Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.
Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.
The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
What is a descriptive essay?
The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader).
One might benefit from keeping in mind this simple maxim: If the reader is unable to clearly form an impression of the thing that you are describing, try, try again!
Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay.
- Take time to brainstorm
If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot down some ideas before you begin describing it. For instance, if you choose pizza, you might start by writing down a few words: sauce, cheese, crust, pepperoni, sausage, spices, hot, melted, etc. Once you have written down some words, you can begin by compiling descriptive lists for each one.
- Use clear and concise language.
This means that words are chosen carefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe.
- Choose vivid language.
Why use horse when you can choose stallion ? Why not use tempestuous instead of violent ? Or why not miserly in place of cheap ? Such choices form a firmer image in the mind of the reader and often times offer nuanced meanings that serve better one’s purpose.
- Use your senses!
Remember, if you are describing something, you need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. Explain how the thing smelled, felt, sounded, tasted, or looked. Embellish the moment with senses.
- What were you thinking?!
If you can describe emotions or feelings related to your topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Many have felt crushing loss in their lives, or ecstatic joy, or mild complacency. Tap into this emotional reservoir in order to achieve your full descriptive potential.
- Leave the reader with a clear impression.
One of your goals is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation in the reader. If your reader can walk away from the essay craving the very pizza you just described, you are on your way to writing effective descriptive essays.
- Be organized!
It is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a descriptive essay. However, you must strive to present an organized and logical description if the reader is to come away from the essay with a cogent sense of what it is you are attempting to describe.
Descriptive Essay - A Complete Guide
10 min read
Published on: Aug 18, 2018
Last updated on: Feb 28, 2023
On This Page On This Page
Are you eager to write compelling descriptive essays but don't know how to start?
A descriptive essay describes something - a person, an event, a place, or a personal experience in detail. The purpose of this essay is to provide enough detail about the topic to enable the reader to picture it.
If you want to learn how to write an excellent descriptive essay, this blog is for you!
Here’s a complete guide to help you write good descriptive essays. Along with a step-by-step guide, you’ll also get impressive example essays to learn from.
So let’s get into it!
What Is a Descriptive Essay?
A descriptive essay gives a detailed description of the topic and paints a picture with words in the reader’s mind. It could be about an object, place, person, emotion, situation, or anything.
It is used to sharpen the analytical abilities of the students, which is helpful in further education and professional life. Therefore, it is often given to students in high school and college.
According to the descriptive essay definition,
“It is a type of essay that is used to describe an event, a place, a person, or anything in detail.”
This essay encourages the student’s ability to create an image by appealing to the senses of the reader.
Purpose of a Descriptive Essay
The purpose of writing a descriptive essay is to describe something such as a person, object, place, or situation.
Descriptive speech or essays give readers a clear picture of the essay subject. The writer should make use of vivid language to help the reader understand what the essay is all about.
It does not involve convincing readers or showing factual information to prove something like an argumentative essay does. Instead, it aims to show all the important details about the chosen subject to make the reader understand the subject easily.
Here’s a short video that explains descriptive writing:
Types of Descriptive Essay
Descriptive essays can come in two types: formal and personal.
Personal Descriptive Essay
The personal descriptive essay is a subjective descriptive essay. It aims to describe the writers' own feelings and perceptions of the topic.
It is often written in a first-person point-of-view, allowing readers to understand the writer's personal experiences.
Here are a few examples of personal essay topics:
- The moment that changed my life forever.
- My experience overcoming a fear or phobia.
- A significant challenge I faced and how I overcame it.
- My cultural or family background and how it has influenced me.
- A time I failed and what I learned from the experience.
Formal Descriptive Essay
The formal descriptive essay is an objective descriptive essay. It relies on facts and evidence to describe the object or event – without using any emotion or opinion from the writer.
These essays are valuable in the sciences or other fields of study where finding accurate information is crucial. They are often used to write academic papers, such as research reports.
Some possible topics for formal descriptions could be:
- The architecture of a historical building
- The process of making a traditional dish
- The unique characteristics of a rare gemstone
- The layout and features of a city park
- The cultural significance of a religious monument
Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!
Elements of a Descriptive Essay
There are five basic features of a descriptive essay:
A descriptive essay involves arousing the emotions of the readers and creating an association with them. Sensory details paint a picture of the subject for the reader and engage their senses like sight, touch, smell, and taste.
Using figurative language is one of the main elements of a descriptive essay. The use of metaphors, similes, adjectives, adverbs, etc. creates the character sketch of the subject. This sketch helps the readers feel what the writer felt about the subject and helps him visualize the subject.
The central theme shapes and directs the essay’s content and helps organize the details. It should be well defined and focused on a single point.
The effect of your essay depends on the type of language that you have used in it. The language should emphasize the main theme and aim of the essay. Therefore, avoid using vague and ambiguous words.
An organized structure is an essential element of this essay. Also, the chronology, spatial location, and order play an important role.
How to Write a Descriptive Essay?
Writing an effective descriptive essay involves topic selection, creating an outline of parts of the descriptive essay, organizing ideas, and adding relevant information to the essay.
The following is the process of descriptive writing.
How to Start a Descriptive Essay
1. choose a topic.
Choosing a good topic for your essay is important. The essay topic should be attractive so that it compels the reader to stay with you throughout the essay.
2. Create an Outline
Draft a descriptive essay outline to organize your information in a proper sequence. It will help you structure your essay and remind you to include all the sensory details.
3. Write a Descriptive Essay Introduction
The essay begins with an introduction. It introduces the main topic and includes a strong opinion that creates the first impression of the essay. The introduction gives a brief overview of what the essay is going to be about.
4. Craft an Informative Thesis Statement
A descriptive essay thesis statement defines the scope and purpose of the essay. It is a narrow subject line, which should be clear and precise. Write the statement in a creative way and choose descriptive words for it.
Creating mystery in your thesis statement attracts the reader to the body of your essay.
Writing the Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs support the introduction and follow the direction as defined in the thesis statement. Here’s how you write a body paragraph:
- Use topic sentences as the first sentence of each paragraph. A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph.
- Connect the topic sentence to the thesis.
- Present evidence and explain how it supports your argument in that paragraph.
- Organize your paragraphs properly in an orderly form, in case of experience and memories.
- Summarize the key points in each body paragraph.
Finally, make sure that body paragraphs are connected to each other through transition words or phrases.
Ending with a Strong Descriptive Essay Conclusion
The conclusion is the last part of the essay according to the descriptive essay format. This is your last chance to impress the reader.
It summarizes and provides a way forward from the essay. The following steps will help you write an excellent conclusion.
- Use the appropriate transition words such as “to finish with”, “in conclusion” and ‘lastly’ suggesting an end to the essay.
- Summarize the main points of your essay in a clear and concise manner
- Discuss how the details from the body of your essay support the initial thesis statement.
- Offer final thoughts on the subject matter that will leave an impression on the reader. It could be food for thought or a call to action.
The last sentence of the essay should finalize the writer’s aim of writing the essay and provide an everlasting effect.
Descriptive Essay Topics
Whether you are writing about a person or a place, your topic should have good supporting points that explain the topic.
Choosing an engaging topic will develop curiosity and hook the reader to the last bit of the essay. Here we have prepared a list of amazing descriptive essay topics for you.
Descriptive Essay About a Place
- Depict the Lincoln Castle in your own words.
- What does the house of your dreams look like?
- Make a description of the Safari Park you visited last week.
- Describe a conference room situation for your colleagues.
- Describe how you imagine Niagara falls.
Descriptive Essay About a Memory
- Describe one of the earliest memories of your childhood.
- What is the happiest memory in your mind?
- How you have celebrated your best friend's birthday
- When I saw the apple plant seed
- The first time I went abroad
Descriptive Essay About a Person
- Portray Nelson Mandela as a role model.
- Explain how you imagine aliens to be like.
- Write a character sketch of a character from the play Hamlet.
- Describe one of your family members.
- A stranger I met in the lobby.
Descriptive Essay About an Object
- My lucky watch
- My favorite badminton racket
- The flask I broke
- The silk road
- The thing that you passionately wanted to buy
Descriptive Essay About an Emotion
- The feeling of love
- The sense of peace
- The thrill of fear
- The power of anger
- The beauty of joy
Descriptive Essay Topics for University Students
- Describe the feeling of attending your first college class.
- Illustrate the effects of living and studying on a college campus.
- Describe a meaningful experience you had with a professor in college.
- Illustrate the importance of participating in extracurricular activities during university years.
- Describe the impact of financial aid and scholarships on college education.
Want more topics? We’ve got a list of hundreds of descriptive essay topics for you, so be sure to check them out.
Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!
Descriptive Essay Examples
You should read some good essay examples before writing your own essay. An essay example would help you demonstrate, compile, and organize your essay in a structured form.
Below we have provided some amazing examples to help you know the process.
A School Lunch Hall Descriptive Essay Example
The Weekend Market Descriptive Essay Sample
Descriptive Essay on Historical Place
Descriptive Essay on a Teacher that I Remember
Descriptive Essay on my Village
My Favorite Place Descriptive Essay
5 Paragraph Essay - Descriptive Essay PDF
The ultimate aim of this practice is to identify and learn different techniques for writing an impressive descriptive essay. Find more descriptive essay examples to read and learn from.
Tips for Writing a Descriptive Essay
Here are some tips for writing a descriptive essay:
- Choose a specific topic: Your essay should focus on a specific person, place, object, or event that you can vividly describe.
- Use sensory details: Sensory details are descriptive words and phrases that help your reader experience the subject of your essay through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
- Organize your essay: Your essay should have a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Consider using a chronological or spatial organization to help your reader understand the sequence of events or the layout of the subject.
- Show, don't tell: Instead of simply telling your reader what you are describing, show them through specific examples and sensory details.
- Use figurative language: Similes, metaphors, and other forms of figurative language can help you convey the emotions and feelings associated with your subject.
Summing it up,
Descriptive essay writing is a skill that requires thorough practice. It involves the ability to craft an engaging story with vivid descriptions, sounding as realistic as possible.
The above-mentioned steps and examples are a great way for students to learn writing a descriptive essay.
However, if you still need expert help to write a flawless essay, we’ve got your back.
You can hire a custom descriptive essay writer from MyPerfectWords.com . They will make your essay writing process simple and smooth.
MyPerfectWords.com provides legitimate essay writing services to help you with your essays.
Our descriptive essay writing service provides non-plagiarized essays and high-quality papers for you.
Hire our essay writing service now and get essay help from us at affordable prices.
Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)
Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.
People also read
Descriptive Essay Examples & Writing Tips
Top 100+ Descriptive Essay Topics & Ideas
Creating a Descriptive Essay Outline - Format & Example
Crafting an Authentic Portrait: A Guide to Writing a Descriptive Essay About a Person
Crafting the Perfect Descriptive Essay About Myself - Tips and Tricks
Writing a Descriptive Essay About A Place - Guide With Examples
How to Craft the Perfect Descriptive Essay About A Person You Admire
Descriptive Essay About My Mother - A Guide to Writing
Delicious Descriptions: A Guide to Writing a Descriptive Essay About Food
Write A Descriptive Essay About Nature With This Guide
Learn Tips to Write a Descriptive Essay About Autumn - Step into the Golden Season
Share this article
We value your privacy
Website Data Collection
Are you sure you want to cancel?
Your preferences have not been saved.
In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples
The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples
Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.
Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type.
In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.
Table of contents
Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.
An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.
Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.
The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:
- The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
- The body presents your evidence and arguments
- The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance
The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.
A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.
Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting
Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:
- Academic style
- Vague sentences
- Style consistency
See an example
An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.
Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.
The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.
A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.
The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.
A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.
Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.
A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.
Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.
Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.
Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.
A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.
The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.
A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.
Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.
A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.
Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.
On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.
My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.
With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…
Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.
What can proofreading do for your paper?
Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words, and awkward phrasing.
See editing example
Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.
A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.
The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.
The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.
The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.
King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.
A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.
Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.
The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.
Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
- Ad hominem fallacy
- Post hoc fallacy
- Appeal to authority fallacy
- False cause fallacy
- Sunk cost fallacy
- Choosing Essay Topic
- Write a College Essay
- Write a Diversity Essay
- College Essay Format & Structure
- Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay
- Grammar Checker
- Paraphrasing Tool
- Text Summarizer
- AI Detector
- Plagiarism Checker
- Citation Generator
At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.
Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”
The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.
Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:
- In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
- In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
- In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory
An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/essay-types/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, how to write an argumentative essay | examples & tips, how to write an expository essay, how to write an essay outline | guidelines & examples.
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
Thanks for reading! Hope you found this article helpful. If anything is still unclear, or if you didn’t find what you were looking for here, leave a comment and we’ll see if we can help.
Still have questions?
What is your plagiarism score.
- How it works
How to Write a Descriptive Essay?
