An expository essay is a piece of written work that aims to define and investigate a topic for the reader. This can be accomplished in several ways: defining a term, comparing and contrasting, analyzing a cause and effect, etc. The main objective is to prove a thesis through factual evidence. Putting together an explanation might sound easy, but it is quite a challenge to write a convincing piece that defends your thesis!
Table Of Contents
An easy way to understand what an expository essay is would be to look at it as a debate. When preparing for a debate, your goal would be to When researching and gathering information for your essay, it would be ideal to keep these thoughts in mind. Think about writing with your reader’s questions in mind. When a reader is enlightened, that’s a definite sign that you have created some fantastic literature!
5 Main Types of Expository Writing
There are 5 main types of expository essays:
Descriptive Essay(/blog/descriptive-essay/): This is an essay in which the writer is asked to describe something. This could be a person, place, experience, situation, etc. Descriptive Essays are unique in the sense that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to the content. You should present something exciting or beautiful, all the while keeping the reader interested.
Process Essay: The classic “How To” assignment. The purpose of this essay is to teach the reader about learning a process: How to build a car, how to edit a paper or even how to flirt with a girl!
Comparison Essay: Simple sounding enough, a comparison essay makes you critically analyze any two subjects, finding and explaining their similarities and/or differences.
Cause and Effect Essay: The “Knee-Jerk” reaction assignment. Cause and effect essays are concerned with why and or how things happen and what happens as a result.
Problem / Solution Essay: The universal standard prompt assignment. In this situation, we have a problem and are looking for solutions. The essay is broken down into a brief intro to the problem and filled with content about the solutions.
What is the Purpose?
Spend some time thinking about the purpose of your writing. Why are you writing an expository essay? What are you trying to accomplish with this essay? Find some reasons as to why you are writing it and the overall goal. If it was assigned by your school teacher, read the assignment guidelines scrupulously.
Break the Ice
Before you begin writing a paper, take time and build up your ideas before deciding on an essay topic. If you want to simplify the process, you can try activities such as listing, clustering, freewriting, and questioning. These will help you brainstorm ideas for your essay.
Listing: Put all your thoughts on paper. Look over this list and group similar ideas. This will help you narrow down your options.
Clustering: Take a blank piece of paper and write a brief explanation of the topic and circle it. Then draw three more lines extending from the bigger circle. Write corresponding ideas at the end of the lines. Keep going and build your cluster until you create as many connections as necessary.
Freewriting: Turn on non-stop mode for about 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to your mind. As you finish writing, review what you have written. Underline or highlight the most appropriate information. Then sort out things that you have written by sections. Use this trick until you come up with the most suitable topic.
Questioning: On a piece of paper write: “Who? How? What? Why? When? Where?”. Answer each question with as much detail as possible. This will give you an outline for your writing to build on.
Expository Essay Topics (examples)
- Descriptive Essay:
- Describe a time when you experienced depression, and what you believe led to that?
- Describe a tricky situation you were in, and how you managed to handle it.
- Process Essay:
- Develop a tutorial and describe the process of building a custom computer.
- Create a step by step tutorial of solving a common societal problem, i.e. littering.
- Comparison Essay:
- Compare and Contrast Apple with Windows. Which product is better in which sphere? Which product is more user-friendly?
- Compare and Contrast living standards in the USA and Mexico.
- Cause and Effect Essay:
- What are the causes and effects of procrastination?
- What can be done to improve time efficiency?
- Describe the causes and effect of cheating at school. How do we teach students to avoid this behavior?
- Problem / Solution Essay:
- How can we as a society reduce or even eliminate racism?
- How can we motivate students to increase effort at school?
The Subject Makes or Breaks the Essay
There is a chance that your work may fall flat if you have not chosen one of the really good expository essay topics. Not all topics out there are interesting or meaty enough to be thoroughly investigated within a paper. Make sure you put effort into choosing a topic that has a lot of material to cover it and pique the interest of readers!
- Trending Topics: Are there any hot issues that deserve some deep discussion? If so, consider educating people on this seemingly new occurrence through the use of a well-written essay.
