Not all of us are “right-brained” enough to have a powerful visual imagination. So, when the tutor handles the illustration essay task, hands could get a little shaky. But, no worries! This type of essay is not about artistic visualisation nor it requires any kind of drawing experience. It is much more about the “big picture” vision and the ability to formulate examples supporting your claims/arguments. So…
What is an Illustration Essay?
Illustration essay is here to prove a particular thing exists. This particular essay type relies much more on a research than analysis in order to prove a particular point. It contains a great deal of description and provides the reader with vocal examples. The thesis is formulated in the introduction; then it is developed with the help of illustrative examples within the body paragraphs – just to be perpetuated in the conclusion by the end of the essay.
Writing the Illustration Essay
An illustration essay is also commonly referred to as an Example essay. Of all the different kinds of essays students write, this exists as the most straightforward, easiest essay to write. While other essays require very specific aspects, such as the Cause and Effect essay, an illustration essay is exactly what it sounds like: an illustration of a particular subject. If you’re wondering if it requires drawing, have no fear! In an illustration essay, the writer illustrates his or her points with clear, authentic examples—not pictures. The body paragraphs should contain research illustrating the thesis, and likely the Works Cited and/or Bibliography pages.
Here is how to approach each of the sections of your illustration essay:
This paragraph opens the illustration essay. It typically contains anywhere from 5 to 15 sentences; a number of sentences depend upon the density of the topic being explained in the essay. It should begin with a hook – a sentence to gain and keep the reader’s attention. Hooks may also be referred to as “attention getters”. Examples of hooks include:
- Interesting facts
- Relevant statistics
- Rhetorical question
- Personal anecdote
Following the hook should be several background sentences. These sentences provide key information the audience may need to fully understand the concept being illustrated in the essay. Such information could include defining important vocabulary, providing historic or social context, or relevant personal background for individuals discussed in the paper. Information plays a fundamental role when it comes to putting up a piece of content, whether it ‘s an informative essay or not. Finally, the last sentence of the introduction paragraph should be the thesis statement. It’s a good idea to craft your thesis statement before you begin any research; a well-written thesis should be able to guide your research and make it more effective. What makes a good thesis? So glad you asked!
A thesis sentence should be both clear and argumentative. For an illustrative essay, a thesis statement should focus on identifying the subject to be illustrated and the way the writer plans to support the illustration.
A body paragraph’s purpose is to support the thesis. Each paragraph should contain a different piece of evidence that proves the writer’s thesis has merit. All body paragraphs follow a universal format involving five basic sentence types:
- Topic Sentence. This sentence identifies the topic of the paragraph and how it relates to the thesis statement.
- Background sentence(s). Depending upon the complexity of the subject identified in the topic sentence, the writer may need one to three or more background sentences.
- Research sentences. These sentences can be direct quotations or paraphrases of important ideas found during the research process. Any research sentences supporting the topic should be cited according to your teacher’s preference.
- Analysis. Analysis sentences explain how the research sentences are relevant to the topic sentence and thesis sentence. These sentences often use analysis words such as shows, portrays, illustrates, proves, and communicates.
- Conclusion/Transition. This sentence wraps up the paragraph and transitions the reader to the next idea in the following paragraph.
Now, here is where the “illustration” part comes in. You need to support each body paragraph statement with examples, proving or supporting your claim. Two examples covering each statement works the best. There is no need to dive too deep into examples – just lay them out as you outline your body paragraphs.
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Beginning the conclusion paragraph means that you’re almost done! Conclusion paragraphs are typically the shortest paragraphs in an illustration essay. Its purpose is to reiterate the main points within each body paragraph and prove to the reader that the writer proved his or her point within the essay. While these paragraphs are short, they are important; it is the last impression the reader has – so make it a good one!
Conclusion paragraphs should be strongly worded and confident. However, they should not introduce any new information; focus only one what’s already been presented as evidence in the essay.
Tips from our writers – free takeaways!
Transitions can really help move an argument along in an illustration essay. Transitions are words that act as connectors in a sentence; they connect one idea to another. They can show similarity, contrast, or illustration among other connections. Want your illustration essay to shine? Consider incorporating the following transitions to improve the flow of the essay:
- For example
- For instance
- As an illustration
- To illustrate
- In this case
- In contrast
Transitions can link similar ideas in the same body paragraph or link different examples between body paragraphs.
As with all essay writing assignments, it’s important to begin early and stay on-task. Keep to a writing schedule, beginning with an idea outline to organize your thoughts and help guide your research.
Check out this no-frills outline:
- Thesis: Cats make the best pets because they are loving, intelligent, and independent
- Body Paragraph 1: Prove cats are loving
- Example 1: they are loving to their owners (well, maybe not all of them)
- Example 2: they are loving to other animals (except dogs, of course)
- Body Paragraph 2: Prove cats are intelligent
- Example 1: capability to train cats
- Example 2: ability of cats to solve problems and play
- Body Paragraph 3: Prove cats are independent
- Example 1: cats can entertain themselves
- Example 2: they are born hunters
- Conclusion: Wrap it up with strong statements – prove your initial point
Illustration Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own essay. Link: Illustration Essay on Social Statuses
Drawing the line (figuratively)
Taking the time to outline and narrow your research focus makes finding information much, much easier! But it is not always necessary to verse an outstanding illustrative essay. The best way to prove your point is to show a real-life example. Nothing really works better than cases and situations taken straight from your life experience (almost like the narrative essay, right?) People with colorful life experience tend to be the best in the illustrative essay “business”.
