Expository Essays: A Complete Guide
You write a lot of essays, and while they might share some broad characteristics such as their structure, they can be quite different from each other. Some essays are meant to convince the reader that the position you’re arguing is the correct position, while others explore the differences and similarities between literary works. Beyond these, you might also be assigned to write essays that explain subjects, events, and concepts to the reader, sometimes walking them through processes. These essays are known as expository essays.
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What is an expository essay?
An expository essay is an essay that communicates factual information. Broadly, this type of writing is known as expository writing . Expository essays rely on different structures to communicate their positions, like compare and contrast, process essays, and analyzing cause and effect.
Expository writing is one of the four main types of writing . The others are persuasive, narrative , and descriptive writing.
Knowing how to write an expository essay, along with knowing how to write other types of essays , is an essential skill for any student to master. Expository writing isn’t the place to be cute, clever, or edgy; it’s the kind of writing where you position facts and observations to let them speak for themselves in the most effective way possible. It’s the kind of writing you do when you’re analyzing information you’ve been assigned to study, thinking critically about concepts covered in class, and explaining the processes and reasons behind the conclusions you’ve reached.
The purpose of expository writing
Expository writing has a clear purpose: to educate the reader. While it may also entertain or persuade the reader, these are secondary benefits and not the author’s goal. Well-crafted expository writing demonstrates the author’s expertise on the subject and in many cases demonstrates how they learned about their subject.
For example, you might be assigned to write an essay about the mock trial your class held. In this essay, you would introduce the assignment and the case your class worked on through the trial. Then in the following body paragraphs , you would describe each stage in the mock trial process (discovery, opening statements, cross-examination, closing statements, jury deliberation, and verdict) and how your class completed each of these stages. In the final paragraph, you would state the verdict your class reached and the judge’s ruling.
Your essay about the mock trial doesn’t argue that the ruling was right or wrong. It merely explains the process your class used to work through the trial process and learn how real court cases move through the court system. In other words, your essay would present facts and process rather than opinion and commentary.
5 types of expository essays
As we mentioned above, expository essays come in many forms. These include the following:
1 Classification essays
In a classification essay, you write about various subjects within one category, discussing each subject’s unique characteristics alongside the characteristics that connect it with others in its category. For example, you might write a classification essay about different kinds of herding dogs. Your essay would start with a thesis statement about how herding breeds are different from other categories of dogs, then in each paragraph, discuss specific herding breeds (corgi, collie, heeler, etc.).
2 Definition essays
A definition essay defines its subject by presenting clear facts about it. Your definition essay might challenge commonly repeated myths about a historical event by presenting firsthand accounts of the event from primary sources and discussing relevant social, political, and economic trends that impacted the event and influenced perceptions of it.
3 Process essays
A process essay walks the reader through the steps involved in completing a task. A recipe has a lot in common with a process essay. A process essay’s opening paragraph explains the process that will be covered and the end result of following the directions. Each body paragraph is a step in the process, then the conclusion explains what the reader should have achieved by completing each step.
4 Compare-and-contrast essays
In a compare-and-contrast essay , you support your thesis statement by examining the differences and similarities between the sources cited. For example, you might write an essay comparing and contrasting the dress code at your school with the dress codes at two neighboring schools. Your body paragraphs might examine the differences in which articles of clothing are and aren’t allowed as well as the overall preciseness of each dress code’s language and the amount of “gray area” present in each policy.
5 Cause-and-effect essays
As the name implies, a cause-and-effect essay gets into how specific events and/or actions caused others to occur. They sometimes trace chains of events to explore why we find ourselves facing certain circumstances today. An example of a cause-and-effect essay might be one tracking how shifting market trends over the past few decades impacted the industries in your region, creating the current local economy.
How to structure an expository essay
Expository essays follow the same general structure you use with every essay assignment : an introduction, body paragraphs that support and expand upon the points you made in your introduction, then a conclusion that reiterates those points and underscores your thesis.
Unless your instructor requires your essay to hit a certain word count, there’s no specific length your essay needs to be. Similarly, it doesn’t need to have a specific number of paragraphs—but it does need to express your points thoroughly and accurately. To achieve this, your essay should follow this format, give or take the quantity of body paragraphs for the number of supporting points you make:
In the introduction, you present your essay topic and your thesis statement, ideally hooking your reader with intriguing facts. You also introduce your supporting evidence and all necessary context to help your reader understand your thesis.
Each supporting point you make needs its own body paragraph. Although the five-paragraph essay is typically considered the “standard” essay length, you might need a six-paragraph or longer essay to thoroughly communicate your thesis statement.
Use transition words and sentences to transition between body paragraphs. Transition words and sentences are the phrases that express the relationship between two paragraphs, signaling to the reader why you’re making a specific point and how that point fits into your overall work.
In your last body paragraph, you’ll need to transition to your conclusion. That doesn’t mean you should start summarizing here—give your final body paragraph as much insight and detail as you gave your previous body paragraphs.
In your conclusion , you restate your thesis statement and summarize the points you made in your body paragraphs. It should neatly tie up any loose ends and answer any lingering questions the reader may have.
How do you write an expository essay?
Before you write your next expository essay, familiarize yourself with the conventions and rules for essay writing . These general guidelines will help you structure your essay and determine the most effective way to present your information. But because you’re writing an expository essay, it’s also important that you understand and incorporate all the characteristics that separate expository essays from other kinds of writing. Keep the following rules for expository writing in mind:
- Despite the taboo, insects make an excellent food source and could stem humanity’s looming food shortage, based on both their protein output and the sustainability of farming them.
- The backlash to rock ’n’ roll music in the ’50s by religious groups and traditionalists actually boosted the genre’s popularity instead of diminishing it as intended.
- Your tone should be objective and academic . While narrative and descriptive essays can take on artistic, impassioned, and familiar tones, expository essays stick to conventional language and a neutral tone.
- Stick to the facts. An expository essay is not the place to express your opinion—or even present the facts in a way meant to change or shape the reader’s opinion.
- Always be completely sure of the facts you’re presenting. That means thoroughly vetting your sources, cross-checking them with other reputable sources, and properly citing every fact you put forth as the truth.
Start writing your expository essay the same way you would start the writing process for any other project: by brainstorming. If you weren’t assigned a topic, you’ll need to determine an appropriate topic on your own—brainstorming is where you’ll determine that topic. It’s also where you’ll determine your thesis statement, the most important component of your expository essay . Don’t move forward with outlining your essay until you have a thesis statement.
