Cause and effect essays are another common essay type, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs examining causes and effects. This page gives information on what a cause and effect essay is, how to structure this type of essay, how to use cause and effect structure words (transition signals) for this type of essay. There is also an example cause and effect essay on the topic of women at work.
What are cause & effect essays?
A cause and effect essay looks at the reasons (or causes) for something, then discusses the results (or effects). For this reason, cause and effect essays are sometimes referred to as reason and result essays. They are one of the most common forms of organisation in academic writing. Sometimes the whole essay will be cause and effect, though sometimes this may be only part of the whole essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the causes or the effects, not both, are discussed. See the examples below.
There are two main ways to structure a cause & effect essay. These are similar to the ways to structure problem-solution essays, namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the causes are listed first, and all of the effects are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each cause is followed immediately by the effect. Usually that effect will then be the cause of the next effect, which is why this structure is called 'chain'. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any effects you present relate directly to the causes you have given.
The two types of structure, block and chain, are shown in the diagram below.
Cause and Effect Structure Words
Cause and effect structure words are transition signals which show the cause and effect relationships. It is important to be clear which is the cause (or reason) and which is the effect (or result), and to use the correct transition word or phrase. Remember that a cause happens first, and the effect happens later.
Below are some common cause and effect structure words. X is used to indicate a cause, while Y is used to indicate the effect.
Below is a cause and effect essay. This essay uses the block structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Causes, Effects, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the causes and effects contained in the main body.
Title: More and more women are now going out to work and some women are now the major salary earner in the family. What are the causes of this, and what effect is this having on families and society?
In the past, most women stayed at home to take care of domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Women's liberation and feminismhave meant that this situation has been transformed and in contemporary society women are playing an almost equal role to men in terms of work. This has had significant consequences, both in terms of the family, for example by improving quality of life and increasing children's sense of independence, and also for society itself with greater gender equality.
The main reasons behind the increase of women in the workplace are women's liberation and feminism. The women's liberation movement originated in the 1960s and was popularised by authors such as Simone de Beauvoir. As a consequence of this, new legislation emerged, granting women equal rights to men in many fields, in particular employment. Because of feminist ideas, men have taken up roles which were previously seen as being for women only, most importantly those related to child rearing. As a result of this, women have more time to pursue their own careers and interests.
These have led to some significant effects, both to family life and to society as a whole.
Although the earning capacity of a woman in her lifetime is generally much less than that of a man, she can nevertheless make a significant contribution to the family income. The most important consequence of this is an improved quality of life. By helping to maintain a steady income for the family, the pressure on the husband is considerably reduced, hence improving both the husband's and the wife's emotional wellbeing. Additionally, the purchasing power of the family will also be raised. This means that the family can afford more luxuries such as foreign travel and a family car.
A further effect on the family is the promotion of independence in the children. Some might argue that having both parents working might be damaging to the children because of a lack of parental attention. However, such children have to learn to look after themselves at an earlier age, and their parents often rely on them to help with the housework. This therefore teaches them important life skills.
As regards society, the most significant impact of women going to work is greater gender equality. There are an increasing number of women who are becoming politicians, lawyers, and even CEOs and company managers. This in turn has led to greater equality for women in all areas of life, not just employment. For example, women today have much stronger legal rights to protect themselves against domestic violence and sexual discrimination in the workplace.
In conclusion, the increasing number of women at work has brought about some important changes to family life, including improved quality of life and increased independence for children, as well as affecting society itself. It is clear that the sexes are still a long way from being equal in all areas of life, however, and perhaps the challenge for the present century is to ensure that this takes place.
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Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.
The 500-Word Essay
What a thing of beauty is the well-written 500-word essay. In some ways, it is the perfect length to express knowledge about a particular subject. It is long enough to allow the writer to show familiarity, and possibly expertise, regarding her chosen topic. But it is not a length that requires copious amounts of research. When sufficiently motivated, one can manage to research, write, and revise such an essay in an hour or two. Given the fact that students will write dozens, if not hundreds, of essays in their high school and college careers, it is advantageous to become familiar with the mechanics, tools, and resources associated with essay writing.
The mechanics of a paper include such elements as accurate spelling, correct grammar, and proper formatting. The conscientious writer does not simply rely on spell check to make sure his paper does not contain misspellings. A thorough proofreading will catch mistakes that spell check misses. For instance, spell check might not know the difference between homophones such as “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” A careful review by the writer (or a friend) should catch these errors. Using correct grammar in all its forms – the parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, and punctuation – can ensure that brilliant writing is not overshadowed by careless or sloppy mechanics (Writing Mechanics). The “look” of the paper is important as well. High school teachers and college professors alike appreciate readable papers with a consistent appearance. This means using the Times New Roman font, size 12, and double-spacing the body of the essay. The title should also be a size 12 font, center justified, with the first word, the last word, and other important words all capitalized. The default margin settings of one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right, give the paper a professional look.
While having a crisp, clean look is valuable, the substance of the paper is of the greatest importance. Supplementing one’s own personal knowledge with well-researched material is the key to a terrific essay. A 500-word essay is not going to require as much research as a six- or ten-page paper. The individual assignment and the topic will determine where to seek out information. But once the research is done, the bibliography (or Works Cited list) can be assembled quite easily using EasyBib (EasyBib). What used to be quite a laborious task – putting sources in the correct MLA format, then alphabetizing them all – is now a fairly automatic process using this handy website.
Some students are intimidated when given a writing assignment. Hopefully, the hints given in this essay will make it easier for students to get started on their own essays. Becoming fairly automatic about formatting a paper prevents too much time from being wasted “reinventing the wheel.” Using viable, trustworthy websites and resources for research will help writers supplement their own knowledge. Knowing how to organize these resources into a coherent bibliography will cap off the paper quite nicely. Using these “tricks of the trade” should help students concentrate on the composition of their papers, and not obsess on the minutiae.
“The Free Automatic Bibliography and Citation Maker.” EasyBib. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. http://www.easybib.com/
“Writing Mechanics & Grammar.” Time4Writing. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. http://www.time4writing.com/writing-mechanics/