Four Different Types of Writing Styles: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative

Updated on May 10, 2016
Definitions and explanations of the four types of writing: expository, persuasive, descriptive, and narrative.
Definitions and explanations of the four types of writing: expository, persuasive, descriptive, and narrative. | Source

Four Types of Writing

A writer’s style is a reflection of his or her personality, unique voice, and way of approaching the audience and readers.

However, every piece writers write is for a specific purpose—for example, writers may want to explain how something works or persuade people to agree with their point of view. While there are as many writer's styles as there are writers, there are only four general purposes that lead someone to write a piece, and these are known as the four styles, or types, of writing. Knowing all four different types and their usages is important for any writer.

Here are the categories and their definitions:

1. Expository

Expository writing explains or informs. It talks about a subject without giving opinions.
Expository writing explains or informs. It talks about a subject without giving opinions.

Expository writing's main purpose is to explain. It is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on telling you about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. These types of essays or articles furnish you with relevant facts and figures but do not include their opinions. This is one of the most common types of writing. You always see it in textbooks and how-to articles. The author just tells you about a given subject, such as how to do something.

Key Points:

  • Usually explains something in a process.
  • Is often equipped with facts and figures.
  • Is usually in a logical order and sequence.

When You Would Use Expository Writing:

  • Textbook writing.
  • How-to articles.
  • Recipes.
  • News stories (not including opinion or editorial pieces).
  • Business, technical, or scientific writing.

Example:

Many people associate the taste of pumpkins with fall. In October, companies from Starbucks to McDonalds roll out their pumpkin-flavored lattes and desserts. Here is how to make an easy pumpkin pie using only five ingredients. First, make sure you have all of the ingredients.

This writing is expository because it is explaining. In this case, you can already tell that the piece will be about how to make a pumpkin pie.

Non-example:

Everyone knows that the best part about fall is all of the pumpkin-flavored desserts. Pumpkin pie is the best fall treat because it is not only delicious but also nutritious. Pumpkin is filled with vitamin A, which is essential for a healthy immune system and good vision.

This is not expository because several opinions are stated, such as “Pumpkin pie is the best fall treat…” Although this excerpt contains a fact about pumpkin containing vitamin A, that fact is used as evidence to support the opinion. These opinions make this an example of persuasive writing.

2. Descriptive

Descriptive writing focuses on communicating the details of a character, event, or place.
Descriptive writing focuses on communicating the details of a character, event, or place. | Source

Descriptive writing's main purpose is to describe. It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event, or a place in great detail. It can be poetic when the author takes the time to be very specific in his or her descriptions.

Example:

In good descriptive writing, the author will not just say: “The vampire killed his lover.”

He or she will change the sentence, focusing on more details and descriptions, like: “The bloody, red-eyed vampire, sunk his rust-colored teeth into the soft skin of his lover and ended her life."

Key Points:

  • It is often poetic in nature
  • It describes places, people, events, situations, or locations in a highly-detailed manner.
  • The author visualizes what he or she sees, hears, tastes, smells, and feels.

When You Would Use Descriptive Writing:

  • Poetry
  • Journal or diary writing
  • Nature writing
  • Descriptive passages in fiction

Example:

The iPhone 6 is unexpectedly light. While size of its screen is bigger than those of the iPhones that came before, it is thinner, and its smooth, rounded body is made of aluminum, stainless steel, and glass. The casing comes in a whitish silver, gold, or a color the company calls “space gray,” the color of the lead of a pencil, with darker gray accents.

This is an example because it describes aspects of the phone. It includes details such as the size, weight, and material.

Non-example:

So you just brought home a shiny new smartphone with a smooth glass screen the size of your palm. The first thing you will want to do when purchasing a new cell is buy a case. Cracking your screen is an awful feeling, and protection is inexpensive when you compare it to the costs of a new phone.

Even though this example uses adjectives, you can tell that this is not an example of descriptive writing because the purpose is not to describe the phone—it’s to persuade you to buy a case.

3. Persuasive

Persuasive writing tries to bring other people around to your point of view.
Persuasive writing tries to bring other people around to your point of view. | Source

Persuasive writing's main purpose is to convince. Unlike expository writing, persuasive writing contains the opinions and biases of the author. To convince others to agree with the author's point of view, persuasive writing contains justifications and reasons. It is often used in letters of complaint, advertisements or commercials, affiliate marketing pitches, cover letters, and newspaper opinion and editorial pieces.