Once you have a clear thesis statement, it’s time to outline your essay. With an expository essay, it’s especially important that you present accurate facts in a logical way. It can be very helpful to note your sources for each paragraph in your outline.
With a completed outline, it’s time to start writing. Follow the standard writing process through this first draft, editing, and your revision. Once you’re finished, make sure you proofread your essay carefully—not only for grammar and spelling mistakes, but to double-check that you’ve properly cited every source and formatted your essay according to your assigned style guide.
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In an expository essay, it’s especially important that your writing is mistake-free. Having spelling and grammatical mistakes in your writing undermines your credibility as a writer, so even if your ideas and insights are solid, readers won’t get as much out of your work as they would if it had no mistakes.
That’s why proofreading is so important . . . and why Grammarly is so helpful. Before you submit your essay, use Grammarly to catch any mistakes or unclear sentences that might have sneaked past you while you were proofreading your work. It can also ensure that the tone you’re using is the tone you want to be using—and that it’s consistent through your whole essay.
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What is an expository essay?
The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.
Please note : This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.
The structure of the expository essay is held together by the following.
- A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.
It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.
- Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse.
- Body paragraphs that include evidential support.
Each paragraph should be limited to the exposition of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. What is more, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph.
- Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
Often times, students are required to write expository essays with little or no preparation; therefore, such essays do not typically allow for a great deal of statistical or factual evidence.
- A bit of creativity!
Though creativity and artfulness are not always associated with essay writing, it is an art form nonetheless. Try not to get stuck on the formulaic nature of expository writing at the expense of writing something interesting. Remember, though you may not be crafting the next great novel, you are attempting to leave a lasting impression on the people evaluating your essay.
- A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.
It is at this point of the essay that students will inevitably begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize and come to a conclusion concerning the information presented in the body of the essay.
A complete argument
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of the Great Depression and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the exposition in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the Depression. Therefore, the expository essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.
The five-paragraph Essay
A common method for writing an expository essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of:
- an introductory paragraph
- three evidentiary body paragraphs
- a conclusion
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How to Write an Expository Essay | Structure, Tips & Examples
Published on July 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
“Expository” means “intended to explain or describe something.” An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a particular topic, process, or set of ideas. It doesn’t set out to prove a point, just to give a balanced view of its subject matter.
Expository essays are usually short assignments intended to test your composition skills or your understanding of a subject. They tend to involve less research and original arguments than argumentative essays .
Table of contents
When should you write an expository essay, how to approach an expository essay, introducing your essay, writing the body paragraphs, concluding your essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about expository essays.
In school and university, you might have to write expository essays as in-class exercises, exam questions, or coursework assignments.
Sometimes it won’t be directly stated that the assignment is an expository essay, but there are certain keywords that imply expository writing is required. Consider the prompts below.
The word “explain” here is the clue: An essay responding to this prompt should provide an explanation of this historical process—not necessarily an original argument about it.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to define a particular term or concept. This means more than just copying down the dictionary definition; you’ll be expected to explore different ideas surrounding the term, as this prompt emphasizes.
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An expository essay should take an objective approach: It isn’t about your personal opinions or experiences. Instead, your goal is to provide an informative and balanced explanation of your topic. Avoid using the first or second person (“I” or “you”).
The structure of your expository essay will vary according to the scope of your assignment and the demands of your topic. It’s worthwhile to plan out your structure before you start, using an essay outline .
A common structure for a short expository essay consists of five paragraphs: An introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Like all essays, an expository essay begins with an introduction . This serves to hook the reader’s interest, briefly introduce your topic, and provide a thesis statement summarizing what you’re going to say about it.
Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
The body of your essay is where you cover your topic in depth. It often consists of three paragraphs, but may be more for a longer essay. This is where you present the details of the process, idea or topic you’re explaining.
It’s important to make sure each paragraph covers its own clearly defined topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Different topics (all related to the overall subject matter of the essay) should be presented in a logical order, with clear transitions between paragraphs.
Hover over different parts of the example paragraph below to see how a body paragraph is constructed.
The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.
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The conclusion of an expository essay serves to summarize the topic under discussion. It should not present any new information or evidence, but should instead focus on reinforcing the points made so far. Essentially, your conclusion is there to round off the essay in an engaging way.
Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a conclusion works.
The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.
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An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.
Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.
You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.
An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.
Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.
An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
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What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide
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We all have our different ways of explaining the same things. Ask three people to explain how to eat some corn on the cob, and you’ll get three different explanations. That’s the real beauty of the expository essay, and it means you already have the basic tools to write a great one. So what is an expository essay and how can you refine your approach?
What Is an Expository Essay?
An expository essay is a type of essay that involves explaining an idea or theme within a given subject or topic. That could be an in-depth look at a poem or story, or it could be an explanation of a historical event.
The key word here is exposition , or the act of exposing something. Unlike descriptive or narrative essays, expository essays are about exposing or revealing something deeper in a given subject through research, close reading, and critical thinking. The goal is to explain a subject beyond just a surface level description.
Types of Expository Essays
If that sounds familiar or similar to other essay forms , you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The expository essay is an umbrella term that contains other, more specific essay types, including:
- Cause and effect essays
- Compare and contrast essays
- Analytical essays
- Dissertations and theses
Even simple book reports can get into the expository essay zone. If you’ve ever written a traditional five-paragraph essay , you’ve probably written an expository essay. Expository essays are generally objective by nature.
General Structure and Format of an Expository Essay
The format of an expository essay is about as basic as it gets. It’s not exactly the most creative or exciting in its format, but that just gives more opportunity for your actual writing to shine.
Your expository essay will probably look like:
- An introduction paragraph that provides a hook, background information, and a thesis statement
- Three body paragraphs that dive into the actual exposition of the essay (whether that’s specific line reads, research-based evidence, or discussion of themes)
- A conclusion that restates the thesis, brings things together, and considers themes within a larger context
With longer expository essays or more in-depth topics, you’ll understandably include more body paragraphs. Otherwise, don’t overthink the structure of your essay too much. Focus more on the actual words and sentences.
Expository Essay Examples
Now you know what an expository essay is, and you have a good idea of what it all entails. With a few more tips for writing an expository essay , you’ll be pumping out some award-winning words in no time.