Published by Grace Graffin at August 26th, 2021 , Revised On August 22, 2023
What is a Descriptive Essay?
A descriptive essay is a type of essay that allows you to create a narrative based on something you experience. It provides you with an opportunity for learning by describing an object, person, location, experience, emotion, circumstance, or other phenomena. A writer expresses his/her emotions creatively in a descriptive essay that attracts the reader’s attention.
What is the Purpose of a Descriptive Essay?
The purpose of the descriptive essay is to portray your feelings and emotions related to any object or event that enables readers/listeners to envision what is being described. To do it, you can use sensory details that attract the senses, like sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
Example: The statue was tall.” or “I saw the statue looming over me. (informing) The bikes appeared to be moving in formation, trailing one another along the street (showing).
An excellent narration in your descriptive essay can have a lasting impression on the reader’s mind.
Descriptions are either subjective or objective. In an objective description, you describe the object or event without letting your emotions and feelings influence the description.
Example: It could be: 1. An incident you witnessed or a news item: 25 people, including men, women, and children, died in a bus accident, and 5 people were severely injured. 2. It could also be a description of your business meet or
Whereas in a subjective description, you need to describe the object or event through your emotions and feelings.
When you describe the same example of a news item mentioned above in a subjective description, you incorporate more details expressing your concern about the pain and suffering the victims and their families had to suffer.
Example: 25 people, including men, women, and children, died in a bus accident, and 5 people were severely injured. It was a painful incident, people. They were screaming with fear and pain. I can still remember those screams, and I can’t forget those teary eyes and sad faces of those helpless people, including innocent children.
Similarly, when you describe your first business meeting where you had to give your business presentation, you will add excitement, happiness, nervousness, the confidence you faced before and during the presentation.
Stuck on a difficult essay? We can help!
Our Essay Writing Service Features:
- Expert UK Writers
- Timely Delivery
- Thorough Research
- Rigorous Quality Control
Descriptive Essay Writing Guidelines
A descriptive essay consists of three parts- an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . The introduction part must start with a strong opening line to give the outline of the topic . If it is about any person, you can mention some specific personality traits and give some idea about physical appearance.
In the next section, you should describe your topic in detail. The number of paragraphs is dependent on the length of the essay , but in general, one paragraph should contain 150-200 words. The first paragraph will provide the theme and the idea about the content of the next paragraphs. The next two paragraphs will describe the topic. To explain the topic, you should use sensory details, imaginary language, and words, including verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
In the final section, you need to provide a summary of the topic. In the last line, re-establish your thoughts and the primary theme of the essay.
How to Write a Descriptive Essay About a Person?
Writing a descriptive essay about a person is challenging as you have to include specific traits and portray their character.
Appearance- It is necessary to define physical traits like skin colour, hair, eyes, nose, height, body structure, etc. You may also describe the type of cloth and accessories to identify the person quickly.
Manners- You should describe a person’s habits and behaviour: he smokes a cigar, drinks alcohol, or wears a hat or glasses.
Character traits- The character traits are difficult to write. You should have enough knowledge about the person to describe the character trait. Some qualities may include honesty, sincerity, or negative qualities like resentful, arrogant, miser, etc.
Emotions- You can also describe the person as melancholic, sanguine, choleric, or phlegmatic, with a sense of humour.
You can consider an essay about your mother as a descriptive essay example. While writing this essay, you should write about the special characteristics of your mother. You can then write about how she cares and nurtures the family, including how special she is to you.
Want to know what essay structure and style will work best for your assignment?
Problem fixed! We can write any type of essay in any referencing style. We ensure every essay written is beyond your expectations.
How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Descriptive Essay?
The thesis statement of a descriptive essay should remain concise, clear, and direct. It must provide an outline of the essay. A thesis statement is a guide to the complete essay, it is the essay’s theme, and the topic should revolve around this theme throughout the essay. Along with learning essay writing, you can also get professional essay help to boost your grades with minimum effort.
Descriptive Essay Types
Different types of descriptive essays are:
- Personal descriptive essay – you should describe your personal experience—examples: a visit to your favourite holiday destination, the experience of watching a particular movie.
- Imaginative descriptive essay – you should enhance your imagination to describe the topic—examples: a soldier’s experience in World War II, life on another planet.
- Conceptual descriptive essay – you should write on some abstract topic like emotion. Example: Write your own opinion about love.
Example of a Descriptive Essay
Here is an example of a short descriptive essay for you:
Tiger Hills is situated in the Eastern Parts of India, Which comes under West Bengal. The scenic beauty is the key attraction of the place where many tourists visit every year. The temperature touches zero degrees in the winter season, and snowfall traces can also be experienced, making it more thrilling. To reach Darjeeling, one can vail a flight from India and reach Bag Dogra Airport. The direct train is not available; one can go to Siliguri station and take a bus or car to reach Darjeeling. The journey from Siliguri to Darjeeling is mesmerizing, with beautiful valleys and exotic flowers all around by the sides of the mountains. Food is excellent and cheap with different varieties like Thukpa, Momo, soup, noodles, etc. Places to visit are Victoria falls, a zoo and a museum. The mall road provides several opportunities to find beautiful shawls, sweaters, and exclusive craft of the local people of Darjeeling.
Tips for Writing an Excellent Descriptive Essay
- Choose the appropriate topic.
- After that, prepare a descriptive essay structure
- Use figurative language, sensory terms, and words to engage the readers.
- Provide an attractive introduction .
- While writing, you should use an active voice.
- Do not use complex sentences. Keep things simple and maintain a proper flow of writing the essay .
- Use first-person for writing.
- Use your emotions, imaginative power, and personal experiences while writing a descriptive essay.
- Focus on the critical aspects of writing and avoid fluffs.
- While writing, you should follow the descriptive essay format to organize your essay correctly.
- At last, proofread the essay before submission.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do i start a descriptive essay.
Start a descriptive essay by:
- Selecting a vivid topic.
- Creating a strong thesis statement.
- Outlining main points or aspects.
- Using sensory details to paint a picture.
- Organizing ideas logically.
- Engaging the reader’s senses and emotions.
You May Also Like
Not sure about how to organize an essay? This article is designed to provide a brief yet compact view to master the skill of organization of essay.
No sure what are the types of persuasive essay? This article presents the similarities and differences between the most common types of persuasive essays.
The following article will discuss the five elements that are essential to report writing. These components should be considered when beginning any report.
Ready to place an order?
Useful links, learning resources.
- How It Works
How to Write a Descriptive Essay: Full Guide With Tips
In this article, we examine the descriptive essay and present a step-by-step writing guide. Stick around for helpful writing tips near the end! Also, check out custom writers at EssayPro — political science essay service, if you need private tutoring or essay editing.
What is a Descriptive Essay?
The definition of a descriptive essay is a type of composition or paper which describes an object, person, process, or event. The writer’s goal is to create a vivid reading experience, or to show instead of tell (metaphorically).
Descriptive writing usually appeals to the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. (Ex: Jack’s coffee mug exploded into tiny shards of glass, catching the attention of everyone at the office.) Always appealing to the senses is key to writing a good descriptive essay.
When writing a descriptive essay, your goal will be to paint a comprehensive picture for the reader by appealing to the five senses. Last but not least, your work should have a purpose. It could be anything from a lesson you learned from an experience, to a story of how an object impacted your life. It’s all about making your bright ideas come to life.
Difference Between a Description and a Descriptive Essay
When writing this type of paper, you should know the difference between a description and a descriptive essay. A description can be just a simple paragraph, or several ones with no specific structure, meanwhile, a descriptive essay has five or more paragraphs and a clear and complete structure. A descriptive essay is usually written coherently, has a good thesis statement at the end of the introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A description however, does not necessarily have a structure. Its main purpose is to just describe an object, or something else, without having any extra academic layers.
The Issues that Could be Described in Your Paper
- A person. In this paper, you can talk about a person. It can range from simply writing about their appearance to more complex descriptions like actions, behaviours, mood, and qualities of your chosen individual.
- A place. The main thing you should do when describing a place in your work is to describe it interestingly and originally. Your reader(s) should feel, for example, the beauty of your chosen cities—perhaps New York or Rome.
- An event. Here you need to describe the story of what happened. It can be your last vacation, concert, wedding, anniversary, summer music festival, graduation day, or so on.
- An animal. In this type, you need to describe the animal. It may be its appearance, behaviour, or biology.
- An occupation. Here you need to write about a job or occupation.
- A behaviour. This is the type of descriptive writing you should go for if you would like to write about someone’s behaviour. Perhaps you want to describe the strange behaviour of your friend, or highlight how certain people act under different conditions.
Two Classic Approaches to the Descriptive Essay
1. Personal Essay
Here you need to describe an experience using your feelings and responses. This work can awake empathy in readers. It can also be vague and disorganized. If you want to write a good personal essay, you should try to focus only on those aspects that most fully express your experience. Do not shy away from vivid, evocative language in this type of assignment.
A few examples of personal essay topics might be:
- Describing the experience of swimming in the azure sea in summer
- Explaining your favourite movie and its impact on you
- Reflecting on your birthday and all the things that have shaped you in the past
2. Formal Description
This type of descriptive writing resembles an argumentative essay. Your main goal should be communicating a set of key points or describing something in detail—according to a clear structure. Rather than focusing on your own experience, you need to use specific categories of information to provide the fullest possible portrait of what you are describing. This approach can also be engaging, especially when the reader is more curious about the subject of the paper than the writer's response to it. Still, try not to make it dull with too formal language.
Topics for formal descriptions can include:
- A descriptive essay about climate change, politics, or historical events.
- A news story that provides a summary of an event or information about the place where it occurred.
Descriptive Essay Topics & Ideas
Finding descriptive essay topics isn’t hard. You can describe pretty much anything—from your favourite car to today’s weather. We’ve gathered some ideas to help you get started. Hopefully, you’ll find good descriptive essay topics to spark your imagination.
Describe a Person
Pick a person who you know well—doing so gives you a lot to write about. Choose from family members, friends, teachers, etc. You can even write about a celebrity who exposes most of their private life to the media: The Kardashians, Kanye West, or Taylor Swift for instance. A famous superhero like Spider-Man is also interesting. Such fictional figures have undergone many character studies from both academic and non-academic perspectives.
Examples: Why my father is my favourite person. How Kim Kardashian changed my life.
Describe an Object or a Place
You may also describe an object or a place with which you have a special connection. This could be your high school, a playground, or a toy which used to scare you as a kid. Fictional places also count!
Examples: My native city – Paris My trip to London
Describe an Emotion
Remember the most sincere emotion you’ve experienced and turn it into a descriptive essay writing. You may choose a strong feeling like anger, happiness, loss, desire, or rage. It doesn’t have to be a personal emotion, it could be an observed one.
Examples: How love changed me Hatred and love – how they are similar
You can also write a descriptive essay about anything you can describe according to human senses: touch, sight, taste, smell, or hearing.
Creating a Descriptive Essay Outline
When thinking about descriptive essay writing, remember that a structured paper outline is your golden ticket. Not only does it help you organize thoughts, but it will also help your essays flow better.
A descriptive essay outline is composed of the following:
- An introduction
- Hook sentence
- Context/Background information
- Thesis statement
- Body paragraphs
- Topic sentence
- Sensory details
- Actual details
- A conclusion
- Summary of all main points
- Clincher Statement
It is important to spend enough time considering the victim of description because all of your illustrations will be based around it.
Need Some Help?
You will get your written masterpiece delivered to you on time, with a smile on your face!
The introduction serves to introduce your subject to the reader and give them enough context to fully understand your work—but keep it brief and interesting for the reader(s). When learning how to write a descriptive essay introduction, remember – the first paragraph of your paper is the part that can make your descriptive essay stand out from the others.
As with any college paper, a descriptive essay introduction must contain the following points:
- Hook Sentence: Although the entire paper should be full of exciting and vivid descriptions, grabbing the reader's attention from the very beginning is ideal.
- Context/Background Information: Tell the reader what you’re about to describe and explain why it is crucial to you. Give them a brief context for your paper.
- Thesis Statement: The descriptive essay thesis should be a short yet concise summary of the work. It must include the subject of your description, and your purpose for describing it.
For further information on how to write a thesis for a descriptive essay, check out the examples below.
Place. If you were to write about Buckingham Palace: “Even though the monarchy is long gone, Buckingham Palace serves to remind us of the aesthetic beauty which that era had built.” Person. For describing Spider-Man: “The defining characteristics of Spider-Man are his youthfulness, New York City, and the fact that he talks to himself more than Hamlet.” Emotion. A piece about a personal experience of fear: “For many reasons, the dark forest is my greatest fear, though not a fear which I would necessarily like to venture into.”
There are usually three body paragraphs in a paper. They cover three different points or arguments. How many body paragraphs to include in your descriptive essay is entirely up to you—or your professor. Sometimes it only takes a paragraph to tell a story, while other times it takes books.
