Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.
What Is an Illustration Essay?
Illustration essays explain something and provide concrete, interesting examples and descriptions so that the reader understands that subject better. Below are some topic ideas sorted by category.
- Detail how a football coach can turn a program around.
- Show how to do a baton handoff in a track race.
- Illustrate how to correctly throw a curveball.
- Explain how to swim a particular stroke in competitive swimming, or how to dive or turn.
- Explain how competitive cheerleading and tumbling is different from cheer.
- Describe how equestrian competitions work.
- What are football practices like? Explain what it takes for players to get ready for a game. You could do this for any competitive sport.
- Explain how sports are important for a college? For a college town's economy?
- Illustrate teamwork on a sports team.
- Explain how to play ultimate frisbee.
- Illustrate how to play disc golf.
- Illustrate how intramural sports work and why they are beneficial to college students.
- Explain how rugby is played and how it is different from other sports.
- Describe what is involved in getting ready to play an ice hockey game.
- Describe the competition for a starter within a sports team.
- Explain how athletic coaches decide whether a player needs to be taken out of a game because of injury.
- Illustrate the way lacrosse teams work to practice and play.
- Tell why a sports team (your choice of team) is underrated.
- Describe a college club sports team and compare it to intramurals or college athletics.
- Illustrate what it takes to successfully balance college athletics and schoolwork.
Life in College Topics
- Why is a school mascot important to students?
- How can college students develop good study habits?
- Illustrate how a college band prepares for a half-time show?
- Explain the duties of a Resident Assistant in a dorm.
- Explain how to get out of the “friendship zone” with a member of the opposite sex.
- Illustrate the steps of choosing a college to attend.
- Illustrate the best or worst ways to ask someone out on a date.
- Explain the ways that students pay for college.
- How does one develop a good resume for college applications?
- Explain a prank that happened in the past at your school and the results of it.
- Illustrate what your college does to help retain freshman students?
- Explain the traditions your college has at football games.
- Illustrate how to keep a budget as a college student.
- Explain how to develop and keep a good music practice schedule.
- Explain the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of dorm life.
- Describe life in a particular dorm on campus.
- Illustrate how to use the printers on campus.
- Explain the importance and achievements of a particular college president.
- Interview a professor and describe their academic, research, and personal life.
- Tell about a campus Christian organization like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade, Navigators, or other church groups.
- Explain the recent controversy at some universities in America which are requiring religious groups to accept leaders who do not follow their beliefs.
- Illustrate the rituals of Homecoming at your campus.
- Describe the significance of your campus motto, emblem, or song.
- Explain the history and significance of statues on campus.
- Tell the history of an older building on campus and explain its name.
- Describe an after-school tutoring program for children that involves college students.
- Interview an international student and explain their challenges in attending college outside of their home country.
- Describe how to clean up your room and keep it that way.
- How do you motivate your roommate to organize their stuff?
- Describe the eating choices of a student on your campus.
- Explain the uniqueness of a particular sorority or fraternity.
- Explain how to get enough exercise in college.
- Illustrate how to get along with your roommate.
- Explain how to deal with annoying people in your dorm.
- How do you help a friend who is making bad choices in college?
- Explain how to get ready for class in 15 minutes.
- Explain how to be a Texan, a Californian, or a New Yorker (to out-of-state or international students).
- Illustrate the history of your football or basketball stadium.
- Describe how your college has changed over the course of its history.
- Illustrate the history and background of one of the statues, street pole markers, or other landmarks on your college campus.
- Illustrate the importance of finding a place you can study on your campus.
- Illustrate the importance of not procrastinating on your studying.
- Illustrate how to keep up good communication with your family while in college.
- Explain a particular major or honors program at your school that most students don’t know much about.
- Illustrate the difference between good studying techniques and poor ones.
- Observe and vividly describe a coffeehouse or other gathering place for students.
- Describe the work of a barista at Starbucks.
- Explain the phrase, “The customer is always right.”