Key Points:

  • Persuasive writing is equipped with reasons, arguments, and justifications.
  • In persuasive writing, the author takes a stand and asks you to agree with his or her point of view.
  • It often asks for readers to do something about the situation (this is called a call-to-action).

When You Would Use Persuasive Writing:

  • Opinion and editorial newspaper pieces.
  • Advertisements.
  • Reviews (of books, music, movie, restaurants, etc.).
  • Letter of recommendation.
  • Letter of complaint.
  • Cover letters

Example:

Following the 2012 Olympic Games hosted in London, the UK Trade and Investment department reported a £9.9 billion boost to the economy. Although it is expensive to host the Olympics, if done right, they can provide real jobs and economic growth. This city should consider placing a bid to host the Olympics.

This is persuasive writing because the author has a belief—that “this city should consider placing a bid to host the Olympics”—and is trying to convince others to agree.

Non-example:

According to legend, the Olympics were founded by Hercules. Now almost 100 countries participate in the Games, with over two million people attending. So cities from Boston to Hamburg begin considering their bid to be a host city more than 10 years in advance.

All of these statements are facts. Therefore it’s expository. To be persuasive writing, you must have an opinion that you’re trying to persuade people of—then, of course, you will support that opinion with evidence.

4. Narrative

A narrative tells a story. There will usually be characters and dialogue.
A narrative tells a story. There will usually be characters and dialogue. | Source

Narrative writing's main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them (sometimes the author writes from the point of view of one of the characters—this is known as first person narration). Novels, short stories, novellas, poetry, and biographies can all fall in the narrative writing style. Simply, narrative writing answers the question: “What happened then?”

Key Points:

  • A person tells a story or event.
  • Has characters and dialogue.
  • Has definite and logical beginnings, intervals, and endings.
  • Often has situations like actions, motivational events, and disputes or conflicts with their eventual solutions.

Examples of When You Would Use Persuasive Writing:

  • Novels
  • Short stories
  • Novellas
  • Poetry
  • Autobiographies or biographies
  • Anecdotes
  • Oral histories

Example:

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Jaelyn.

“You never used to be such a girl!” retorted Orin, pushing open the door.

Reluctantly, Jaelyn followed.

This is a narrative because it’s telling a story. There are different characters conversing, and a plot is unravelling.

Non-example:

Cutting Edge Haunted House holds the Guinness World Record for the largest haunted house on earth. It’s located in a district in Fort Worth, Texas known as "Hell's Half Acre" in a century-old abandoned meat-packing plant. The haunted house takes an hour to complete, winding through horrific scenes incorporating the factory's original meat-packing equipment.

While this would serve as a worthy setting for a story, it would need a plot before it could be called a narrative.

Conclusion

These are the four different types of writing that are generally used. There are many sub-types of writing that may fall in any of those categories. A writer must know all these styles in order to identify the purpose of his or her own writing and make sure it's something the audience wants to read.

Poll Time!

Which type of writing style do you prefer to use?

See results

© 2011 Syed Hunbbel Meer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      ralph 

      2 weeks ago

      The whistle-blower's complaint offers "strong persuasive or expository writing features topic sentences that tell the reader what to focus on."

      https://nyti.ms/2mhqL8b

    • profile image

      Jason 

      3 weeks ago

      oof it was ok

    • profile image

      Alladin 

      6 weeks ago

      After reading this, i feel i like to have an activity for this. To check if i understand it well.

    • profile image

      Fouzia 

      2 months ago

      Very informative and hrlpful for learner's of english as a second language.

    • profile image

      thank you for give me a ex. 

      2 months ago

      and i understand your meaning and ex

    • profile image

      Roetika Tangata 

      3 months ago

      I really want to learn about each text

    • profile image

      Unknown 

      3 months ago

      It’s helpful to me as a student. I just finished my assignment and I understand the meaning!! Create more explanations about a certain topic or subject.

    • profile image

      Patrick Williams 

      3 months ago

      Thanks, good information about the writing styles. Yahweh bless you all, in Jesus' name; amen!

    • profile image

      Selam sis 

      4 months ago

      Wow it is short &brief,so it is amazing

    • profile image

      robert bullard 

      4 months ago

      What about humour?

    • profile image

      Theophilus 

      4 months ago

      I saw from your viewpoint that that is helpful for a start.

    • profile image

      Tony Wemton 

      4 months ago

      Impressive crispy guide for a newbie amateur writer. Sure foundation.

      Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      DRAGON2.O 

      4 months ago

      VERY USEFUL

    • profile image

      Sushma 

      5 months ago

      Very informative piece of writing.

    • profile image

      Joseph Mareko Rotiata 

      5 months ago

      sorry we don't find what we are really looking for

    • profile image

      I love writing 

      6 months ago

      This was a very brief but helpful website, although there is a LOT more formats that should have been used/added.

    • profile image

      Narendra Reddy 

      6 months ago

      How to write my name style writing

    • profile image

      Mayo 

      6 months ago

      Very usefull and clear...thank you..

    • profile image

      asela 

      7 months ago

      thank you it is very useful

    • profile image

      pop 

      7 months ago

      help

    • profile image

      Glyzel “cute” Francisco 

      7 months ago

      Where is informative and instructive?

    • profile image

      cody 

      7 months ago

      A great article. Some might add "Imaginative" to the list of styles.

      At the risk of needing forgiveness, I thought Elmore's comments in this blog were interesting. Here is what an editor might have done. :) www.swlmedia.com

      I've never thought about general basic writing styles. I look to understand an article. If an article's description is too wordy, it becomes difficult to read and grasp. If you can say it in 10 words, use 10 words. This is communication efficiency. I’m talking about technical writing, but the idea can be applied to other styles of writing. Some writers would rather try to impress you with complicated words as opposed to simply communicating an idea or concept. You always needed a dictionary to decipher conservative political writer William F Buckley's articles. Read the comments by Madhu is this blog. What he said is right, but he could have shown off less and communicated more.

    • profile image

      Mr Blah 

      7 months ago

      Epic awesome for notes

    • profile image

      Ankur nayak 

      7 months ago

      Nice very nice

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      7 months ago

      Jack said sarcastically, "Nice. I understood the different kinds of writing, Thanks."

    • profile image

      Michael 

      7 months ago

      less ads thank u

    • profile image

      broadway.georgia@msd.org 

      7 months ago

      these are very good notes for someone to use in class.

    • profile image

      Mikell Cortez Lewis 

      7 months ago

      Awesome facts about different types of writing.

    • profile image

      mhitger12 

      7 months ago

      i will recommend this to my friends i have lot of friends

    • profile image

      Charlie Cantrell 

      7 months ago

      Very helpful for my quiz thx!

    • profile image

      bubblesleonhart 

      7 months ago

      cool

    • profile image

      lyriclabs 

      7 months ago

      Useful information, Thank you

    • profile image

      gianne 

      8 months ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Aramide 

      8 months ago

      very helpful explanation. thanks

    • profile image

      KEFILWE MO 

      8 months ago

      Very helpful nd useful......Thanx to you

    • profile image

      Elias de Jesus 

      9 months ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Jean P. Guillermo 

      9 months ago

      This is totally scholarly!

    • profile image

      Ishtiaque Sarwar 

      10 months ago

      Wow this site is very helpfull

      Keep up it

    • profile image

      MazeRunner 

      10 months ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Yah 

      10 months ago

      Thanks for the info!

    • profile image

      Anas 

      11 months ago

      Nice material

    • profile image

      Inff 

      11 months ago

      The site is so resourcefull.

    • profile image

      polo 

      11 months ago

      solid description brother ...very helpfull thanks

    • profile image

      Anais 

      11 months ago

      wow its awsome

    • profile image

      Azhar 

      12 months ago

      wonderful

    • profile image

      Shogie Lawrence Kamol 

      12 months ago

      Awesome i love this

    • profile image

      arturo leake #1 first 

      12 months ago

      Pokemon go

    • profile image

      rauul 

      12 months ago

      umm idk

    • profile image

      Niki 

      12 months ago

      Really helpful... Thnks

    • profile image

      Henry 

      12 months ago

      The Lego Movie was a masterpiece!

    • profile image

      Hassan Rasouli 

      12 months ago

      Many thanks for your good website. The provided description for writing styles was interesting. Hope all the best for you.

    • profile image

      sophisticated 

      12 months ago

      how does this help

    • profile image

      12 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      12 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      XXAGENTFOXX 

      13 months ago

      I LOVE THIS IS DEMORCORCY AND WE CANT HAVE TRUMP!!!!

    • profile image

      Angelina 

      13 months ago

      Legit

    • profile image

      N Miranda 

      13 months ago

      Awesome! Helpful information for notes.