How to write a body paragraph:
- Start with a topic sentence. ex. The orange looks familiar; it is a round citrus fruit whose colour matches its name.
- Add sensory details. When describing the orange, appeal to relatable senses.
- Include actual details. Always include descriptive information within your body paragraphs. Finish a body paragraph by introducing the next. Transition sentences are essential because they create immersion within your writing. Your writing will become better and it won’t appear as if you are reading a list of facts.
The descriptive essay is one type of 5 paragraph essay , which is the most common type of essay a student may encounter.
According to the descriptive essay format, your conclusion should be a summary of all of the main points in the body text. It is a good idea to write a final sentence that relates to the main point of your paper. Once this is done, the paper is now complete. We advise that you proofread your descriptive essay to correct any grammatical errors.
Try to incorporate the following into your conclusion:
- The first thing to do at the end is to reflect on the initial purpose of the work. Spill the beans on why you decided to write about this subject, and how this subject has affected your life. An article about reflection paper may also be helpful to you.
- Signify the Importance of the Details: Go over some key moments of the paper. Give a summary of what you have covered, and prepare the audience for the clincher statement.
- Clincher Statement: The clincher is the final sentence that reinforces your paper’s overall purpose or leaves your audience with an intriguing thought, question, or quote. You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking of a hook to pull the audience in. Do not allow the paper to escape your audience’s thoughts right after they have finish reading it.
If you need help, leave us a notice ' do my homework ' and get it asap.
Writing and Reviewing Your Descriptive Paper Writing
Writing the paper consists of the following stages:
- Pre-writing stage. Here you need to examine all of the sources you have and define if they all offer important information on the topic of your choice.
- Writing the beginning. You should start your paper with a powerful, engaging hook that will grab the readers' attention. It may include an unusual metaphor or an interesting literary quote.
- Creating the first draft of your descriptive essay. Here is where you just need to write down all of the words that come to your mind; you'll have a chance to narrow down your ideas later.
- Adding details to your paper with the help of enriched English vocabulary and online dictionaries. Use your English vocabulary to add missing feelings, like hearing, to help make the descriptive essay leave a lasting impression.
- Revising and editing the paper with the help of different free online grammar checking tools.
Let’s talk in detail about the final step here: reviewing your paper. After you finish writing, take a break. It’s always best to clear your mind before editing your paper.
When you come back to your descriptive essay, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you provided enough context in the introduction?
- Is the paper easy to read?
- Does the thesis relate to the content of the paper?
- Does the paper feature vivid, descriptive language?
- Will the clincher statement leave a lasting impact?
- Are there enough details to make it possible for your readers to obtain a full and vivid perception of your description?
- Does each section of your work focus on one aspect of your description?
- Does your paper possess any unnecessary details in your description that can be thrown away or replaced by more meaningful information?
- Overall, if you were the reader, does this paper make sense to you?
- Are there any problems with grammar and punctuation?
Sometimes web applications like Grammarly or the Hemingway app can help you sort your grammar. However, it’s always best to master the rules of grammar yourself and become the best writer you can be. Once you’re convinced you have the final draft, read it out loud or give it to a friend to read. Sometimes you need some constructive criticism to tie up loose ends in your writing. You can also trust the professionals and buy cheap essay on EssayPro service.
Check out our PUNCTUATION GUIDE
Descriptive Essay Good Examples
This is a commonly assigned and most opted-for form of an essay. Why not have a look at our written descriptive essay examples. In this section, you can find some of the top examples and quotes followed by some critique.
The writer of this descriptive essay example explains how there was a lot of life before humans existed. The world was full of Blue Jays and North Cardinal birds that most probably ate pansy seeds as a stable diet. In this example, it is clear that the writer has put himself/herself in the perspective of someone in the far future. He/she describes how we were in the 21st century, and how we used the poles as communication portals.
In the eyes of the untrained, a rugby game is just a bunch of huge individuals senselessly fighting one another, struggling to move an oval ball inch by inch down a field full of mud towards the goal line of the opposing team. Players don’t put on pads or get a timeout in the event of injuries. Yet rugby is a different thing, a gentleman’s sport—to those who understand it. While rugby appears rough, its players maintain good respect toward both teammates and opponents.
It may be possible that you are not the expressive word artist in the world. If you are looking for someone to help with dissertation , we have numerous writers that have vivid word lingo flowing through their blood.
Need To Describe Something But DON'T KNOW HOW?
Let one of our essay writers do it for you, all you have to do is send us your paper requirements and wait for your original paper to be written.
How To Write A Descriptive Essay?
26 April, 2020
11 minutes read
Author: Tomas White
Descriptive essay is one of the hardest forms of writing. To master descriptive writing, you must be creative and craft a scene that all readers can picture with words alone. This freedom and creativity can make it one of the most rewarding and fun essays to write. It is the backbone of all artful writing like poetry, novels, and even television scripts. We prepared this guide for You to learn all you need to know about descriptive writing. Let's start!
What is a Descriptive Essay?
The goal of a descriptive essay is simple, choose a subject and describe it. The subject could be anything:
A descriptive essay is all about describing the subject in great detail. Being a type of expository writing , it gives you great freedom to paint a picture with your words, shares a once in a lifetime event with the reader or makes them feel something. It is better to choose a descriptive essay topic that has lots of qualities to discuss for example a person might have a more interesting feature to describe than a paper towel. Choose a subject you connect with emotionally or have a personal history with. The best descriptions come from retelling an experience.
The Difference Between Descriptive and Narrative Essays
The main difference between descriptive and narrative essays lies in the structure and purpose of the essay. A descriptive essay is used to describe a subject to present a clear picture of it. As such, it only requires you to describe the item in a logic fashion. A narrative essay’s purpose is to tell a story. As such, it requires a plot and logical progression to an outcome. A person’s face can be the subject of a descriptive essay. But it would be hard to write a narrative piece that follows the person’s face as the central plot of a story.
Showing VS Telling
A descriptive essay values details over facts. This is also known as showing vs. telling. To show something is to describe using the five senses, how it looks, how it smells, how it tastes, how it feels and how it sounds. Imagine the reader as an alien, who has never experienced the subject for themselves. How would you describe it then?
To give you an understanding of how to differentiate between showing and telling I’ll write an example of a descriptive paper that describes my favorite place.
The above example tells you, as it doesn’t evoke any of your senses. It is a senseless description . It’s vague and hard to imagine.
This description is more detail and easier to imagine because of the following changes:
- The choice of words like ‘haven’ instead of ‘like’ add a showing element as it is showing in what way I like the library.
- Putting describers before items like ‘brightly colored’ books makes it easier to see.
- And choosing words with more like ‘towering’ instead of ‘tall’ makes the description less full.
- The description of the books shows what they do, not what they are. These are important points to consider when writing a descriptive essay.
A good exercise for descriptive writing and is to read descriptive essay examples and pick out the words that do the four points outlined above. Analyzing other’s descriptive writing will make your own descriptive work stronger. Can you pick out another place in the descriptive essay example above where those four changes occur and what it lends to the description?
Still having problems with your descriptive paper? All you need is to request help from our top-notch essay writing service and our essay writer make it for you !
How to Choose a Descriptive Essay Topic?
When deciding what to highlight about your topic, take a step back and look at what draws you to it. A campfire has bright, flickering colors, a satisfying crackling sound, and a sort of flow as it moves from the bottom to the tip of the flame. Place yourself in proximity to the subject and describe the parts that stimulate your senses the most.
Title Examples of Descriptive Essays
Here are some examples of descriptive essay topics that are fun to write:
Pick something you can see right now and think about how you’d describe that.
Related Posts: Argumentative essay topics | Compare&Contrast essay topics
How to Set Up a Proper Description?
Slow down and think about what you want to invoke. Don’t rush into a description or you’ll likely end up with something weaker than you could have. Take your topic aside and write some sentences describing how it charms each sense – the five senses being:
Keep a thesaurus on hand to switch some of the more basic words out. If you can read your paragraph back and vividly imagine the item you’ve described, you’ve done it.
How to write a Descriptive Essay Outline
Starting your descriptive essay without a plan can lead to a messy and sprawling description. Learning to outline your ideas is just as important as knowing how to write them.
Related Posts: How to write an Essay outline | How to write an Essay introduction
Creating an Introduction for a Descriptive Writing
Once you have chosen the subject to write you need to plan the introduction for your descriptive paper. An introduction needs to include a thesis statement and three features of the thing you are describing. The introduction should start with a thesis statement that states how you feel about your topic. This should then be supported with three qualities defining those feelings.
These thesis statements aren’t meant to be complex. All they’re meant to do is to set up your reader for your descriptions. It is important to include three reasons that you can expand on describe in great detail as they will form the paragraphs of your descriptive paper.
Planning and Writing the Body of a Descriptive Essay
Looking at your thesis statement, take those three reasons and break them down into their own paragraphs. Describe hanging out with your friends at the beach, talk about the food you’d eat, the activities you’d participate in. Detail what huskies do when they’re energetic, what shows that they get along with other dogs?
It helps to write about each way you can describe an item on a separate sheet of paper. Use that sheet as your descriptive essay outline. Take each item and write what sense you can use to describe the item in each paragraph.
For example, if you want to talk about eating a popsicle on the beach you could include how cold against your tongue for touch, that it smelt and tasted like raspberries, it was a bright red, and shaped like a rocket for sight, and the sound you made it as you bit on it, or the sound you made as it rocketed into your mouth. Expand this into a paragraph keeping the most vivid description.
Force your reader to imagine these objects in their head. Help them visualize it, pour your vision into the paper and focus on both the small and the big details. Just don’t go overboard. It’s important to have a few great descriptors rather than a ton of average ones.
When describing an object, go about it in a practical sense. Don’t just throw details on the page, talk about them in order. Describe a mountain from its peak to it’s middle all the way down to its base. You wouldn’t go from the middle to the base to the peak, would you? This way, you’re keeping your reader engaged with the topic.
Concluding a Descriptive Essay
Concluding descriptive writing is easy. All you have to show why the subject you described is important to you. All you have to do is show the reader what you implied. Show why it has meaning, and why they should care.
Descriptive Essay Example
Drafting your essay.
Where the organization comes to fruition. When writing your essay, keep the reader in your head at all times. Constantly as yourself: “Is this vivid enough?” Don’t focus much on grammar, get the content onto the paper.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Once you’ve finished writing your essay, read it back and make sure it responds positively to each of these questions:
- Are these descriptions making my writing visual? Could I make them more vivid?
- Have I used these descriptions to detail my emotions to the reader?
- Do these descriptions convey each of the five senses?
- Have I gone into enough details in each paragraph?
- Are my descriptions in an orderly fashion?
If you believe your essay fits these criteria, then you’re good to go on the content side.
Perfecting the Essay
Read it through a couple more times. Take some time away from it and then come back with a fresh mindset. Correct any grammar issues you see, and double check that it answers all of the questions mentioned above. Once that’s done, you’ll have an essay worthy of an A+ grade.
From Our Writers: Tips on How to Write a Good Descriptive Essay
- Be sensitive. Some writers are scared to show their true selves, but the point of a descriptive essay is to talk about how an object affects your senses and emotions. Keep this in mind during all stages of the essay.
- Put effort into unique descriptions. Don’t settle for standard words, spend some time searching out alternatives to common descriptive words. It will only help the reader envision your thoughts.
- Write about something that you care about. If you choose something you don’t have much personal experience with, you can’t truly write from the heart.
Best Essay Writing Services 2023
Student life can often be quite challenging because students have to deal with challenging college essay writing assignments. To facilitate the learning process, many services help you complete written work and get high scores. Now we will tell you about the best services that you can turn to and get high-quality papers. Essay Writing Service […]
A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death
Due to human nature, we draw conclusions only when life gives us a lesson since the experience of others is not so effective and powerful. Therefore, when analyzing and sorting out common problems we face, we may trace a parallel with well-known book characters or real historical figures. Moreover, we often compare our situations with […]
Ethical Research Paper Topics
Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]
- EXPLORE Coupons Tech Help Pro Random Article About Us Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- EDIT Edit this Article
- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- This Or That Game New
- Train Your Brain
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- H&M Coupons
- Hotwire Promo Codes
- StubHub Discount Codes
- Ashley Furniture Coupons
- Blue Nile Promo Codes
- NordVPN Coupons
- Samsung Promo Codes
- Chewy Promo Codes
- Ulta Coupons
- Vistaprint Promo Codes
- Shutterfly Promo Codes
- DoorDash Promo Codes
- Office Depot Coupons
- adidas Promo Codes
- Home Depot Coupons
- DSW Coupons
- Bed Bath and Beyond Coupons
- Lowe's Coupons
- Surfshark Coupons
- Nordstrom Coupons
- Walmart Promo Codes
- Dick's Sporting Goods Coupons
- Fanatics Coupons
- Edible Arrangements Coupons
- eBay Coupons
- Log in / Sign up
- Education and Communications
- College University and Postgraduate
- Academic Writing
How to Write a Descriptive Essay
Last Updated: February 8, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 1,480,876 times.
