What Is an Illustration Essay?

G. Wiesen

An illustration essay is a written work used to provide illustrations or examples of a particular subject to demonstrate a point about it. Much like other types of essays, this paper often begins with a thesis statement that provides the major overall theme to the work and gives guidance on what should be expected by a reader. This is then followed by a number of examples in the illustration essay that support the thesis statement. Although there are illustrative elements in other types of essays, such as an argumentative one, this type of work should be devoid of argument or opinion.

An illustration essay is typically written to give examples of something that is the focus of the paper.
An illustration essay is typically written to give examples of something that is the focus of the paper.

Also called an example essay, an illustration essay is typically written to give examples of something that is the focus of the paper. These essays usually begin with a thesis statement that provides a general indication of the reason behind the paper. Someone writing an illustration essay about the depiction of violence in the media, for example, may have a thesis statement that indicates that there are many news reports about violence. This type of statement does not indicate any particular opinion or view of these reports, but instead simply states that they occur and can be found.

Once the thesis statement in an illustration essay is presented, then evidence should be used to support it. This typically comes in the form of examples or illustrations of the thesis statement in action, from which these essays derive their name. One of the most common types of examples is a “specific illustration.” This is an example that actually occurred and gives real and specific evidence to support the main point of the essay.

A “typical illustration” is an example that is general and fairly generic, without providing specific information from a particular source. This can be information from a poll or analysis of reports that gives relevant data that is not about any one specific occurrence. There are also “hypothetical illustrations” that can be used in an illustration essay. These are examples that did not actually occur, but which serve to give a reader a general sense of how something might happen.

Although the structure of an illustration essay may resemble argumentative papers, it is important for the writer to not indicate a particular stance or argument in it. The purpose of this essay is to give information and examples of something, so that readers can come to understand that it exists and see how it takes shape through different illustrations. This can easily be extended into an argumentative essay, by using examples that support a particular stance or opinion regarding a subject.

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Discussion Comments


I think this type of essay is very useful for papers that focus on topics that need more description than just the written word. For example, an illustration essay would be very useful for scientific topics.

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