    • profile image

      Selena 

      13 months ago

      It was really useful! Thanks for sharing your information. I hope it will help me in my FCE exam .

    • profile image

      John Olayioye 

      13 months ago

      Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Whiskey 

      13 months ago

      Thanks this helps a lot

    • profile image

      yeet 

      13 months ago

      seems legit.

    • profile image

      Lesley 

      13 months ago

      so cool

    • profile image

      Zahra 

      13 months ago

      Loved how you delivered all this is simple words *applause*

    • profile image

      dad 

      14 months ago

      cool

    • profile image

      Larry Paz 

      15 months ago

      A great article. Some might add "Imaginative" to the list of styles.

      At the risk of needing forgiveness, I thought Elmore's comments in this blog were interesting. Here is what an editor might have done. :) www.swlmedia.com

      I've never thought about general basic writing styles. I look to understand an article. If an article's description is too wordy, it becomes difficult to read and grasp. If you can say it in 10 words, use 10 words. This is communication efficiency. I’m talking about technical writing, but the idea can be applied to other styles of writing. Some writers would rather try to impress you with complicated words as opposed to simply communicating an idea or concept. You always needed a dictionary to decipher conservative political writer William F Buckley's articles. Read the comments by Madhu is this blog. What he said is right, but he could have shown off less and communicated more.

    • profile image

      Felix 

      15 months ago

      Wow. I am elated and enlightened. Thanks

    • profile image

      yange 

      15 months ago

      well explained. I have learnt something from you and need to be learn a lot. keep providing such a helpful lesson. thanks.

    • profile image

      Ella 

      15 months ago

      It's really helpful. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Viz 

      15 months ago

      Simple, understandable explanation.

    • profile image

      gandang gandajing 

      15 months ago

      well explained now i know. many thanks

    • profile image

      Innocent hannah 

      15 months ago

      very help full thanks

    • profile image

      Lima Shabarek 

      15 months ago

      Very helpful

      Thank you

    • profile image

      jyyjuhjjjjj 

      16 months ago

      AWESOME, DESCRIPTIVE LINES!

    • profile image

      16 months ago

      useful.

    • profile image

      Habasimbi Christabel 

      16 months ago

      very good and helped me alot.Thanks

    • profile image

      Asha 

      16 months ago

      Very informative..

    • profile image

      furat ul ibrar 

      16 months ago

      great piece of examples, to be understand with great clearance and ease...

    • profile image

      McKombo 

      16 months ago

      thanks a lot, its helping

    • profile image

      Areeba Ahmed 

      16 months ago

      Its really good

    • profile image

      YEMI 

      17 months ago

      Thank you for allowing free access

    • profile image

      George 

      17 months ago

      Really helpful piece, Thank you.

    • profile image

      Judith 

      17 months ago

      Well stated ,easy to read and understand.Thank you,this was resourceful

    • profile image

      Austin 

      17 months ago

      I made a 10/10 because of this web site

    • profile image

      ju 

      17 months ago

      very nice, good for our igcse exam!

    • profile image

      i dont give my name to anyone ;] 

      17 months ago

      like it

    • profile image

      Liah 

      17 months ago

      I'm trying to identify the form for this extract "Names, common as many of them are, are like little codes: they tell people certain things about us, about where we come from."

    • profile image

      karim ullah 

      17 months ago

      very heplfull thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      ashly 

      17 months ago

      Thanks for the help i really needed it

    • profile image

      Zeus Montero 

      17 months ago

      Very helpful, thank you!

    • profile image

      shanthal sanchez 

      17 months ago

      I like this article it's very good thank for writing it.

    • profile image

      Begizew 

      18 months ago

      It's an interesting description.

    • profile image

      Chatles Dickens 

      18 months ago

      I eat pizza with zuchinni on top.

    • profile image

      Aya 

      18 months ago

      Thank you very much I need references about written work in order to finish my thesis please.

    • profile image

      Muse 

      18 months ago

      Thanks it was really helpful

    • profile image

      name 

      18 months ago

      this was so helpful. at my school I needed these for my TEST!!

    • profile image

      Rareeroo 

      18 months ago

      clear description.... thanks

    • profile image

      AZ 

      18 months ago

      very helpful..

      really thnks alot

    • profile image

      MV 

      18 months ago

      OMG! This really helped me. Please tell me your secret

    • profile image

      Wild star 

      20 months ago

      omg this help for my writing assignment THANKS!

    • profile image

      rizal 

      20 months ago

      i like this article. thanks alot.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)