A good descriptive essay creates a vivid picture of the topic in the reader’s mind. You may need to write a descriptive essay as a class assignment or you may decide to write one as a fun writing challenge. Start by brainstorming ideas for the essay. Then, outline and write the essay using vivid sensory details and strong descriptions. Always polish your essay and proofread it so it is at its best.
Brainstorming Ideas for the Essay
- You could also choose a fictional person to write about, such as a character in a book, a story, or a play. You could write about a character on your favorite TV show or video game.
- Another take on this option is to write about a made-up place or object, such as the fantastical school in your favorite book or the magic wand from your favorite TV show.
- You could also choose a more specific emotion, such as brotherly love or self-hatred. These emotions can make for powerful descriptive essays.
- For example, if you were writing about a person like your mother, you may write down under “sound” : “soft voice at night, clack of her shoes on the floor tiles, bang of the spoon when she cooks.”
Writing the Essay
- If you are writing the essay for a class, your instructor should specify if they want a five paragraph essay or if you have the freedom to use sections instead.
- For example, if you were writing a descriptive essay about your mother, you may have a thesis statement like: “In many ways, my mother is the reigning queen of our house, full of contradictions that we are too afraid to question.”
- For example, if you were writing the essay about your mom, you may start with: “My mother is not like other mothers. She is a fierce protector and a mysterious woman to my sisters and I.”
- If you were writing an essay about an object, you may start with: "Try as I might, I had a hard time keeping my pet rock alive."
- You can also use adjectives that connect to the senses, such “rotting,” “bright,” “hefty,” “rough,” and “pungent.”
- For example, you may describe your mother as "bright," "tough," and "scented with jasmine."
- You can also use similes, where you use “like” or “as” to compare one thing to another. For example, you may write, “My mother is like a fierce warrior in battle, if the battlefield were PTA meetings and the checkout line at the grocery store.”
- For example, you may write about your complicated feelings about your mother. You may note that you feel sadness about your mother’s sacrifices for the family and joy for the privileges you have in your life because of her.
- For example, you may end a descriptive essay about your mother by noting, “In all that she has sacrificed for us, I see her strength, courage, and fierce love for her family, traits I hope to emulate in my own life.”
Polishing the Essay
- You can also read the essay aloud to others to get their feedback. Ask them to let you know if there are any unclear or vague sentences in the essay.
- Be open to constructive criticism and feedback from others. This will only make your essay stronger.
- If you have a word count requirement for the essay, make sure you meet it. Add more detail to the paper or take unnecessary content out to reach the word count.
Outline for a Descriptive Essay
You Might Also Like
- ↑ http://www.writeexpress.com/descriptive-essay.html
- ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 24 July 2020.
- ↑ https://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/descriptive-writing.html
- ↑ https://spcollege.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=10168248
- ↑ http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/style_purpose_strategy/descriptive_essay.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/descriptive_essays.html
- ↑ https://vln.school.nz/groupcms/view/845349/descriptive-writing
About This Article
To write a descriptive essay, start by choosing a topic, like a person, place, or specific emotion. Next, write down a list of sensory details about the topic, like how it sounds, smells, and feels. After this brainstorming session, outline the essay, dividing it into an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Open with a vivid introduction that uses sensory details, then introduce your thesis statement, which the rest of your essay should support. Strengthen your essay further by using metaphors and similes to describe your topic, and the emotions it evokes. To learn how to put the finishing touches on your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Mar 25, 2021
Did this article help you?
Jul 13, 2020
May 13, 2021
Aug 21, 2019
Apr 11, 2019
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
Don’t miss out! Sign up for
Donate (opens in a new window)
The primary purpose of descriptive writing is to describe a person, place or thing in such a way that a picture is formed in the reader’s mind. Capturing an event through descriptive writing involves paying close attention to the details by using all of your five senses. Teaching students to write more descriptively will improve their writing by making it more interesting and engaging to read.
Appropriate group size, what is descriptive writing.
Descriptive writing helps the reader visualize the person, place, thing, or situation being described. When a text conjures a vivid, sensory impression in the reader’s mind, not only does it make the writing more interesting to read; it helps the reader understand the text better and recognize the author’s intention more clearly.
Why teach descriptive writing?
- It helps students make their writing more interesting and engaging to read.
- It creates opportunities for students to practice using new words in meaningful contexts, a key strategy for building vocabulary.
- Descriptive writing tends to include figurative language, such as simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia. Noticing figurative language in mentor texts and incorporating it into their own writing help students build critical verbal reasoning skills. To find out more about verbal reasoning and other components of language comprehension, see the “In Depth” section from the Comprehension module of our Reading 101 Course.
- It encourages students to learn from—and be metacognitive about—the techniques other authors use to write vivid descriptions.
- It can help students clarify their understanding of new subject matter material and remember more of what they learn.
How to teach descriptive writing
If only descriptive writing were as simple as “show, don’t tell”! Descriptive writing is a skill — and a craft — that takes instruction, practice, and time to learn. The good news is that it can be explicitly taught. An understanding of the characteristics of effective descriptive writing, combined with a toolkit of structures and strategies to scaffold learning and practice, can enhance students’ development as authors of vivid, evocative writing.
What effective descriptive writing looks like
Authors of descriptive writing use a variety of styles and techniques to connect with readers, but effective descriptive writing often shares these characteristics:
- Vivid details. Specific details paint a picture in the reader’s mind and appeal to the reader’s senses. Descriptive writing may also go beyond creating a strong sensory impression to give the reader a “picture” of the feelings the description evokes in the writer.
- Figurative language. Tools of the writer’s craft such as analogy, simile, and metaphor add depth to authors’ descriptions.
- Precise language. General adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs are used sparingly. Instead, specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs give life to the picture being painted in the reader’s mind.
- Thoughtful organization. Some ways to organize descriptive writing include: chronological (time), spatial (location), and order of importance. Descriptive writing about a person might begin with a physical description, followed by how the person thinks, feels and acts.
What effective instruction in descriptive writing looks like
There isn’t one right approach to teaching descriptive writing, but effective instruction often includes:
- Mentor texts. Reading aloud and analyzing high-quality mentor texts to help students understand how authors use descriptive writing to connect with readers.
- Focus on the five senses. Helping students make the connection between sensory input (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) and descriptive writing.
- Teacher modeling. Modeling different ways to generate descriptive writing.
- Guided practice. Repeated, structured practice scaffolded to meet students’ needs.
- Feedback and revision. Cycles of constructive teacher and peer feedback followed by thoughtful revision.
Watch a demonstration: show NOT tell using your 5 senses
In this virtual lesson, the teacher models generating written descriptions of a hot day using the five senses as a framework.
Watch a classroom lesson: five senses graphic organizer
Students use their five senses and a graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas for writing a report on a recent school event and to help them think about interesting words to include in their report. See the lesson plan (opens in a new window) .
Watch a classroom discussion: writer’s workshop
Writer’s Workshop connects great children’s literature with children’s own writing experiences. In this video clip from our Launching Young Readers PBS series , Lynn Reichle’s second graders practice their use of descriptive writing.
Here are some routines and structures for teaching descriptive writing:
The RAFT strategy encourages descriptive writing and supports writing in general by encouraging students to think through the writer’s Role, the Audience, the Format, and the Topic. ReadWriteThink offers this RAFT Writing Template .
This Sense Chart (opens in a new window) — organized into sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch categories — helps students capture sensory details related to a topic. The Describing Wheel (opens in a new window) offers a more open-ended format for capturing and organizing descriptive language.
The Show-Me Sentences (opens in a new window) lesson plan from ReadWriteThink was created for students in grades 6-12. However, elementary teachers can modify the Show-Me sentences to make them interesting for younger students.
This lesson plan from Utah Education Network (opens in a new window) guides students through the process of writing about a favorite place using descriptive language.
This lesson plan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (opens in a new window) has students work collaboratively to generate descriptive writing about works of art. It is intended for upper elementary and middle grades but can be adapted for lower grades.
Teacher Laura Torres created a lesson plan that uses images to jumpstart vivid writing: Three Descriptive Writing Picture Prompts .
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners.
- Use dictation as a way to help capture students thoughts and ideas.
- Provide sentence frames for writing descriptive sentences or paragraphs.
- Use pictures and other sensory prompts.
- Provide budding writers with real-life or virtual experiences that give them something to write about. Trips to a relative’s house, playground or grocery store provide real-life experiences that can be recorded by a new writer.
- Encourage students to work with a buddy or in a small group to develop first drafts .
- Work with students to brainstorm a word bank of interesting and descriptive words students can incorporate into their writing.
Extend the learning
This resource from Greenville County Schools in South Carolina provides several ideas for writing in math class . Writing and mathematics are similar in that they both require gathering, organizing, and clarifying thoughts. Writing can support math instruction by helping students make sense of important concepts and procedures.
Descriptive writing in science can help students capture observations and scientific phenomena with greater precision, and can help them comprehend new material by explaining it in their own words. Fazio and Gallagher propose two instructional strategies to assist teachers and student when writing in science: a mnemonic acronym (POWER) and an editing checklist.
In social studies, descriptive writing can help students describe an important historical figure or event more clearly. Writing rich in detail will create vivid depictions of people and places and help make history come alive.
- RAFT helps students understand their roles as writers, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic they’ll be writing about.
- Revision teaches students about the characteristics of good writing, which will carry over into their future writing. Revision skills complement reading skills; revision requires that writers distance themselves from the writing and critically evaluate a text.
- Writing Conferences give students a chance to share their writing and and receive feedback from peers or the teacher.
- Think-alouds can be used for writing as well as reading instruction
Learn more about building writing skills in our self-paced module Reading 101: Writing .
See the research that supports this strategy
Akerson, V. L., & Young, T.A. (2005). Science the ‘write’ way. Science and Children , 43(3), 38-41.
MacArthur, C., Graham, S., & Fitzgerald, J. (2016). Handbook of research on writing (2nd Edition). NY: Guilford.
Miller, R.G., & Calfee, R.C. (2004). Making thinking visible: A method to encourage science writing in upper elementary grades. Science and Children , (42)3, 20-25.
Mitchell, D. (1996). Writing to learn across the curriculum and the English teacher. English Journal , 85, 93-97.
Children’s books to use with this strategy
This boy’s curse begins when his teacher suggests that the “poetry of science” can be heard everywhere. From Moore to Frost, familiar poems are parodied and turned into science verse. Again art and illustration are inseparable as are the laughs in this offbeat look at science.
When Louis’ uncle sends a tadpole from a certain lake in Scotland, the small tadpole grows to enormous proportions. With the help of a resourceful librarian, Louis figures out a way to feed his large and ever-hungry Alphonse as well as determine a permanent solution. Humor abounds in this contemporary classic.
The Mysterious Tadpole
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At One Hoppin’ Place, the countdown to bedtime is about to begin when a family of hamsters — a mother and father with nine kids and a baby all wearing numbered striped jerseys — arrives at the front door.
10 Minutes Till Bedtime
Every day children around the world awake to begin their days having breakfast, going to school, coming home to families. A poetic text combines with photographs from myriad countries to visually highlight the richness of the world and its people.
One World, One Day
If all of the 300 million people were simply one village of 100 people, its diversity is easier to understand. That’s just what the author has done to make the complex make-up of the U.S. residents (in terms of languages spoken, ages, and more). Colorful illustrations accompany the understandable text. Additional resources complete the book. If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People (opens in a new window) , also by Smith, looks at the inhabitants of the world as a village to allow its diversity to become more understandable for adults and children.
If America Were a Village: A Book About the People of the United States
Relive the journey of the Apollo 11 where the first people stepped on the Moon’s surface and saw Earth from a very different perspective. Eloquent language and illustrations combine to present this historical event in a unique, unforgettable way.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Two machines captivated young Philo Farnsworth: a telephone and a phonograph. Both had cranks and both connected people with others (one in real time, the other through music). These and other inspirations motivated young Philo to invent what was to become known as the television. His early story is fascinatingly told and well illustrated.
The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth
Ted Williams never flinched at hard work or a challenge. In his last season with the Boston Red Sox, Williams had to decide if he wanted to take the chance and lose his rare .400 average or go to bat. Williams’ decision creates a riveting read in this handsome and thoughtful look at one man’s ethics and the times in which he lived.
No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season
A mother and her child get the ingredients for soup on a snowy day and then add everything to the pot. The pair plays snug and warm while the soup simmers until Dad comes home when they enjoy soup together. Crisp collage and a simple text make for a cozy read.
