5 Tips for Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

A cause and effect essay is connected with why certain things happen (the causes), and what things happen consequently (the effects). Cause and effect essays are commonly used as a method of discussing and organizing ideas. Usually, they are taught in introductory college or high school writing courses.

A cause and effect essay does what its name suggests: explaining the causes of a problem and details for the resulting effects. Below are five tips that can help you write a cause and effect essay.

In order to determine the causes, ask why a problem has happened. To identify the effects, ask what has happened because of a certain reason. Here is an example:

Cause: You have run out of gas. Effect: Your car doesn’t start.

Sometimes, a lot of causes contribute to one single effect, or a lot of effects could result from one single cause. Your instructor is going to specify which cause or effect method you should use.


Causes: Pete liked business in high school; Salaries in the accounting business are high; Pete has an uncle who is an accountant; Pete is very good with numbers.

Effect: Pete decided to choose a major of accounting in college

However, a lot of situations havemore complicated chain causes and effects.


Thinking about dinner – forgot to put gas in the car – ran out of gas on the way to school – missed literature exam – failed literature course.

A cause and effect essay does not always discuss both causes and effects. So, make sure you state clearly what will be discussed in the essay. Your thesis statement should be your main idea. State it by using “causes and/or effects”.

Use well organized, sufficient, and relevant details to back up your thesis statement. Use the following methods to organize the details.

You need to use transitional phrases or words in a cause and effect essay, in order to blend the details smoothly.

For causes, use “because”, “since”, “for”, “first”, “second”, “due to”, etc.

For effects, use “as a result”, resulted in”, “one result is”, “another is”, “therefore”, “thus”, “consequently”, etc.

In order to write an effective cause and effect essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Distinguish Causes from Effects.
  2. Develop Your Thesis Statement.
  3. Discover and Organize Supporting Evidence and Examples.
    • Order by importance. Details could be arranged from most to least important or the other way around.
    • Categorical order. Divide the topic into categories or parts to arrange the details.
    • Chronological order. Arrange details in the order of the events occurred.
  4. Use Appropriate Transitions.
  5. Evaluate the Effectiveness.
    • What are the causes and effects?
    • Should causes or effects be emphasized?
    • Are there one or more causes/effects?
    • Is there a chain reaction?

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