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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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Author's Purpose: Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Expert Contributor
Sasha Blakeley

Sasha Blakeley has a Bachelor's in English Literature from McGill University. She has been teaching English in Canada and Taiwan for six years.

This lesson explains the purpose behind various types of writing. In addition, author's purpose is defined using examples to illustrate the explanations. Updated: 08/28/2020

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.


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.



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.

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Additional Activities

Author's Purpose: Explore Further

This lesson explained the importance of a clear purpose in writing, no matter what kind of writing it is. Use the following activities to think about purpose more deeply and try out some writing of your own.

Categorizing Writing

Look at the books, magazines, textbooks, letters, emails, and other kinds of writing that you have in your house. Write a list of all of the kinds of writing you can find. Now, categorize as many of those types as possible by their author's purpose. Which ones are meant to entertain? To inform? To persuade? Are there any that you struggle to categorize, or that fit into multiple categories? Consider why that might be.

Write Your Own

Choose your favourite novel or film for this prompt. Now, it's time for you to write three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, aim to persuade your readers that this novel or film is the best one ever created. Back up your opinions with facts. In the second paragraph, inform your readers of the content of the story. Who are the characters? What happens to them? Is the book or film part of a series? Finally, write a third paragraph in which you retell a scene from the story from memory or imagine a new ending or sequel to the story. Imagine that your readers are familiar with the characters and the plot, and aim to entertain them with your little snippet of a story. Be creative!

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