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Cause and Effect Essay Writing: Tips and Suggestions

You may find yourself in a situation where you have to write an essay in a cause and effect format. This may sound intimidating, but it can also be informative and a lot of fun.


The first step is understanding what you are trying to accomplish in a cause and effect essay. You need to pick an effect and explain what causes it. You may be trying to write an essay about how the violence in contemporary media causes children to act more violently. Research your cause and effect well. Gather information from several credible sources that support your thesis. More importantly, gather information that discredit your thesis. When you understand the missing link between your cause and effect, you can fill those links or alter your thesis. Either way, prepare and understand your topic so you have something to write about.

Correlation doe NOT Equal Causation

One of the most important lessons you will learn when writing a cause and effect essay, is that it is generally NOT an opinion piece. It requires scientific data to back up your claim. A common phrase in the science field is that correlation does not equal causation. This means that just because two things are related and run parallel together, does not necessarily mean that the one is a direct cause of the other. Using the example of violence in the media, you may find in your research that you find that other reasons may have more scientific research to back it up. When it comes to a cause and effect essay, always trust science before speculation.

Know the Difference Between Effect/Affect

This is an essay that you will be using the words effect and affect a lot, so know how to use them properly. Affect is a verb. It is an action word. The violent media affects violence in children. However, effect is a noun. Violence in children is an effect of the violent media.

Use Multiple Good Sources

When researching a cause and effect, the meat of your argument will be in the information you have to support your claim. When gathering information, you want the best information possible, and you want to demonstrate that your information comes from multiple sources.

Sources not to trust:

  • Wikipedia
  • Blogs
  • Interest groups

Sources you CAN trust:

  • Scholarly articles
  • Textbooks
  • Ask your teacher for approval of other sources if unsure