The traditional tale of a boy who planted magic beans is reimagined as a city story of a spell broken. Illustrations are photographs that have been manipulated for good effect.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Children are encouraged to observe as experiment as they learn about wind and air as well as practice science writing by describing their findings.
I Face the Wind
26 Letters and 99 Cents
Arresting photographs of water in various states not only introduces water but also weather, solids and liquids, and more. The sophisticated text further encourages experimentation and observation, although is not necessary to use the entire book with younger children.
A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder
Each Orange Had 8 Slices: A Counting Book
Cinderella stories are found around the world; here, they have been fused into one tale with special characteristics in text and illustrations that reflect the different origins. Expand parts of the story to echo the traditions of the culture and its history from which it comes. It may be possible to develop a map of tales (e.g., ancient vs. modern countries, or as a visual as to where it is/was told).
Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella
Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)
Scieszka and Smith set sights on creating fresh fables — short traditional tales intended to teach a moral lesson. With humorous twists and take-offs, new, different and wacky fables are presented for readers’ edification and amusement.
Squids Will Be Squids
Liked it share it, topics this strategy is especially helpful for.
Definition of descriptive essay.
A descriptive essay , as the name implies, is a form of essay that describes something. In this genre , students are assigned the task of describing objects, things, places, experiences, persons, and situations. The students use sensory information to enable readers to use their five senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight to understand the topic of the essay.
Qualities of a Descriptive Essay
- Clear and Concise
- Use of Images
- Use of Five Senses
As far as clear and concise language is concerned, it is necessary to describe things precisely. Imagery is used to make things seem real and remarkable. The use of the five senses creates the imagery, or a mental picture, for each reader.
Difference Between a Description and a Descriptive Essay
A description could be just a paragraph, or it could be longer, as needed to fully describe the thing. However, a descriptive essay has five paragraphs. It is written in a coherent way with a good thesis statement at the end of the introduction , three body paragraphs , and a conclusion .
Examples of Descriptive Essays in Literature
Example #1: the corner store (by eudora welty).
“Our Little Store rose right up from the sidewalk; standing in a street of family houses, it alone hadn’t any yard in front, any tree or flower bed. It was a plain frame building covered over with brick. Above the door, a little railed porch ran across on an upstairs level and four windows with shades were looking out. But I didn’t catch on to those. Running in out of the sun, you met what seemed total obscurity inside. There were almost tangible smells — licorice recently sucked in a child’s cheek, dill pickle brine1 that had leaked through a paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor, ammonia-loaded ice that had been hoisted from wet croker sacks and slammed into the icebox with its sweet butter at the door, and perhaps the smell of still untrapped mice.”
This description of the “Little Store” is not only clear and concise, but also has images and sensory information about the store building.
Example #2: And the Orchestra Played On (by Joanne Lipman)
“The hinges creaked when I opened the decrepit case. I was greeted by a cascade of loose horsehair — my bow a victim of mites, the repairman later explained. It was pure agony to twist my fingers into position. But to my astonishment and that of my teenage children — who had never heard me play — I could still manage a sound. “It turned out, a few days later, that there were 100 people just like me. When I showed up at a local school for rehearsal, there they were: five decades worth of former students. There were doctors and accountants, engineers and college professors. There were people who hadn’t played in decades, sitting alongside professionals like Mr. K.’s daughter Melanie, now a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. There were generations of music teachers.”
In the first paragraph of this descriptive excerpt, the author clearly describes the decrepit nature of the violin case, as well as the damage time has done to the bow. The second paragraph is a description of the characters , and their similarities. Both use sensory information for effective descriptions.
Example #3: Yarn (by Koyoko Mori)
“The yellow mittens I made in seventh-grade home economics proved that I dreamed in color. For the unit on knitting, we were 1 supposed to turn in a pair of mittens. The two hands had to be precisely the same size so that when we held them together, palm to palm, no extra stitches would stick out from the thumb, the tip of the fingers, or the cuff. Somewhere between making the fourth and the fifth mitten to fulfill this requirement, I dreamed that the ball of yellow yarn in my bag had turned green. Chartreuse, leaf, Granny Smith, lime, neon, acid green. The brightness was electric. I woke up knowing that I was, once again, doomed for a D in home ec.”
See the use of colors in this paragraph by Koyoko Mori. This is called “pure description,” in that the description appeals to the senses. The use of word “brightness” in the last line is striking one.
Example #4: The Taj Mahal (by Salman Rushdie)
“And this, finally, is why the Taj Mahal must be seen: to remind us that the world is real, that the sound is truer than the echo, the original more forceful than its image in a mirror. The beauty of beautiful things is still able, in these image-saturated times, to transcend imitations. And the Taj Mahal is, beyond the power of words to say it, a lovely thing, perhaps the loveliest of things.”
Check this short description of the Taj Mahal by Salman Rushdie. This description presents a different picture of the Taj Mahal.
Function of Descriptive Essay
A descriptive essay presents a person, place, or thing, in a way that readers feel as if it is in front of their eyes, or that they are tasting it, or that they can hear it, or that they can smell it. Writers use sensory information to describe object . The object of the writer is to present a picture of something as honestly as he can.
- Elements of an Essay
- Narrative Essay
- Definition Essay
- Types of Essay
- Analytical Essay
- Argumentative Essay
- Cause and Effect Essay
- Critical Essay
- Expository Essay
- Persuasive Essay
- Process Essay
- Explicatory Essay
- An Essay on Man: Epistle I
- Comparison and Contrast Essay
Summer Deal! Top-rated Essay Writers Online! Get 50% OFF On Your First Essay Order!
Your 50% Off + Real Help Await!
Skip the Bots, Talk to Us
Have us text you Estimated wait time: about 2 minutes
Have us call you Estimated wait time: about 5 minutes
Chat with support Estimated wait time: about 3 minutes
Email us The current response time is 6 hours
Have us text you
Estimated wait time: about 2 minutes
We will contact you shortly!
Have us call you
Estimated wait time: about 5 minutes
The current response time is 6 hours
Please reach out to us at:
Descriptive Essay Writing
Descriptive Essay: Definition, Tips & Examples
Published on: Jun 21, 2023
Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023
On This Page On This Page
Many writers struggle to effectively convey vivid imagery and captivate readers through their descriptive essays.
The lack of proper guidance and techniques hinders writers from unlocking the full potential of their descriptive writing skills.
In this comprehensive blog, we aim to provide you with valuable insights, expert tips, and proven techniques to help you master descriptive essays.
We will guide you step-by-step, equipping you with the tools to create compelling and captivating essays.
Get prepared to transform your writing as we delve into the magic of descriptive essays.
Let's get started!
What is a Descriptive Essay?
A descriptive essay is a type of essay that asks the students to describe something, such as a person, place, incident, emotion, or event. It is a detailed description where the writer is painting a picture in words.
Different people have different thoughts and points of view. A descriptive essay allows you to explain your point of view in your own way. You should give a description of every aspect of the topic so that a reader can feel as if he has personally experienced that.
Two Classic Approaches to the Descriptive Essay
There are two main ways to write a descriptive essay: the personal essay and the formal description. Letâs discuss them in detail.
- Personal Essay
The best way to describe an experience using your feelings and responses would be through a personal essay. This work can awaken empathy in readers, but it's important not to make any mistakes or organize poorly.
Descriptive writing is a great way to show your readers what you're talking about. It resembles an argumentative essay because it has one main goal: communicating key points or describing something in detail.
Features of Descriptive Essay
There are five basic features of a descriptive essay that distinguishes it from other writing types. Let's discuss them in detail.
- Sensory Details - A great descriptive essay appeals to the audience's emotions and forms an association for them. In this essay type, a writer paints a picture with words so they have to be really engaging and appealing to the senses.
- Central Theme - The content of your descriptive essay is shaped according to the central or major theme. Make sure to define the central theme explicitly and focus it on one single point.
- Figurative Language - A key to writing an impactful descriptive essay is to use figurative language throughout the content. Use metaphors, similes, adverbs, and adjectives to describe settings and characters.
- Precise Language - The vocabulary you use for the content should be appropriate and accurate. The language, as well as the tone, should reflect the major theme of the essay vividly.
- Organization of Ideas - Arrange all your ideas and information in a properly structured manner. Make sure that your descriptive writing is based on these elements to ensure its effectiveness and success.
Descriptive Essay Format
All formal writing types, including descriptive papers, require a proper format to be readable and understandable.
Therefore, before starting your essay, you should create an outline of your essay. It will help you organize your essay.
Below is the format of the descriptive essay outline.
Descriptive Essay Outline Template
How to Start a Descriptive Essay?
Writing a strong descriptive essay requires a writer to form a strong plan. Following are the steps involved in the pre-writing or planning procedure of a good descriptive essay:
1. Topic Selection
Usually, professors assign the topic for a descriptive essay. But, if you have a choice to select a topic, then you have a great chance to select something which you know a lot about.
Have a look at some popular descriptive essay topics.
Descriptive Essay Topics On Writing About A Person
- Describe your favorite person
- Describe your best friend
- Describe your favorite family member
- Describe your enemy
- Describe someone whom you love the most
- Describe your mother
- Describe your father
- Describe your family
- Describe your favorite brother
- Describe a person whom you idealize
Descriptive Essay Topics About an Event
- Describe your friendâs wedding
- Describe your college farewell
- Describe the last Christmas party
- Describe your brotherâs bachelor party
- Describe your own wedding
- Describe the memorable concert you have attended
- Describe your last convocation
- Describe the best dinner party you have ever attended
- Describe the event you have attended where you were not invited
- Describe your last day at the office
Descriptive Essay Topics About a Place
- Describe your favorite place
- Describe the place you have visited in the summer
- Describe your grandmamaâs farmhouse
- Describe your hometown
- Describe your favorite college
- Describe your favorite vacation destination
- Describe your favorite tourist spot
- Describe your favorite museum
- Describe your dream house
- Describe a fancy place that you have created
The next step is brainstorming about the selected topic. At this point, think of all the relevant points that exactly describe your topic.
3. Thesis Statement for Descriptive Essay
After the brainstorming session, develop a strong thesis statement . It is a very crucial part of the whole essay because it will be a prominent part of the essay.
How to Write a Descriptive Essay?
When you have drafted a plan for your essay, it is time to execute it effectively. The writing process of your essay will only get simpler if you have taken all the required pre-writing steps.
Follow the below-mentioned steps to finally begin your writing procedure for the descriptive essay:
An introduction is the entry point of your essay. It should be designed to grab the readerâs attention. Usually, it sets the mood for the entire essay. Do not put all the details here; just briefly introduce the main topic. Start the introductory paragraph with suspense so that you can capture the eye of the reader. You can even pose a question so that the reader tries to find the answer in your essay and continue reading.
The body part gives you the freedom to write the details about your selected topic. Here you have 3 to 4 paragraphs where you can paint a picture in the readerâs mind through vivid language, persuading dialogues, or images.
This part should support your thesis. Describe all the points in detail. The idea should come out at the beginning.
The paragraphs should be interlinked with good transition words . Organize your paragraphs in a way that makes sense.
It is the last chance to impress the reader. So, you need to pay all attention to this section. Restate your thesis statement and give a short reminder to the reader what the essay was required to cover. Make a good final statement so that the reader can leave thinking about your essay.
Proofread your essay to do a review. You can identify the mistakes and correct your tone. Go through your essay 2 or 3 times so that you can identify all the mistakes and correct them before final submission.
Descriptive Essay Examples
Given below is a visual demonstration of how a descriptive essay typically looks!
If youâre still struggling, check out some more descriptive essay examples given below!
Descriptive Essay Example About a Person
Descriptive Essay Example About an Event
Descriptive Essay Example About a Place
For further information, check out this informative video below.
In conclusion, mastering the art of descriptive essays is within your reach.
By implementing the expert techniques and tips shared in this blog, you can elevate your writing to new heights.
Remember to practice and refine your skills, allowing your creativity to flourish.
At CollegeEssay.org, we understand the importance of strong writing skills for academic success.
Our team of experienced writers is here to provide professional assistance. Whether it's your high school or narrative essay, we have got you covered!
Hire our writing service today to achieve your academic goals. Don't forget to try our AI writing tool for exceptional essays!
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
What are the 4 elements of descriptive writing.
The four elements of descriptive writing are:
What are the 2 types of description?
The two types of description are:
How many paragraphs is a descriptive essay?
The five-paragraph essay is a classic format that has been used for a descriptive essay. This format includes an introductory paragraph with the inclusion of a thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs and a conclusion.
Cathy A. (Literature)
For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.
People also read
Best Descriptive Essay Topics to Inspire Your Writing
Writing a Descriptive Essay Outline - Tips & Examples
Amazing Descriptive Essay Examples for Your Help
Share this article
Join our mailing list for discount & offers
- Cookies Policy
- Refunds & Cancellations
- Our Guarantees
- Affiliate Program
- Referral Program
- AI Essay Writer
Disclaimer: Our website content is sometimes created using AI but is reviewed and verified by our experienced team of editors. All client orders are completed by our team of highly qualified human writers. The essays and papers provided by us are not to be used for submission but rather as learning models only.