- A topic close to your heart: It is easy much easier to defend a thesis if you find yourself passionately thinking about the topic. If you have an advocacy and want to inform others, choose this path and you might be able to sway beliefs!
Comparing the past and the present is a good way of framing an argument, especially if a lot has been written about it.
Do not Forget to…
Come Up With A Catchy Title
It is often considered the best approach to grab your audiences attention with a catchy title. As we all know it is quite common for people to judge a book by its cover, despite having been told that it is not always the case. Nonetheless, when students are aware of such a challenge they can take the time needed to craft a title that will do their work justice.
Gather research on your Topic
Hey, Sherlock Holmes, it’s time to do some detective work! Before you start out with the content, ponder upon your thesis and gather supporting documents for your paper. This is as important as the people in the courtroom, in the sense that a statement means nothing without sufficient evidence. Research should not only agree with your arguments but come from reputable and credible sources as well. It should also be up to date and relevant to the discussion at hand.
This is an important step that our writers recommend you to take before you start writing. Before you start writing, it is advised to consider the expectations and needs of the readers. If there are guidelines for the expository essay, you need to follow them strictly and write accordingly. Include everything that might have been expected by your instructor.
Create a Thesis
A powerful thesis statement expresses the main argument of the paper. It should take a clear stance in the debate/topic and should not be more than two sentences in length.
Make sure your thesis is debatable. Do not state facts or sentences that have no purpose. For example, "Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States," is not an appropriate thesis because it states a fact.
Your statement should provide enough details. Try to avoid just saying that something is "good" or "effective." Instead of these, say what makes something "good" or "effective”.
The Format / Structure
Even if you are not familiar with writing an expository essay, you will realize that it is like any other academic paper that seeks for you to display your informed argument about a certain topic. This is especially true for the short papers you will experience in examinations, testing you about facts that you should have learned throughout the course. Also, it is very helpful to create a graphic organizer for assistance.
Create an Outline
There might be a lot of things you want to talk about, but in the end, there is a need to get straight to the point. To aid you in the quest of making an expository essay with brevity and straightforwardness, create an outline that corresponds to your points, arguments, and research.
The 5 paragraph format is the universal standard for expository essays, meaning it is recommended to write within this style. The paragraphs follow this order: Introduction, Body Paragraph 1, Body Paragraph 2, Body Paragraph 3 and Conclusion.
Craft an Intriguing Introduction
Expository essays are not meant to be opinionated pieces, so introductions that include a personal plight – as is the usual fare when asked to write an essay - are out of the question. Examples of interesting introductions would be to cite relevant news articles and historical events to introduce your topic. Starting off with a significant occurrence, discovery, or study will give you more points in factual research as well.
Construct an Eloquent and Informative Body
The body paragraphs should have at least 2-3 Arguments and a Counterargument : Each argument deserves its own paragraph. They also need to have supporting documents, like facts and statistics, to make the reader believe what you are trying to say.
While most people have got the argument and evidence part of an essay down, they forget to include another important piece. One way to make a paper more complete would be to address a point that argues against the thesis and then disprove it through logic or statistics. It effectively tells your reader that you have thought about your topic from multiple angles!
What is the number?
The common length of an expository essay is five-paragraphs; however, it can definitely be longer than that. Check your assignment guidelines or ask your teacher if you are not sure about the required length.
Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence
Do it to introduce the main idea of the paragraph. It should introduce the claim that will be defended in said body paragraph.
Present a Claim
A claim is a sentence that can be arguable but is used as a primary point to support or prove an argument. Your claim should be a statement that can relate to the thesis statement and makes it stronger.
After you have started a topic sentence, support it with specific evidence from your research.
Finish With A Concluding Statement
Write how the evidence you have provided in that paragraph connects to your thesis. Explain the significance of the claim in regards to the overall argument.
Keep Things Moving Smoothly
To keep your writing smooth, make sure your paragraphs transition well. Furthermore, the conclusion of each body paragraph should summarize your main point.
Show Assertiveness in the Conclusion
The conclusion answers the questions you have brought out in the reader through the introduction while calling back the arguments you have laid out. An essay conclusion should be a construction made of the past few paragraphs. Don’t repeat your words like a broken record. You need to do a straightforward synthesis that delivers an impact upon your reader.
