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Reports, Explanations, "Just the Facts, Ma'am"


Today's Snack: This seems very appropriate for today's topic - let's have meat and potatoes for snack. If you have any leftover meat from dinner, such as a slice of meatloaf or a half a burger or chicken breast, warm it up, and you can microwave a potato for 10 minutes on high and have a delicious quick-baked potato to go with your plain-but-essential serving of meat. Also plain-but-essential: have a tall glass of ice water.





Piece of paper | Pen or pencil



It's no mystery: the format of an "informative" piece of writing has a purpose of informing a reader. You can explain, you can describe, you can define . . . there are lots of ways that you can inform a reader about any subject under the sun.


The informative format is the most common format used in schools, colleges and the workplace. So it's a great idea to get good at it.


You'll find that being able to write with a high degree of orderliness is an asset in informatives. Often, this type of writing requires you to write in chronological, or time, order - to tell what came first, what came next, and what's going to come after that.


Examples of informatives are cooking instructions in recipes, driving directions that come with maps, and instructions on performing a task such as putting a toy together or putting oil in your car.


Key words such as "first," "after," "next," "then" and "last" are commonly found in informatives because they are helpful in writing about sequences.


Informatives also often have content that shares facts and impressions gained through the five senses -- sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste - to describe things to the reader. You may choose to shed extra attention on some things in describing them, and ignore others, in order to signal to your reader what is important.


Classification is an organizational strategy common in informative writing. The writer will group objects or ideas according to categories or what they have in common. Short lists are fairly frequent in informational reports.


Just because an informative is supposed to be mostly factual doesn't mean that there can't be opinion or commentary in it. Compare and contrast text shows how two or more subjects are alike or different. The report can compare and contrast them. The idea is to help the reader decide which is the better of two or more choices.


Another purpose of informative writing is to show cause and effect.

Cause and effect writing identifies why something happened, and lists what else happened because of that. This is also known as analysis. Cause and effect writing is common in factual articles that appear in newspapers, magazines and online.


Write a five-paragraph informative essay on any of these topics. Share with a group, and ask for their feedback to see if you did a good job informing them:


What I did yesterday (sequence)


Describing the prettiest place I know (five senses)


The types of jobs I might like to have someday (classification)


Which is better, football or baseball? (compare and contrast)


What happens if you get caught cheating on a test (cause and effect)



By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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