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Writing Strategies and Grammar

Common Composition Topics

It’s common for professors in liberal arts fields to assign certain essays to familiarize students with different genres and writing styles. Keep in mind, your professor may have a different definition of each topic listed here; we offer, instead, a general definition of essay assignments to help guide ideas.

  • Narrative: A story of an event using past tense verbs. Narratives address the big six: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Be sure to use details and transitions, and write the story in chronological order. Narratives are not limited to ‘composition’ topics, but also can be used to approach report and memoir writing.
  • Informative: Research and Explain. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not to throw tons of information at your reader, but rather organize information in a logical format. Keep your audience in mind and detail any outside information with your own ideas.
  • Profile: Create a summary based on interest. Focus your profile by organizing and discussing certain aspects rather than summarizing.
  • Rhetorical Review: Appeals to emotion (pathos), logic (logos), and ethics (ethos). Reviewing the rhetoric involves analyzing how these appeals work in communicating and persuading their audience.
  • Textual Analysis: Argue and persuade HOW the text should be read or seen. Create an analytical goal (thesis) to appeal to your reader the way the text’s values and ideas appealed to you. Dissect parts to make your argument.
  • Annotated Bibliography: Introductory research in two parts. Find sources for a research topic and correctly format the citations for each source. Annotations normally include a short summary of the work and a brief synopsis of how the source will be used towards your particular research project.