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What is a recount?

A recount tells about something that happened in the past. The details in a recount can include what happened, who was involved, where it took place, when it happened and why it occurred.

A writer or speaker uses a recount to tell us about a story or an event. Recounts are usually given in the order that the event occurred. Recounts can be:

  • factual, such as a news story
  • procedural, such as telling someone how you built something
  • personal, such as a family holiday or your opinion on a subject.

Examples of a recount

Recounts can be either written or spoken. Examples of recounts include:

  • biographies and autobiographies
  • newspapers or the television news
  • letters and postcards
  • textbooks
  • conversations with friends


A well-structured recount includes details of the event or topic and personal opinions.

Written recounts often start with a heading or title. Letters and journal entries do not usually have a title. Oral recounts might have a title if you are giving a presentation. If you are just talking with friends a title is not usually needed.

The introductory paragraph, or orientation, of a written recount introduces the topic or event. This paragraph introduces who, what, where, when, why and possibly how.

The following body paragraphs will recount the sequence of events.  This is where the recount is told in chronological order (the order that the events happened).

The conclusion, or re-orientation, is where the writer or speaker can give personal opinions about the topic or event. The writer or speaker may also comment on how this event or topic may affect other things in the future. 

Preparing a recount

The factual information in a recount must be accurate. Recounts can also include the speaker's or writer's personal thoughts on the event or topic. Recounts are written in the past tense because they tell about something that has already happened.

When writing your own recount, it is important to write everything down in the order that it happened. Use words that show when something happened as well as action words to tell how it happened. You may also include other people's opinions or quotes on the topic or event. 

Always check your text for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.