How Do You Write a Multimodal Essay?

Writing a multimodal essay is not as common as other essays. Nevertheless, when required to write such kind of an essay, it might be challenging because of its structure and components.

Multimodal essays prompt writers to show their ability to communicate with different audiences in different contexts. These essays can be fun to write, even if you aren’t entirely sure how to begin. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to get control of your essay and write one that your instructor will appreciate

These essays comprise pictures, texts, videos, posters, comics, and other literal modes. And for many, balancing all these may be hectic. From research, creating an outline, writing your first draft, and revising it, multimodal essays are relatively similar to other writing pieces. The only difference is the inclusion of several modes.

So, how do you write a multimodal essay? In this post, we look at the steps and the basic must-haves. But before then, let’s define a multimodal essay.

What is a Multimodal Essay?

A multimodal essay is a piece of writing that uses different modes of communication, such as text and visuals, to express an idea or argument. The introduction and conclusion are often written in narrative form, but the body paragraphs are structured in various ways depending on the topic being discussed and what mode(s) you want to use for each paragraph.

The different modes add variety to an essay or highlight one aspect of your argument. It can be used in any discipline but is prevalent in art history, English and language studies, film studies, and media/cultural studies.

Also see: Can you use personal pronouns in essays? 

For example, if you’re writing about how rock music is the best genre ever to exist, you might include pictures of some rock stars from the 60s and 70s as well as samples of their songs playing in the background while reading your essay aloud.

Essential Checklist for a Multimodal Essay

The following checklist gives you an idea of what should go into your multimodal essay:

  • Create a multimodal piece that incorporates at least two modes of communication. Ensure your work has more than one mode, as this is what ideally gives the essay its name.
  • Have a clear structure to ensure readers will understand your argument. A clear structure lets readers see the logical point flow and agree with your opinion.
  • Use visuals, audio, and video to support your argument or idea
  • Use the correct format for each method of communication you use. For example, when using a recording, ensure it is in the right and supported format.
  • Cite every image and any other media used in the presentation. For example, when citing images from online sources
  • Quote or paraphrase other people’s words directly in your text if they are important enough to mention
  • Include statistics and data in your argument to improve your argument’s credibility
  • Write from your voice and perspective, but ensure it is free of biases
  • Use the proper writing style. A multimodal essay should use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation and proofread. Remember that even though you’re using different types of media than standard academic writing, attention to these details is still vital for ensuring clarity

Whether your goal is to persuade readers or just inform them about various perspectives on a particular issue, incorporating different forms of media into an essay can help make it more engaging for readers.

Additionally, since many different types of modern technology are available today—from smartphones to tablets—the possibilities for multimedia use in college-level writing assignments are endless.

Steps in Writing a Good Multimodal Essay

The steps in writing an excellent multimodal essay are as follows:

  1. Read the Instructions

Before writing, ensure you clearly understand the task and the assessment criteria. For example, if the assessment is on structure and style, it doesn’t matter whether you write about an event or a text—you still need to use several modalities.

However, if the instructions ask for a multimodal piece that considers both written and spoken texts,” then it’s worth paying attention to which parts of your work are stronger than others.

Additionally, check the rubric to see the grading criteria to help you know the most critical parts. This will also help you when doing your research.

At this point, you can also plan your work schedule. This involves allocating time to various essay development activities depending on the deadline. Planning also helps reduce stress, especially if on a tight schedule.

  1. Research

Research is a fundamental step in any essay writing. It entails gathering information from various sources, which will help you write a factual and valuable piece.

You can use the library or the internet to find sources, but it’s essential to remember not all sources will be reliable. Ideally, the internet is one of the best sources because it has almost all types of information available at hand.

One of the first things when researching is finding good information sources. You’ll want to look at both primary and secondary sources because each offers different kinds of information that might be helpful in your paper. And depending on the topic and depth required, each of the sources will be better suited, but it is recommended to combine the two

Further, the depth of your research will depend on your essay’s length and the instructions given. If your professor needs a long and detailed piece, the more research you will conduct compared to a 2 or 3-pager essay.

  1. Develop an outline

After researching and getting key points and supporting facts, it is time to write your outline. This step is crucial for all types of essays and will help keep you on track as you write and can be used to develop your ideas into a cohesive and logical structure.

Outlines are the best way to organize your thoughts and stay on track in writing a multimodal essay. They help you see the big picture, avoid getting lost in the details, and make sure everything is connected and makes sense.

When writing an outline, you should start with the strongest points and end with the least important ones. Further, your outline should include supporting facts and evidence for your argument.

  1. Write a draft

Now that you have an outline, it’s time to write a rough draft of your essay. This is the first time you’ll see all your ideas on paper in one place, so don’t worry if you’re unsure what is going where or exactly how they will work together.

It’s much more essential to ensure everything is complete and coherent than to get every single word right. Remember, this draft doesn’t have to be perfect. When you go back through this text and revise it later on, that’s when you can focus on making sure every sentence says exactly what it should say with perfect grammar and spelling.

At this stage, the focus should be on getting down every thought into each paragraph as clearly as possible. And because writing might be challenging, do whatever works best for keeping yourself writing.

This might entail setting a timer, creating a playlist of songs that inspire creativity, and turning off notifications from social media apps so they won’t distract from work or anything else.

Edit and Proofread to Create a Final Draft

Once you’ve written your essay, it’s time to revise. The last thing you want is a multimodal essay with no cohesion or synchronization between its modes. Editing and revising ensures that each method works well with the others and that no one voice feels like it’s overpowering another.

You can edit and proofread to create a final draft by:

  • Ensuring you have a clear idea of what you want to say before starting an essay.
  • Organizing your ideas clearly so that readers can follow along easily.
  • Writing well—for example, using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Proofreading carefully, probably with the help of others, before submitting your work for review or publication


In conclusion, a multimodal essay is a great way to express yourself and your ideas. They use multiple modes of communication that can complement each other. And the expression could be done using a combination of visual, auditory, and verbal methods.

It allows you to show off your skills as an effective writer by not only using the writing mode but also incorporating other modes of communication.

We hope that you enjoyed learning about how you can write an effective multimodal essay. We advise you to try different modalities and media types to find out what works best for your topic and don’t be afraid to experiment. Generally, you need to follow instructions, research, create an outline, develop a draft then edit it.

If you follow our advice and combine your writing with images, videos, and other modalities, you can make an engaging multimodal essay and get your instructor nodding in agreement. And now that you know how to develop a good multimodal essay, it is time to up your game and churn out pieces that will impress your instructor.