How to write a cause and effect essay

When writing a cause and effect essay, you need to choose a topic and examine its causes and effects. These types of essays allow us to better grasp and understand the subject you’re writing about. 

In this article, we provide an extensive example and steps to follow. So keep reading if you want to write a great cause and effect essay.

Step 1: Choose your topic

Unless your teacher has assigned you a specific topic, you need to find one to write about. When choosing your topic, take two things into consideration:

It will be much easier to write about a subject you’re familiar with. So, choose one you already know about.

Even if you have information on it, choosing a topic that does not interest you can make the process boring. This will eventually lead you to write a dull essay.

Below, you’ll see examples of general topics you can write your cause and effect essay about:

cause and effect essay topics (1)

Step 2: Decide on cause or effect

After you have chosen your topic, decide how you will examine it. Cause or effect? First, you need to distinguish between the causes and effects. Here is a tip for you: 

Let’s ask these questions to our sample topic, The American Civil War;

Why did this happen? 

Slavery, the election of Abraham Lincoln, states’ rights vs. federal rights

What did this lead to?

The abolishment of slavery, the growth of the northern economy & the devastation of the southern economy, shifts in political power

Step 3: Research and create a thesis statement

Just like any other essay type, you need to do research before writing your essay. During your research, use reliable sources. 

For example, using a personal blog as the foundation of your essay would be a rookie mistake (see common mistakes).

Look for websites (Google Scholar, Academia etc.) that publish credible academic articles, especially about your subject. If there is a source seen as an authority by most specialists in the field, use it.

After your deep research, now you’ve idea how and what to write. So it is now time for you to create your thesis statement, which defines your essay’s main argument. 

Cause essay thesis statement example


American Civil War has undoubtedly become the main focus of many books, movies, and historical research. The aftermath of the Civil War created such a destruction both physically and culturally that historian can now easily observe the long-lasting impacts. In this essay, causes of the American Civil War have been investigated. After all, the developments in the United States which caused the Civil War are the disagreements over the constitution of slavery, the division of the country after the election of Abraham Lincoln, and the fact that the debate over states’ and federal rights. Thesis statement: Thesis statement is usually the last sentence of your introduction paragraph. It gives the overall claim and idea of your essay.

Now that you have created your thesis statement and you know where to lead your essay, it’s time to create an outline. 

Step 4: Prepare an outline

Following an outline will lead you to write a more established essay (correct capitalizations and heading selection) and make the essay writing process more manageable. Before analyzing one, let’s see the functions of each section in your outline.

In this section, you will present your topic and thesis statement. Give general information about the subject, add a hook sentence if you can.

In these paragraphs, you will explore your topics’ causes or effects. Use each paragraph to explore one cause or effect. Make sure you have correct transitions with proper sentences, words and phrases.

In this section, you will reaffirm your thesis statement and present your concluding ideas and thoughts on the subject.

The following example is an outline for an effect essay on the results of The American Civil War. Feel free to follow a similar structure when writing a cause-and-effect essay.

Effect essay outline example

American Civil War Outline sample

  1. Introduction
    1. Hook sentence
    2. Background Explore why your topic is important and give some background info
    3. The Civil War had many consequences on the American nation, among which are the abolishment of slavery, the growth of the northern economy and the devastation of the southern economy, and a shift in political power. Present your thesis statement

  2. Body paragraphs
    1. Abolishment of slavery 1st supporting paragraph
    2. Changes in economies: Growth in Northern states & Devastation of Southern states' economies 2nd supporting paragraph
    3. Shifts in political power: Solidifaction of US power and influence & Union victory over Confederacy 3rd supporting paragraph

  3. Conclusion
    1. Summarize and wrap up your essay in few sentences
    2. Conclude your essay by reiterating your thesis statement

Step 5: Start writing

Once you have your outline ready, you can write a draft to ease yourself into the whole process instead of going into full essay mode.

The first thing you can do is to fill out your outline in a basic way. You can write simple sentences that present your findings and ideas and go back to improve them later.

This way, you will have your cause and effect essay mostly ready without tiring yourself too much.

After writing your draft, the ideal way would be to let it sit for a few hours. This will help you relieve your brain and make the ideas more transparent. When you go back to your draft for evaluation, you can ask yourself these questions:

So now take notes of your answers to these questions and use them in the final step: Finishing. 

Finish your essay

It is almost over. After an honest evaluation of what you have written, you can now fix the issues. You can also try to use transition sentences to make your final paper smoother.

In this step, you need to remember the aim of writing a cause and effect essay. The quality of your essay depends on your critical thinking and if you are expressing logical arguments or not. So, if your essay is logically satisfying, you probably have written a good one. 

Before submitting your essay, just make sure that it looks like the 5-paragraph example below, especially. in terms of structure and flow. 

5-Paragraph Cause and Effect Essay Example

American Civil War Effect Essay


The American Civil War was fought between the Union, northern states, and the Confederate States of America, southern states from 1861 to 1865. An informative hook The conflict of the two parties had resulted from a disagreement upon whether slavery in the southern states should continue or not. Background information The Civil War had many consequences on the American nation among which are the abolishment of slavery, the growth of the northern economy and the devastation of the southern economy, and a shift in political power. Thesis Statement: State your central argument

Body paragraphs

The most significant effect of the Civil War on the American nation was undoubtedly the abolishment of slavery. 1st effect: Start with an effect on body paragraphs. The initial aim of the war was not to abolish slavery but to preserve the Union. However, it was decided that the best way to push the seceded southern states into surrender was to undercut their source of economy, which was slavery. Detail: More information about the 1st effect stated. So, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in the third year of the war. Closing the paragraph

The Civil War also resulted in major economic changes in the northern and southern states. 2nd effect: State another effect The northern states already had superior industrial and financial resources before the war. After their victory over the southern states, they earned more resources and became even more wealthy. The southern economy, however, depended on cotton, which was a product of slave labor. Detail: More information about the 2nd effect. Therefore, the southern states lost their primary financial income with the abolishment of slavery. Closing paragraph

One other effect of the Civil War was the shift in power dynamics in the United States. 3rd effect: Present the last effect you'll talk about.. The United States strengthened its foreign power after the war. This was because the defeat of the Confederacy demonstrated the governmental strength and management skills of the country. Power dynamics changed domestically as well. Since the Union defeated the Confederacy, the northern states earned an apparent superiority over the southern states. Detail: More information about the las t effect. Understandably, the economic shift was one of the reasons for this. This shift in power dynamics changed how the domestic and foreign affairs of the country were handled. Concluding sentence: The last sentence of your body part.


As seen from these effects, the Civil War was one of American history’s most defining points. It significantly altered the functioning of the country, reforming it almost completely. The effects of the Civil War shaped the future of the United States Restatement: Shortly present the main points of your essay. They undoubtedly helped the country become the leading world power today. Final sentence: Use a powerful last sentence

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a cause and effect essay?

Just like any other essay, you need to start with an introduction that defines the topic in general and states your thesis statement.

How do you write a 5 paragraph cause and effect essay?

This is a traditional essay structure that consists of three main parts. So, you need an introduction, three separate body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

How do I choose a cause and effect essay topic?

You can choose any topic that has a cause-effect relation for your cause and effect essay. These can be wars and their impacts, or common issues such as global warming and its effects.

Key takeaways

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Ibrahim Akturk
Content editor at Tamara Research. Translation major, huge coffee and baking nerd. Addicted to good music and great articles.