Email Address Already Exists!
Please Enter Valid Email!
Descriptive Essay Writing
Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023
How To Write An Impactful Descriptive Essay?
By: Cathy A.
12 min read
Reviewed By: Melisa C.
Published on: Dec 17, 2019
Wondering how to write an impressive descriptive essay? Writing a descriptive essay is both fun and challenging. You need to describe the main topic in detail and by engaging the five senses of the readers.
Students usually get this type of essay in high school and college. Writing a descriptive essay is different from other essays.
You need to focus on describing a certain person, place, or event.
Luckily for you, the following blog post will provide some helpful tips on how to create an engaging essay.
Continue reading to learn how to write an A-worthy descriptive essay.
On this Page
What is a Descriptive Essay?
A descriptive essay is a detailed paper that describes a place, person, situation, object, or emotion. Different people have different points of view and your job is to explain yours in detail.
You may be asked to write a descriptive essay about the beach or forest or about a person or situation. The purpose of this essay is to test the writer’s ability in expressing and explaining their experiences.
Descriptive writing should create a picture in the reader’s mind. You may be required to write a descriptive essay as a high school or college essay assignment.
For a compelling essay, using adjectives and adverbs, details, and figurative language is fundamental. Without proper usage of words, you will not be able to invoke the readers' emotions.
What is the Purpose of a Descriptive Essay?
The purpose of a descriptive essay is to describe a person, place, or personal experience in vivid detail so that the reader can create a picture in his mind.
The descriptive essay is written to get the reader to understand by using descriptive language. It is different from narrative essays, where the writer tells the story about someone else. Usually, it starts with a real-life event and then the content follows the author's imagination.
Descriptive essays are not intended to persuade the reader or show facts and figures to prove something. Descriptive essays are like word paintings that contain personal and descriptive details and these are mostly assigned to students of creative writing.
How to Start a Descriptive Essay
A strong start for your descriptive essay is essential. Analyze your topic from every angle and document the following details:
Analyze the main subjects in detail and observe minute things.
- Start with observing all the possible aspects of the subject.
- Don't just observe the object but also its surroundings.
- Focus on details and features of the subject and develop opinions about them.
- Be thoughtful; this first step will be the basis for the essay.
Describing the physical settings is a must in a descriptive essay. When describing, keep the following points in mind.
- Focus on the subject's position and observe nearby objects
- Note the time of day and kind of lighting: natural or imitated
- Physical settings: all the basic and decorative elements
- The position and shape of the objects
- Alignment and any other observable information
When describing the physical features of the subject, living or nonliving, consider the following points.
- Living or nonliving; describe the features in detail
- The subject's skin color, texture, smoothness, expression, and age
- The features of inanimate objects in the picture, color, surface, and texture
Storytelling and drama are the life and blood of a good descriptive essay. It turns your essay into an exciting and interesting piece of writing. However, be subtle about adding drama to your sentence structure and add it to complement your story only.
Focus On Your Feelings
Focus on how you feel about the particular topic or person and stick to it. It is easy to get involved when working on the essay. But, focus on your own feelings and write an essay based on them.
Use Of Specific Vocabulary
Vocabulary is important. Select the best words for describing an action or object. Don't always use the first word that comes to mind.
Write slowly and thoughtfully, and use specific words to convey your thoughts.
Writing about a certain situation or behavior of a person focuses on the mental aspects and emotions involved in them.
For Example, describe your emotions when your friend misplaced your notes right before the exam.
You may have had several emotions in that incident. Maybe you were prepared for exams, but this situation put you under pressure and made you feel frustrated and hurt.
Explore those emotions and describe the feelings they aroused. Describe the body language also, if relevant.
Ask Yourself, WHY?
This is the most valuable tip for students. When you are looking at a particular subject, and having difficulty analyzing its aspects, ask yourself "WHY".
- Why is the subject the way it is?
- Why does the person you are describing have such a deep-set and cold eyes?
- Why is the animal so wounded and terrified?
- Why is this particular place famous?
It is a good practice and after some time you will do it naturally. Knowing the why is important if you want to describe your topic properly.
Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!
How To Write A Descriptive Essay?
When you write a descriptive essay, you help your readers visualize an event, a person, or a story. It is written to make your readers feel what you feel about the respective subject.
A descriptive essay seeks to appeal to some or all of the audience’s five senses. Some key things to consider are:
- Discussing your subject thoroughly
- Focusing on details and adding them in your essay
- Sharing your personal feelings and experience about the subject
- Observing and describing all sensory details of your subject
Here are the steps to write a descriptive essay easily.
1- Choose an Engaging and Focused Essay Topic
An important step that all strong descriptive essays share is having a focused topic. Before you make the outline, identify the purpose of your essay and use it to create an appropriate thesis statement.This type of paper does not require much personal opinion from you. Its main goal should be focusing on information that will make a dominant impression in readers' minds instead.
2- Research and Gather Important Details
When writing a descriptive essay, it is important to make sure you include as many details and sensory information as possible. This helps your reader fully understand the images that are being presented in their mind's eye.You can organize these ideas into categories so they're easy for you to access when needed.
3- Create an Outline of Your Essay
Your essays must be organized by having subheadings that are clear and concise. Group your main points into individual body paragraphs, each of which should only cover one idea or topic at a time.
4- Write your Essay’s Introduction
A good introductory paragraph is much like a road map because it provides direction to your readers.
It provides relevant background information before diving into more specific details related to how something works or why something happens. These could include statistics or stories from real-life scenarios.
5- Write the Main Body Section of Your Essay
Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that keeps the reader hooked on what you are saying. Use specific details instead of making generalized statements, and make sure to give examples if necessary.
6- End with a Strong Conclusion
The conclusion of an essay is the final paragraph, and it should summarize all that you have said throughout. It's a good idea to restate the main points and key details from the essay in this section.
It is important so the reader has everything they need for better understanding before ending off on something new.
If necessary be sure not to introduce anything odd or unusual, to avoid any confusion.
7- Proofread and Revise the Essay Carefully
Once you are done writing the essay, proofread and revise it carefully. Make sure that it is free from all kinds of errors.
Descriptive Essay Outline
Like all the other essays, a descriptive essay also follows the usual 5-paragraph essay structure and format.Before starting, it is important to create an outline. Following are the fundamental elements of your descriptive essay outline:
Descriptive Essay Introduction
The introduction sets the footing for the entire essay. Before heading towards the body section, the reader will come across the introduction.
It is the first impression of your work. It is very important to write an engaging introduction so that the readers read the essay till the end.
Start the essay in an easy-to-understand way and language. Provide background information on your topic so they can understand it and its importance.
To make sure the reader feels your emotions and decides to continue reading further, incorporate the following points in your introduction.
The following tips will guide you on how to write a good introduction for a descriptive essay.
- Attract the reader's attention with an interesting fact, phrase, or quote
- Don't bombard them with information
- Go straight to the main pointsInclude enough information to introduce the topic and its significance.
- Summarize the argument and the main topic and craft your thesis statement
Descriptive Essay Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is an integral part of your essay. It focuses on the argument and the writer’s main idea, which is to be discussed in the essay.
This statement also provides the writer with a chance of explaining the purpose and scope of the topic. It is intriguing and engaging.
A thesis statement is written at the end of the introduction, it is mainly a single sentence that describes the essay objective. The thesis statement should act as a guide to the reader on what to expect in the essay body. It is like a table of contents of a book, to the reader on contents you will get an idea of what the book is all about so you get to understand it better.
It is like a table of contents of a book. By reading it, you will get an idea of what the book is all about.
A good thesis should contain the following things:
- Define the essay scope - it should narrow down all the points to clarify its purpose.
- Avoid using common words - you should be creative with your choice of words.
- Create suspense - it should attract the reader to the body paragraphs of the essay.
For further information on how to write a thesis for a descriptive essay, check out the following examples.
- Descriptive essay example about a Place
“Even though monarchy is long gone, Buckingham Palace is here to remind us of the aesthetic beauty of that era.”
- Descriptive essay example about a Person
“One of the characteristics of Spider-Man is his youthfulness, and the fact that he talks to himself more than Hamlet.”
- Descriptive essay example about an Emotion
“For numerous reasons, the dark forest is my greatest fear, though not a fear which is necessarily smart to face.”
Descriptive Essay Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs of the essay come next after the introduction and thesis statement. It is the main part that continues your essay.
Usually, an essay consists of three body paragraphs but you can add more if needed.
Don't add more than one central idea in one paragraph. Fusing different ideas will confuse the reader.
Build your paragraphs according to the thesis and introduction.
- Start each body paragraph with the main sentence
- Use transitions to move between paragraphs smoothly
- Each paragraph should be five to six sentences long
Descriptive Essay Conclusion
The concluding paragraph is the last part of an essay, and probably your last chance to impress your reader.
The last part that the reader can keep in mind is the conclusion, which is as important as the rest of the essay.
To make it interesting and thought-provoking, include the following points:
- Restate the thesis statement
- Summarize the main points
- Add an intriguing closing statement
After writing the conclusion, make a review of your essay, identify the mistakes and maintain a good tone throughout the essay.
Descriptive Essay Format Sample
Here is the descriptive essay format to help you understand how you can write a winning descriptive essay.
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY FORMAT (PDF)
Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!
Descriptive Essay Topics Ideas
Descriptive essay topics are often related to physical settings, locations, living beings, and objects.
Make sure that your essay includes the five senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, or at least one of them. It depends on the topic and the kind of feeling that you want to arouse.
Below are some descriptive essay ideas and ways to achieve them.
When you want to write about a person like a family member, consider the following elements:
- Gender, age, complexion, and expressions
- Physical features
- Height, body type, and approximate weight
- Kind of clothes
These details will add depth to the description and your readers will actually see your narrative.
When animals are the subject, you can add the above points plus the following details:
- Species and animal
- Size, weight, color
- Behavior patterns
- Trained or wild?
- Real or fictional?
Geographic locations and structures.
When your subject is a place or a building, add the following points:
- Research about the place and its historical background
- The color and the building's type
- A famous place or landmark to draw a comparison and inspire interest
Human behavior and psychology is a compelling descriptive essay subject. When writing about it:
- Describe the consequences of a particular behavior
- Discuss the emotional dimension of the topic and how you perceive it personally
Event Or Travel Experience
A travel experience makes a good descriptive essay since you have experienced the event first hand.
Give a detailed description of the place, people at the venue, and the atmosphere of the location.
Idea, Concept, or Occupation
When writing on such topics, focus on how an idea or concept affects society and its different aspects.
Example Descriptive Essay Topics for Students
Choosing a topic for your descriptive essay is quite interesting. You get to choose something that you have an emotional connection with.
When writing a descriptive essay about a person or place, adding their personal traits will be helpful.
Some examples of descriptive essay topics include:
- Compose a detailed descriptive essay about your best friend.
- Describe a fancy place that you have created.
- Describe your dream vacation destination.
- Describe your favorite mall or store.
- Describe your childhood home.
- Descriptive essay about nature.
- Descriptive essay about a place you visited.
- Describe the personality of your Maths teacher.
- Discuss the main characters of your favorite movie.
- Descriptive essay about chocolate.
- Write an essay using unique Words to describe yourself.
- What makes me unique?
- My first love.
Descriptive Essay Examples
Study these descriptive essay examples and sample papers to understand the main idea, structure, and purpose of descriptive essays.
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY ON MARKET (PDF)
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY EXAMPLE PERSON (PDF)
To help you understand how to write a great descriptive essay, we have a whole blog post dedicated to it. We know that talking about something is one thing and demonstrating it is completely different.
Having a descriptive essay assignment with a short deadline? Looking for someone to do my essay for me ?
5StarEssays.com academic writing professionals are ready to help you. They read the essay details before writing and make sure that they incorporate all the details in it.
Get 100% plagiarism-free content at affordable prices from our experts now!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the features of a descriptive essay.
A descriptive essay provides a perfect opportunity for writers to express their feelings on any subject. Descriptive writing has rich sensory details which appeal to all of your senses.
How do you start a descriptive essay introduction?
The introduction to the descriptive essay should set the scene and introduce the main topic. You can use these sensory details to get a sense of what the essay is all about.
What are the two types of descriptive essays?
There are two types of descriptive essays. The first type deals with people, and the second one is about objects.
What are the elements of a descriptive essay?
Here are the key elements of a descriptive essay.
- Sensory details
- Figurative language
- Central and main theme
- Precise and clear language
- Proper organization of ideas
What makes good descriptive writing?
Good and effective descriptive writing consists of vivid sensory details that appeal to all senses including the sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Moreover, these essays also explain people’s feelings in writing.
