Chapter 4: Types of Writing

Overview: Types of Writing

Now that you have had the opportunity to develop your skills related to reading and comprehension and information literacy, it is time to shift to writing. In your post-secondary nursing program, you will be expected to engage in a variety of types of writing.

Early on in your academic trajectory, you may be asked to simply describe or summarize a text and/or construct an annotated bibliography. You might be asked to do some simple evaluation/critique/analysis of a text. Throughout your program, you will consistently be required to engage in reflective writing. As you progress in your program, you will be asked to engage in more challenging forms of writing including advanced and critique.

You will often be required to use a combination of types of writing within one assignment. For example, reflective writing will require you to reflect and sometimes analyze. See Table 4.1 for a brief description of common types of writing. Each type of writing is described in more detail in the next sections.


Table 4.1: Common types of writing

Type of writing Explanation


You write a summary about a text you’ve read. Descriptive writing includes a description of the main points and usually does not include your personal opinion or critique.


You think deeply and write about an experience or an event or something you have read. In nursing, you are expected to engage in reflective writing related to your clinical practice.


This genre of writing moves beyond description and involves examining the issue or text closely and looking at its parts to understand the whole.


Your job is to persuade, influence, convince, and inspire your audience to believe in your point of view on a topic that involves multiple viewpoints and opinions.


This genre of writing involves a detailed assessment or evaluation of a text. To some degree, this is the highest level of writing because it is both analytical and persuasive.


This is sometimes referred to as an opinion or perspective piece in which you incorporate an educated opinion from a unique viewpoint on a particular issue.

Literature reviews

There are many types of writing associated with literature reviews. Overall, you will synthesize a body of literature on a particular topic.


Student Tip

Know what is expected of you

The most important starting point is that you understand what type of writing is expected for a course or an assignment. Start by closely reviewing and highlighting keywords in the assignment guidelines and if provided, the marking rubric. What verbs do the guidelines use? Reflect? Analyze? Critique? Or something else? These starting points will point you in the right direction.

Listen to the Audio Podcast 4.1 about various types of writing by Kerry McNamara, M.Ed., MFA, Composition Instructor, Tidewater Community College.

Audio Podcast 4.1: Various types of writing by Kerry McNamara [6:18]

See audio transcript at bottom of page.


The following discussion provides more details about each type of writing for your assignments.




Transcript for Audio Podcast 4.1

Throughout the nursing program you’ll be asked to engage in variety of different types of writing. So it’s important to know what you are being asked to do and how we do it. You will often be asked to combine the various kinds of writing so it’s important that you’re familiar with the characteristics for each kind, and be able to combine them to meet the specific needs for your given assignment. So let’s begin by doing a quick review of the different kinds of writing and the various words associated with each kind, be sure to use table 4.1 as a quick reference guide to help you. The first kind of writing is descriptive writing. So for this kind of writing, really, the goal here is to summarize what you have read. No personal opinion should be given. However, you should use very vivid details and strong verbs in order to summarize the information and be sure to include all main points while excluding minor details that aren’t essential to the text. This, should be an overview, and your voice should remain neutral throughout. The second kind of writing is reflective writing, in this kind of writing you wanna think about the article that you’re being asked to write about and include your own personal thoughts and experiences here. Certainly personal opinions are fine, as this is your own reflection, but you should be thoughtful, honest, and vulnerable in your voice. However, you do want to present as an educated person, so you certainly can draw on other experiences that you’ve had in order to help validate your reflection. The next kind of writing is analytical writing. So for this kind of writing, you are really examining the article and or experience in your and or experience, and you’re offering some thoughtful criticism, you may want to connect with other theories or experiences to help deepen your own analysis but definitely, you should be critical and not opinionated, here in this kind of writing you want to present a balanced view in your writing and in your writing voice. The next kind of writing is persuasive writing. The goal here is to convince readers that what you are writing about is true. So you want to make sure that you present valid information, and certainly you can compare other studies or theories to the article in which you’re writing about. You want to persuade readers not just by your personal opinion, but also by referring to valid experiences and other research. Perhaps make reference to studies or any other experiences that you’ve had. Critical writing. This kind of writing is certainly the most advanced form, and it often combines or draws on all the other kinds of writing. Here, you want to examine the article or experience by using analogies, studies, and previous experiences. This type of writing certainly combines analytical and persuasive, and can even employ descriptive and reflective. Here, you want to make sure that you have a very strong, clear voice, and that you are presenting a dominant view that is your own. The next kind of writing is editorial. So this form of writing looks more like a report, and it’s certainly should be substantiated by your opinion on what you’re writing about, so it doesn’t good personal opinion. But that opinion always needs to be qualified with experiences and/or theories. It is assumed here that you have some expertise in the field, so be sure to present in a professional and informed manner. The last kind of writing is a literature review. So for this, you need to make sure that you follow the prescribed format that was given to you by your teacher. You’ll summarize the literature you’ve read, analyze it, and then usually compare it to other theories and/or articles. Be sure to follow the format and do exactly what your professor has asked you to do. As you can see within the textbook that there are a variety of different forms of literature reviews. So you just need to make sure that you are following the kind of review that your professor wishes. So overall the most important part of this chapter is that Number one you realize that there are many different kinds of writing, and that you need to be able to shift back and forth between them, and know exactly what it is that you’re being asked to do. Some of the kinds of writing certainly overlap with each other. However, you want to make sure that you hit on the key words. So, for example, if you’re simply asked to do a description of a piece, and that you are summarizing and not critically analyzing. However, if you’re asked to do a critical piece, then that you are following the specific requirements for that kind of writing at the end of the day, all writing needs to be strong your language needs to be appropriate and you want to make sure that you are always making valid educated statements. So good luck with your writing, and certainly we refer back to that table 4.1 as a quick reference.



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The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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