Writing an Illustrative Paragraph or Essay

When you write an illustrative paragraph or essay, you’re describing a particular point with examples. This type of writing is sometimes called exemplification.

Illustrative writing is also the basic format for other writing types, such as cause and effect, classification, and persuasive writing. A challenge to writing an illustrated paragraph or essay can be trying to avoid making general lists. Each example must have supporting details where more specific information is provided before the writer moves on to another example. Look at this piece of writing. Notice the writer has several interesting examples to support the point that there can be fun ways of exercising outside of the gym.

But there are no details explaining how each example supports the writer’s point Instead of explaining how shopping can be a form of exercise, the writer moves immediately on to another example. Then, the writer also fails to explain how the second, third, and fourth examples illustrate the writer’s point In this passage, however, we can see where the writer added supporting details to better explain how the example supports the point that there are many fun ways of exercising that most people don’t consider In an illustrative essay, you would be able to structure each body paragraph around an example and its supporting details.

In this essay, the first body paragraph addresses the example and supporting details for shopping being a fun exercise. Each subsequent body paragraph would also focus on a particular example with supporting details. Another important element of illustrative writing is a skillful use of transitions. Using transitions like first or second is not the best choice when you can use terms like, for example, for instance, in addition, also, and other similar transitions. For any type of writing, always keep in mind the assignment’s purpose and goal.

Ask your professor if you’re unsure about whether you have chosen examples that effectively illustrate your main point, or whether you have provided enough supporting details.

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