Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

One of the most popular essay types in both college and adult education is the Cause and Effect Essay. It is really quite a simple structured essay that does two things;

  1. Define a cause – e.g. what did X happen
  2. Identify the Effects of said cause – e.g. what happened as a result

Cause and effect essays are used to discuss these two elements two things in a linear fashion.

  1. Why things happen (causes)
  2. What happens as a result (effects).

To understand how to go about writing a cause and effect essay is is best to provide you with an example that a teacher or lecturer may give to you.

  • Cause – You do not exercise for a whole year and old eat fatty foods.
  • Effect – You are likely to gain weight and become unfit

This is a very simple example that clearly shows how the cause creates the effect. Without that cause there would be no effect. You can have multiple effects that stem from just one cause. For example;

  • Cause – You forgot to get fuel for your car the night before a road trip”
  • Effect – You have to stop to buy fuel in the morning causing you to be late to pick up your friends, you then get stuck in rush hour traffic in the middle of summer and your car overheats, causing an end to your road trip.

The multiple effects that were caused by something simple as forgetting to top up your car with fuel created a chain reaction of events that ruined you day.

Now that we understand a cause and effect essay, lets look at how we actually write and structure one.

Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

The structure of a cause and effect essay is very logical and linear.

This statement is very important and defines how a cause and effect essay should be structured.

As with ALL essays understanding how to start an essay is key to getting off to a great start. The opening paragraph should outline the goal of the paper and what you set out to achieve.

This opening paragraph will take us on to the Thesis statement, where we will clearly display if we will be discussing causes, effects or both combined. You then need to gather relevant evidence and backup material that full support your thesis and add further meat to the bones of your essay.

To create a great flowing essay, be sure to start with the cause(s) and end with the effect(s). This linear fashion as discussed about will ensure the reader has an easy time following your essay and doesn’t get lost in the think of it.

Below we have a sample cause and effect essay template for you to use.

Sample Cause and Effect Essay Template


  • Introduce your topic
  • Present opening point for argument with linear progression (thesis)
  • Provide your background/supporting information


  • Display  a logical progression of arguments leading from the cause to effect
  • Ensure that the essay structure remains throughout
  • Provide lots of supporting evidence


  • Restate you key points to the reader
  • Complete a brief review of your thoughts and the supporting evidence