We can’t write your essay for you. Partly because we don’t know what you’re explaining, partly because you probably have better points and thoughts than we could ever come up with. But we can give you a pretty good example of what your completed expository essay might look like.
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Expository Essay Introduction Example
Introductions can feel like a bit of a thankless task. Your reader already knows that they’re reading an essay, so why do you need to introduce it? Well, no one wants to start in the middle of a discussion. Providing some context and background helps to ease your reader in, and the intro is a good way to get a little bit of your voice upfront.
While some teenagers have to deal with zits, math tests, and asking a crush to prom, others wear colored bodysuits and perform martial arts against strange, extra-dimensional evil. Premiering in the U.S. in the early 90s, Power Rangers presented a weird, new form of entertainment, introducing children to martial arts and Japanese culture in the trappings of Saturday morning programming and the after-school special. Despite its often fantastical leanings, Power Rangers presented an integral turning point in children’s programming and media at large.
Example of an Expository Essay Body Paragraph
While every part of an essay is important, you should devote most of your time to the body paragraphs. This is where you’ll do most of your analysis, exposition, and all the other good stuff that goes into figuring out your subject and relaying that to your reader.
Although it presented something new and largely unseen by Western audiences, Power Rangers was anything but. All of the action scenes were taken directly from Japan’s Super Sentai series (specifically Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger ), intercut with scenes of an American cast existing within tranquil Angel Grove. The Super Sentai series stayed within the traditions of the long-running line of programming known as tokusatsu , meaning “special effects” (a reference to the use of practical special effects). Transplanting Japanese cultural media and overlaying it upon an American production and audience posed its own challenges, but the almost immediate success came from its own storytelling. At first blush, winding fantastical adventures and impressive martial arts into the everyday lives of American teens (who dealt with bullying, teamwork, and celebrating birthdays) seems disparate. However, the combination led to instantly relatable stories that resonated with children, imparting ideas of community and selflessness through skills and talents of all forms, physical, mental, and emotional.
Expository Essay Conclusion Example
Much like the intro, the conclusion to an essay can seem ornamental or extraneous. If you think of an essay as a full thought, the conclusion is a space to finish your thoughts. Unlike most of the rest of the essay, it’s an opportunity to show a little emotion and get into some topics that are potentially outside the main bounds of your subject.
In conclusion, Power Rangers presented an amalgam of different cultural ideas to create a new children’s media landscape. The original series has since given rise to ongoing series, along with offshoot books, comics, and other media. For many kids, the show was an introduction to new ideas that were still grounded within the parks, schools, and suburbs of their lives. It was a form of escapism and imagination that stayed within the bounds of a reality that could be cruel, difficult to understand, or full of light. It just took some friends, some martial arts, and the ability to morph into something new.
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What do you do if you are in the mood to bake some chocolate chip cookies and the recipe you find online is part of a blog post? Do you faithfully read about so-and-so's wonderful family tradition of making them together every Friday night, or do you skip to what is relevant to you — the recipe? Family traditions are lovely, but sometimes our audience wants an objective view o n a topic. An expository essay discusses information about a subject in a neutral tone. They are structured and outlined like other essays, but expository essays come in their own formats.
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- One-Word stage
- Specific Language Impairments
- Theories of Language Acquisition
- Two-Word Stage
- Williams Syndrome
- Grammatical Voice
- Literary Context
- Literary Purpose
- Literary Representation
- Mode English Language
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- Gary Ives Bradford Study
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- Place of Articulation
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- Conversational Implicature
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- Research Process
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- Technical Writing
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- Adjectival Clause
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- Appositive Phrase
- Argument from Authority
- Auditory Description
- Basic Rhetorical Modes
- Begging the Question
- Building Credibility
- Causal Flaw
- Causal Relationships
- Cause and Effect Rhetorical Mode
- Central Idea
- Chronological Description
- Circular Reasoning
- Classical Appeals
- Close Reading
- Coherence Between Sentences
- Coherence within Paragraphs
- Coherences within Sentences
- Complex Rhetorical Modes
- Compound Complex Sentences
- Concrete Adjectives
- Concrete Nouns
- Consistent Voice
- Counter Argument
- Definition by Negation
- Description Rhetorical mode
- Direct Discourse
- Extended Metaphor
- False Connections
- False Dichotomy
- False Equivalence
- Faulty Analogy
- Faulty Causality
- Fear Arousing
- Gustatory Description
- Hasty Generalization
- Induction Rhetoric
- Levels of Coherence
- Line of Reasoning
- Missing the Point
- Modifiers that Qualify
- Modifiers that Specify
- Narration Rhetorical Mode
- Non-Testable Hypothesis
- Objective Description
- Olfactory Description
- Parenthetical Element
- Participial Phrase
- Personal Narrative
- Placement of Modifiers
- Post-Hoc Argument
- Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
- Red Herring
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- Rhetorical Fallacy
- Rhetorical Modes
- Rhetorical Question
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- Scare Tactics
- Sentimental Appeals
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- Slippery Slope
- Spatial Description
- Straw Man Argument
- Subject Consistency
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- Tense Consistency
- Tone and Word Choice
- Twisting the Language Around
- Unstated Assumption
- Verbal Irony
- Visual Description
- Authorial Intent
- Authors Technique
- Language Choice
- Prompt Audience
- Prompt Purpose
- Rhetorical Strategies
- Understanding Your Audience
- Auditory Imagery
- Gustatory Imagery
- Olfactory Imagery
- Tactile Imagery
- Main Idea and Supporting Detail
- Statistical Evidence
- Communities of Practice
- Cultural Competence
- Gender Politics
- Intercultural Communication
- Research Methodology
- Object Subject Verb
- Subject Verb Object
- Syntactic Structures
- Universal Grammar
- Verb Subject Object
- Author Authority
- Direct Quote
- First Paragraph
- Historical Context
- Intended Audience
- Primary Source
- Second Paragraph
- Secondary Source
- Source Material
- Third Paragraph
- Character Analysis
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- Text Structure Analysis
- Vocabulary Assessment
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Expository Essay Definition
An expository essay "exposes" information about a subject to educate an audience. S ome keywords and phrases that give clues that an assignment is asking for expository writing include:
- "Cause and effect"
- "Explain how"
- "Define and explore"
- "Compare and contrast "
Expository Essay: Characteristics
There are different formats when writing expository essays, but they all share some characteristics:
- Expository essays are logical. Your argument is solid and structured into a clear path for the reader to follow. A vital feature of an effective essay is whether you condense your thesis statement into a coherent outline of the essay topic.
