What is a recount?

A recount retells an experience or an event that happened in the past.  The purpose of a recount can be to inform, entertain or to reflect and evaluate. 

A recount can focus on a specific section of an event or retell the entire story.  A recount should always be told in the order that things happened.

There are five types of recount to consider.

Personal recount

Retells an activity the writer has been personally involved in and may be used to build the relationship between the writer and the reader e.g. anecdote, diary journal, personal letter.  These usually retell an event that the writer was personally involved in.

Factual / Newspaper recount

Reports the particulars of an incident by reconstructing factual information e.g. police reconstruction of an accident, historical recount, biographical and autobiographical recounts.  A factual recount is an objective recount of a true event by someone not personally involved in the situation. Its purpose is either to inform, entertain or both.


Imaginative recount

Applies factual knowledge to an imaginary role in order to interpret and recount events e.g. A Day in the Life of a German soldier, How I manned the first mission to the moon.  An imaginative recount is the re-telling of events, usually in the first person. This style of recount allows for embellishment beyond facts and events- perfect for creative writing.

Procedural recount

Records the steps in an investigation or experiment and thereby providing the basis for reported results or findings.  A procedural recount records events such as a science experiment or cooking. Procedural recounts present the events chronologically (in the order in which happened). The purpose of procedural recounts is to inform the audience. 

Literary recount

Retells a series of events for the purpose of entertainment.  A literary recount is like a factual recount.  Both provide details about what happened, including who was involved, when and where the event took place, and what may have resulted. A literary recount can be about real or fictional events and characters.




A complete unit of work on RECOUNTS for teachers and students. NO PREP REQUIRED.

Teach your students to write RADICAL RECOUNTS using a proven model of research skills, writing strategies and engaging content. ALL CONTENT, RESOURCES AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS INCLUDED.

Writing a recount is a deeply reflective process.  As such you will want to spend the largest part of recount writing time refining the details, language and narration of the event you are recounting.


  • What are you going to tell your audience? What are you recounting?

  • What information will the audience need early in the text?

  • What are the important events or parts of the recount you want to describe? And what order will they occur in?

  • How will you let your readers know the order of events? And what language will we use to link them?

  • What other information may be useful to include?

  • How will you conclude your recount?

Recount Writing Prompts

Tips for writing a great recount

  • Keep everything in chronological order.

  • Set the scene for the audience in terms of characters, setting and context.

  • Each new section will require a new paragraph. Be sure to check out our own complete guide to writing perfect paragraphs here.

  • Use the correct language and terms.

  • If you are writing from a specific point of view use the relevant language.

  • Use a range of adjectives, try and avoid "And then, and then , and then."

  • Recounts are always written in past tense. They can be written from both first and third person perspective.

The challenge in writing a good recount is to provide the audience with the story as it happened but to leave out incidental and boring information.  

Ensure you also clearly understand your audience, as this will have a big impact upon the language you use.

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Recount Writing Checklists for Junior, Middle and Senior Students

Click on the images below to download our writing checklists

Where can I find a complete unit of work on Writing Recounts?

We pride ourselves on being the web's best resource for teaching students and teachers how to write recounts, and value the fact you have taken the time to read our comprehensive guides to understand the fundamentals.

We also understand some of you just don't have the luxury of time to create really engaging resources when you need them.

The complete solution to recount writing

The complete solution to recount writing

If you are time poor and looking for an in-depth solution which encompasses all of the concepts outlined in this article I strongly recommend taking a look at The Radical Recount Writing Unit.

Working in partnership alongside Innovative Teaching Ideas we confidently recommend this resource as an all in one solution to teach recount writing.

Within this unit you will find over 80 pages of engaging and innovative teaching ideas.



Content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and university English lecturer with 15 years teaching and administration experience.  Editing and support content has been provided by the literacyideas team.