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Profile

An informative profile essay spotlights particular aspects of a person, organization, or place. The purpose of a profile is to describe and analyze. A profile of a person isn’t a biography. It isn’t a recounting of a person’s work history. It’s a story about some interesting aspect of a person’s life. A personal profile could be on a celebrity, but the most effective profiles are of individuals you know. Profiles of places and organizations are not merely descriptive, but also focus on an engaging and interesting feature. What’s important about this genre is the dominant impression you want the reader to leave with: what makes this subject unique? How does this subject come alive on the page?

According to The Call to Write by John Trimbur:

“Profiles are a regular feature in magazines such as Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Ebony, and the New Yorker, as well as newspapers. Many profiles are of well-known people, and the allure of such profiles is that they promise a behind-the-scenes look at celebrities.

But profiles also focus on ordinary people. When an issue moves to the forefront of the public’s attention, ordinary people often become the subject of profiles that describe, say, the lives of undocumented workers or the plight of a corporate executive laid off in an economic downturn. Such profiles of ordinary people supplement statistical and analytical treatments of issues, making concrete and personal what would otherwise remain abstract and remote. These profiles can take readers beyond their preconceptions to explore the remarkable variety of people, backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences that are frequently reduced to a single category such as “the elderly” or “blue collar workers.”    

Websites:

http://www.lsu.edu/faculty/jpullia/1001profile.htm   Great place to find sample student profiles

http://brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2005/profile-05.html Basic overview of the profile genre

www.newyorker.com Search for published profiles from the magazine

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/01/national/class/01ALPHARETTA-FINAL.html?scp=1&sq=The%20Five%20Bedroom,%20Six%20Figure%20Rootless%20Life%E2%80%9D&st=cse Sample of a profile published in The New York Times

Book References:

Trimbur, John. The Call to Write. Brief 5th Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, 2011.

  • Chapter      4: Profiles

The Writer’s Portfolio

  • See Section 4, Chapter 21
Last Updated: 3/23/15