Remember: you have many resources available to you to help you earn the grade you want. Stick to a good writing schedule and take a rough draft to your professor for constructive criticism. Visit the campus writing center if you have one, or send your essay to our professional writers service for editing. Revisit and revise your draft at least once—perfection is a process!
The Purpose of Illustration in Writing
To illustrate means to show or demonstrate something clearly. An effective illustration essay clearly demonstrates and supports a point through the use of evidence.
As you learned in Chapter 9 “Writing Essays: From Start to Finish”, the controlling idea of an essay is called a thesis. A writer can use different types of evidence to support his or her thesis. Using scientific studies, experts in a particular field, statistics, historical events, current events, analogies, and personal anecdotes are all ways in which a writer can illustrate a thesis. Ultimately, you want the evidence to help the reader “see” your point, as one would see a good illustration in a magazine or on a website. The stronger your evidence is, the more clearly the reader will consider your point.
Using evidence effectively can be challenging, though. The evidence you choose will usually depend on your subject and who your reader is (your audience). When writing an illustration essay, keep in mind the following:
- Use evidence that is appropriate to your topic as well as appropriate for your audience.
- Assess how much evidence you need to adequately explain your point depending on the complexity of the subject and the knowledge of your audience regarding that subject.
For example, if you were writing about a new communication software and your audience was a group of English-major undergrads, you might want to use an analogy or a personal story to illustrate how the software worked. You might also choose to add a few more pieces of evidence to make sure the audience understands your point. However, if you were writing about the same subject and you audience members were information technology (IT) specialists, you would likely use more technical evidence because they would be familiar with the subject.
Keeping in mind your subject in relation to your audience will increase your chances of effectively illustrating your point.
You never want to insult your readers’ intelligence by overexplaining concepts the audience members may already be familiar with, but it may be necessary to clearly articulate your point. When in doubt, add an extra example to illustrate your idea.
On a separate piece of paper, form a thesis based on each of the following three topics. Then list the types of evidence that would best explain your point for each of the two audiences.
Topic: Combat and mental health
Audience: family members of veterans, doctors
Topic: Video games and teen violence
Audience: parents, children
Topic: Architecture and earthquakes
Audience: engineers, local townspeople
The Structure of an Illustration Essay
The controlling idea, or thesis, belongs at the beginning of the essay. Evidence is then presented in the essay’s body paragraphs to support the thesis. You can start supporting your main point with your strongest evidence first, or you can start with evidence of lesser importance and have the essay build to increasingly stronger evidence. This type of organization—order of importance—you learned about in Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” and Chapter 9 “Writing Essays: From Start to Finish”.
The time transition words listed in Table 10.1 “Transition Words and Phrases for Expressing Time” are also helpful in ordering the presentation of evidence. Words like first, second, third, currently, next, and finally all help orient the reader and sequence evidence clearly. Because an illustration essay uses so many examples, it is also helpful to have a list of words and phrases to present each piece of evidence. Table 10.2 “Phrases of Illustration” provides a list of phrases for illustration.
Table 10.2 Phrases of Illustration
|case in point||for example|
|for instance||in particular|
|in this case||one example/another example|
Vary the phrases of illustration you use. Do not rely on just one. Variety in choice of words and phrasing is critical when trying to keep readers engaged in your writing and your ideas.
Writing at Work
In the workplace, it is often helpful to keep the phrases of illustration in mind as a way to incorporate them whenever you can. Whether you are writing out directives that colleagues will have to follow or requesting a new product or service from another company, making a conscious effort to incorporate a phrase of illustration will force you to provide examples of what you mean.
On a separate sheet of paper, form a thesis based on one of the following topics. Then support that thesis with three pieces of evidence. Make sure to use a different phrase of illustration to introduce each piece of evidence you choose.
- Work hours
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers. Discuss which topic you like the best or would like to learn more about. Indicate which thesis statement you perceive as the most effective.
Writing an Illustration Essay
First, decide on a topic that you feel interested in writing about. Then create an interesting introduction to engage the reader. The main point, or thesis, should be stated at the end of the introduction.
Gather evidence that is appropriate to both your subject and your audience. You can order the evidence in terms of importance, either from least important to most important or from most important to least important. Be sure to fully explain all of your examples using strong, clear supporting details. See Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” to read a sample illustration essay.
- An illustration essay clearly explains a main point using evidence.
- When choosing evidence, always gauge whether the evidence is appropriate for the subject as well as the audience.
- Organize the evidence in terms of importance, either from least important to most important or from most important to least important.
- Use time transitions to order evidence.
- Use phrases of illustration to call out examples.
This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.