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Author's Purpose: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Author's Purpose
  • 1:07 Persuade
  • 2:07 Inform
  • 3:09 Entertain
  • 4:06 Multiple Author's Purpose
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Social Studies, and Science for seven years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

This lesson explains the purpose behind various types of writing. In addition, author's purpose is defined using examples to illustrate the explanations.

Author's Purpose

Many different types of writing exist in the world, ranging from classic Shakespearean plays to politicians' speeches to the screenplay treatments that inspired this summer's biggest blockbuster hits. These works may vary in tone, genre and type, but as pieces of writing, they should have one thing in common: a purpose.

Authors write for many different reasons. Those reasons are called the author's purpose. Depending on the purpose, authors may choose all different sorts of writing formats, genres and vernacular. A simple trick to summarize the three main categories of author's purpose is to use the acronym PIE, which stands for persuade, inform and entertain. Although there are many reasons to write, to persuade, to inform and to entertain represent the three main forms of author's purpose. Most other reasons can be grouped into those three broader categories.

Persuade

To persuade is the first main type of author's purpose. Text written to persuade means the author's goal is to convince the reader to agree with the author. This might mean the author wants the reader to think or even act in a specific way. This type of writing is extremely common. Any piece which pushes a certain opinion or asks for some sort of call for action is persuasive writing.

It is true that in these types of writing the author shares his opinion, but usually he also provides facts and examples. This information serves to support the author's opinion and further convince the reader to agree with him. Examples of persuasive writing include speeches, advertisements, commercials and newspaper editorials. Any forms of propaganda are examples of pieces written to persuade. Look at the picture below and identify how the author wants you to think or to act.

Persuade

Inform

The second main type of author's purpose is to inform. In this format, the author's goal is to enlighten the reader about real-world topics and provide facts on those topics. However, in contrast to pieces written to persuade, these facts are not used to support a specific opinion. The facts are presented in order to teach the reader. Examples of texts written to inform include textbooks, cookbooks, newspapers and encyclopedias.

All these forms are written in order to provide information to the reader. It is also important to note that many authors present their works as informational texts, while at the same time inserting their own opinions into the piece. As a reader, be sure to be ready for opinions masked as information. For instance, some newspapers claim to only report the facts, but on careful inspection it is clear it might be trying to persuade you to believe a specific idea. Be on the lookout for these hidden opinions.

Entertain

The final main category of author's purpose is to entertain. This contains almost all examples of what you think of when you hear the word 'literature.' Authors who write to entertain have the goal of telling a story or describing real or imaginary characters, places and events. This includes all pieces of fiction, which is literature that is not real.

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