Purpose in Informative Writing
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Informative writing shares information in an informative, instead of persuasive, manner. What that means is a writer whose purpose is to “inform” should be delivering their message to their readers without bias (opinion). They should be educating their readers on a particular topic by providing information and accurate facts, but without the added goal of achieving a specific reaction or change within the readers.

Because of these guidelines, informative writing tends to serve five basic purposes:

  • Imparting New Knowledge
  • Describing a Process
  • Clarifying a Concept
  • Giving an Explanation of Why or How
  • Detailing Smaller Parts

5 Basic Purposes in Informative Writing

Imparting New Knowledge

Good Examples:

  • The health benefits of green vegetables.
  • The core principles of the Gospel.
  • The spiritual and family-based benefits of holding Family Councils.

Bad Examples:

  • Spinach is the best green vegetable.
  • The Plan of Salvation is the most important Gospel principle in the Church.
  • The Family Council is a waste of time.

Describing a Process

Good Examples:

  • How to cook beef.
  • How to learn a foreign language.
  • The steps people can take to clean their house.

Bad Examples:

  • The Argentine way of cooking beef is superior to the rest of the world.
  • Duolingo is the best program to use when trying to learn a foreign language.
  • Marie Kondo’s method is the best way to clean your house.

Clarifying a Concept

Good Examples:

  • The difference between a metaphor and a simile.
  • The similarities and differences between freshwater fish and saltwater fish.
  • The primary difference between top, mid, and lower-level goals.

Bad Examples

  • The metaphor is a superior figure of speech over the simile.
  • Saltwater fish taste much better than freshwater fish.
  • Top level goals are the best kinds of goals to set.

Giving an Explanation of Why or How

Good Examples:

  • How prices go up when demand goes up in a free market.
  • Why most plants need sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to survive.
  • How you can start to change bad habits.

Bad Examples:

  • Why a free market is better than one with lots of price controls.
  • How overpopulation is killing our plant life.
  • What the worst habits you can develop are.

Detailing Smaller Parts

Good Examples

  • The main parts of the combustion engine.
  • The first principles and ordinances of the Gospel.
  • The five steps to successful financial stewardship.

Bad Examples:

  • Why the spark ignition gasoline engine is superior to the compression ignition diesel engine.
  • The most important ordinance in the Church is baptism.
  • Eliminating debt is the most important step toward financial self-reliance.

To illustrate, let’s look at a few examples of each of these five purposes within the context of different writing topics. As you review these examples, consider the main differences between the good and bad examples. Specifically, consider what role the temptation to turn informative topics into persuasive topics plays in the bad examples you see below. Also consider how you can avoid that risk as you write your own informative essay.

Ponder and Record

As you review the five purposes above, consider what you want your own informative writing to accomplish and do the following:

  1. Decide which informative writing purpose most closely aligns with your own writing purpose (a good place to begin would be to review the prompt question you are answering).
  2. Ask yourself, “How can I ensure that I answer my essay prompt question in a way that doesn’t take sides? What specific information can I share with my reader and how can I present it in a way that is not persuasive but informative?

Need More Help?

  1. Study other Writing Lessons in the Resource Center.
  2. Visit the Online Tutoring Resources in the Resource Center.
  3. Contact your Instructor.
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