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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

5 Rhetorical Modes of Writing
Types of Writing

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Practice 1. Identify the rhetorical mode of writing in short passages.

Writing for Different Purposes

We write for different purposes. We write stories to entertain our readers and share our experiences. Storytelling is also an effective way to present an important life lesson (the “moral of the story”).

We write to inform or teach something to our readers. We even create lists and tables to make it easier for our readers to grasp information at a glance and perhaps learn and remember it more easily.


We write business proposals to focus the reader’s attention on important details about a project. We outline steps and procedures and perhaps convince our readers that our ideas are worthwhile.

These are only a few examples of how we use writing to communicate ideas. Depending on our ultimate goal, we may end up with different types of writing.

Targeting Your Readers

Writing a recipe in the form of a poem would be an interesting way to express your creativity. However, how effective would it be for your readers?

Similarly, would you write a short story to persuade your employers to promote you? Although there may be a situation where storytelling would be effective to address your employer, that would likely be an exception. You would more likely want to emphasize your strong points, your accomplishments, your vision for your company, and so on.

Choosing the right type of writing is important so that your message is conveyed the most effectively.

Note about rhetorical modes and mixed modes of organization

Regardless which type or mode of writing you choose to express your ideas, you must still organize the information in your writing. Some modes of organization are better suited to present information more effectively than others depending on your purpose and main point.

There is no mode of organization that you will find only in one type of writing or another. Let’s say you are writing a persuasive essay. You can include elements from narrative and expository writing (i.e., use storytelling and an explanation) as long as they ultimately help you make your point and convince your readers. For example, you can do the following:

  1. Tell a story (as you would in narrative writing) to frame the issue and propose a solution or course of action. Essentially, you are using storytelling to create in your readers’s minds a picture of the issue so that you can effectively persuade them to believe or do something about it.
  2. Then present statistical or factual evidence (as you would in expository writing) to support your proposed solution. This portion of your writing can be organized as a series of facts, comparisons, examples, and so on.
  3. Finally, present your persuasive claim for the solution or course of action that you want to convince the reader is the best one. The result of the storytelling, facts, and logical arguments has a purpose from the start: convincing your readers to believe in your ideas and some take action that they might not agree with initially.

Writing tip

As you can tell from the information on this page, before you start writing something, you should think about what your main purpose is. At the same time, consider your readers. You might decide that the best way to convey your ideas is to write an essay for academic readers or as a story for young readers.

Carefully considering the topic and your readers before you start will help you decide what your work should look like. This planning will save you time and produce better results in the end.

Choosing the Right Mode of Writing

When we consider the topic, our purpose, and our readers, we end up choosing from five types of writing or modes of writing appropriate for the task: expository or informative, narrative, descriptive, persuasive, or reflective. Choosing the right type of writing is important so that your message is conveyed the most effectively.

Let’s go over the five main types of writing.

Up Next: Expository Mode

Continue the course to learn about the expository mode of writing.

Related Lesson

Learn about Modes of organization, which has to do with how you organize information within different rhetorical modes.