Finance Essay, Literature
Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.
Was This Blog Helpful?
- Interesting Descriptive Essay Topics Recommended by Experts
- Descriptive Essay Examples - 8 Examples To Help You Write Better
People Also Read
- how to make an essay longer
- college application essay
- dissertation introduction
- illustration essay topics
- rhetorical precis writing
Burdened With Assignments?
© 2023 - All rights reserved
2000+ SATISFIED STUDENTS
95% Satisfaction RATE
30 Days Money-back GUARANTEE
95% Success RATE
© 2023 5StarEssays.com. All rights reserved.
LOGIN TO YOUR ACCOUNT
SIGN UP TO YOUR ACCOUNT
- Your phone no.
- Password Password must be minimum 8 characters.
- Confirm Password
- SEND PASSWORD
- AI Content Shield
- AI KW Research
- AI Assistant
- SEO Optimizer
- AI KW Clustering
- Customer reviews
- The NLO Revolution
- Press Center
- Help Center
- Content Resources
- Facebook Group
A Clear Guide to Descriptive Narrative Essay
Table of Contents
A descriptive narrative essay is often confused by students due to the similarities between a descriptive and narrative essay. Both of these essays can be written by people of any age as they don’t contain facts but rather involve a creative approach.
This article will guide you through the difference between descriptive and narrative essays in detail.
Descriptive Vs. Narrative: What’s the Difference?
A descriptive paragraph gives the reader a lively experience by using vivid language and details of the subject and surroundings.
They’re not necessarily personal in nature. However, narrative paragraphs incorporate personal ideas, feelings, and growth.
The key difference between the two essays is:
- A descriptive essay is supposed to provide a detailed description of a specific place, object, or concept. The art of descriptive writing involves paying attention to sensory details.
- A narrative essay is intended to present a whole story. These essays are often personal, anecdotal, or experiential, which allows students to express themselves more creatively.
What Is a Descriptive Narrative Essay?
Descriptive narrative essays are essays that attempt to capture or recreate events from the audience’s point of view. They are not intended to be a guide to how to feel about said events but to convey what occurred in a facilitated manner.
Descriptive Essays in Detail
Descriptive essays involve many descriptions of a person, place, object, or feeling . The five sensory details, sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch, are employed in this type of writing.
Good descriptive writing should paint vivid pictures of the situation in the reader’s mind about the subject or surroundings. Examples of descriptive essay topics could be a haunted place, my pet, my best friend, my family, our new house, and more.
Narrative Essays in Detail
As the name suggests, a narrative essay is used to narrate a complete story in a sequence. The author could share an imaginative story or a personal experience.
A good narrative story contains a plot, setting, and characters that make the reader feel like it is a true incident. Writers often use the first point of view in this type of essay and also employ dialogues. Examples of narrative essay topics could be a trip to remember, the first day at school, an exciting Christmas Eve, and more.
Benefits of Teaching Descriptive Writing
Let’s look at some of the key benefits of teaching descriptive writing to students:
- It helps students make their writing more captivating and interesting to the readers.
- This allows students to practice using new words in meaningful contexts, which is a crucial aspect of building vocabulary.
- It enables students to observe and reflect on the methods employed by other authors to create vivid descriptions.
- Descriptive essays use figurative language, mostly similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia. Students can develop their critical verbal reasoning abilities by noticing figurative language in mentor texts and using it in their own work.
- Students can clarify their understanding of new subject matter material and remember more of what they have learned through it.
The differences between a descriptive and narrative essay are much more than merely a different type of essay. Some of the most significant differences lie in the nature of the topics discussed and the reasons for writing.
People prefer descriptive essays when they want to explore a topic by providing a detailed description of an individual or event . But narrative essays let you be creative while telling a personal story you have experienced.
Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.
Explore All Descriptive Text Articles
Effective writing tips to describe a person.
As with any piece of writing, it’s essential to paint a picture vividly and make your reader fully grasp your…
- Descriptive Text
Best Words to Describe Your Personality
There are instances when you’ll be required to describe yourself. It can be for a job interview or when introducing…
30+ Interesting Words To Describe Beauty
Beauty is the quality of being physically or visually attractive. It is the aesthetic properties of an entity, a natural…
Interesting Adjectives to Describe Movies
You might need to give a review about a movie you just watched. While you can use a few phrases…
Interesting Personality Adjectives to Describe People
What words best describe you? Funny? Determined? Hardworking? These words are adjectives. Adjectives modify one’s personality. They’re an easy and…
The Most Creative Words to Describe Smell
When depicting smell, descriptive language can help the reader have a much more vivid experience. This article explores the best…
Description in Rhetoric and Composition
Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms
- An Introduction to Punctuation
Examples and Observations
- Show; Don't Tell
- Chekhov's Advice to a Young Writer
Two Types of Description: Objective and Impressionistic
- Lincoln's Objective Self-Description
- Rebecca Harding Davis's Impressionistic Description of a Smoky Town
- Lillian Ross's Description of Ernest Hemingway
Description of a Handbag
- Bill Bryson's Description of the Residents' Lounge in the Old England Hotel
Stronger Than Death
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
In composition , description is a rhetorical strategy using sensory details to portray a person, place, or thing.
Description is used in many different types of nonfiction , including essays , biographies , memoirs , nature writing , profiles , sports writing , and travel writing .
Description is one of the progymnasmata (a sequence of classical rhetorical exercises) and one of the traditional modes of discourse .
"A description is an arrangement of properties, qualities, and features that the author must pick (choose, select), but the art lies in the order of their release—visually, audibly, conceptually—and consequently in the order of their interaction, including the social standing of every word." (William H. Gass, "The Sentence Seeks Its Form." A Temple of Texts . Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
Show; Don't Tell
"This is the oldest cliché of the writing profession, and I wish I didn't have to repeat it. Do not tell me that the Thanksgiving dinner was cold. Show me the grease turning white as it congeals around the peas on your plate. . . . Think of yourself as a movie director. You have to create the scene that the viewer will relate to physically and emotionally." (David R. Williams, Sin Boldly!: Dr. Dave's Guide To Writing The College Paper . Basic Books, 2009)
"The descriptive writer's main task is the selection and verbal representation of information. You must choose the details that matter—that are important to the purposes you share with your readers—as well as a pattern of arrangement relevant to those mutual purposes. . . . " Description can be an engineer describing the terrain where an embankment must be built, a novelist describing a farm where the novel will take place, a realtor describing a house and land for sale, a journalist describing a celebrity's birthplace, or a tourist describing a rural scene to friends back home. That engineer, novelist, realtor, journalist, and tourist may all be describing the very same place. If each is truthful, their descriptions will not contradict each other. But they will certainly include and emphasize different aspects." (Richard M. Coe, Form and Substance . Wiley, 1981)
Chekhov's Advice to a Young Writer
"In my opinion, descriptions of nature should be extremely brief and offered by the way, as it were. Give up commonplaces, such as: 'the setting sun, bathing in the waves of the darkening sea, flooded with purple gold,' and so on. Or 'swallows flying over the surface of the water chirped gaily.' In descriptions of nature one should seize upon minutiae, grouping them so that when, having read the passage, you close your eyes, a picture is formed. For example, you will evoke a moonlit night by writing that on the mill dam the glass fragments of a broken bottle flashed like a bright little star and that the black shadow of a dog or wolf rolled along like a ball.'" (Anton Chekhov, quoted by Raymond Obstfeld in Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes . Writer's Digest Books, 2000)
" Objective description attempts to report accurately the appearance of the object as a thing in itself, independent of the observer's perception of it or feelings about it. It is a factual account, the purpose of which is to inform a reader who has not been able to see with his own eyes. The writer regards himself as a kind of camera, recording and reproducing, though in words, a true picture. . . . " Impressionistic description is very different. Focusing upon the mood or feeling the object evokes in the observer rather than upon the object as it exists in itself, impressionism does not seek to inform but to arouse emotion. It attempts to make us feel more than to make us see. . . . "[T]he writer may blur or intensify the details he selects, and, by the clever use of figures of speech , he may compare them to things calculated to evoke the appropriate emotion. To impress us with the dreary ugliness of a house, he may exaggerate the drabness of its paint or metaphorically describe the flaking as leprous ." (Thomas S. Kane and Leonard J. Peters, Writing Prose: Techniques and Purposes , 6th ed. Oxford University Press, 1986)
Lincoln's Objective Self-Description
"If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray eyes--no other marks or brands recollected." (Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Jesse W. Fell, 1859)
Rebecca Harding Davis's Impressionistic Description of a Smoky Town
"The idiosyncrasy of this town is smoke. It rolls sullenly in slow folds from the great chimneys of the iron-foundries and settles down in black, slimy pools on the muddy streets. Smoke on the wharves, smoke on the dingy boats, on the yellow river—clinging in a coating of greasy soot to the house-front, the two faded poplars, the faces of the passers-by. The long train of mules, dragging masses of pig-iron through the narrow street, have a foul vapor hanging to their reeking sides. Here, inside, is a little-broken figure of an angel pointing upward from the mantel-shelf; but even its wings are covered with smoke, clotted and black. Smoke everywhere! A dirty canary chirps desolately in a cage beside me. Its dream of green fields and sunshine is a very old dream—almost worn out, I think." (Rebecca Harding Davis, "Life in the Iron Mills." The Atlantic Monthly , April 1861)
Lillian Ross's Description of Ernest Hemingway
"Hemingway had on a red plaid wool shirt, a figured wool necktie, a tan wool sweater-vest, a brown tweed jacket tight across the back and with sleeves too short for his arms, gray flannel slacks, Argyle socks, and loafers, and he looked bearish, cordial, and constricted. His hair, which was very long in back, was gray, except at the temples, where it was white; his mustache was white, and he had a ragged half-inch, full white beard. There was a bump about the size of a walnut over his left eye. He had on steel-rimmed spectacles, with a piece of paper under the nose-piece. He was in no hurry to get to Manhattan." (Lillian Ross, "How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?" The New Yorker , May 13, 1950)
"Three years ago at a flea market, I bought a small, white-beaded handbag, which I have never since carried in public but which I would never dream of giving away. The purse is small, about the size of a paperback bestseller, and thus it is totally unsuited for lugging around such paraphernalia as a wallet, comb, compact, checkbook, keys, and all the other necessities of modern life. Hundreds of tiny pearl-colored beads dot the outside of the handbag, and on the front, woven into the design, is a starburst pattern formed by larger, flat beads. Creamy white satin lines the inside of the bag and forms a small pocket on one side. Inside the pocket someone, perhaps the original owner, has scrawled the initials "J.W." in red lipstick. At the bottom of the purse is a silver coin, which reminds me of my teenage years when my mother warned me never to go out on a date without a dime in case I had to telephone home for help. In fact, I think that's why I like my white beaded handbag: it reminds me of the good old days when men were men and ladies were ladies." (Lorie Roth, "My Handbag")
Bill Bryson's Description of the Residents' Lounge in the Old England Hotel
"The room was casually strewn with aging colonels and their wives, sitting amid carelessly folded Daily Telegraph s. The colonels were all shortish, round men with tweedy jackets, well-slicked silvery hair, an outwardly gruff manner that concealed within a heart of flint, and, when they walked, a rakish limp. Their wives, lavishly rouged and powdered, looked as if they had just come from a coffin fitting." (Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island . William Morrow, 1995)
"Great description shakes us. It fills our lungs with the life of its author. Suddenly he sings within us. Someone else has seen life as we see it! And the voice that fills us, should the writer be dead, bridges the gulf between life and death. Great description is stronger than death." (Donald Newlove, Painted Paragraphs . Henry Holt, 1993)
- 5 Examples of How to Write a Good Descriptive Paragraph
- 40 Topics to Help With Descriptive Writing Assignments
- List (Grammar and Sentence Styles)
- The Power of Connotations: Definition and Examples
- Yeats and 'The Symbolism of Poetry'
- What Is Composition? Definition, Types, and Examples
- Hypallage in Grammar
- Brevity in Speech and Writing
- AP English Exam: 101 Key Terms
- Comparison in Composition
- What Is a Noun Clause (or Nominal Clause) in English Grammar?
- Object Predicative in Grammar
- Definition and Examples of Litotes in English Grammar
- Inexpressibility (Rhetoric)
- Examples of Images in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction
- Mood in Composition and Literature
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
What Is Descriptive Analytics? Definition, Process, and Examples
Descriptive analytics examines past data to provide a comprehensive understanding of historical patterns and trends.
- Descriptive analytics is defined as a branch of data analytics that focuses on summarizing and interpreting historical data to gain insights and understand patterns, trends, and relationships within the data.
- The process involves using various statistical and visualization techniques to describe and present data meaningfully.
- This article explains the fundamentals of descriptive analytics, its process, and some key examples.
Table of Contents
What is descriptive analytics, descriptive analytics process, examples of descriptive analytics.