- Expository essays are analytical. If you include sources, they are thoroughly researched and fact-checked. Make sure to cite your sources following the proper guidelines.
- Expository essays are unbiased. The essay is written in an academic tone. It features reliable information and excludes personal opinions.
- Expository essays are explanatory. Do not assume the audience has prior knowledge of the essay subject. Include background information to provide context and define any technical terms.
Expository essays are often used in exams because they help measure the ability to examine evidence and structure a rational argument . You will not always have time to research the assigned topic, so a well-structured thesis statement and an essay that features a balanced view are crucial.
The Importance of Expository Essays
Learning to navigate the structure and different formats of expository essays teaches you:
- The value of understanding a subject and being able to explain it to others.
- How to explain concepts clearly and objectively.
- How to dissect evidence to determine its validity.
Expository Essay Format
In the expository essay assignment, you may be asked to:
- Write a Definition : This is not the same as a dictionary definition . Instead, an expository essay looks into its subject matter in more depth, for example, by exploring the history of an item.
- Explain a Process : When you write a "How To" article, that's an expository essay. It's written in chronological order and describes how something works in steps.
- Compare and Contrast : In this essay format, you discuss how two objects or concepts are alike and different, for example, by looking at the similarities and differences between two short stories from the same genre.
- Cause and Effect : This expository essay requires you to start with an action or idea and examine its ripple effect . For example, examine the impact of slavery on African-American diet and whether there are lingering consequences today.
If something causes a ripple effect, it creates a series of consequences.
Expository Essay Structure
As with other types, the expository essay includes an introduction , body paragraphs , and a conclusion .
Just because expository essays are fact-based does not mean you can't be creative with your beginning. It is still necessary for your writing to reel in your audience. Finish your introduction paragraph with a thesis statement that features your subject and the direction you plan to take the reader.
The subject of your essay determines the paragraph structure of your essay. Each body paragraph features a key point. In a process essay, outline each step in an individual paragraph.
Avoid discussing final thoughts that weren't in the thesis or body paragraphs. An effective expository essay presents an argument at the beginning and uses evidence to follow it to a logical end. Throwing new information at the reader in the conclusion appears disorganized. Restate your thesis in an interesting way and summarize the essay's main points.
Why is it essential to avoid restating your thesis and central ideas in the conclusion of your essay word-for-word?
Expository Essay Outline
Outlines are helpful tools for organizing the ideas you came up with while brainstorming for your essay. The outline is similar to the frame of a house and will follow the structure of the expository essay. Use your outline to structure your thesis statement. For example:
Topic: The Impact of Slavery on the African American Diet and Its Lingering Consequences
B. Introduction to the topic
II. Body paragraphs (the number of body paragraphs you include will vary)
B. Discussion of the main point in connection with the source
C. Transition to the next point or conclusion
A. Potential solution (optional)
B. Summary of the main point
C. Thesis is restated
Expository Essay Example
The following example expository essay is structured into an abbreviated cause-and-effect format. Read through the sample essay below to get a feel of how you should structure your writing.
"In 2018, African Americans were thirty percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites and twice as likely to die from diabetes." 1, 2 Until recently, the response to these statistics suggested that African Americans should eat better and exercise more. Still, a deeper examination of the barriers they face gives rise to a more nuanced approach. Slavery limited the food options available to enslaved Africans, so a cultural diet evolved to include many unhealthy choices that have negatively impacted present-day African Americans' health .
Cuisine is a shared element among people with the same cultural background. Recipes are handed down and modified through generations, becoming essential to the group's history. Enslaved Africans initially developed soul food by adjusting their West African diet to food available while in bondage . 3 They were allowed to cultivate a small garden for themselves to boost their inadequate rations, but "limited cooking supplies. . . forced [them] to create palatable meals from undesirable ingredients." 3 They were not allowed to use utensils that could potentially double as a weapon in revolt, 3 so eating their already starch-heavy, fatty diet with corn cakes became customary. 3 Over time, these dishes evolved into popular soul food staples. Although many of the base ingredients are nutritionally beneficial, they are laden with fat, salt, and sugar when prepared in this fashion. When consumed regularly, they contribute to obesity and increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Attempts to change African Americans' diets to promote health have failed because meal options don't consider their cultural traditions. 3 A nonprofit organization, Oldways, may have a better solution.
Oldways created the African Heritage Diet to combine healthy eating with tradition. "The Heritage Pyramid encourages the user to utilize. . . familiar foods in a way that aligns [with their] healthy origins." 3 Enslaved Africans had very little control over their diet and made do with what they were given. The ingredients in African American soul food reflect their struggle to survive, but these culturally-inspired recipes have contributed to their current health crisis . If more healthcare providers were made aware of the Heritage Pyramid, it could increase the likelihood their African American patients would develop better-informed eating habits .
In the introduction, the statistic in the opening sentence attempts to get the reader's attention. The thesis establishes the subject and ties the main points together so the audience knows what to expect from the essay.
What is another technique you can use to start your paper in a way that makes the audience want to keep reading?
The body paragraph discusses the issue in detail, offering a source to support the main point and thesis statement. Notice that you must cite your source whether you quote directly or paraphrase.
Does the discussion complement the thesis? Does the source support the main point?
The conclusion offers closure to the audience by discussing a possible solution to the issue . It connects the main points and summarizes the thesis . Similar to how the introduction draws the reader into your essay, the conclusion is the last thing they read. Therefore, keep it clear and to the point to leave a positive impression.
Expository Essay - Key Takeaways
- The definition of an expository essay is an essay that "exposes" information to educate an audience.
- Expository essays are fact-based and share information with the audience in an objective, academic tone.
- Expository essays regularly show up on exams because they measure students' ability to structure a compelling argument and examine evidence.
- Formats of expository essays include cause and effect, process, definition, or compare and contrast.
- Brainstorming and outlining your expository essay help to organize your thoughts and make writing the thesis statement and essay more manageable.
1 "Heart Disease and African Americans." Black/African Americans . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2022.
2 "Diabetes and African Americans." Black/African Americans . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2022.
3 Vance, Kalah Elantra, "Culture, Food, and Racism: The Effects on African American Health." Honors Theses . 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions about Expository Essay
--> what is the meaning of an expository essay.
