As the name implies, informative, or expository writing is a form of writing in which the author aims to inform readers without expressing their personal views or opinions.
In other words, the goal of informative writing is to communicate without influencing. The second you try to direct readers in any way, you’re no longer informing — you’re persuading.
There are a few ways to go about doing this effectively, including providing clear and concise information in an organized manner, using examples or analogies to illustrate your points, and being aware of your audience when writing informative content.
Let’s discuss all three.
The hallmark of informational writing is accuracy and completeness. People want to read a piece of informational writing to educate themselves on the facts of the matter.
What they are not looking for is any interpretation that distorts the facts or in any way taints their accuracy.
They don’t want to know what you think (that’s an opinion piece,) they don’t want to know what it means (that’s an essay) and they don’t want to be persuaded one way or the other (that’s marketing copy.)
Readers of information writing pieces just want to know the facts and they want to learn from them. So, in order to help them understand the content, you need to organize it clearly and concisely to make it easier for them to digest.
While a logically organized presentation goes a long way to communicate information effectively, it’s often not enough for clarity, especially if your subject matter is complex in nature.
This is where your delivery matters. In order to present hard to understand information in a clear way, you’ll need to resort to easy to follow examples and everyday analogies people can easily relate to.
Using these tools can not only help explain your concepts and ideas better, but they can also make your informational writing a lot more engaging, turning something obscure and hard to understand into something obvious and even entertaining.
Finally, when providing informative writing, it’s critical that you keep your readers in mind as you write.
Different audiences have different needs. The comprehension level of an advanced reader will be miles ahead from that of a beginner, so you need to make sure that your examples and analogies are tuned to their level of understanding and relatability.
For example, if you are writing about cryptocurrency for those who already have experience trading it, it may be necessary to include additional details or explanations that might not be necessary when writing for those looking for an introduction to the subject.
What Are the Elements of Informative Writing?
Since you’re primarily writing an informative piece to educate and inform, it’s critical that you provide well-researched background information from highly reputable sources.
Your informative writing needs to be credible and believable, so the more detail and references you include the better.
Here are some of the elements that can help you nail this type of writing:
This is the part where you introduce your core theme beginning the paragraph with a topic sentence, and then mention what you’re going to be covering in the rest of your piece.
This is typically made out of several sections with headings where you expand on your core theme by breaking it down into its component parts.
In order to help your readers digest the new information you’ll be making use of some or all of the following elements:
A picture tells a thousand words, so you may want to include diagrams, illustrations, photographs, maps, and so on, in order to present your information in a visual way that expands on and relates back to your text.
Tables & Charts
Depending on your subject matter, you may need to present your information using tables and charts, especially when you’re comparing data points over different time periods (e.g. year over year), between different entities (company A’s financials vs. company B’s), and so on.
Whenever you are presenting data points, facts and figures, you’ll want to reference them in footnotes at the bottom of the page, so that those readers who are interested in taking a deeper dive, or want third party validation of your information, can easily refer to them.
Here, you want to bring closure to your presentation, summarizing your key findings and highlighting the main takeaways from the information.
Glossary of Terms
If you’re catering your informational writing to a beginner-type audience, you may need to include a glossary at the end to explain subject-matter jargon in language that’s easy to understand at their level.
If you’re addressing your piece to an advanced audience, this step will likely be unnecessary as it won’t really add much value to the reader.
What Are Some Examples of Informative Writing?
Below you’ll find several examples of informative writing. Now, this isn’t meant as a comprehensive list (that would make for a very long article) but it does capture the top contenders:
Instructional manuals provide detailed information on how to use a product or complete a task.
This type of informative writing is organized in steps and often includes visuals to make the process easier to understand and follow.
Just like instructional manuals, how-to guides provide step-by-step instructions on completing a specific task or project.
However, this type of informative writing is usually more general and can include helpful tips for success as well as potential pitfalls to avoid.
Academic papers are used by researchers to present their findings from an experiment or study they conducted.
These informative writings should be clear, concise, and detail all the research methods used as well as the results and conclusions.
Also, all external sources of information must be referenced clearly so readers can corroborate the research and your findings.
News articles provide informative content that people can use to stay informed on current events.
This type of informative writing should always be up-to-date, accurate, and include detailed information on the topic being discussed.
Tutorials are a type of informative writing that provide step-by-step instructions and explanations on how to complete a task.
They are designed to provide readers the knowledge they need in order to master a skill.
Educational materials are a type of informative writing used to teach an audience about a particular topic.
This could be in the form of textbooks, websites, lectures, presentation slides, webinars notes, etc.
Process documents, sometimes referred to as standard operating procedures, provide informative content that outlines how a certain process should be done.
This type of informative writing is typically used in business and technology settings to explain all the steps and procedures necessary to achieve a successful outcome repeatedly and consistently.
White papers are a type of informative writing that provides in-depth information about a specific topic for the purpose of exploring a new approach or technique.
This is often used by businesses to explain their products and services in a clear, informative way and may include case studies, thought experiments, and new ideas.
Reports are a type of informative writing that summarizes the key findings of a study or investigation.
They should be highly structured and organized, with well laid out conclusions and clear recommendations for further action.
The goal with informative writing is to provide readers with specific information in a clear and organized way so they can gain a deeper understanding of your subject matter.
By being aware of your audience, providing accurate details and examples, and organizing your content effectively, you can create informative content that is engaging and easy to digest.
So, no matter what type of informative writing you’re creating — academic papers, instructional manuals or news articles — following these guidelines will help ensure that you communicate effectively with your audience.
Harry Wallett is the Managing Director of Cascadia Author Services. He has a decade of experience as the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing, which has sold over 3 million copies of books in all genres for its authors, and looks after a team of 50+ industry professionals working across the world.
Harry is inspired by the process of book creation and is passionate about the stories and characters behind the prose. He loves working with the writers and has shepherded 1000s of titles to publication over the years. He knows first-hand what it takes to not only create an unputdownable book, but also how to get it into the hands of the right readers for success.
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