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What is an informal essay and how to write it?


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Writing an informal essay on a laptop at the Pro-Papers office

A student has almost no limitations as to the topic and formatting when it comes to writing an informal essay, but it doesn’t mean that it is an easy task to handle. For many of those who got used to writing papers of formal style, it is an extremely complicated assignment, as they may have troubles with expressing their own personal thoughts and opinions in writing.

When you start to write an informal essay, you should keep in mind that its subject, or rather its topic, is everything, literally, as it defines the entire disposition of the work and the way the readers perceive it. However, this is not always as simple as it might seem at first. And if you are not sure how to write an informal essay correctly, our blog is always full of the best tips to guide you through the process.

Informal writing definition

So, what is an informal essay? It is a type of non-fiction writing of non-formal, often conversational tone, composed to share personal thoughts, opinions, judgments and reflections on specific subjects or topics. The main objective of such non-formal tasks are to amuse and entertain the readers. Professors give such creative assignments to their students when in order to diversify day-to-day academic tasks or when there is a need to get acquainted with students.

How to write an informal essay in a creative way?

Formal and informal styles in English are fundamentally different. First of all, informal writing is much more forgiving in terms of style and grammar. The main features characteristic of the informal style are:

  • vocabulary,
  • passive voice,
  • phrasal verbs,
  • slang words,
  • idioms and set expressions,
  • shortened forms.

Informal essays generally contain a mixture of personal thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Some of those may be debatable and thought-provoking. But there are several peculiarities that you need to remember to create a great informal essay:

  • This essay is more personal than other types, so you can choose an idea or a problem that is appealing to you and imagine that you are discussing it with a friend. This way you will not make the essay dull and boring.
  • Often, informal essay take a form of friendly conversations or argumentations and their style should differ from the one of formal essays.
  • Make an extra effort to convey your personal point of view in these essays to make them interesting, intriguing, and, maybe even, controversial.

These simple tips will help you write a creative personalized essay and express your thoughts in a way that will inspire the reader’s curiosity.

Informal essay outline

At the planning stage, especially when you are composing a draft, it would be useful to have an outline, and when you are through with the final version, to compare the result to the initial plan of your essay. When it comes to outline, any good informal essay example can help you see the structure if the work in general. However, as there are no formalities, try making up your own unique outline, just make sure it is reader-friendly.

Like any other essay, an informal one also has its basic structure, although there is no certain approved format for it. Basically, if you want to know how to write an informal essay, or at least, structure it, the answer is – the way you want. Usually, a five-paragraph structure is an obvious choice here:

  • introduction with thesis statement
  • body (3 paragraphs)

In your outline, you may indicate what exact information every paragraph is going to contain.

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

Introduction to an informal essay: tips and tricks

An introduction to an essay can be of several types:

  1. historical reference
  2. biographical background information
  3. analytical review
  4. citation
  5. personal reflections.

In case of informal essay, types 3 and 4 are irrelevant. The most suitable options would be 2 and 5. You may also give some historical information on the matter at hand if it is somehow related to why you chose this particular topic or appeals to you as a person. Otherwise, beginning with a historical reference might seem a little to formal.

Do not start your essay with an excessive amount of questions. With this approach, general questions are posed and general answers are given. Those will not represent your personal opinion on the matter. Instead, you should address the question or controversy in the topic of your essay.

Also, you shouldn’t make the introduction too long. It should take up no more than 15% of the entire word count of the essay. In the introduction, the problematic question should be indicated (this is the topic itself) and the key thesis that you will prove or disprove should be presented to the reader.

How to write a thesis statement for an informal essay?

A thesis statement is an idea or a controversy the author puts forward and later it is disproved or proved by arguments and reasoning. In other words, a thesis statement is what you write your essay for.

It usually fits in one (maximum two or three) sentences. Moreover, it should be as specific and clear as possible so that inconsistencies would not appear. The narrower the topic, the easier it will be to pick specific arguments, and the more objective and convincing the conclusion will be. This determines the uniqueness of your paper.

Another important point is that thesis statement should include some problem. Usually, it contains opposite points of view that exist regarding the topic of the essay. In this case, in your conclusion, you accept one of the sides or offer a completely new vision.

How to write the main body (paragraph by paragraph)?

The main part of an essay reveals its main idea and answers the questions that were formulated earlier in the introduction. Try to reveal the topic more fully and look at it from different angles. In most cases the body part consists of three paragraphs.

The easiest way to build a good paragraph is to use a specially designed model for this - TRIAC (Topic, Restriction, Illustration, Analysis and Conclusion). This abbreviation actually expresses the main structural elements in their alternating sequence, which it is desirable to include in each paragraph of his essay:

  • In the first sentence (topic), you briefly, but very clearly and specifically formulate the idea that will be discussed in the paragraph.
  • The following sentence (restriction) is an explanation of the first.
  • The next is an illustration, or an example, which would help to clearly illustrate the thesis stated in the first sentence.
  • It’s not enough to give an example, as it’s also necessary to analyze it in relation to the stated thesis, in other words, explain why you gave this particular example and what role it plays in revealing your argument. This is done in the analysis sentence.
  • Finally, at the end of any paragraph, there should always be a conclusion on this argument.

What to write about in your informal essay conclusion?

The conclusion should correspond to the introduction / topic / body of the essay as to the content. Before writing a conclusion, you need to read the introduction once again, remind yourself about the problems posed in it, and make sure that the conclusion resonates with the introduction. The lack of connection between the introduction and the conclusion is one of the most common meaningful composition errors.

In the conclusion, you can:

  • summarize all the reasoning
  • use an appropriate quote that reflects the essence of the main problem
  • give a concise and accurate answer to the topic question/controversy.

The volume of the conclusive part should be no more than 15% of the entire essay.

General principles of writing an informal essay

Although this assignment is indeed creative and has no preset informal essay format, it still is an academic work, so you should take it seriously. You should control the informality level in the writing, but a mildly humorous tone will be good here.

Of course, do not forget to be honest with your readers and remember that other people, who may be unfamiliar with you, may be reading this. Stick to real events, facts, and experiences, things that show your genuine personality. In a certain way, the manner of writing is very close to fiction stories. Topics of the informal writing may vary immensely; you are welcome to write about friendship, family, love, hate, life, nature, education, music, or success (even not your own).

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