- Illustrate the benefits of being a part of 4-H in high school and explain how the club prepares you for a career.
- Tell how ROTC or Air Force ROTC works to prepare you for college and careers.
- Explain the steps of how to become a dentist, orthodontist, physical therapist, speech therapist, or doctor.
- Explain a typical day in the life of an EMT, a nurse in the ER, a surgeon, an ultrasound technician, or another medical specialist.
- Describe how a fashion designer creates a line of clothing.
- Explain the job of a buyer for a large department store.
- Illustrate the steps to becoming a pilot or working in the airline industry.
- Show what a fashion designer or interior decorator does.
- Shadow or interview a research scientist. Illustrate what they do in research.
- Illustrate what a teacher does to prepare for teaching every day.
- Illustrate the research and preparation work done by a lawyer or judge.
- Explain what an accountant does, or illustrate the life of a tax accountant during "tax season."
- Explain how a funeral home works.
- Illustrate what it is like to work at a fast-food restaurant.
- Explain how a grocery store works on a daily cycle to stock, store, and sell products.
- Illustrate the background situation of a restaurant from a waiter or waitresses' point of view.
- Illustrate the work of a non-profit organization.
- Detail a day in the life of a construction worker, plumber, electrician, or maid.
- Illustrate the challenges of dealing with difficult fellow employees.
- Illustrate the problems of having a bad boss.
- Explain how to sell a product to a customer.
- Illustrate the best techniques for getting people to give money or time to a cause.
Video Illustrated Essay Sample
- Explain a religious ceremony or practice for people who are not familiar with it.
- Interview a homeless person or someone who works with the homeless and explain what life is like for them every day.
- Illustrate the history and significance of an important building in your hometown.
- Why do people smoke? Describe the life of a smoker.
- Illustrate how to show an animal (pick which kind) in a 4-H competition.
- Illustrate how friendships are important.
- Explain how a woman can use self-defense to protect herself.
- Explain the characteristics of a particular form of music, such as Rap, Indie, Punk, Blue Grass, or Electronica.
- Natural disasters change towns and cities affected by them. Describe how a town was changed by an earthquake, tornado, flood, hurricane, or another natural disaster.
- Explain the revitalization efforts of a downtown area near you.
- Describe a landmark or historical place in your hometown or near your college. Tell the history and why this is important for people to know and remember.
- Visit a museum in person or online and illustrate the experience in detail.
- Pick a famous news story from the past and explain what happened and why.
- Explain the steps of an investigation into a murder case.
- Describe how an autopsy is done.
Where to Find Examples
Your essay will be better if you have great examples. Here are places to get ideas:
Personal Observation: Go and observe places related to your topic. Take notes about what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. Make your description vivid.
Interviews: You can also interview people about your topic to get examples and stories to use. It helps if you prepare questions beforehand and either take notes or record the interview to help you remember.
Recall Personal Experiences: Don't forget that your own experiences and memories can be a source of ideas too. To jog your memory, look for pictures of that event and spend some time thinking about the experience. Write down everything you remember, including sensory expressions. Try to use vivid adjectives and adverbs as you write your experiences down.
Media: Look online at TedTalks or YouTube for video talks on your topic. You might also look for articles online related to your subject. Don't forget to think about movies or books you might know that can give you good ideas.
Questions & Answers
Question: Does illustrated writing always have to have pictures?
Answer: No. An illustration essay is not about pictures but about using words to show and describe something. Other words for "illustration essay" are explaining essay, describing essay, and concept essay.
Tahira on February 07, 2018:
This is amazing for these topics and very helpful for new writers so good job
Johnny on October 01, 2017:
Such as amazing thing. Very helpful!
Emily Rosinski on June 20, 2017:
This is amazing for these topics on illustration essays.
Casey Johnson from Sanger, Texas on October 18, 2013:
Excellent Hub. It is very well organized, informative, in-depth, and interesting. Keep up the good work! Voted up.