2014 Steve Campsall

a story
a poem
a play
a film
write a
write to
write to
write to
write to
write to
write to
write an
Full Contents - Home Page


writing to inform


Download Guide

Download Examples

atwood writer quotation


When you 'write to inform', the examiner will be interested in the following aspects of your writing:

  • Does it provide the right kind and right amount of detail that its intended audience needs, wants, or might like to know?

  • Are the details, whether facts or opinions, relevant, useful, fair and balanced?

  • Are the details clear and straightforward?

  • writing that informs needs to use language that creates its meaning through denotation rather than connotation

  • Have the relevant 5W+H questions been answered?

    • i.e. who, what, why, where, when and how

  • Is the writing lively and interesting?

    • i.e. will it engage its intended audience's attention?

  • Is the layout and structure helpful and clear?

    • e.g. have any images and illustrations, bulleted lists, sections, sub-headings, etc. been used effectively?


You can easily find out how professional writers provide information by reading a few newspaper or magazine articles; in fact, as we live in an 'information age', examples of informative writing can be found in very many places: the Internet, TV and radio news, magazines, encyclopaedias, text books, biographies, autobiographies, film reviews, travel guides, etc.

Information or Persuasion?
Using these kinds of revision materials, it would be useful to work out just how informative the source you are using really is: is it informative or is it, in truth, biased or slanted, i.e. it is trying not so much to inform but to persuade.


Information should be providing its readers with what they
...need, want, would like or ought to know

When you write to inform, your aim is to answer what are called the journalist's '5W+H' questions that are relevant to the topic in hand. Yet such information can easily be... too much, too little, too detailed, too complex, too irrelevant, too biased, not convincing, not interesting, not... for me... even boring... y-a-w-n!

There are pitfalls when you give information. Gaining your reader's interest and keeping it are just two among many. In the exam you will be given a topic and a target audience for your informative writing. These are the key things you need to bear in mind and against which the examiner will be marking your essay and deciding your grade.

Information should be...
...open, balanced and trustworthy

The question on writing to inform is often in the form of 'personal writing'. This means that you may be asked to write about something from your own or someone else's experience. Personal writing of this kind can be written in a far more informal and livelier style than, for example, the kind of writing required for the writing to persuade or argue questions.

The major difference between informing and persuading is that persuasion is intended to be biased (i.e. it is, after all, the writer's personal viewpoint) whereas information is intended to be balanced.

To be absolutely fair, to some extent, almost all information will, by its nature, be somewhat biased or slanted towards a point of view. This is because it will have been 'filtered' through a particular writer's thought processes, personal experiences, background, level of understanding and education, etc.

But some kinds of information, for example, a personal letter to a friend letting them know what you've been up to recently, hardly needs to be balanced because your friend only wants your point of view - and expects to get it: they know how to draw the 'balanced view' in their own mind as they read your 'information'.

On the other hand, think about the requirements of an article about a school trip... can you see how important balance is with such a topic? After all, just because you enjoyed the trip doesn't mean it was enjoyed by all.

Information needs to be...
...relevant to its reader's needs

Information needs to be...
...organised, clear and easy to absorb

Information needs to be...
...provided in a suitable manner and tone.

Finally, always check your work - as you write!

Each year, literally thousands of students fail to achieve the marks they could. Don't be one of them ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WRITING BEFORE HANDING IN!

Read each sentence immediately after you write it
Use a variety of sentence types and styles and remember that shorter sentences are often clearer and crisper sounding. An occasional ultra-short sentence can add real impact to writing.

Read each sentence before you proceed to the next to check it is fluent, accurate and complete. Does it follow on logically from the previous sentence?

Check every paragraph
A paragraph is a series of sentences (often at least five) that develop from a single topic sentence used to introduce the point of the paragraph.

Avoid creating overly short paragraphs as this suggests either a) you do not know what a paragraph is or b) that you have no explained the point of the paragraph in sufficient detail. Try to make sure that each paragraph flows naturally on from its predecessor by using the final sentence of each paragraph to subtly 'hook' into the topic of the next paragraph.

To correct a missed paragraph simply put this mark where you want in to be: // then, in your margin write: // = new paragraph. The examiner will not mark you down for this so long as you have not forgotten all of your paragraphs.

Examine each comma
A very common error and poor style is to use a comma instead of a full stop to end a sentence. This makes two or more stylish, short and crisp sentences into one long, drawn out and boring sentence! Always end each sentence with a full stop - or a semi-colon if you know how to use this punctuation mark.

Look at every apostrophe
Apostrophes are only ever used for two reasons. But so many students fail to use them effectively. If two words are squeezed together into one and a letter is missed out in the process, show where the letter was by inserting an apostrophe. So should not becomes shouldn't

And when one of two nouns belong to the other, show which one possesses which by adding apostrophe+s to its end. So the school's entrance is correct because the entrance is 'possessed by the school, also Alan's book shows a similar possession.

But watch out for it's. With an apostrophe this is always a shortened form of it is or it has, as in it's cold. If you mean belonging to it, as in its fur is shiny and smooth, no apostrophe is needed.