An expository essay is logical and fact-based essay. It presents information in an objective manner with an academic tone.
--> How do you write an expository essay?
To write an expository essay use one of the common formats: cause and effect, definition, explaining a process, or compare and contrast to share information.
--> What is the structure of an expository essay?
An expository essay is structured into an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
--> What are examples of an expository essay?
Examples of expository essays include: how-to articles, cause and effect articles, compare and contrast articles, and define and explore essays
--> What are the uses of an expository essay?
An expository essay is used to measure a student's ability to examine evidence and compose a rational argument.
Final Expository Essay Quiz
Expository essay quiz - teste dein wissen.
An _____ essay objectively provides information with an academic tone.
A cause and effect expository essay explores the real-life consequences of _____.
An action or idea
A process expository essay describes the way something works _____.
A _____ expository essay examines the similarities and differences between two things.
Compare and contrast
A _____ expository essay explores an object or concept in detail.
How is an outline useful to an expository essay?
An outline is useful to an expository essay because it organizes your thoughts to make the writing process easier.
What is the structure of an expository essay?
An expository essay is structured into an Introduction, Body Paragraphs, and a Conclusion.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement outlines your argument and lists the main points of your essay.
What do you learn while writing expository essays?
All of the above
True or False: Before reading your expository essay, you should assume the audience knows something about your subject.
False. When writing your expository essay, you should assume the audience has no prior knowledge of the subject. Provide background information and explain technical terms.
It creates a series of consequences.
It's written in chronological order and describes how something works in steps.
It's when an expository essay looks into its subject matter in more depth, for example, by exploring the history of an item.
It's when you discuss how two objects or concepts are alike and different.
It requires you to start with an action or idea and examine its ripple effect .
Cause and effect
It finishes your introduction paragraph.
It's logical and analytical.
It's unbiased and explanatory.
Each features a key point.
A body paragraph
It may contain a solution.
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Expository Essay: Definition, Outline, Topics & Examples of Expository Essays
Expository Essay! When it comes to essay writing, there are a whole variety of essay types and it can become confusing to choose the correct one for your needs. In this article, we are going to be taking a look at the expository essay and what this type of essay is used for. We are also going to be looking at some tips and ideas for writing an excellent expository essay yourself. Alongside this we are going to explore some interesting topics on which you might write your expository essay as well as taking a look at a pre-written example.
Table of Contents
What Is An Expository Essay?
An expository essay is one which is used to explain something, in the most simple terms. The word expository comes from the word expose, and this means to uncover something so that other people are able to understand it for what it is. This type of essay is therefore used as a way of explaining or clarifying the subject for the reader.
It might function as an evaluation or an investigation, but it could also function as an argument surrounding the idea for clarification. It is easy to confuse this type of essay with the argumentative essay but the key difference is that the expository essay will remain neutral whereas the argumentative essay tends to take a side.
A good expository essay will allow the reader to gain a certain level of knowledge on the subject that is being explained and will clear up any misunderstandings that the reader may have had. The essay serves as a way of looking neutrally at any given topic and does not give the writers personal views.
How To Write An Expository Essay
Now that we are clear on what an expository essay is used to discuss, we are ready to begin writing one for ourselves. However, as with any type of essay, there are certain rules that you must follow in order to achieve the best results. We are now going to take a look at the steps you should take in order to write a great expository essay.
Select A Topic
The most crucial part of any essay planning is selecting the right topic, and there are so many to choose from when it comes to writing an expository essay. You should choose a topic that can be easily researched so that you can get a good amount of information for both sides of the story but also one which strike an interest in you. Let’s take a look at some examples of topics you might write on.
- Explain Religion and which one you should introduce your child to.
- Explain Global warming.
- Explain Science and its effect on the world.
- Explain the best countries to visit for families/singles/couples
- Explain what life is like for an illegal immigrant
- Explain how music has an influence on our way of life
- Explain the best time period of the last 500 years.
- Write an essay on a certain sport.
- Explain why parents need to be strict with their children.
- Explain cryptocurrency and how it has affected the economy.
- Explain why your admire someone.
Research The Topic
Once you have selected your topic, it is important that you perform the relevant research. When writing an essay, it is critical that you present data and facts that are up to date and correct. This means that research should be an integral part of your preparations in writing an expository essay.
Choose Some Examples
In order to properly explain the topic, you should present your readers with some examples and choosing the right ones will not only keep your reader engaged but will also serve to explain the topic in the most detailed and easy to understand way. For example, if you have decided to write about which religion you should introduce your children to, you might select one or two of the major religions which you believe to the most relevant, for example Islam and Christianity.
Outline Your Essay
Every essay needs a good essay outline in order for the author to be able to write the piece effectively. Creating your essay outline is one of the most integral parts of the process and good attention should be paid to it.
- Introduction – In your introduction, you should include a hook to get the attention of the reader and a short description of what the essay is going to be about. You should also include your thesis statement which will tell the reader the purpose of the essay.
- Body paragraphs – usually an essay will be made up of three body paragraphs, however you can be flexible with this should you need more or less words to complete your work. In each of these paragraphs you should include one argument point along with any data and sources to back this up.
- Conclusion – The conclusion will wrap up all the ideas that were talked about during the essay and will refer back to the thesis statement once again.
Write Your Essay
Remember that the purpose of an expository essay is to clarify something to the reader and so it is important that you write in clear terms which are easy to understand.
You should include any examples of the topic which are backed up by data and statistics as this will give the reader a greater knowledge on the subject by the end of the essay.
Once you have finished writing, it is very important to go back over your work and check for any spelling errors or grammar mistakes as well as adding and taking away any necessary information.
An Example Of An Expository Essay
As a way to gain a further understanding on what an expository essay should look like and how it should be written, we are now going to take a look at a passage taken from an expository essay called ‘Learning to read’ written by Malcolm X .
It is because of my letters I happened to come across beginning to acquire a form of homemade education.
I was becoming more and more frustrated in not being able to say what I had wanted to convey in a letter, particularly ones which were written to Mr E Muhammad.
On the street, I’d been the hustler who was most articulate and has commanded everyone’s attention when I had said something. However, now whilst attempting to write in simple English, not only was I not articulate but I was not even functional. What would I sound like if I wrote in slang, a way I would normally say it, something along the lines of ‘Hey daddy, lemme pull ya coat about the cat’
Many of the people who hear me today either in person or on the television, perhaps who read something said by me, assume that I went to school for much longer than just the 8th grade. This is an impression given entirely because of my prison studies.
