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Differences between Descriptive and Analytical Essays rodrigo March 15, 2013 This guide looks at the difference between descriptive and analytical essays. The most straightforward type of academic writing is descriptive.

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The aim is to give facts to the reader. An example of a descriptive essay is one which summarises a number of articles, or gives an overview of current research Descriptive essays do not develop an argument, rather they give a comprehensive snapshot of a topic.

Descriptive essays can have one or more purposes: The type of descriptive essay required is liable to differ from subject to subject. Key words to identify where descriptive writing is required, or to signify that you are writing in a descriptive way are describe, summarise, how Descriptive essays should be clear, precise and accurate; ordered logically; to-the-point; and able to indicate the significance of what is described. While easier than analytic writing, descriptive writing can still display differences in quality.

However, experts may disagree about the facts.

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A descriptive essay needs to either acknowledge where controversy exists or stick to facts which are generally agreed. The key to an analytic approach in essays is taking things apart.

Analysis is the process of breaking something down into its constituent parts and seeing how those parts relate to each other. Analytical writing includes descriptive writing, but it gives a new perspective on what is described.

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Analytical writing might apply already existing categories to data, or create new organisational categories. Analytical essays are more challenging than descriptive ones, and usually attract higher marks.

Many essays require a balance between description and analysis. It can be tempting to use most of the word count in description, but this can lead to lower marks.

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Analytical writing involves understanding relationships between things. It therefore involves a greater ability to think abstractly. Analytic writing is often associated with critical writing see our guide on this for more details. Critical analytic essays use analytic tools to argue for a particular position or point of view.