How To Write A Background Information Essay + Examples
A background information essay is different from many other types of essays, as it is written with the intention of giving some basic information about a specific topic or subject. It usually does not include new ideas or concepts; instead, it provides relevant information that can be used as knowledge for further research.
What is the purpose of the background information essay?
The purpose of the background information essay is to provide an introduction to an existing concept or idea, and discuss its beginning and evolution over time. The reader of this type of essay should not expect any major conclusions or opinions on the chosen topic; rather, it should expect to receive interesting facts and data on the chosen subject. While there are no strict rules regarding how one must write such an essay, there are several things one needs to keep in mind through every stage of writing.
The first thing to think about when writing the background information essay is the topic itself. Choosing an interesting subject will ensure that your readers are interested in reading on, and staying engaged with your article until the very end. The simplest way of choosing a topic is brainstorming; however, if it seems like you can't come up with anything good this way, there are many other ways of finding inspiration. One easy way of coming up with an idea is talking to your friends or family members; by simply asking them what they think interests you, you may stumble upon something worth researching further. If you consult the Internet for ideas (which one should never do without thinking critically) bear in mind that not all subjects that appear interesting at first glance are worth exploring. On the other hand, some seemingly uninteresting subjects turn out to be just what you need.
A good way of checking whether or not your topic is interesting enough is asking yourself whether you would like it if someone else wrote an essay about it. If you can't imagine that someone else would be in a similar situation as you in which they would have to write a background information essay, then perhaps it's not such a great idea after all.
Once you've chosen the topic for your paper, you should start thinking about its angle and purpose. The topic itself will usually determine whether your objective is argumentative or informative. While this distinction may seem simple at first glance, the line between them isn't always clear. In essence, the argumentative essay attempts to convince the reader of a particular standpoint by presenting facts and data, whereas the informative one is meant to provide knowledge on a certain subject.
In an argumentative essay, you will need to prove your point and stand by it throughout your paper; however, in an informative essay, the purpose is simply to present information and let it speak for itself. There are many ways you can take either approach: some writers prefer impressing their audience with huge amounts of data and facts about specific subjects; others opt for creating thought-provoking ideas that encourage people to think critically about what they're reading. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, which become more obvious as you develop your argument or idea further.
One of the most important things to remember is that a background information paper should not have a definite structure. You can have an approach or angle in mind going into your paper, but it may change as you start writing. Sometimes you will find out interesting angles and routes as you go along, including them if they make sense within the context of your work. This is completely normal and does not mean your paper needs to be redone from scratch; instead, simply keep those ideas in mind as you continue writing so they don't become lost over time (there's nothing more frustrating than forgetting about something brilliant you had once written).
One thing that usually happens when you're choosing an angle or direction for your essay is that you realize there's nothing interesting you can say about your topic. If that happens, don't panic! Remember that there are countless other subjects out there and it's definitely not the end of the world if one particular subject doesn't interest you as much as others.
Once you've established what angle or purpose you're going to take in your article, you can start thinking about how to structure it. The first thing every writer should know is that a standard five-paragraph essay is almost never appropriate for academic writing; however, both methods of structuring an argumentative and informative paper do translate well into the background information essay. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to include 2-3 paragraphs that introduce your topic by providing some context (i.e. historical background, cultural significance etc.), followed by 2-3 paragraphs that discuss your chosen angle or perspective.
The introduction is the first thing readers will see and it plays a key role in determining whether or not they continue reading past it. When you're writing about something specific (i.e. an argument/thesis), the main objective for your introduction is to show what separates your work from others so far published on this topic; when you're writing about general information, the objective of your introduction becomes to draw attention to some aspect of your topic that may be unknown to many people yet crucial to fully understanding its history and current significance.
In either case, avoid being verbose! A long-winded introduction can quickly bore an audience, making them more likely to stop reading before you even get to the topic. Introductions should be short and concise; it's also important that you keep them free of unnecessary details (e.g. historical anecdotes or trivia) as they can easily distract readers from your main point.
If you're struggling with coming up with an introduction, try asking yourself these questions: what angle will I take? Will I write my essay as informative or argumentative in nature? What is the purpose of this essay? Once you've answered those questions, it should become much easier to come up with a good introductory paragraph because all you need to do now is explain how your work fits into this context.
Just like any type of essay writing, creating a background information essay means that you need to include a bibliography. This is especially important for those who are writing about general topics; without giving credit where it's due, your paper could come across as unprofessional and lack credibility.
It doesn't matter what type of information you've included in your background essay: if it's not cited properly and using correct referencing format (i.e. MLA or APA style), readers may become suspicious of the validity of your work and even assume plagiarism has taken place (which can be very serious if universities get involved). With this in mind, make sure to include both in-text citations within the body of your article AND a proper reference page at the end.
The easiest way to cite sources correctly is to use one of the many free online citation generators (e.g. EasyBib, Cite This For Me etc.).