A+ Quality Illustration Essay Topics (Updated for 2019)

illustration essay topics
  • Published Date: October 23, 2018


Illustration essay topics might seem elusive at first, but they are actually all around you. Illustration essays offer illumination and guidance and frankly, the world is full of situations, issues and subjects that require exactly that. It is a jungle out there! Teachers will often assign an illustration essay when they want to see how well you can explain a complex subject and what nuances you are able to shed light upon—using examples. In a similar fashion, teachers will sometimes assign an illustration essay when they want to see if you are able to expand your writing and describe a topic that seems deceptively simple. The key thing to remember when writing this type of composition is you want to use language that is as vivid and clear as possible. It really is the goal to paint a picture of what you’re describing in the mind of the reader, so that when they finish your essay they have a greater sense of clarity about the overall subject. Relatedly, by the time you finish reading this article, you will have a much better idea about the best illustration essay topics to use for your next assignment.

What is an Illustration Essay

An illustration essay showcases your ability to shed light on something, offering clarity like the Statue of Liberty, shining that torch. Even if you’re assigned a topic that seems super easy or obvious, your job is to create a vivid picture, so that your reader has a more intensive comprehension of how something works, how something can be repaired, how to become something, how to improve something, and so on. It won’t surprise anyone that the illustration essay got its name from the fact that it is supposed to create understanding so strong in the mind of the reader that it’s practically like drawing them a picture or taking a photograph of all that you write. This type of essay relies on examples as a means of “illustrating” the concepts and ideas at hand. Thus, it’s not uncommon for teachers to refer to this type of writing as an “exemplification essay”, which is another term for it, as is the term “descriptive essay.” The thread that makes all these types of essays synonymous with one another is the fact that they all build upon cohesive understanding via clear, accessible explanations and depictions.

Illustration Essay Topics

Illustration essay topics are half the battle of the task. As a result of the fact that the task seeks to determine how well you can explain and describe, it can help enormously if you get a “good” topic. Basically, a “good” topic is any topic that you have an organic interest in and would like to explore more. Research is often a major part of writing a strong illustrative essay, so if you enjoy that aspect of the writing process, the whole experience will be more pleasant. Tangentially, a “good” topic is one that you know a lot about already and feel confident in describing. This sometimes requires less of a research-push to get the essay written. Of course, sometimes you don’t have a choice when it comes to your selected topic. In such cases, you just need to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Who knows, you might be forced to research something you end up enjoying.

Good Topics

  • Describe the components of a sincere apology.
  • Describe the benefits and pains of being a parent.
  • Explain the civic duty of
  • Explain why good health is the greatest gift of all.
  • Describe one strictly American tradition and explain its significance.
  • Explain how someone can improve their communication skills.
  • Describe how our society has improved over the last 50 years.
  • Describe how our society hasn’t really improved much over the last 50 years.
  • Explain where the individual’s fear of death comes from.
  • Explain why most people don’t like cemeteries.
  • Describe some old-fashioned rituals that continue to persist and discuss why.
  • Describe some rituals of the 21st century that have emerged in this modern era.
  • Explain how ancient people discovered the earth wasn’t flat.
  • Discuss the importance of having a parent or guardian.
  • Explain the common pitfalls of children who have self-parented too much.
  • Explain why expensive restaurants are usually very quiet and why.

Easy Topics

  • Describe how to stay organized and neat.
  • Describe how to bake a great cake using a mix.
  • Explain how to argue constructively with someone you care about.
  • Describe how to pick out a cat or dog to adopt at a shelter.
  • Explain how loving a pet is different than loving a person.
  • Explain how to pick out a perfect birthday present for someone.
  • Describe how to ace a job interview.
  • Discuss how travels expands your worldview.
  • Describe the value of trying new things.
  • Explain one valuable lesson from world or U.S. history.
  • Describe how to tell someone is a good friend.
  • Explain how to be a good friend to another person.
  • Describe how to improve your skills at a hobby or other activity.
  • Explain how to be a good boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Explain how to forgive your parents or someone who hurt you.
  • Discuss how to let go of the past.
  • Explain how to heal yourself of emotional wounds.
  • Describe the importance of having a mentor.
  • Describe the importance of having a strong imagination.
  • Explain what our fears have to teach us.
  • Explain why it’s important to have friends with different political beliefs.
  • Describe the history of racism in America.
  • Describe the aftershocks of slavery today.

College Topics

  • Explain how to prepare yourself for dorm life mentally and with supplies.
  • Discuss the benefits of having a mean or challenging professor.
  • Explain how to get along with your roommate.
  • Discuss proper etiquette in the dining hall.
  • Describe how to manage your academic obligations to achieve success.
  • Discuss how to select a major, particularly how to pick one you will never regret.
  • Describe how to get a useful summer internship.
  • Explain the importance of creating a budget and sticking to it as a student.
  • Explain how to avoid gaining the notorious “freshmen 15” when starting college.
  • Describe how to manage your reputation when attending school in another part of the country.
  • Describe the best ways of keeping in touch with high school friends.
  • Discuss a college ritual that is specific to your university and explain its significance.
  • Explain the best methods of making friends while at university.
  • Explain how to seek out counseling or mental health support at your university.
  • Describe the reputation your college has and explain where this reputation came from.
  • Discuss the best ways of dealing with irritating or toxic people you meet at school.
  • Describe why writing a paper at the last minute works for some people and not for others.
  • Explain three main ways students can stay safe when walking alone late on campus.
  • Explain three main ways students can stay safe when going to college parties.

