Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

Essay vs. Article

We can divide the "transactional" writing you will do at Guilford into two main categories: essay style and article style. They include all of the types of writing on the above list.

You can regard these two types as being the yin and yang of formal writing. One, the essay, is primarily right-brain, emphasizing traits such as the holistic, the intuitive, the metaphorical. The article, on the other hand, tends to be left-brain--i.e., linear, mathematical, logical.

I would argue that the best writing is that which fuses both types of writing and is thus "whole-brain." But for the time being it is worth at looking at the two separately, for the two styles do differ and readers will have different expectations depending on whether a writing situation calls primarily for one or the other.

The essay style:

  • exploratory
  • primarily concerned with ideas
  • non-systematic
  • author's persona is evident
  • stylistically self-conscious
  • begins with a partially formed idea
  • involves heavy revision, especially for organization and coherence

This category includes reflective or narrative personal essays, for example, or essays in which you are being speculative, or formal responses to reading in which you are assessing the personal impact of a book or art work.