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How to Write Cause and Effect Essays

Vick Condecion

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Cause and effect essays are used for examining, elucidating and explaining the relationships of why and how things happen. They are commonly used in science, arts, humanities, literature and statistics to provide a conjectural prognosis of contributing reasons for events. This article will briefly describe how to write one.

Differentiating Cause from Effect

When you are considering topics for your cause and effect essays, you may have some trouble identifying or separating causes and effects, especially if you are looking at a broad topic which needs to be narrowed for the purposes of your essay. You can find the cause by asking the question “Why?", while the effect or effects can be determined by asking “What was the result?"

While there can be several contributing causes for an issue, you need to separate the prime cause from other, secondary causes. Focus on the immediate and direct cause or effects, which are closest to the event in time and are related.

There can several different effects. You must be careful to keep your essay manageable by identifying and writing about a few of the primary effects, or those with the biggest impact. If you get into too many or lesser effects, your work will be watered down and lose its focus.

Once you have established the relationship between the cause and the effect, then you have identified your topic. The reason why there is a connection between the cause and effect will be your thesis statement. It's usually wise to keep your topic narrow so your essay remains manageable, so you don't get too diverse and distracted and lose the point of your essay. Organize the details either in chronological order as the events occurred or in order of importance.

Writing a Cause Essay

Start by writing your introductory paragraph, including your thesis, and identify the effect or effects that you are addressing that resulted from the cause. Your object is to address what caused this effect.

In the body of the essay, discuss the links in the causal chain. You can address them by either working backwards from the effect to the first cause, or by beginning with the first cause. Use transitional words to analyze the relationships you are identifying, such as because, due to, since, firstly, secondly, the main cause, for this reason, as a result.

Finally, use your final paragraph to sum up of your conclusions as they relate to your thesis.

Writing an Effects Essay

Start by writing your introductory paragraph, including your thesis, and describe the primary cause. Your object is to address what effects result from this cause.

In the body of the essay discuss each effect, tracing it back to the root cause. Use suitable transitional language for effects such as consequently, as a result, one result is, another result is, since.

As with the cause essay, use your final paragraph to sum up your conclusions as they relate to your thesis.

Provide Evidence to Support Your Argument

It is essential to provide evidence to support your arguments. Use relevant references to define your terms and to offer facts and statistics where appropriate in your cause and effect essays. Cite your references properly using MLA or APA formatting, whichever your professors may require. You can also give examples, anecdotes, or personal observations that support your ideas.

Whether you are using MLA or APA formatting for your citations, it is worth considering using formatting software. It will ensure accurate formatting of your citations and allow you more time to focus on the quality of your college essay.

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David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto or write to:

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).


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