Bring the final thought or call to action
Imagine that the last sentence of your essay would be your last words. What would you say? How would you call people to action? Spend time thinking about these questions to make your final sentence like a time bomb.
- Explain the significance of your topic;
- Explain how it affects the audience;
- Call them to action;
- Present new questions to think about.
Edit and fact check
Once the expository essay is complete, you should read it over once or twice. Often, people get excited over adding new information, making a messy paper with no direction, so cut down if you need to. Next, recheck all the facts and statistics you cited. You never know, you might end up contradicting yourself if you didn’t look into your sources carefully.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
Dr. Judy, from EssayPro
This article describes the writing process of an expository essay with a focus on some general types of expository essays. A point that I want to articulate is that each paragraph in your expository essay should have its idea. This would allow your essay to be clear and have minimal repetition. Each paragraph should also have a logical connection to the thesis and argument that you are making. A common mistake that newbie writers make is getting off track and adding information that doesn’t connect to the main point of your essay. You can avoid that easily by creating a well-structured outline and linking each of your paragraphs back to your thesis at the end of each paragraph. Another tip that I have for you is to try to be creative in your essay! Academic writing does not have to be boring. The truth is, you may not be writing a creative masterpiece, but you don’t have to be bone-dry with your writing. Leave a lasting impression on your reader!
Do you have an Expository Essay prompt but have no idea where to start?
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While essays give you an opportunity to showcase the knowledge of some subject, use vocabulary skills to make the paper more authoritative, and demonstrate your writing skills, they also have some rules you should follow. Writing a high-quality essay that will make your professor (or client) really happy doesn’t only depend on a thorough understanding of the topic, but the structure as well. There are various types of essay and they require the unique outline. I’ve already posted guidelines for other forms of an essay that you can check in previously published articles. This time, I’m going to show you how to create expository essay outline.
But, what is an expository essay?
It’s simple; if you don’t understand the purpose of the essay, you won’t be able to write it properly. For example, the expository essay is concerned with exposing, informing readers about a certain subject and backing up all your claims with accurate and reliable evidence. The primary purpose of this essay is to explain a topic in a straightforward and logical manner.
It is a fair, factual, and balanced analysis of subject with no references to the essay writer`s emotions or opinions. You have to write your paper in objective and unbiased manner. Yes, this means that you can’t simply dismiss some fact just because you don’t agree with it!
In most cases, expository essays are indicated by the words such as “define” or “explain”. When writing this type of paper, your goal is to inform the reader about the topic, provide useful information, and answer the potential questions associated with it.
Expository essay outline
As I’ve mentioned above, the successful completion of the paper doesn’t depend on the understanding of the topic only, but your ability to create a functional structure. That’s why it’s always useful to learn how to construct outlines for different types of essay writing. The diagram you see below shows how to create a useful outline for an expository essay.
To most people, body paragraphs are the only parts of the essay that matter. Wrong! In order to get to them, you have to catch the reader’s attention i.e. make him/her want to keep reading your paper. Let’s face it; when was the last time you read something from beginning to end if you didn’t like the introduction? If you assume the beginning of the paper, article, book, etc. is boring and uninteresting, the chances are high you will move on to something else.
When writing an expository essay you should, of course, open with the “hook”. It’s the first sentence of your paper, meaning it has to be extra interesting to “lure the reader in”. But, this doesn’t mean it should stray from the subject! This part of the intro should be both interesting and directly associated with the topic. There’s no “one size fits all” rule when it comes to the choice of a hook; it depends on your preferences, topic, context etc. You can use a question, statistics, facts…
After writing down the hook, you proceed to the next sentence (or more of them) which provide background information and the context. Don’t assume the reader knows a lot about the topic and move on. Instead, include general info to depict the context of your paper.
Every essay depends on the great thesis; its purpose is to provide a sort of navigation for your essay and keeps you on the right track. Without a thesis, you’d write about everything and anything, stray from the topic, and end up with too much information but nothing useful for the subject you were supposed to write about. Plus, thesis lets readers know what they`re going to read about. This is the last sentence of the introduction, it should be precise, powerful, and informative.
