengers and crew. Many of the world's millionaires sailed on this voyage; this was the world's most famous ship. The poorer passengers shared their rooms with other families; most of them were going over to America to start a new life.

     The Titanic was 882 feet long and it weighed 42,328 tons. It had eight decks, which is the size of an eleven-storey building, and it was 92 feet wide. Many people believed the ship was unsinkable because its hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments. Even if four of those compartments flooded, the ship could still float.

     On the 10th of April 1912, the Titanic set out for America, under Captain Edward J. Smith. On the 14th of April 1912, she unfortunately hit an iceberg, just before midnight, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is thought she was speeding rather arrogantly at 21 knots through an ice field. When it hit the iceberg many of the passengers were not aware of what had happened. Many of the rich stayed in their dressing rooms preparing for dinner. "There was a slight tremble," some people said. The iceberg had punctured six of the watertight compartments.

     There were not enough lifeboats for everyone on board the ship. Even though there were only enough for half the passengers, many of the lifeboats were still not full when she sank. Only 745 survived and many of these survivors were women and children. 1,595 unfortunately died during the accident, mostly due to the freezing water. A number of wives refused to be rescued because they wanted to remain with their husbands. Two boats too full of people escaped from the ship but they were sucked beneath the ocean.

     There were many acts of heroism displayed on board the Titanic. One such was by Colonel Jacob Astor, who helped people to board the lifeboats, but he unfortunately died later himself. Colonel Archibald Gracie was luckier; he stayed on board to the end and yet survived. He said, 'I managed to grasp the railing and I hung on with my might. When the ship plunged down, I was swirled around for what felt an endless time. Eventually, I came up to the surface to find the sea a mass of tangled wreckage.'

     When the ship was sinking the band played on solemnly. The largest passenger vessel of its time disappeared beneath the ocean surface. On April 15th, 1912, she sank, somewhere between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. The Titanic's captain, Edward J. Smith, went down with his ship. The first rescue ship to reach the site was the British liner, Carpathia. She arrived at about 4:00 a.m. and picked up many of the survivors.

      In September 1985, the wreck was found by a joint French-American expedition with a robot submersible. In July 1986 American researchers explored the Titanic in a 3 person submersible. They took photos of the Titanic but they did not bring any artefacts back to the surface. The following year a French group returned to the Titanic and recovered artefacts such as dishes, jewels, currency, and other treasures, which were exhibited later in Paris.

     People have always been interested in the Titanic because it was such a huge tragedy. It has gone down in history and is still remembered beside more recent disasters such as the Lockerbie air disaster, the Ibrox Stadium disaster and the King's Cross fire.

Titanic Essay - notes

Organization of essay A is based on chronology (i.e. the information is based on events according to when they happened, working from the earliest dates to the latest).  Each paragraph tries to cover the following sub-topics

The Titanic (Information essay A)

Paragraph 1 - introduction The Titanic was the largest ship of its time and was thought to be unsinkable. It was a luxury liner which was sailing from Southampton to New York on its maiden voyage. There were 2,340 passengers and crew. Many of the world's millionaires sailed on this voyage; this was the world's most famous ship. The poorer passengers shared their rooms with other families; most of them were going over to America to start a new life.

Paragraph 2 - ship's specifications  The Titanic was 882 feet long and it weighed 42,328 tons. It had eight decks, which is the size of an eleven-storey building, and it was 92 feet wide. Many people believed the ship was unsinkable because its hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments. Even if four of those compartments flooded, the ship could still float.

Paragraph 3 - setting sail and disaster  On the 10th of April 1912, the Titanic set out for America, under Captain Edward J. Smith. On the 14th of April 1912, she unfortunately hit an iceberg, just before midnight, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is thought she was speeding rather arrogantly at 21 knots through an ice field. When it hit the iceberg many of the passengers were not aware of what had happened. Many of the rich stayed in their dressing rooms preparing for dinner. "There was a slight tremble," some people said. The iceberg had punctured six of the watertight compartments.

Paragraph 4 - the lifeboat problem, its effect on number of survivors  There were not enough lifeboats for everyone on board the ship. Even though there were only enough for half the passengers, many of the lifeboats were still not full when she sank. Only 745 survived and many of these survivors were women and children. 1,595 unfortunately died during the accident, mostly due to the freezing water. A number of wives refused to be rescued because they wanted to remain with their husbands. Two boats too full of people escaped from the ship but they were sucked beneath the ocean.

Paragraph 5 - accounts of personal experiences  There were many acts of heroism displayed on board the Titanic. One such was by Colonel Jacob Astor, who helped people to board the lifeboats, but he unfortunately died later himself. Colonel Archibald Gracie was luckier; he stayed on board to the end and yet survived. He said, 'I managed to grasp the railing and I hung on with my might. When the ship plunged down, I was swirled around for what felt an endless time. Eventually, I came up to the surface to find the sea a mass of tangled wreckage.'

Paragraph 6 - ship sinks  When the ship was sinking the band played on solemnly. The largest passenger vessel of its time disappeared beneath the ocean surface. On April 15th, 1912, she sank, somewhere between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. The Titanic's captain, Edward J. Smith, went down with his ship. The first rescue ship to reach the site was the British liner, Carpathia. She arrived at about 4:00 a.m. and picked up many of the survivors.

Paragraph 7 - discovery of wreck  In September 1985, the wreck was found by a joint French-American expedition with a robot submersible. In July 1986 American researchers explored the Titanic in a 3 person submersible. They took photos of the Titanic but they did not bring any artefacts back to the surface. The following year a French group returned to the Titanic and recovered artefacts such as dishes, jewels, currency, and other treasures, which were exhibited later in Paris.

Paragraph 8 - conclusion: Titanic's place re. 20th century disasters   People have always been interested in the Titanic because it was such a huge tragedy. It has gone down in history and is still remembered beside more recent disasters such as the Lockerbie air disaster, the Ibrox Stadium disaster and the King's Cross fire.

Now you have looked at an example, you can think about your own informative essay. First you need to consider how to go about it -

  • you select your topic
  • you find information about it
  • you prepare it (make notes)
  • you plan the order for it
  • you draft it

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