Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

cause and effect

When you write a cause and effect essay, you need to explain how specific conditions or events translate into certain effects. In other words, your task is to show how one thing leads to another. In most cases you will need to demonstrate how multiple causes result into one effect, or how only one condition becomes the cause of several consequences.

Steps for Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

  1. To start with, choose an event or a phenomenon to analyze. Ask yourself, “What happened,” and then try to answer the question, “Why did it happen?”
  2. Sketch out the main points of your essay in the introduction. Let readers understand in general what your paper is going to be about.
  3. List the causes and give their description, so that your reader can grasp the whole situation.
  4. Follow up with the effects, showing the connection between reasons and consequences. Your reader must understand how you have arrived at one from another.
  5. Explain why your analysis is important and what its practical meaning is.
  6. Make a conclusion.

Topic Selection

Since almost any event has both its causes and consequences, there are a vast variety of possible topics for a cause and effect essay. Still, it would be reasonable to choose a topic that you are familiar with. These may be:

  • Immigration and the growth of xenophobic prejudices
  • Negative effects of smoking
  • Factors that lead to depression
  • A correlation between economic crisis and unemployment
  • Economic consequences of the war in the Middle East
  • Effects of global warming

Key Points to Consider

  1. Mind that the same event may be a cause and an effect simultaneously. For example, the collapse of the Soviet Union may be studied as a result of many domestic and foreign factors, but at the same time it can be considered a cause of the restructuring of the Eurasian geopolitical space, the uprising of China and so on. Decide in which direction you are going to move.
  2. Concentrate on those effects that relate to the causes directly, and are close in time to them. This will prevent you from having to go into unneeded analysis of far-reaching consequences.
  3. You might find it useful to sort effects by categories, so that you do not confuse anything. For instance, if you describe the consequences of the Second World War, you can divide them into social, economic and political sections.
  4. State clearly what exactly you are going to examine – causes, effects, or both.

Do and Don’t


  • Do write down all causes and all effects that you can think of. You don’t have to use all of them in your essay, but this will give you something to choose from.
  • Do try to place the causes in your essay in order by time. If something happened simultaneously, try to figure out which one was more significant.
  • Do support your paper with examples, illustrations, and evidence. Present diagrams, refer to the statistics, and share your personal experience.
  • Do keep in mind what exactly you are trying to explain. It is easy to forget about your goal while dealing with a number of causes and effects.
  • Do use transition words that will make your essay easier to comprehend. Such words as due to, thus, since, as a result, because, therefore and others will help you structure your paper.

  • Don’t try to cover all possible effects of the event, neither its short-term effects, nor those which relate to the distant future. Choose the most important ones.
  • Don’t try to describe something huge. If the topic that you’ve chosen is too broad, try to narrow it.
  • Don’t forget to follow the writing requirements. Keep your essay scientific, avoid using slang. Also check your paper for mistakes and if it follows formatting standards.

Common Mistakes When Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

- Forgetting to show connections between causes and effects.

- Covering a broad topic and digging into a large number of causes, consequences and arguments.

- Losing links in a causal chain. If you have a sequence of causes that flow logically one from another, then missing one or several of them will make your paper harder to understand.

- Forgetting to use supporting details.

- Forgetting the purpose of your paper. For instance, one starting to write a persuasive paper may end up with an informative one.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic cause and effect essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our cause and effect essay samples to link theory with practice.


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Samples for Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

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