Different Types (or Genres) of Papers

The following are some of the most common types of essays or papers that students are given to write. This list additionally provides some useful tips for developing thesis statements for each style or format of writing. The most common and basic type of essay writing is the argumentative or persuasive essay.

Argumentative/Persuasive Essays

The argumentative style of writing attempts to make readers think in a different way or spur them into some type of action. The persuasive style of writing serves the purpose of trying to persuade readers about the validity or correctness of a specific thesis. A great many papers and essays are persuasive in nature to a certain extent. The thesis statement for both these styles needs to set out the writer’s opinion on a controversial or debatable subject or this should be framed as a decisive and solid statement about the subject. A thesis needs to be very specific and it can address an opposing view or counterargument.

Cause/Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays can be likened to some extent to compare and contrast essays. These are papers that examine, explain, or expose two actions or events, which essentially are the topics of the essay. In this type of writing, the writer should simply identify in a generalized way the relationship that exists between both topics.

Compare/Contrast Essays

The compare/contrast style of writing is quite similar to the cause/effect style and it attempts to show the likenesses and differences that exist between two particular things. These could, for instance, be ideas, events, the works of two authors, or even people. The aim is to arrive at a convincing conclusion concerning any relationship the writer sees between the items he or she is comparing and/or contrasting. The thesis statement for this type of writing needs to be a concise and clear generalization regarding any evident relationship(s) between the topics under discussion. 

Definition Essays

(This is also often aligned to persuasive writing i.e. a particular form of it)
The aim of the definition style of writing is to provide readers with an extended or expounded definition of a particular term with a view to uncovering a truth. While the primary aim is to explain, this style also specifies and limits the definition of a given term so that it fully conveys the meaning and the various connotations of a particular term to readers. It is important that the thesis statement in this type of essay is a shorter and more general version of the fuller definition, which you will develop over the course of writing your paper.

Informative/Research Essays

The aim of informative essays and/or research essays is to tell readers about a topic or subject that they might not know much about. These essays provide the writer’s summary of and conclusion concerning previous research in a given area so the reader is informed about the subject without them having to research it themselves. In this type of writing, the thesis statement provides a general overview or conclusion on the investigative work the writer has done.

I-Search Papers

Similar in many ways to the informative or research style of essay, an I-Search paper does not take an objective or detached position. Rather, the writer actively searches for information about a subject and develops a conclusion. In this type of paper, the thesis statement should provide more of a personal style conclusion concerning the investigative or research work that has been done along with the writer’s own opinion. 

Literature Essays

Literature essays are quite similar to persuasive essays or book reports and their aim is to analyze, evaluate, or interpret one or more particular aspects of some text. The writer should attempt to persuade their readers to agree with their opinion concerning the text. To do this, you should use specific quotes or examples from the work you are writing about. In this type of essay, the thesis statement should identify a specific question concerning the text and then offer some sort of conclusion, which should be supported by evidence from the literary work.

The Narrative/Descriptive Style

The aim of the narrative/descriptive styles of essay writing is to explain or describe a particular action, event, or process with a view to telling readers about something that may interest them. It is not always necessary to include a decisive or specific thesis statement in these types of essays but, to garner the interest of readers, it is essential to explain why the topic may be important and/or relevant to them.    

Review and Report Writing – Books, Movies and/or Plays

Writing reviews or reports on a book, movie or play are similar in many ways to writing a literature essay. These are papers that look at a particular work and judge its quality and value according to certain standards or criteria. The writer should offer their opinion on the work and suggest specific ways for evaluating or judging it. In this type of writing, the thesis statement should be based on the writer’s opinion or view on the subject they are reviewing or reporting on.