141+ Illustration Essay Topics (Plus a Great Template!)

This post will provide Illustration essay topics for college, high school and university students.

To write your essay, I recommend these three steps:

  1. Get a clear understanding of what an Illustrative essay is;
  2. Pick a topic;
  3. Use my template to quickly write your essay.

Feel free to navigate the post through the following table of contents:

Part 1: Definition of an Illustrative Essay

An illustrative essay provides an explanation and examples of a specific topic or idea.

It is distinct from an argumentative essay because it does not have an agenda to convince someone of your position. Instead, you are simply demonstrating your own depth of understanding.

This means that you do not need to try hard to present a thesis.

Simply, you need to demonstrate how deep your knowledge is of a topic.

In order to do this, I recommend:

  • Providing many clear explanations of all key features of your topic;
  • Providing many clear examples that show you understand how your topic works in real life.

You will still need to follow essay format, with an introduction, body and conclusion – see the template at the end of this post for an example!

Part 2: Choose your Topic

Below is a list of great illustration essay topics. I’ve listed them in categories for your ease of navigation. Once you have selected a topic, jump to Part 3 where you can grab a template for writing the essay.


Topics for Children, Middle School and High School

  1. Illustrate your school’s behavior policy.
  2. Show the life cycle of butterflies with illustrations and explanations.
  3. Provide an illustration of your local library’s loans policy.
  4. Write a 5 paragraph essay illustrating how volcanoes form.
  5. Illustrate the rules of your favorite sport.
  6. Explain with examples the values that you believe are important to your country.
  7. Provide an illustration of the Dewey Decimal System.
  8. Illustrate your daily routine before school with clear explanations.
  9. Outline how food gets from the farm to your table.
  10. Explain with examples the concept of democracy.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about University, College and School

  1. Write an illustrative essay on the process of applying for college.
  2. Write an essay showing the key benefits of higher education.
  3. Show how your university education will set you up for life in 1500 words or less.
  4. Demonstrate with examples the procedure required for preparing a lab experiment n college.
  5. Provide your reader with an in-depth illustration of the ways learning happens at college level.
  6. Illustrate the key features of the early childhood sector in your country or state.
  7. Illustrate the process of studying for a standardized test.
  8. Demonstrate with examples the key features of online education.
  9. Show with examples the key reasons you qualify for a merit-based scholarship.
  10. Outline the ways your school motto reflects the values of your local community.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Sports

  1. Present three key benefits of water sports for elderly people.
  2. Illustrate the five most important things you should do before exercising.
  3. Write an essay that gives at least three examples of how the Olympics has brought the world closer together.
  4. Write an essay that shows and gives examples of the ways sports can help troubled youth develop positive social values.
  5. Provide an illustration of the ideal recovery process for sportspeople suffering ACL damage.
  6. Illustrate how the Major League Baseball draft system works.
  7. Explain with examples the rules for a sport that you have invented.
  8. Show the ways participation in sporting activities can help people recover from depression.
  9. Illustrate the ways sports journalism has progressed in the past 25 years.
  10. Demonstrate the ways adaptive sports presents people with disabilities as powerful social actors.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Media and Communication Studies

  1. Illustrate the ways television has contributed to the development of your country’s unique national identity.
  2. Demonstrate the ways television advertisements promote gender norms.
  3. Show how laws governing bias in media are undermined by the rise of social media.
  4. Outline the key benefits of ‘new’ media technologies.
  5. Demonstrate the ways the internet helps promote social interactions between people of different backgrounds.
  6. Outline how media has changed in the past 25 years.
  7. Write an illustrative essay on the ways the dark web has undermined the war on drugs.
  8. Describe how and why the newspaper industry has declined in the past 20 years.
  9. Explain the key features of Anderson’s theory of ‘imagined communities’ and its relationship with the printing press.
  10. Illustrate the processes required for protecting whistle blowers prior to publishing leaked data.
  11. Show how free press is good for democracy.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Technology

  1. Demonstrate how the smart phone has changed the ways we consume the internet.
  2. Write an essay describing how technology has been central to globalization.
  3. Demonstrate the ways the internet helps improve economic growth.
  4. Outline the three most important technological advances of the past ten years.
  5. Demonstrate the ways technology has changed the ways we learn.
  6. Explain how technology will change the world in the next ten years.
  7. Use Media Richness Theory to illustrate how people need to match technologies to the tasks at hand.
  8. Illustrate the key features of the theory of technological determinism.
  9. Write an illustration essay that paints a clear picture of how the Central Processing Unit functions.
  10. Outline the ways technology can help solve the climate change problem.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Ancient History

  1. Illustrate how democracy worked in the Roman Empire.
  2. Outline the key events that occurred in England in the Middle Ages.
  3. Provide clear examples of how Greek philosophy continues to shape the modern world.
  4. Show your understanding of the Socratic method.
  5. Explain Aristotle’s key contributions to philosophical thought.
  6. Illustrate the key features of the decline and fall of Rome.
  7. Write an essay that illustrates the key achievements of Caligula.
  8. Outline why the Romans found it so hard to conquer Britain, with examples.
  9. Illustrate the key features of classical antiquity.
  10. Outline the key elements that led to the development of the first city-states in Mesopotamia.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Modern History

  1. Explain with examples how the Supreme Court of the United States has shaped American history.
  2. Outline the key features of the gilded age.
  3. Illustrate with examples the conditions that led to the great depression.
  4. Show the key events that led to World War One.
  5. Explain the economic conditions that precipitated the rise of fascism in Europe in the 20th
  6. Demonstrate how Communist economies bred inefficiencies during the 20th
  7. Illustrate the major arguments for the United States’ withdrawal from the Vietnam War.
  8. Outline the contribution of Northern England’s technological innovations to the Industrial Revolution.
  9. Illustrate the key features of first wave feminism and its effects on life today.
  10. Write an essay demonstrating how the formation of the European Union has been integral to keeping the peace in Europe.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Geography and Travel

  1. Outline the ways the Suez Canal has improved trade and economics between the East and West.
  2. Explain with examples how travel can impact peoples’ ideological perceptions towards the ‘Other’.
  3. Demonstrate how Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism is visible in 20th Century travel literature.
  4. Outline the geographical conditions underpinning one of the most influential natural disasters of the past 50 years.
  5. Write an essay demonstrating your understanding of tectonic plates.
  6. Write an illustrative essay that demonstrates your understanding of Volcanoes and their formation.
  7. Outline the ways farming practices in the Pacific have evolved with climate change.
  8. Illustrate how the great barrier reef has impacted upon tourism in Queensland, Australia.
  9. Explain the concept of poverty tourism.
  10. Illustrate the key features of Peru’s plan to protect Machu Pichu from damage from tourism.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Transport

  1. Illustrate the key benefits of electric vehicles for the future of the world.
  2. Demonstrate your knowledge of the conditions that have prevented faster uptake of electric vehicles.
  3. Outline how improved transportation facilitated the rapid growth of Globalization in the 20th
  4. Write an essay exploring the ways transportation will change in the next 20 years.
  5. Explain how the invention of hydraulics facilitated the development of bridges capable of sustaining heavy traffic.
  6. Outline the key urban development policies that can support increased bicycle transportation and decreased use of cars in cities.
  7. Explain with examples the benefits of free public transportation for equality and social justice in society.
  8. Write an illustration essay outlining how SpaceX has changed space travel.
  9. Give examples that demonstrate how Uber has changed the Taxi industry.
  10. Explain the key reasons behind the grounding of the Concorde fleet of airlines.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Psychology

  1. Illustrate the key features of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory.
  2. Outline the three major psychological theories of the 20th
  3. Write an essay showing how psycho-social theories are used in clinical practice today.
  4. Demonstrate with examples how cognitive behavioural therapy helps people with anxiety.
  5. Outline how Kohlberg’s theory of moral development can be used in classrooms.
  6. Show how and why the theory of behaviorism declined in popularity in the 2nd half of the 20th Century, with examples.
  7. Demonstrate your understanding of the theory of humanism.
  8. Outline how cognitive psychology is adapted in to support children with autism.
  9. Illustrate the four major personality types, with clear examples.
  10. Show the key contributions of Karl Jung to Psychoanalytic theory.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Education Studies

  1. Illustrate how childhood has changed since the 1950s.
  2. Outline how to teach phonics to children.
  3. Illustrate the key features of online learning.
  4. Show the key characteristics of a quality teacher.
  5. Write an essay illustrating the key features of student-centered teaching.
  6. Explain with examples how civics education supports democracy.
  7. Provide examples to show the key benefits of using communication technology in the classroom.
  8. Explain how to teach English as a Second Language using social interactionist approaches.
  9. Demonstrate your understanding of the best ways to manage behavioural difficulties in the classroom.
  10. Show how curriculum differentiation helps to improve outcomes in classrooms.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Philosophy

  1. Demonstrate your understanding of Immanuel Kant’s perspective on duty.
  2. Provide an explanation of Nietzsche’s perspective of power, with examples.
  3. Illustrate how the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers informed modern Liberalism.
  4. Outline how Michel Foucault influenced post-structuralist philosophy.
  5. Write an essay outlining the philosophy of existentialism.
  6. Explain with examples the complex relationship between philosophy and religion.
  7. Outline how the philosophy of Confucius has shaped Chinese philosophy.
  8. Illustrate the key contributions of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation to philosophy.
  9. Write an illustrative essay that paints a clear picture of Anna Ardent’s perspective of totalitarianism.
  10. Show how Thomas Aquinas influenced Christian philosophy.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Business

  1. Illustrate your understanding of Michael Porter’s five competitive forces.
  2. Explain with examples the importance of emotional intelligence for business owners.
  3. Outline how the strength-based leadership theory can improve business practice.
  4. Illustrate how capitalism causes tensions between owners and workers in businesses.
  5. Explain with examples the four major leadership styles.
  6. Demonstrate your understanding of Simon Sinek’s people over profit concept, with examples.
  7. Illustrate with examples five ways leaders can stimulate motivation within workplaces.
  8. Show the importance of business ethics with clear real-life examples from the past 10 years.
  9. Illustrate business people’s social responsibilities and how they can clash with or underpin long-term profitability.
  10. Illustrate how the Six Sigma approach to business was applied in General Electric in the 1990s.

I’ve found my idea! Take me to the template.

Topics about Health and Medicine

  1. Illustrate your local government’s changes in health policies over the past 10 years.
  2. Explain with examples the top key preventative health measures that can prolong people’s lives.
  3. Illustrate the process that led to the invention of penicillin.
  4. Outline how viruses can spread through human contact with clear illustrations.
  5. Show a clear understanding of the concept of population health and how it is implemented by federal governments.
  6. Outline the key risk factors that stem from smoking tobacco.
  7. Demonstrate with examples the relationship between exercise and long-term health.
  8. Illustrate your understanding of the germ theory of disease.
  9. Outline the economies of scale benefits of universal single payer healthcare.
  10. Write an essay illustrating the relationship between climate change and population health.

Part 3: Illustration Essay Template

Now you have a topic, use the below template to write your essay.

This template comes from my detailed post on how to write an illustration essay.

Introduction Use the 5 sentence INTRO Formula to write an introduction that:

· Identifies the key idea you will discuss
· Notifies the reader of background information
· Translates the essay question
· Reports on what you’ll be saying
· Outlines the order of your points
Body Paragraphs Part 1: Define your SubjectYour first paragraph (or first few, if it’s a longer essay) should provide a clear definition and explanation of the topic you’re discussing.
Body Paragraphs Part 2: Examples and Explanations Your next few paragraphs should each provide one example and explanation each to show how deeply you know and understand your topic.

You may need to include academic references in each paragraph.


Use the 5 Cs conclusion formula to write a conclusion that:

· Closes the loop from the introduction by referring to something you said in the intro
· Concludes by summarizing what you said in the essay
· Clarifies how your essay answered the prompt
· Explains who should be concerned with this topic
· Explains the consequences of what you discussed

You may like to see an example of a conclusion paragraph for an illustration essay by jumping to the example I provide in this post.

Did you know I provide you with an example of a completed Illustration essay? Click here to go to my post that provides an example.

illustration essay topics
Website | + posts

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *