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What is a cause and effect essay? How to write it?


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Writing a cause and effect essay on a laptop

Before getting to the writing part, you need to know cause and effect essay definition in order to fully understand how to approach such type of paper. This is a type of work that requires a student to make an analysis of the reasons for a certain event and its outcomes. It is a pretty common assignment in high school and college, as it may be written on many topics.

Cause and effect essay outline

The work can be outlined in various ways depending on the subject. However, cause and effect essays usually have the following structure:

  • Introduction with a thesis statement, hook phrase, and some interesting facts;
  • Body, which usually includes 3-6 paragraphs;
  • Conclusion with a restated thesis.

Writing an outline for cause and effect essay is an important process because this way, it will be easier for you to start writing and you will likely finish your essay faster than your peers.


How to start cause and effect essay? It’s no secret that intro should engage your audience in further reading. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include some interesting facts or statistics relevant to the chosen topic. Introduction also consists of a hook and a thesis statement and includes background information that makes the topic more understandable for a reader. Providing the context of the issue, you will sound more like an expert.

Thesis statement

Thesis is the key part of the introduction, which is why we need to review it in a separate paragraph. Thesis statement actually identifies the topic and the central issues that are going to be discussed in your paper. Therefore, it should be formulated as precisely as possible. Moreover, this very sentence has to be restated further in the conclusion part.

Tips from experts

Meet our advisors

Read the essay question carefully!

Look for these words:

  • Describe/summarize means give the facts
  • Explain means analyze the topic
  • Argue means to reject/accept a viewpoint
  • Discuss refers to presenting a point of view
  • Critique means give both positive/negative sides
  • Compare and contrast discuss similarities/differences

Structure an essay

Beginners use the five-paragraph structure with references. Advanced writers use a variation of this method.


Write the first ugly draft – using first/third person depending on the requirements. Know how to paraphrase and summarize. Don’t plagiarize – everyone checks if the essay is unique.

Editing & Formatting

I use the chainsaw and surgical methods. Chainsaw cuts material that isn’t relevant. Surgical involves fine-tuning spelling and grammar.

What is the formatting style? APA, MLA, or CMS? What is the word/page count? Follow the rubric.

Penny J. Larsen

College professor with 30 years of teaching experience

Body of the essay

Body paragraphs present causes and effects, supported with reliable facts. The structure of this part looks pretty simple and typical at the first glance. However, the body section can be written in many different ways. It may be:

  • a sequence of causes first and paragraphs with effects afterward
  • just causes and effects written alternately.

Alternatively, they may be mixed as you like. However, they need to be presented logically, be understandable, and make sense. You also have to write introductory and conclusive sentence for each paragraph and make sure that there are transitions between paragraphs to ensure a good flow.


Conclusion is also very important for the essay. Writing a good conclusive part, you will showcase your synthesizing skills. Conclusion not only sums up the arguments and but also makes a strong final impression. So your main task is to restate your thesis proving your point and review the arguments you have presented in the body of the paper.

How to write a cause and effect essay step by step?

Although there is no special trick that can help you with writing a cause and effect essay for college quickly and qualitatively at the same time, there is a set of guidelines it is better to follow if you want to prepare a top-notch work. Thus, if you still question how to write a cause and effect essay, we are here to give a final answer:

  • Make a list of all effects and causes that are related to your topic.
  • Spend some time for research. The paper should start with the cause, and you need to explain its background.
  • Then you need to write the statement, which will be the effect. To explain it, you will have to list several causes. The supporting details should also be provided.
  • Start working on your introduction. This part is very important as it should draw the reader’s attention and give him/her a general understanding of your work. Be clear and concise; do not use complex sentences that will be hard to understand.
  • Provide strong arguments for cause and effect as well as strong connections between them for the readers to understand everything.
  • Plan your conclusion. It is one of the integral parts of the assignment, which will leave a final impression on the reader.
  • Proofread the work carefully after you finish writing. Also, be sure to check whether your formatting is correct and whether you’ve hit all the necessary points from the professor’s instructions.

The importance of writing good cause and effect essay

The cause and effect essay is a very interesting one to write. Usually, the topic of work is an actual problem, which affects the student in a certain way. Therefore, a student benefits from writing in quite in a few ways. For example, it becomes easier to work on projects for future studies and make important life decisions faster. A thorough analysis of a situation or an issue also helps a person develop better critical thinking skills.

Topics for a cause and effect essay

There are many topics to write an essay on. However, some of them are used more frequently than others. It is crucial to understand what to write in each one to make the paper look professional:

  • For example, most of the works are written about the issue of pollution. It is a very broad subject, so a student has to choose an exact track to follow. You may focus on a certain type of pollution or cover the most interesting one for you personally.
  • Also, there are many topics related to addiction, which is one of the worst problems of our century. Therefore, writing about drugs is important as it helps to inform the society about the horrific outcomes.
  • There is one more issue, which is worth writing about, as it lacks public attention. People tend to forget about stress, which is also one of the most common reasons for sicknesses and death. You will have to pay great attention to both the causes and the effects to inform others about the actual danger of stress.

Whatever is the topic you choose, we are sure you will write a great cause and effect essay on it! Just follow the tips we have given you precisely and your submission will definitely be a success!

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