This term can be used to refer to photo essays or video essays, but also to more text-based, traditional essays that are enhanced with embedded photos, graphics, links, etc. You can also, however, create hypertext essays, which function like web pages, by linking multiple word documents that you store in a single folder. The first options are more linear, while the second allows the reader to move through your essay non-sequentially and requires you to organize and develop content appropriately.

You can create a digital essay using a variety of media/technologies, including any word processing program. You could also try a program like Microsoft Publisher that gives you a bit more design freedom, though the text boxes can be tedious to work with for longer passages.

It’s easier to find examples of digital essays and digital essay assignments than it is to find articles devoted to their rhetorical potential. For example, The Encyclopedia of Chicago includes a series of web-based digital essays and photo essays at You can also find examples of school projects, like Jessi Chartier’s “Ken Burns Digital Essay” assignment at