Types of Academic Writing | Planning Tank

Academic writing is what you get when you edit everyday writing and strip it of informal language, remove references to feeling or thoughts and add technical details that are specific to the subject or industry the writing is about. Academic writing may be considered boring but it’s usually full of more information from the word get-go.

Often, the need to write an academic paper finds us wherever we are. Whether it’s at school for a professor or at work in the form of a critique of a medical journal article, you will find that the skills are worth having. Just remember that an academic document requires a set style and follows its set rules.

Academic Writing Types

Types of academic writing important for students

You need to know the different types of academic writing possible. We have explained some types below.

Descriptive writing

Descriptive writing, as the name suggests, is a type of writing that uses in-depth explanations of objects, places and experiences to create an image that the reader can understand. For the writer, it’s a form of analysis but also a way of conveying a bigger message. Descriptive writing is rarely used alone; it always forms a section of a bigger academic document.

Academic assignments that require using the descriptive style tend to come with instructions such as ‘report,’ ‘summarize’ and ‘define’ or ‘record’ and ‘interpret.’ The guidelines for writing descriptive academic papers are fairly straightforward: have compelling grammar and a deeper understanding of whatever you’re going to describe.

Analytical writing

The most technical form of academic writing is analytical writing, and that’s because it involves understanding various sets of information and re-ordering them to identify a singular theme or get a deeper understanding of the topic in question.

Analytical writing is commonly used in the ‘discussion and analysis’ section of university and college theses, where students are required to correlate their final findings to the initial research questions, and then explain any differences they might find. As suggested by the latter example, analytical writing is commonly used when the relationship between two or more variables is required.

Analytical writing requires a bit of descriptive writing to get points across, one of many cases where different forms of academic writing support one another. Academic assignments that require analytical writing tend to lead you on with instructions such as ‘analyze,’ ‘examine,’ ‘contrast’ or ‘relate.’

To prepare, make sure you have all your data in place. Make sure you have a way of analyzing the different sets of information; tools such as charts and graphs come in handy here. You also need a sharp eye for the small details because they can be the basis of relationships between variables.

Persuasive writing

The defining trait of persuasive writing is that the writer’s point of view is included in form of an argument designed to influence the reader’s point of view. Other than that, persuasive writing is still analytical writing at the core. In many academic documents, persuasive writing is used in the interpretation of findings and in the recommendations.

This type of writing is also employed in many essays. A good persuasive essay on a cheap paper writing service might highlight the low price as its persuasive angle. Because persuasive writing is all about making the reader believe the writer’s angle or argument, it requires a writer to have a proper understanding of what they are arguing about. As a must, the writer must offer evidence for each claim they make in the paper.

An academic writing assignment that requires persuasive writing will require you to ‘argue,’ ‘discuss’ or even ‘take a position.’ To prepare for this kind of writing, you need to be clear about what side you’re on and have the necessary facts to support your point of view. Good writing ability is also necessary to keep the reader interested.

Critical writing

Critical writing is a form of academic writing that is largely like persuasive writing, except it also includes other views other than that of the writer. In an academic assignment that requires critical writing, the writer must discuss a minimum of two points of view, including theirs.

Critical writing requires that a writer criticize another argument before offering their own argument to the reader. The other argument’s merits must also be recognized. In some cases, such as in the literature review section of university theses, critical writing is all about examining both sides to a particular argument.

Much like the other forms of academic writing above, this one is rarely used alone. In academic documents, it appears alongside persuasive and analytical sections. You’ll know a section requires critical writing when the instructions ask you to ‘debate,’ ‘critique,’ ‘assess’ or even ‘disagree.’

To prepare for this kind of writing, you need to read on both arguments you’ll be understanding to know their nuances and form an opinion on each. You’ll also need facts to use for your argument.

Narrative writing

Narrative writing is the form of academic writing least used in university thesis writing and similar papers. Nevertheless, it is a fairly common form and is used as the ideal format in many personal style essays. Narrative writing is focused on storytelling rather than expounding on one argument or another.

It tends to feature descriptive writing as a means of making moments vivid on a page. This type of writing is commonly used on assignments about real-life situations or personal journeys and can be written in first, second or third person, unlike all the other types of academic writing. While narrative writing does not dwell on pushing an argument, it can still be used to explain deeper a simple subject through description and storytelling.

A narrative writing assignment might ask you to ‘explore,’ describe,’ or even ‘tell us about.’ The most important requirement here is knowledge of language and structure because there is no set structure to follow. The writer is free to experiment as long as the story makes sense and has a title, body and conclusion.


Until you stop writing or studying completely in life, you will need to know how the major forms of academic writing listed above. They are required almost everywhere in our daily lives and they can be perfected if someone gives them enough time. If you’re studying academic writing, we hope this article proves useful.