Sports Topics

  • Describe how someone with natural athletic ability can make a career out of this path.
  • Explain how a football team gets to the Super Bowl.
  • Describe the cognitive dangers of a long term football career.
  • Explain the reasons behind female athletics being underfunded.
  • Describe how sports can contribute to toxic masculinity.
  • Explain how playing sports can boost your sense of self-esteem and happiness.
  • Discuss how too many school prioritize the needs of athletic programs over academics.
  • Explain why some professional athletes engage in doping and what can be done about it.
  • Describe why it’s important to involve kids in sports at a young age.
  • Discuss some of the “life lessons” that playing sports can teach a person.
  • Explain what the Penn State Scandal teaches us about the primacy of sports.
  • Explain how the crimes of Jerry Sandusky were enabled.
  • Explain how the crimes of Lance Armstrong were enabled.
  • Explain the obstacles Serena Williams has had to overcome.


Interesting Topics

  • Explain how to tell if someone is lying
  • Describe how to tell if someone has a crush on you.
  • Describe the signals someone gives off when they don’t like you.
  • Describe the mindset of a serial killer.
  • Describe the psychology of a psychopath.
  • Explain the science of addiction.
  • Describe how music and math are connected.
  • Explain the distinct types of genius: mathematical, artistic, and invention.
  • Explain why some people cry when they’re happy.
  • Explain the psychology of crime.
  • Describe the motivation behind big, expensive weddings.
  • Explain the motivation behind big, flashy cars.
  • Explain why some people believe the strangest conspiracy theories.
  • Describe why there is probably life after death.
  • Describe why there can’t be life after death.
  • Discuss the selfish reasons people have children.
  • Discuss the selfless reasons people have children.
  • Describe what your fashion sense tells the outside world about you.
  • Explain why its important to never judge someone by what they’re wearing.
  • Describe how the culture of Silicon Valley is toxic.
  • Describe how the culture of Silicon Valley is innovative and valuable.

Fun Topics

  • Describe how to convince someone they’re not angry at you anymore.
  • Explain how to convince someone of a conspiracy theory.
  • Explain why it is entirely likely that aliens exist.
  • Describe why it is entirely unlikely that aliens exist.
  • Discuss the importance of believing in ghosts.
  • Explain where the myth of Bigfoot emerged from.
  • Describe why Bigfoot probably does exist in some form.
  • Describe why and how Bigfoot is most certainly just an American legend.
  • Explain the history of the Loch Ness Monster myth.
  • Describe how to make the best cheeseburger.
  • Describe the most fun activity to do in your hometown.
  • Discuss the importance of having silly friends.
  • Discuss your favorite urban legend.
  • Explain why vegans always have to tell people they are vegan.
  • Describe how some people can become addicted to working out.
  • Explain how someone can lose weight on a junk food diet.
  • Describe the problems with most diets and why they don’t work.
  • Explain why you think the divorce rate is over 50%.
  • Describe your thoughts on lifelong monogamy and where this concept came from.


Examples are a non-negotiable part of your essay. You have to include them as they are essentially the parts that help do some of the illustrating for you. They showcase your point so that the reader has an “aha!” or “I get it” moment. After you’ve written your essay, you should check it to make sure that every point you make has an example to support exactly what you are saying.

Individual Experience: This is a big one. Hopefully, you will be able to draw directly upon your lived experiences as a person on earth to find examples that illustrate your point. Your lived experiences and the memories of them should influence your viewpoint already so it really shouldn’t be too hard to think of some to back up a point. Even if your life seems as dull as dishwater, you actually have had experiences that are relevant and useful.

Reflection: You have observed life on this planet for some time now. You should have witnessed certain aspects of human behavior and tendencies of society that you can draw upon. You have not been living under a rock. If you need help recalling relevant things, go to a public place like a mall cafeteria or the lobby of a movie theatre and look around. Watch how people walk, talk, laugh, fight. All these micro-interactions that people have with one another should offer fodder for your illustrative essay. Likewise, it might inspire the shape of your essay topic in a different direction.

Reach Out: If you need to contact an expert, mentor or relative to help complete your illustrative essay, do so. Conduct an informal interview with a list of questions and keep track of the responses you get, so that you can refer to them later when you are shaping your essay. Ask them if they have any final remarks on the subject matter, or what they think the most important thing to keep in mind about the subject actually is.

The Media: Lucky you! You live in the information age and the media has expanded to a level of power that has never been encountered in previous generations. You literally have a wealth of sources to choose from, such as the news, talk shows, TedTalks, vloggers, taped interviews, clips and other aspects of this arena. There are also standard sources like film, television (and books) as well. Let all these sources inspire you and make sure to cite each one that you use. Sources like these can really support the integrity of your point as they are examples that many people are familiar with.

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Student Network Resources Inc. "A+ Quality Illustration Essay Topics (Updated for 2020)." Aceyourpaper.com. https://www.aceyourpaper.com/essay-writing/illustration-essay-topics/ (accessed May 22, 2024).


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