A cause-and-effect essay is a common assignment for students in high school and college. These essays test a learner's capacity to critically analyse relationships between various variables and also their knowledge of various phenomena.

Cause-and-effect essays address the why and how, in a bid to suggest how various effects were instigated by a series of events. Unfortunately, many first-timers tend to struggle with this type of essay. 

This article will tackle various elements of a cause-and-effect essay to guide you toward writing an outstanding paper.

What is the purpose of a cause-and-effect essay?

You must identify the purpose of a cause-and-effect essay to have a basis for gauging the quality of your paper. For this we will answer the question; what is a cause & effect essay?

A cause-and-effect essay is a type of academic assignment aimed at analysing the association between various events. These essays may thus analyse a process, an event, or a phenomenon to identify how various effects were reached. 

Cause-and-effect essay structure

The cause-and-effect essay can follow multiple approaches. The common approaches for causal essays are the block and chain structure.

Block structure

The block structure first analyses the causes in the initial paragraphs, followed by a transition paragraph and the effects section. This approach reduces confusion and also allows your reader to see the connection and sequence of various events that led to the phenomenon under discussion.

However, ensure that you represent each idea in its paragraph to avoid confusion and obscuration of ideas. The block structure may appear as:

Introduction paragraph

Cause 1

Cause 2

Cause 3

Transition paragraph 

Effect 1

Effect 2

Effect 3


The chain structure

This structure is best suited to highlight the connection between various causes and effects. Unlike the former, you can group a cause with its respective effect within the same paragraph. 

This allows you to supplement evidence to various claims and to identify the effects of each event. The chain approach is better placed to ensure the flow of ideas within an analysis of a multidimensional event.

The chain structure may appear within your paper as:

Introduction paragraph

Cause 1 and effect 1

Cause 2 and effect 2

Cause 3 and effect 3


Cause and effect essay format

The cause-and-effect essay adheres to the standard sections for common academic essays. This essay is divided into the introduction, the body, and a conclusion. 

The introduction carries the hook, background information, and a thesis statement. This information highlights the relevance of your paper and also sets a tone for your entire essay. You may choose to start your essay with a rhetorical question, a quote, or narration to channel your reader’s attention to your discussion.

The body should carry various causes and effects in the block or chain structure. Also, be keen to link various ideas within your essay to achieve a smooth flow and to lead your reader through your discussion. Some of the transition phrases you may use to connect your causes and effects include:

  • Because of A, B
  • Another reason for A is B
  • Consequently
  • As a result of A, B

Finally, summarize your essay within the conclusion section. The cause-and-effect essay conclusion should highlight the key effects you were investigating and recommend various changes that could have yielded the desired results. 

Cause and effect outline

An outline is crucial for planning your essay. After research, sort your points to achieve flow and gauge the ideas that require further investigation. Your cause-and-effect essay outline may follow the order below.


  • Hook
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement


Paragraph one

  • Topic sentence
  • Cause 
  • Effect 
  • Transition

Paragraph two

  • Topic sentence
  • Cause 
  • Effect 
  • Transition

Paragraph three

  • Topic sentence
  • Cause 
  • Effect 
  • Transition


How to start a cause-and-effect essay

Deciding where to begin your essay can prove a challenge for many students. often, students rush to start writing their essays and end up stuck midway through the writing process. These steps should come in handy to help you plan various steps and ensure a quality paper. 

  1. Specify your topic

If your tutor has not provided you with a topic, set out to select a topic that you can comfortably manage within the provided word count. for this, brainstorm ideas relating to the prompt you have been offered in the essay guidelines. 

  1. Conduct extensive research

After selecting your topic, research multiple sources to determine the events leading to a given phenomenon. Jot these ideas down and gauge the connection between various ideas.

  1. Prepare an outline

After research, prepare an outline, sorting your ideas in a manner that ensures a smooth flow of ideas within your essay. The outline is crucial as it allows you to gauge the completeness of your research and also guides your writing efforts. 

Topics for cause-and-effect essays

  1. Teenagers' use of social media and its effects. 
  2. The origin and consequences of cyberbullying. 
  3. How wearing a school uniform affects you. 
  4. Does a student's ability change after college? 
  5. Does a lot of homework help your grades? 
  6. Cardiovascular disease's primary causes. 
  7. The primary reasons for racism. 
  8. How your pet affects you.