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Descriptive Essay: A Complete Guide + Examples

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A descriptive essay is a type of essay that aims to depict a particular person, place, object, or event in detail. The purpose of a descriptive essay is to create a sensory experience for the reader, using language that engages five senses.

Descriptive essay might scare with its dreadful name, yet it is essential for improving writing skills. How else would you explain something to a person who doesn't know much about a particular topic? Our answer is always a description of a subject. Writing is the perfect way to use vivid language and create something genuinely unique. Power of convincing and telling is one click away. So save time and trust us in showing you exactly how you can master your next article.

What Is a Descriptive Essay: Expanded Definition

Descriptive essay is a map that guides its reader through the chosen subject. Your goal is to introduce people to something new. You, writer, succeed if they leave with a concrete understanding of the topic. Are you writing an article about diving? An audience might not become professional divers, but they indeed will seem like pros after reading. Envision yourself painting an image that makes a statement, as any painter would. Whether you are writing an essay about global warming or just how your summer went — descriptive writing is the way to go.  

In case you need to explain something or analyze your idea, use our explanatory essay example

What Is the Purpose of a Descriptive Essay

The purpose of a descriptive essay is as simple as it sounds — describe. You didn't expect that, did you? The topic of that said description can be anything you want. Or, usually, anything your professor wants. You can write about any person, place, event, object, and the list is endless. The trick is using figurative language and adding as many details as possible, while making writing effective. So don’t overdo with adjectives as if you’re writing a novel.

Descriptive Essay Outline: How to Create One

The descriptive essay outline is the secret weapon in this war against sloppy writing. Bland words used only to describe never leave impressions. A good idea is to use language that triggers responses from the senses (smell, taste, vision, and any other sensory experience evoking emotion). Lastly, creating an outline will save your ideas from being thrown in the trash of your memory. You can always create a list with enumerated topics and ideas. Or you can also divide the outline for an essay into sections corresponding to paragraphs. This way, you’ll know what to write.

Descriptive Essay Structure: Main Elements

Descriptive essay structure doesn’t go far from its fellow articles. But let’s cover basics:  

  • Introduction — includes general facts about the subject without scaring readers with too much information.
  • Thesis statement — last sentence of introduction with the main idea.
  • Main body — shining moment to use details and figurative language we talked about.
  • Conclusion — excellent way of wrapping up the text. Let readers remember your work!

How to Write a Descriptive Essay: Step-By-Step Guide

How to write a descriptive essay? — you would ask. We can’t leave you just hanging with no answer! So check our guide for students. Learn how to leave an impression as you write an essay, add a personal touch, select the subject, and create detailed masterpieces.

Step 1. Choose a Topic for Your Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay topics are hard to choose, but they’re your first step to success. Remember these words when thinking about the topic: clear, intriguing, and specific. An audience should know what they’re reading. As a writer, you also have another responsibility… Don’t be selfish! Choose something that will be interesting not only for you but appealing to the reader. You can always look through essay title examples to choose and create the best one.

Step 2. Craft a Good Thesis Statement for Your Descriptive Essay

Thesis statement for a descriptive essay is the cherry of your work. A jewel, if we might say so. It’s also not the time to be coy. Openness with several hints of mystery is the best policy for your thesis. Lure readers in and secure their attention. But your goal is still to include the most important idea. Consider these questions:

  • What are you trying to prove?
  • Why is this topic vital?
  • Why should the audience care?

Step 3. How to Start a Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay introduction is all about intrigue as it’s the first chance to impress the readers with an epic start. Don’t worry, your only assignment here is to make people read further. It’s not that hard to hook them! Not literally, of course. But the first statement should be catchy, fun, or just memorable. It can be anything to make readers say ‘wow,’ without too much data. You have the main body for that.

Step 4. Creating Body Paragraphs for Descriptive Essay

Body paragraphs for descriptive essay are your chance to play with details and language. Traditional articles usually contain three paragraphs, if your professor doesn’t have special requirements. Thus, each body paragraph should have its own topic sentence, evidence, and concluding statement. They also develop distinct ideas. In other words: every paragraph must have its own idea linked to the chosen topic. Additionally, depending on the article, you can also explain your personal opinion, either negative or positive. But using academic research instead of your own beliefs is a more classy option, at least for this article.

