Types of Nonfiction

When you think of nonfiction, the new biography on sale or a story you’ve read in the daily newspaper might come to mind. In reality, nonfiction can take the shape of essays, documentaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and many more formats. Even though the way in which nonfiction is presented may differ, it normally gets grouped into four types.

Before we begin, get the definition of nonfiction writing.

Narrative Writing

This type of nonfiction tells a true story about a person, event, or place. Sometimes this kind of nonfiction can be written in the first person, but it always involves some research on the writer’s part.

Expository Writing

The purpose of this type of nonfiction writing is to explain or inform a reader about a certain topic. With expository writing, the reader may or may not have prior knowledge about the topic being discussed, so research is central to successfully executing expository nonfiction.

Four Types of Nonfiction Explained

Persuasive Writing

With persuasive writing, the writer takes a position on an issue and argues for his or her side or against an opposing side. The writer will use facts and information to support his or her own argument while trying to influence his readers’ opinions. Normally, this kind of writing takes the form of an op-ed piece or editorial in the newspaper.

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive nonfiction employs all five senses to help the reader get a visual of what the writer is trying to describe. Sensory language, rich details, and figurative language are methods used to achieve good descriptive nonfiction.


How to Write Nonfiction in Five Steps

39 thoughts on “The Four Types of Nonfiction Explained

  1. dora says:


    1. Neville Longbottom says:

      You’re welcome

  2. Ms. D says:

    We are a class of fourth grade students and have been studying the various forms of non-fiction. We have some suggestions for your article: -Narrative non-fiction is a story that contains factual events and realistic characters. -Imaginative non-fiction is a story that contains factual events with unrealistic characters. -Instructional non-fiction teaches you how to do something with step-by-step instructions. -Reference non-fiction helps to guide you to information. -Newspapers give you information about what happens around the world -Magazines are entertaining and informational. -Informational non-fiction informs you about a certain topic. -Online resources can do all of the above.

    1. Vanessa says:

      Thanks so much for sharing. I am taking a college English class and our first assignment is to look up different types of non-fiction. So cool that all you fourth graders get to learn about the same thing I am. And taught me something also! Thanks again!

  3. jaidyn trivette says:


  4. Nelieza Tubeza says:

    very nice article,, many students will be thankful to know this topics.. keep up the good work.. god speed!!!!

    1. Beatrice says:

      Hello presently there, I found your site by the use of Google whilst rernaschieg for the similar matter, your web site came way up, it appears great. I have bookmarked it at my google bookmarks.

    2. Ricky Olivers says:

      Is true! I am student

  5. Shaun says:

    Thanks for the help! 😀

  6. Matthew Koelbel says:

    In my ninth grade English class, they teach us that there are eight types of nonfiction. However, I am not saying you are wrong.

  7. Destiny Thomas says:

    well its good

  8. Brianna V. says:

    i love nonfction!!!

  9. almira a. delos reyes says:

    thank you for this information 🙂

  10. jennylyn m.silvestre says:

    thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. jennylyn m.silvestre says:

    thank you for the text that ive read 🙂

  12. non of your buisness says:

    thank u for the text

  13. Desdimona says:

    this info was a life saver. help me so much w/ my English test. thnx so much!!!!! just being curious, r there any other types of non-fiction? 🙂

  14. Justin winningham says:

    Thank u

  15. Audrey says:

    This was very helpful. Thanks:-D

  16. peterponle says:

    type of non fiction prose. 1.biography 2.autobiography 3.memoir 4.autobiographical

  17. roque says:

    im finish my assignment thank you for your help 🙂

  18. Fix your grammar. says:

    Why is there such bad grammar in the comment section of an article about grammar?

    1. hihihi says:

      because America

  19. Aron says:


  20. Jaylen says:

    i am a student at carter g woodson academy and that was very helpful i am in the seventh grade

  21. Zaid says:

    What is literary nonfiction ?

    1. Yayako says:

      Thanks for the information,
      Now I truly understand what is a nonfiction? And also the types….

      Thank you so much….
      It’s really a big help to me as a grade 12 students.

  22. PUTA says:

    So on my hyper doc I had to do it asked me this question “When an author is writing non-fiction, (s)he is only expressing facts, not opinions.”
    The options were True and False so I clicked true and it said I was wrong so I did research and ended up on this site and u said that it’s true and another site said the same thing sooo idk what to do anymore

    1. Alijak says:

      The author can express their subjective views, thoughts, and opinions about the facts.

  23. I agree when you mentioned that narrative nonfiction will always need its writer to do a lot of research as part of their responsibility as chroniclers. This is especially important for historical nonfiction. You’re doing a good job in reminding writers to do their research as I want to make sure that my children, and any other children for that matter, will be able to read literature that is factual.

  24. Syeda Rashda Anwar says:

    good work

  25. isha says:

    you are right

  26. Ridwan says:

    Thanks this was helpful

  27. An amazing post with great tips as always. Anyone will find your post useful. Keep up the good work.

  28. Shrikant Walwadkar says:

    Will you please clarify what type of non-fiction are following – War literature, Government Reports on war.

    1. Emily Crisman says:

      Hi Shrikant,

      Great question! Each of these topics could fall into any of the four types of nonfiction. It would depend on the style and format, which you’d decide based on your audience.

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