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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Expository essays are essays that cover or expose a topic that you’ve selected, in a straightforward away. The purpose is to provide information about the topic, rather than influence what the reader thinks. In an expository essay, you want to explain your topic in a logical, direct manner. Expository essays are informative and should not include your opinion about a subject.
The entire purpose of an expository essay is to inform the reader about your selected topic, in a completely non-biased manner. Every student in a school with common core standards will need to know how to complete this type of essay. Take a look at an expository essay outline to help you get started, or consider using a writing tool that can guide you through the creation of a high quality essay.
Before you start working on filling in your template, some research is essential. An expository essay requires evidence to prove the point you are trying to make. It's not enough to simply state what you think without evidence. Imagine a scientist is reading your paper. What information would they want to verify? Make sure you have sources for everything that needs it.
Above all, these sources or evidence should be reputable. You can’t quote a Wikipedia article and expect that to be good enough. Likewise, a personal blog is not a good place to select your facts from. If you aren’t sure if your source is reputable, ask yourself what credentials they have. A government, educational, or similar source will likely be acceptable. Likewise, scientific publications are good places to start.
Choose an Essay Topic
Your topic may be assigned, but if you have a chance to select your own, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, look for a topic that interests you. It’s not necessary to know all about the topic, but if you are curious or interested in it, you’ll find it far easier to write.
Second, your topic should be fairly narrow. Big topics are better suited to books than an essay. If you have a large topic, consider the various ways you can narrow it down to make it fit into an expository essay. Once you have the topic in mind, you’re ready to start planning out your essay.
Structuring Your Essay
Whether you are writing for middle school, high school or college the correct expository essay format is important. Ideally, you want an essay that is easy to read and presents the information in a clear manner. That’s why there are specific methods of writing an expository essay.
Most expository essays are just five paragraphs long, with one paragraph each for the intro and conclusion. That leaves you with three paragraphs for the body of the essay. If you have more information, you can add more body paragraphs, but these will always be sandwiched between the introduction and conclusion. Keep in mind that while it's possible to write a longer essay, it's easiest to stick to the basics unless you have other instructions from your professor.
It’s also important to start out with an expository essay outline.An outline gives your writing project structure and keeps it focused. If you’re trying to write a high quality paper, clear, defined paragraphs that cover each section of information should be included. Writing up an outline ahead of time is a good way to ensure you write a great essay that stays on topic.
If you find yourself struggling to create an outline, you may want to start with a template. Working with a template can help you structure your essay and will allow you to create a top quality paper to turn in. Templates give you a prompt for each section, to get you thinking about what you need to cover.
Start at the Beginning
Your expository essay should start out with an introduction that uses a hook to grab the reader's attention. An interesting fact or an issue that needs a solution can be a useful way to begin. From there, introduce your main idea and provide some context. Without context, the reader is left wondering why they need to know what you have to say.
The introduction of the essay presents the topic and lets your reader know exactly what to expect from the essay. Cover the basic points that you’ll be discussing or talk about how you will answer a specific question. This section lets the reader know if they want to keep reading or not.
Next up is the thesis statement or the core of the entire essay. Remember that the thesis should not include any bias. Your opinion should not be referenced in the thesis, or anywhere else in the essay. This is what the entire essay will be based around, so give your thesis sentence some serious thought.
Flesh Out the Body of the Essay
Each of the three paragraphs in the middle of your essay will need to have its own topic sentence that supports the primary topic. These sentences should relate directly to your thesis sentence, so if you aren't sure what to write, keep this in mind. It's essential that you stay on topic and that everything throughout the essay relate back to that singular thesis statement.
After every topic sentence, fill out the paragraphs by providing more information to support the starting statement. This may include any evidence in the form of quotes, anecdotes, personal experience, etc. The best evidence will come from highly respected sources that people will believe.
Once you've stated your reasons for the thesis, don't forget to explain why the evidence is particularly important and why you chose it for inclusion. Analyze the evidence for the reader to ensure they come to the correct conclusion and understand why you found it essential to support the thesis.
Each of these body paragraphs should transition into the next to create flow. Do this through the use of sentences that create continuity. Creating a paper that is easily readable, rather than disjointed and piecemeal is important for success. Go back over it afterwards to ensure that each paragraph flows smoothly into the next.
Wrap It All Up in the Conclusion
The final paragraph should restate the thesis sentence and summarize the points made throughout the essay. Be careful not to add any new information, as this is only for reviewing what has already been said throughout the body of the essay.
Ideally, the conclusion will give the reader something to keep them thinking about the essay topic. What have they learned in the essay? Recap this, as well as adding the thesis statement. This will get them thinking, which is exactly the point of writing the essay.
The final step in writing your essay isn’t writing at all. Go back over everything and make sure it is worded correctly and for maximum impact. You should also look for any mistakes that need to be corrected. It can be helpful to have someone not associated with the project to read over it. Fresh eyes can often pick up far more than your own.
Once you've revised and edited the essay to ensure it is free from errors in both spelling and grammar, it's time to share your masterpiece with the world.