Expository Essay Infographic
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6 thoughts on “Expository Essay: Definition, Outline, Topics & Examples of Expository Essays”
Thank you so much. This helps me understand what an Expository essay is. In my context, this essay is known as Hortatory Exposition. At the beginning of the implementation of Genre-based Approach back in the year 2004, we were introduced to these 2 confusing essay/text types: Analytical and Hortatory Exposition (among the many other text types). Your article is a big help to me.
what are the strategies used to develop a paragraph in expository writing
Does it need address?
It was A big help
Thank you so much for making things clear to us
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What is an Expository Essay? Ultimate Guide
So, it happens again: a teacher assigns an expository essay to you.
Nothing special, right? After all, who doesn’t know anything about expository writing?
Types of essays are so many, and the differences between them are so tiny, that it’s less than simple for a student to get lost in those writing jungles. That’s why Bid4Papers craft the detailed guides for you to find a way out: persuasive essays , narrative essays , SAT essays – they aren’t that terrible if you follow the right path of writing them.
Today, the time is for how to write an expository essay. Take a cup of coffee or tea, sit back, and learn about what is an expository essay and its aspects.
Table of Contents:
- Expository essay topics
- Types of expository essays
- Expository essay structure
- The purpose of expository essay
- Expository essay outline (+ POET method)
- How to start an expository essay
- How to end an expository essay
- Benefits of expository writing
- Writing tips to follow
- Additional resources to check
What is an Expository Essay?
When asked to define expository essay, it’s significant to understand the characteristics of this essay type and its difference from argumentative and reflective papers.
Here goes a standard expository essay definition:
So, as you see, the expository definition is not that tricky to remember. The characteristics of your expository essay are as follows:
- You write it to teach readers about the topic.
- You describe and explain facts on the topic to inform readers.
- You provide the exhaustive information on the topic.
- You write it in the 3rd person, with a formal language, and in a precise, logical manner.
To write an A-worthy expository essay, you’ll need to do deep research to provide readers with insights on the topic. As an author, you can’t take any side or develop any arguments here: your goal is to inform and explain .
Expository Essay Topics
Expository essay topics can come from different spheres. As a rule, teachers assign a definite topic and give further requirements on writing about it; but if not, students are free to choose from topics of their interest.
You can write about education, health, law, movies, science, politics, social media, wars, history, etc. Just make sure you choose something you know about (it’s easier to research) and can explain it to readers.
Think of topics that might attract your audience and meet the requirements of your teacher. Avoid too general topics; narrow your research sphere, be specific, and make your expository essay clear and concise.
Here go some topic ideas for your inspiration. Feel free to choose any of them if they fit your assignment or ask Bid4Papers writers to assist you .
Expository Essay Topics for Beginners
Expository Essay Topics for Intermediates
Types of Expository Essays
Yes, it’s about types of essays within an expository essay. They are five:
- Definition (descriptive) essays : they give information by explaining the meaning of a word or a concept. Here you tell readers about places, situations, or experience concerning the concept.
- Classification essays: they break down a broad topic into categories. Here you start an writing expository essays with the general subject and then define and give examples of each subgroup within it.
- Cause/effect essays: they explain the cause of something and how things affect each other within the concept. Here you identify the relations between two subjects, focus on what happened between them, and tell about the effect of that interaction.
- Compare/contrast essays: they describe the similarities and differences between two or more concepts, places, people, etc.
- Process essays: they explain a step-by-step process of something, its procedure, or how to do it. Your goal here is to give instructions to readers. Sometimes, this type of expository essays is called a problem/solution essay: you describe a problem and then tell readers how to solve it.
So, you can describe, explain, compare, tell about the process, or solve a problem in your essay. But before you choose, make sure you understand what is expository writing and what differs it from persuasive (argumentative) essays.
For many students, these essay types are the same. But it’s not so: while argumentative essays convince readers of your position or point of view, expository essays just tell about the issue and share the facts and evidence about it.
The difference between persuasive and expository essays
Expository Essay Structure
Once you’ve decided on the topic and type, it’s time to think of expository essay structure.
As well as all common types of essays, expository ones consist of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Usually, there are three paragraphs in an essay body, but you are welcome to change this number according to your topic and teacher requirements.
An expository essay structure includes:
- A clear thesis statement in the first paragraph.
- Logical transitions between all paragraphs.
- Factual and logical evidence in body paragraphs.
- A conclusion that restates a thesis and readdresses it in the list of provided evidence.
- A pinch of creativity to impress readers.
So, what to write in each part of your expository essay writing:
- Introduction: start it with a general statement about the topic, but do your best to hook the audience so they would like to continue reading; provide the context for the audience to understand your topic; and state a thesis for the audience to understand what you are going to expose in the essay.
- Body paragraphs: start with the main idea of the paragraph; include the evidence (facts, statistics, quotes, interviews, etc.) to support the idea; analyze the evidence: explain why you choose this particular information to support your thesis; complete each paragraph with a logical transition to the next one.
- Conclusion: overview the ideas you discussed in your essay and highlight the progression of your thoughts on it; restate your thesis and leave readers with food for thought.
How to Write an Expository Essay
An expository essay is about research and informing a reader about an issue, a point of view, or a fact. To get the idea on how to write an expository essay, you need to understand its purpose and follow the steps of academic writing.
The Purpose of Expository Essay
What is the purpose of expository essay?
In plain English, an expository essay explains a topic. You are just stating facts, no matter if you write a “how-to” paper or tell about the history of China or the cost of essays for students .
Such essays are not about what you think about a topic. You inform readers, explaining it through investigation and argumentation in a logical manner.
Use the POET method to organize your expository essay like a boss:
Expository Essay Outline
Before you sit and start an expository essay, write its plan. It’s a kinda map that allows you to specify core elements of your essay and make sure you don’t miss any fact or evidence while writing.
Just write a sentence for each element of your essay to save time and ease the writing process. Feel free to use this expository essay outline template from Bid4Papers:
[Download this template]
Fill it in – and you are ready to start writing your expository writing!
