There are several types of nonfiction writing. In contrast to fictional writing, nonfiction articles address events, experiences, and individuals who are real rather than imagined. Experts break down nonfiction into four broad categories: writing designed to entertain, to inform the reader, to persuade or convince the reader, and to instruct the reader. Within these categories are a plethora of variations.
Nonfiction that is entertaining seeks to give the reader something of interest that is easy to absorb and understand. Nonfiction articles that fit into this category can range from very simple and direct writing to works that are complex and literary. Oftentimes, these pieces are found in hobbyist, home, and travel magazines as well as in Sunday newspaper magazines and editorials. For example, a magazine designed by an airline that contains articles about restaurants and activities that can be found at some of their destinations would fall into this category, as would an article on antique guns in a hobbyist magazine. A piece of creative nonfiction prose in the pages of a literary magazine can also be a member of this category.
Informative nonfiction articles also range from the most basic and transparently understandable to those that are far more complex, even specialized, and assume the reader comes to the text with some degree of understanding about the subject matter. A piece that looks at the differences between alligators and crocodiles in a magazine for children is one example, as is an article that explains DNA mapping. This category of nonfiction articles includes biography and autobiography; writing that takes an aspect of history, sociology, or the natural sciences as its subject; and writing that addresses a political position.
A persuasive nonfiction article offers readers a position on a topic that may be controversial and provides evidence in the form of statistics, quotes, and graphs. This category includes political speeches, editorials, and sermons. Even marketing pieces can be considered persuasive nonfiction as their purpose is to help a potential customer see the benefits of a particular product or service.
One example of a nonfiction article that offers instruction is a recipe. Recipes give the reader a list of ingredients along with the steps they must undertake to achieve a specific result. This type of writing is often found together with articles designed to entertain in popular culture magazines. A travel magazine, for instance, might feature an article about little-known sites outside of Athens, Greece, and pair it with another article about how to do Athens on a budget.