Now that you have a strong, informative, and interesting introduction it’s time to start with the body paragraphs. Of course, the main goal of this section is to offer a deeper investigation into your topic. Imagine you`re a detective or a journalist working on a big case or story. Your job is to find out as much as possible about the case (in this case subject) and gather all the evidence you can find.
The diagram you saw above showed three topics, so what are they? To simplify, body paragraphs are comprised of separate points that develop or contribute to the essay thesis. Each topic (point) requires separate paragraph and although diagram shows three, the exact number depends on the parameters of the assignment and topic. So, if the subject demands more points, then include more paragraphs. On the other hand, if the topic requires fewer points, then decrease the number of these sections.
Each body paragraph should comprise of the following:
- Topic sentence – refers to the main idea of the paragraph
- Factual evidence – you can’t start throwing ideas around without any evidence. Would some investigative journalist who’s about to expose corruption in the government or a detective working on the high-profile case do their assignments without facts to back them up? No, I don’t think so! For every information you include, you should also have evidence. Each paragraph with separate topic and evidence supports the thesis. I used two facts in diagram, but you can use fewer or more
- Analysis of said evidence – it’s not just about mentioning who proved what, statistics, other types of relevant info depending on the topic. Exposing also means analyzing. While unbiased, don’t be afraid to dig deep under the surface, discuss the importance of evidence you introduced as well as its meaning. Once again, don’t assume you shouldn’t elaborate anything just because readers can do it themselves
- Transition sentence – although these points and facts can be different (but contribute to the overall assignment and thesis), don’t jump from one topic or paragraph to another that easily. Ideally, the paper should have undisturbed flow and transition words, phrases prevent choppiness.
Avoid wordiness and fluff and ensure that every word you write contributes to the paper. It’s paramount to organize the evidence and topics you’re going to include. You can align points/topics according to importance or chronologically. Without proper order, you risk confusing readers by scattering evidence. You don’t want a professor, client, or someone else to get to the conclusion and think “What did I just read?”
After you explained or defined the subject with solid proof, you`re ready to conclude the work. Just like the intro, this part should be relatively short, but still strong enough not to ruin everything you`ve mentioned above. If you want to end the paper with a “BANG!” then you should do the following:
- Summarize the thesis, facts, and evidence you included – don’t overdo it, make it brief
- Discuss the significance of the subject – why is it important? Why should readers care about it?
- Reveal unanswered questions – you can use the opportunity to raise more questions about the essay topic. Take a few minutes to think about the subject in general, is there anything you wanted to know but that particular aspect isn’t widely discussed yet? This could also raise awareness of some problem
- Call-to-action – this depends on the topic you get, but don’t be afraid to motivate readers to do something about a certain issue. Is there anything one can do to make things better?
In essay writing, conclusions should be precise and logical. Don’t introduce new information because it would lead to a new discussion. That’s why a short summary, the importance of the topic, pointing out to some unanswered questions are always a good way to go.
Before you submit the essay and hit the send button, start revising, editing, and proofreading to make it the best it can be. To determine what types of modifications you should make to the essay, answer the following questions:
- Are there any unnecessary details that don’t contribute to the thesis or essay in general?
- Have you created a good essay topic?
- Did I make a proper transition from one paragraph to another?
- Does my work unfold logically with facts and examples?
- Does the conclusion depict significance of the topic?
- Is my essay choppy?
- Is my essay precise?
- Is the essay unbiased?
- Is the sentence structure okay?
Answering these questions will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your paper. Then, start working on improving those flaws. For example, if there are unnecessary details, remove them. If your essay seems choppy, correct mistakes with the help of transition words and phrases.
Once you're done with modifications, start proofreading and editing. Read from top to bottom and look for grammar, spelling, typos, etc. Read again and when you`re happy with the essay, send it to your professor or client.
Expository essay aims to inform readers about some subject with solid evidence. As seen throughout this post, you should write your paper in an unbiased manner and analyze proof you used. Follow the outline from this post and you`ll have a well-structured essay without struggles and frustrations. Remember, with worthy