Maybe you will need an explanatory essay or other essay kinds, we have got you covered. Find them in our blogs.

Step 5. Compose Conclusion for Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay conclusion is like your final marathon mile. You’re almost there, just view your conclusion as a summary of your work. The last paragraph makes clearer what your goal was. So we recommend writing as if your audience hasn’t read your written work. Overall, keep it short, add no new information and finish with some food for thought.

Step 6. Proofreading and Editing Your Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay needs editing, sometimes even more than its fellow papers. Our final step — proofread the text, please. Yes, we know, it’s boring and takes time. Deleting your own words is an ungrateful, whiny requirement. But it refines your work and helps you to avoid mistakes. No one wants to see ‘autism’ instead of ‘author.’ Here, we’re writing from personal experiences. Consider taking your time editing to avoid typos or grammatical errors!

Descriptive Essay Format: Basic Rules of Use

The format of a descriptive essay will depend on your professor's requirements. Usually, you’ll need to edit your word document and submit your complete version in one of the fowling formats:

  • APA (used more for hard science)
  • MLA (preferred by humanitarian subjects)
  • Chicago style format (also liked by humanitarian disciplines, but you’ll recognize it for footnotes)

Understanding all those formats is not a must, especially memorizing them. Just google templates!

Descriptive Essay Examples

Descriptive essay example will include all the basics that we’ve just covered. Your complete word document should be styled according to those tricky formats we talked about. Your article should also have standard five paragraphs (introduction, main body, and conclusion). Understanding this structure will secure a nice flow of your work. Just in case, buy online essay if you want to do something different tonight than homework.

Descriptive Essay: Final Thoughts

Descriptive essay is not some monster under your bed. So don’t be scared of shining some light on it. Strong articles will have a clear purpose and an intriguing thesis. Keep in mind that your alluring introduction shouldn’t include data overload. Your main body is a mix of examples, details, and evidence. Lastly, your conclusion is like a red bow on the present that summarizes your work. Already excited to perform such an assignment?

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Frequently Asked Questions About Descriptive Essay

1. What's the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?

A descriptive essay doesn’t tell a story but simply contains information about a particular topic. So the main difference that distinguishes narrative works is a storytelling element. But a complete descriptive text is more of a guide and description with no plot.

2. How do I come up with a topic for my descriptive essay?

Descriptive essay topics are usually given by professors. If not, choosing places, people, events, or even objects is your best bet. Try to select something interesting. So you don’t have to struggle with boring material having no idea how to word it.

3. How many words should be there in a descriptive essay paragraph?

Descriptive essay paragraph is usually 100-200 words long. Fewer words will make an article non-academic. In contrast, longer sections will surely help you lose the attention of your readers. So keep it along the lines of this word count, and you’ll be good.

4. What is the difference between a descriptive essay and a definition essay?

Descriptive essay literally describes any topic using colorful words and figurative language to impress your reader. You’re painting pictures with figurative and bright words instead of colors. In contrast, definition essay is the type of article that explains any chosen concept or an academic term. So it’s slightly drier and more on the nose of academic writing.  

Article posted on:Apr 29, 2022
Article updated on:Jan 14, 2024


Leave your comment here:
6/22/2022 1:19 PM
I have a question, could you please tell me how to write a self-descriptive essay? I guess it has other writing requirements than a regular descriptive essay. Many thanks.
6/23/2022 11:40 AM
Hi Sierra,

There are several things you should keep in mind to write a good self-descriptive essay. First of all, you should be able to introduce yourself and know your audience well. Besides, you should be familiar with the purpose of writing (whether it's for admission, scholarship, or general request). Your task is to discuss experience and skills related to the main goal of a self-descriptive essay.
7/5/2022 4:35 PM
I also have a question, a quick one. Could you suggest any tips on how to conclude a descriptive essay? I have a really hard time writing a conclusion. Will be much appreciated.
7/5/2022 5:08 PM
Hi Sarah,

As with any other type of writing, you need to summarize all the critical points to conclude your descriptive essay. Emphasize the key takeaways and give some food for thought. Avoid adding new information, though - your conclusion should paraphrase only the most important points covered in the body.