Descriptive analytics is a branch of data analytics that focuses on summarizing and interpreting historical data to gain insights and understand patterns, trends, and relationships within the data. It involves using various statistical and visualization techniques to describe and present data meaningfully.
The primary objective of descriptive analytics is to provide a clear and concise understanding of what has happened in the past. This helps organizations and individuals answer questions such as ‘What happened?’, ‘When did it happen?’, and ‘How did it happen?’. In other words, descriptive analytics mines historical data to unveil actionable information for decision-making and anomaly detection purposes.
Let’s understand descriptive analytics with an example.
Imagine you have a basket full of different types of fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes. You want to analyze the fruits in the basket and understand some basic information about them.
In descriptive analytics, you would start by examining the fruits and collecting data about them. You might count the number of each type of fruit, note their colors, and record their sizes. This data collection process helps you gather information about what is in the basket.
Next, you would clean and organize the data to remove irrelevant information or inconsistencies. For example, if spoiled fruits or duplicates exist, you would remove them to focus only on the relevant data.
Once the data is ready, you explore it by looking for patterns and relationships. You can calculate summary statistics such as the total number of fruits, the average size of the fruits, or the most common color. These summary statistics provide a general understanding of the fruits in the basket.
To make the data more understandable, you would use visualizations such as charts or graphs. For instance, you could create a bar chart showing the quantities of each fruit type or a pie chart displaying the proportion of different colors. These visual representations would help you see the data more intuitively and identify noticeable trends.
Additionally, you may analyze the historical data to observe any changes over time. For example, if you collected data over several days, you could see if the quantity of a particular fruit increased or decreased over that period.
The results of descriptive analytics would be presented in a report or a simple summary. The report can include key findings such as the most common fruit or interesting observations about the colors or quantities.
In this example, descriptive analytics would provide a clear picture of the fruits in the basket, their characteristics, and any noteworthy patterns. This would help you understand what happened in the past with the fruits that you have, allowing you to make informed decisions about them.
Algorithms used for descriptive analytics
Several algorithms are commonly used for descriptive analytics, such as:
- Clustering algorithms: Clustering algorithms such as k-means and hierarchical clustering are used to group similar data points based on their characteristics. Clustering helps segment data into meaningful groups and identify inherent patterns.
- Association rules: Association rule mining algorithms such as Apriori and FP-Growth are used to discover interesting relationships and associations between different variables or items in a dataset. This is particularly useful in market basket analysis and recommendation systems.
- Time series analysis: Time series algorithms such as autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) and exponential smoothing models are applied to analyze data collected over regular time intervals. These algorithms help understand patterns, trends, and seasonality in time-dependent data.
- Text mining and natural language processing (NLP): Text mining and NLP algorithms are employed to analyze unstructured text data such as customer reviews, social media posts, and survey responses. Techniques such as sentiment analysis , topic modeling, and named entity recognition allow for extracting valuable insights from text data.
- Decision trees: Decision tree algorithms such as ID3, C4.5, and CART are used to create hierarchical structures that represent decision rules based on input variables. Decision trees are useful to classify and identify important features within the data.
- Geographic information systems (GIS): GIS algorithms are used to analyze and visualize spatial data. These algorithms help map data to geographic locations, perform spatial analysis , and identify patterns or trends specific to certain locations.
- Regression analysis: Regression algorithms such as linear regression, logistic regression , and polynomial regression are employed to model the relationship between dependent and independent variables. Regression analysis helps understand the impact of one or more variables on an outcome of interest.
- Data mining techniques: Various data mining techniques, such as anomaly detection, pattern recognition, and outlier analysis, are used in descriptive analytics to identify unusual or significant patterns in data.
It is worth noting that the use of specific algorithms depends on the nature of the data, the objectives of the analysis, and the industry/application context.
See More: What Is a Decision Tree? Algorithms, Template, Examples, and Best Practices
The descriptive analytics process can be divided into several key steps, each of which plays a crucial role in extracting meaningful insights from the data.
1. Data collection
The first step in the descriptive analytics process is to gather relevant data from various sources. This data could be sourced from databases, spreadsheets, surveys, or other structured or unstructured data repositories. The data collected should be comprehensive and representative of the subject being analyzed. It is important to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data during the collection process.
For example, let’s say you work for an ecommerce company and want to analyze customer purchasing behavior. You collect data such as customer IDs, purchase dates, products purchased, quantities, prices, and customer demographics.
2. Cleaning and preparation
Data collection sets the stage but must be followed by thorough data cleansing and preparation to ensure accurate and reliable analysis. This step involves identifying and resolving issues such as missing values, inconsistencies, duplicates, and outliers. Data cleaning ensures the data is high quality, reliable, and ready for further analysis. Data preparation can also involve transforming the data into a consistent format and encoding categorical variables for analysis.
Continuing with the ecommerce example, during the data cleaning process, you might identify missing values in the price column or duplicate records. You would need to remove or handle these issues to ensure data integrity.
In this step, data analysts explore the data to understand its characteristics better and identify initial patterns or trends. This can be achieved through various techniques such as summary statistics, data visualization, and exploratory data analysis. Summary statistics, including measures such as mean, median, mode, and standard deviation, provide an overview of the data’s central tendencies and dispersion. Data visualization techniques such as charts, graphs, and histograms help visualize the distribution and relationships within the data, making it easier to identify patterns or anomalies.
Using the ecommerce data, you can calculate summary statistics such as average purchase quantity, total sales revenue, and customer demographics’ distribution. Additionally, you can create visualizations such as scatter plots or bar charts to visualize the relationship between variables such as price and quantity sold.
Data segmentation involves dividing the dataset into meaningful subsets based on specific criteria. This segmentation can be done based on variables such as demographics, geographic location, time periods, or product categories. Segmenting the data allows for a more focused analysis and helps uncover insights specific to each segment. For example, segmenting customer data by age group can provide insights into different customer segments’ preferences and buying behavior.
Continuing with the ecommerce example above, you can segment the data based on customer demographics, creating subsets for different age groups or geographical regions. This segmentation would enable you to analyze purchasing patterns, identify preferences, and tailor marketing strategies for each segment.
5. Summary and key performance indicators (KPIs)
Descriptive analytics aims to summarize data to provide key insights. This involves calculating summary measures such as averages, totals, percentages, or ratios relevant to the subject being analyzed. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are specific metrics that help evaluate the performance of a business process, product, or service. KPIs provide actionable information and serve as benchmarks to assess progress or performance against specific goals or objectives.
Using the ecommerce data, you can calculate KPIs such as average order value, conversion rate, or customer retention rate. These KPIs provide insights into the overall performance of the ecommerce business and help track progress toward specific objectives.
6. Historical trend analysis
Descriptive analytics includes analyzing historical trends to understand how variables or metrics have changed over time. This analysis reveals patterns, seasonality, or long-term trends. For example, analyzing sales data over several years can reveal sales peaks during certain seasons or identify declining trends in specific product categories. Historical trend analysis helps identify patterns that can enhance decision-making, forecast future performance, and identify areas of improvement.
Still going with the ecommerce example, you can analyze historical sales data over the past few years to identify seasonal patterns such as increased sales during the holiday season or fluctuations in demand for specific product categories over time.
7. Data reporting and visualization
The insights and findings derived from the descriptive analytics process must be communicated effectively. This is typically done through reports or visual dashboards. Reports summarize the analysis and findings, including summary statistics, visualizations, and narrative descriptions. Reporting and visualization aid in effective communication and help stakeholders interpret and act upon the insights derived from the data.
For the ecommerce example, you can create a report with visualizations such as line charts showing sales trends over time, a pie chart illustrating sales distribution across different product categories, and a table summarizing the key findings and KPIs.
8. Continuous monitoring and iteration
Descriptive analytics is not a one-time process. It requires continuous data monitoring and regular updates to stay informed about evolving patterns and trends. As new data becomes available, the analysis must be updated to capture the most recent information. Continuous monitoring allows for ongoing assessment, evaluation, and adaptation of strategies based on changing data insights.
In the ecommerce context, you would continuously monitor sales data, update the analysis periodically, and track changes in purchasing behavior, market trends, or customer preferences. This ongoing monitoring and iteration ensures that the insights and decision-making remain relevant and aligned with the evolving business environment.
See More: What Is Pattern Recognition? Working, Types, and Applications
Data analytics has recently gained significant popularity for several reasons, including the exponential growth of data, technological advancements, and the need for competitive advantage. With descriptive analytics falling under the broader umbrella of data analytics, industries across sectors are adopting it in different ways to improve their operations and drive decision-making.
According to a February 2023 report by Global Market Estimates, IBM, Microsoft, Zoho Corporation Pvt. Ltd., and Oracle are prominent players in the data analytics market. While Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing regional market, North America is expected to hold the leading market share from 2023 to 2028.
Let’s look at some key examples demonstrating how descriptive analytics can be applied within various organizations.
1. Sales performance analysis
By analyzing historical sales data, you can identify top-selling products, evaluate the performance of different sales channels, and understand the impact of pricing strategies. This information would help you optimize your sales efforts, identify underperforming products or regions, and make data-driven decisions to improve overall sales performance.
Let’s say you run an online business. By analyzing sales data, you discover that a specific product category has experienced a significant drop in sales over the past few months. With this insight, you can investigate the possible causes, such as changing customer preferences or increased competition, and develop strategies to address the issue. You can then consider adjusting your product pricing, launching targeted marketing campaigns, or expanding product offerings in other related categories.
2. Customer segmentation
Descriptive analytics can help you segment your customer base based on various criteria, such as demographics, purchase behavior, and engagement levels. By understanding different customer segments, you can tailor your marketing strategies, personalize communication, and provide customized offerings to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Let’s say you operate a subscription-based streaming service. By analyzing customer data, you discover that you have two distinct customer segments: avid movie watchers and TV series enthusiasts. Armed with this insight, you can create targeted marketing campaigns for each segment, recommending movies to avid movie watchers and promoting TV series to series enthusiasts. This personalized approach improves customer engagement and retention and drives revenue growth.
3. Website analytics
Analyzing website data allows you to understand user behavior, optimize website design, and improve conversion rates. By examining metrics such as page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates, you can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance the overall user experience.
For example, consider that you manage an e-store of sports goods. By analyzing website analytics, you find the checkout process has a high abandonment rate. This indicates a potential issue with the user experience during checkout. Using descriptive analytics, you can pinpoint the specific steps where users drop off and identify potential friction points. With this information, you can optimize the checkout process, simplify form fields, and provide clear calls-to-action, ultimately improving the conversion rate and driving sales growth.
4. Operational efficiency analysis
Descriptive analytics helps you identify inefficiencies and streamline operational processes. By analyzing key performance indicators, process times, and resource utilization, you can pinpoint areas of improvement and optimize resource allocation to enhance productivity and reduce costs.
Let’s say you run a manufacturing facility. By analyzing production data, you identify a particular production line that consistently falls behind schedule. Descriptive analytics can help you identify the root cause of the delay, whether it’s related to equipment maintenance, staffing issues, or process inefficiencies. With this insight, you can take corrective measures such as investing in preventive maintenance, reallocating resources, or reengineering the production process to improve efficiency and meet production targets.
5. Financial analysis
Descriptive analytics can be used to analyze financial data and gain insights into revenue, expenses, and profitability. By examining financial statements, cash flow data, and cost structures, you can identify trends, assess financial health, and make informed decisions regarding budgeting, pricing, and cost management.
For instance, suppose you manage a retail business with multiple store locations. By analyzing financial data, you find that certain stores consistently underperform in terms of profitability. Descriptive analytics can help you identify factors contributing to lower profitability, such as higher operating costs or lower sales volumes. With this information, you can take corrective actions such as renegotiating lease agreements and adjusting staffing levels.
See More : What Is a Neural Network? Definition, Working, Types, and Applications in 2022
The future of descriptive analytics holds great promise as organizations continue to generate vast amounts of data. Advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning , will enable more sophisticated analysis and interpretation of data. Automation and real-time analytics will become more prevalent, allowing organizations to gain instant insights and make data-driven decisions.
Additionally, integrating descriptive analytics with other forms of analytics, such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, will create a more holistic approach to data analysis, further enhancing the value and impact of descriptive analytics in the future.
Did this article help you understand the significance of descriptive analytics? Comment below or let us know on Facebook Opens a new window , X Opens a new window , or LinkedIn Opens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!
Image Source: Shutterstock
MORE ON BIG DATA MANAGEMENT
- A Leader’s Guide to Improving Data Visualization and Dashboard Design
Why the Airline Industry Must Shift to a Data-centric Mentality
- What Is Crystal Reports? Working, Examples, and Uses
- Driving CX Success with Prescriptive Analytics
- How to Accelerate Analytics for Infrastructure and Inflation Acts
Share This Article: