Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.
Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.
In Italy, Baldassare Castiglione wrote about courtly manners in his essay Il Cortigiano.
In the 17th century, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracián wrote about the theme of wisdom.
Compare and contrast essays are characterized by a basis for comparison, points of comparison, and analogies.
It is grouped by the object (chunking) or by point (sequential).
Zuihitsu have existed since almost the beginnings of Japanese literature.
Many of the most noted early works of Japanese literature are in this genre. 1000), by court lady Sei Shōnagon, and Tsurezuregusa (1330), by particularly renowned Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshida Kenkō.
In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education.
Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.