Writing an Observation Essay: Tips and Topics


Last time it was discussed how to write about success and today we are going to talk about writing an observation essay. Either in high school or a college, students are frequently assigned to compose observation essays. Accordingly with the name, observational essay deals with observing some object, idea or event and subsequently describing it. Depending on the subject it can be naturalistic observation essay, teacher observation essay, etc. In this post along with learning about observation essay writing rules we will also discuss some observation essay topic ideas. While working on your paper you might find these writing advices to be helpful, but don’t get frustrated if right now you are too busy to write. Our talented writers are happy to offer you their help with writing and editing. You can get your essay ready for you in a very quick and easy way by simply clicking this “order now” button.

What an observation essay is

As its name suggests writing an observation essay requires you to observe closely some object (human or animal), idea or event. You have to be able to witness personally the object of your research in order to notice every little detail and nuance of its behavior or characteristics. While conducting your observation you need to pay very close attention to your object and take careful notes. This is one of the descriptive essay types and is meant to show how well you can conduct the observation and make conclusions regarding what you observed.

Tips on writing an observational essay

As any other type of essay, observational one has its features, which arise from specific nature of this paper. While dealing with observation this essay requires close attention to details and application of sensory information. Let us look at these features, which include:

  • Choosing a right topic. Since observational essay expects from you actual observation of your subject, it is better if you choose something you can get to see for your own eyes. It can be a person or a group of people, animals, places, events or inanimate objects. It does not have to be anyone famous or in some way exceptional. It can be your relative, a cashier from a local supermarket or a neighbor’s child playing with his dog. Your purpose is not to prove how outstanding your object is but to describe them and their behavior in the most vivid way; to show what an attentive observer you are;
  • Applying vivid sensory details. The observation writing is all about details. And it is the best when these details are vivid. Using your five senses will help you to make the information about your subject to come alive on the paper. Tell your reader how it looked, what it felt like, smelled, sounded, tasted. Of course it may not be possible to apply all of the five senses to some subjects, but try to use as many as possible. Try to be creative, ask yourself the following questions about your subject and write down the answers. What it made you think of? Which associations came into your mind? What was the mood of the place? How did it make you feel? What was the most memorable about the object you observed? What was your first impression? Which conclusion can you draw after observing it?
  • Writing in the present tense. This is rather a rule than a creative tip, but your essay will only benefit if you use it. Writing in a present tense will create in the reader’s mind an image of an event you describe unfolding right in front of their eyes at that very moment. It is best if you can find time to observe your subject but it is also possible writing from your memory about something you witnesses in the past. But nevertheless you will still have to use the present tense and apply vivid details;
  • Using precise language. The point of observational essay is to give the most precise description of an object or event. There is an exact word for any object, act or feature you can possibly imagine. Don’t say that something smelled bad. Find a precise word that would describe that smell the way reader will almost be able to smell it while reading your essay. Say it smelled rotten, infected, moldy, overripe or sour. It is a perfect moment to start using a thesaurus.  

Observation essay topic ideas

While it is clear how you should conduct your observation and compose an essay, it can still be confusing what topic to choose. Ultimately there is endless number of subjects you can write about. You can write about anything you can observe, wherever your creativity takes you, from a house fly to a presidential speech. Read this free narrative essay, which might inspire you with some ideas for a topic. But if you still feel lost in this sea of possibilities here are some more definite suggestions:

  • A person or a group of people. It is the most common subject for an observation essay, because people are interesting to watch and easy to find. As it was mentioned before it does not have to be a famous or an outstanding person. It can be an old man feeding pidgins with bread crumbs or a young couple in a café. The real talent of a writer is not in describing something unusual but in being able to discover something special and unusual in the simplest routine things;
  • Performance. This can be a theater performance where you can observe the audience as well as the actors; a speech; an art exhibition. It can be any sort of event like a concert or other public meeting. The advantage of such topic is that you can describe not only the event itself but the people reaction toward it;
  • Tradition. It is a very interesting topic that would require your presence or even participation in some traditional event. It can be a family tradition or tradition of some other culture. For example, despite belonging to the same culture, every family has their own way of celebrating New Year, Easter or birthdays. Some families make barbeque while others jump with parachutes. All this can serve as a great material for your observation essay;
  • Nature. It is somewhat challenging topic because it requires very close attention to the slightest details and patience, since you might need a really long time to observe some change. The topic of nature can include any animals — fish, mammals, birds — or even plants, mountains, rivers. Choosing nature for your subject can be complicated and very rewarding at the same time.

Writing an observational essay requires you to pay special attention to details. Any person, object or event can become a subject of your essay. We learned that this type of paper has some specific features like using vivid sensory details, precise language and writing in the present tense. What would you choose to write about in an observation essay, about a person or an event? Share your topic ideas with us here. It is also very possible that you have no time to write an essay, not to mention conducting the observation. In this case we are happy to offer you our essay writing services, which you can read about in more detail here. Both our customer support and prices are very friendly, try them out for yourself.