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How to Write a Cause-and-Effect Essay

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 18, 2020 • 2 min read

Cause-and-effect essay structure is a way of exploring relationships between ideas and events.



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What Is a Cause-and-Effect Essay?

The cause-and-effect essay is a form of argumentative essay that details the effect relationships between two subjects. In standard cause-and-effect essay writing and academic papers, the author shows how one person, thing, idea, or event directly influences another person, thing, idea, or event.

What Is the Purpose of a Cause-and-Effect Essay?

In a school environment, teachers assign cause-and-effect essays to teach critical thinking, logic, and persuasive writing. In the world of academic writing or a professional setting, this type of essay can take the form of a lab report abstract, a scientific case study, or a scholarly research paper. In all of these formats, an author describes a phenomenon and tries to identify its main causes.

How to Write a Cause-and-Effect Essay

The cause-and-effect writing process requires critical thinking and an orderly cause-and-effect essay outline. Follow these six steps to write a cause-and-effect paper.

1. Brainstorm Essay Topics.

Coming up with a good cause-and-effect topic involves observing the world and speculating about possible causes for what you see. Consider natural phenomena, social and cultural movements, or the development of ideas. Or perhaps you'll write a cause-and-effect essay about a work of literature, highlighting the interconnectedness of characters, settings, and events.

2. Establish a Thesis.

Your thesis statement can highlight a single cause-and-effect relationship, or it can also show how one event causes multiple effects. You can also explore how a phenomenon has multiple causes.

3. Arrange Your Main Points Into Body Paragraphs.

Each of your body paragraphs should provide a specific illustration of why your thesis is true. Outline your entire essay to ensure that every paragraph explores a different facet of the relationship between your subject and its causes.

4. Write a First Draft.

Using your thesis statement and your body paragraph ideas, craft the first draft of your essay. You should be making a specific argument about how one person, thing, idea, or event affects another one. Use clear topic sentences and transition words to keep each body paragraph anchored to your thesis.

5. Review Your Work for Clarity and Logic.

Ask yourself the following questions: Do I present a clear point of view? Do my examples show how one event caused another? Are my transitions and topic sentences clear and informative? Have I convincingly argued my point?

6. Write a Final Draft.

After giving your work an honest self-assessment, re-draft your essay with an eye toward a final product. If you haven't already written a conclusion, now is the time to do so. Remember that a cause-and-effect essay depends on your critical thinking and your ability to express your logic in writing. If you've done those things well, you probably have a very convincing essay on your hands.

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