How to Start an Expository Essay
It’s the most common question among students. Frankly speaking, it can lead to a writer’s block and procrastination: you sit, staring at a blank page, and can’t find any words to start a sentence. It frustrates. It upsets. And it disappoints: you give up, postpone, and lose interest in writing…
We wrote about how to start a persuasive essay already. As for how to start an expository essay, the elements of introduction will be the same but with the only difference: you won’t argue about anything. Instead, you’ll be objective about the topic.
And now, for the structure of your introductory paragraph . It consists of:
- An attention-grabbing hook: one sentence.
- Information about your topic, to give the context to your readers: 2-3 sentences.
- A thesis statement: one sentence about what you are going to write about.
Expository Essay Introduction: Structure
TIP: Try writing an introduction after you’ve finished the draft of the essay body. Thus you’ll have all the points and evidence fresh in your mind, and you’ll be able to extract the thesis and decide on the best hook to start an expository essay.
How to End an Expository Essay
Together with an introduction, a strong conclusion is critical for expository essays to have. It ties up the entire essay, wrapping up its thesis for readers and leaving them with thoughts on its topic.
Think about a minimum of three sentences to write in your conclusion. And remember that you shouldn’t simply restate your thesis here: don’t repeat your thesis statement from the introduction but explain how the information from the essay body helped to come up to this conclusion.
Your essay conclusion is the answer to what you discussed in the essay body. Don’t introduce any new points to readers, and end your expository essay on a positive: give the audience something to remember your essay, and leave them with something to think about.
Points to remember when writing an essay conclusion:
- Stay clear.
- Conclude the thoughts, not present new ideas.
- Restate the thesis and explain how your essay exposes it.
- Be objective, use straightforward language.
- Make sure it consists of three sentences minimum: sum up (1), answer the questions from your thesis (1-3), give readers the food for thought (1).
Benefits of Expository Writing
That’s all well and good, but…
Why the heck you need to spend time and energy on expository writing?
Nope, it’s not because teachers hate you and want you to get buried in tons of homework. It’s because expository essays help you develop some valuable skills you’ll need in the years since school is over. Below are the benefits you gain:
- Research and evaluating the information: In the Internet era, when tons of information is online, and it’s hard to understand what’s true or false, this skill is more than crucial to have. Expository essays are about research, so the more you do it, the more skillful you become. You learn to evaluate the information, check if it’s relevant and trustful, and understand what’s fake online.
- Critical thinking: In expository essays, you often need to evaluate the issue and approach to it from different angles. It develops your critical thinking, a must-have skill for each representative of Gen Z to have today.
- Ability to express your thoughts briefly and clearly: You need to gather tons of information for your expository essay but stay coherent when describing it. Thus you learn to express yourself and share your thoughts with others.
- Time management and organizational skills: Expository writing teaches you to organize thoughts and express them logically. It’s all about organizational skills we all need to develop and improve in adult life. Practice makes perfect, so you’ll learn how to manage time and organize your tasks. Not bad, huh?
The Process of Expository Writing
When writing an expository essay, you’ll follow at least four steps: prewriting (brainstorming, research, outlining), drafting (writing an introduction, a body, and a conclusion of your essay), revising (checking all factual and grammar/spelling mistakes), and editing.
Yes, the process seems energy-sapping. But nothing is as bad as it looks.
Here it goes, the process of your expository writing:
Step 1 – Prewriting
This phase is when you brainstorm a topic (if a teacher didn’t assign it beforehand), state a thesis, and do research to outline an expository essay before writing it.
How to choose the best topic for your expository essay?
Think of niches you already know something about. Make a list of topics that might be interesting for you, and you feel you might tell about to readers. Then, narrow it down to one that would be easiest for you to find research.
When choosing, answer these questions:
- Is it interesting to you?
- Do you have any previous knowledge about this topic?
- Is it easy to find credible references for it?
- Can you explain this topic (issue) to the reader?
Once the topic is ready, it’s time for research. Don’t skip this step, even if you think you know a lot about the topic of your expository essay: you’ll need references anyway; plus, you’ll learn more details and discover new things about your topic to include to your writing.
You need research to find examples for your essay, know what you will write in every paragraph, and state a thesis .
What’s a thesis?
It’s the heart of your essay, and no teacher will grade your paper high if it doesn’t have any thesis statement inside. In short, it’s a sentence in the introduction of your essay that identifies the main idea or a central purpose of your text .
For most students, a thesis is the most challenging part of an essay to write. That’s why so many free essay generators are online now, and that’s why thesis statement generators are so popular. Feel free to try ours :
NB! A thesis is not a mere fact or statement. It’s a claim, an idea, or an interpretation one can dispute. Your job as an essay writer is to give readers something they could think about.
Example: Bad thesis: British indifference caused the American Revolution.
Good thesis: By treating their U.S. colonies as little more than a source of revenue and limiting colonists’ political rights, British indifference contributed to the start of the American Revolution. ( Source )
Write down a thesis statement to the outline, with the researched info and examples. Now you are ready to start drafting.
Step 2 – Drafting
When the thesis and outline are ready, start writing your essay. Drafting each paragraph, refer to the thesis statement so you wouldn’t miss any points. Use transition words in every paragraph to reinforce the message, support facts, and make it easier for readers to follow your train of thoughts.
Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence to introduce what it will be about. Develop the idea and present the evidence in every paragraph
Tips for writing body paragraphs of your expository essay:
- Provide facts that will help readers get to the point.
- Avoid biased information, use straightforward language: short and clear words, active verbs, and appropriate adverbs.
- Choose evidence that would be the most telling example for your thesis.
Step 3 – Revising
This is a phase when you review your draft and reorganize, if necessary, for it to look and sound better.
What to check when revising your expository essay:
Revising Your Expository Essay: Questions to Answer
Step 4 – Editing
The final step of writing an expository essay is its editing. Read it once again to check for grammar and spelling mistakes, improve its style and clarity, and make sure it’s engaging for readers to check.
- You can ask a friend to read your essay and share advice on its editing.
- You can read the essay out loud: this trick helps to identify phrases and grammar constructions that sound weird.
- You can try some online tools to check the grammar and spelling of your expository essay: Hemingway App, Grammarly, After the Deadline, Ginger, and others.
- You can ask a professional editor to check your essay and give feedback on what to improve there.
And only after you are 100% sure the essay looks great, submit it for a teacher’s review and wait for your A+.
Writing Tips to Follow
For expository essays, you need to investigate a topic inside out and report the facts, regardless of what you think about them. Follow these expository essay tips – and your paper will rock!
- Think about an eye-catching headline for your essay, but make sure it has something to do with your thesis statement.
- Research your topic, even if you think you know it well.
- Use reputable resources for evidence and references: studies, academic journals, educational resources, official figures, etc.
- Inform, share facts, but avoid writing about what you think about the topic.
- Use clear and concise language, avoid biased information.
- Organize facts logically, so it would be easier for readers to follow the information.
- Write in the 3rd person. If describing a process or an activity, the 2nd person is okay to use too.
- Avoid vague language, prioritize quality over quantity: introduce top facts and evidence only.
- Write sentences of different length for better rhythm.
- Use transition words to move between paragraphs.
- Write your first draft a few days before the deadline, and wait a day or two before revising and editing it. Thus you’ll have a chance to look at your writing from a fresh perspective.
- Read your expository essay out loud to notice its weak points or strange grammar constructions to revise.
- Ask a friend to read your essay and tell if you need to edit something.
And last but not least:
Remember about the difference between argumentative and expository essays. Don’t persuade readers of your opinion. Tell about the topic, share facts and evidence, and let readers be the judge of that.
Expository Essay Examples
Are there any examples of what a great expository essay looks? Samples are many, and you’ll have no difficulty to find them in Google.
All those expository essay examples are for assistance purposes only. You can’t take and copy them to use in own papers. After all, you know what happens to students who plagiarize in academia and infringe copyrights, don’t you?
Additional Resources to Check
- Develop Expository Writing Skills
- Expository Essay, Step by Step
- 100 Expository Essay Topic Ideas
- How to Plan & Write an Expository Essay (Video)
- Expository Essays: Types, Characteristics & Examples
Our Writing Guides
5 thoughts on “ what is an expository essay ultimate guide ”.
I always had issues with expository essays in uni as well! This was the definitive post on the topic though!
Wow! Thanks for the thoroughness
Failure is due to the neglect of fineness, and success begins with the importance of small things
A comprehensive and useful guide to writing an expository essay. I appreciate what you have posted on the blog.
Doesn’t this essay type look like informative papers? It seems there’s no difference…
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Expository Writing: Definition and Examples
Table of Contents
What is expository writing, what is an expository paragraph, expository writing examples, how prowritingaid can help you with expository composition.
One of the most common types of writing is expository writing. Whether you’re a student taking an English class or a professional trying to communicate to others in your field, you’ll need to use expository writing in your day-to-day work.
So, what exactly does this term mean?
The short answer is that expository writing refers to any writing designed primarily to explain or instruct.
Read on to learn the definition of expository writing as well as some examples of what this type of writing can look like.
Before we look at examples of expository writing, let’s start with a quick definition of what this term actually means.
Expository Writing Definition
The term expository writing refers to any writing that’s designed to explain something. We use the word expository to describe any passage of writing that’s supposed to present information and help you understand it in an objective way.
Some common examples of expository writing include academic essays, textbooks, instructional guides, and news reports. Good expository writing should be factual, objective, and clear.
To better understand what this term means, think about the difference between a scientific article, a short story, and an advertisement.
The scientific article is considered expository writing because its primary purpose is to explain a particular topic in more detail. It presents data, analyzes what that data means, and focuses on the facts.
On the other hand, the short story isn’t considered expository writing, because its core purpose isn’t to explain or inform—instead, it’s probably trying to entertain you or to take you on a journey. Short stories are narrative writing.
Similarly, an advertisement isn’t expository writing because its core purpose isn’t to explain or inform—instead, it’s trying to persuade you to buy what it’s selling. Advertisements are persuasive writing.
Here’s a quick rundown of what expository essays should and shouldn’t do.
An expository essay should:
Teach the reader about a particular topic
Focus on the facts
Follow a clearly organized structure
Present information and details from credible sources
An expository essay should not:
Try to change the reader’s mind about something
Present the author’s personal opinions
Include made-up narratives or stories
Follow experimental or nonlinear structures
An expository paragraph is exactly what it sounds like—a paragraph of expository writing.
A well-written expository paragraph should follow a specific format to make it as clear and easy to read as possible. Most expository paragraphs do the following things:
Start with a topic sentence, which explains what the paragraph will be about
Then, include 3 – 5 body sentences that provide supporting details for the topic sentence
Finally, wrap things up with a closing sentence that summarizes what the paragraph has said
Writing an expository paragraph is a great way to practice expository writing. That’s because the paragraph follows the same structure as a more complex expository essay, just on a smaller scale.
Most expository essays should follow this format:
Start with an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis statement, which tells the reader the core statement of the essay
Then, include 3 – 5 body paragraphs that provide factual evidence to support the thesis statement
Finally, wrap things up with a concluding paragraph that summarizes what the body paragraphs and thesis statement said
You can see the similarities between the two formats. If you can write a fantastic expository paragraph, you’ll be well-prepared to move on to writing a full expository essay.
Example of Expository Paragraph
Here’s an example of an expository paragraph that follows the structure described above.
The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, which can be fatal if it leads to heart attack or cardiac arrest. Heart attacks occur when a blockage in the coronary artery prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the heart. Cardiac arrests occur when the heart stops pumping entirely, which prevents the patient from breathing normally. Both of these problems can be deadly, even in seemingly healthy people who don’t have noticeable risk factors. As a result, heart disease is an important problem that many doctors and scientists are researching.
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There are many ways you can present information in an expository essay. Here are four of the most popular ways, along with examples of each one.
Problem and Solution Essay
A problem and solution essay presents the reader with a problem and then considers possible solutions to that problem.
Here’s an example passage you might find in a problem and solution essay:
Among the many proposed solutions to rising carbon emissions, one promising possibility is carbon trapping. Scientists are figuring out how to pull carbon emissions out of the atmosphere and trap it in less harmful forms, such as by injecting carbon dioxide underground so it will turn to stone.
Compare and Contrast Essay
This type of essay takes two subjects and compares and contrasts them. It focuses on highlighting the differences and similarities between those two things.
Here’s an example passage of this type of expository writing:
Though country music and R&B music have very different sounds, they also share many similarities. For one thing, both types of music embody a specific cultural identity. For another, both genres trace their roots back to the 1920s, when the Victor Talking Machine Company signed singers from the American South.
In a classification essay, you describe the categories within a certain group of things.
Here’s an example passage you might find in a classification essay:
There are three ways in which artificial intelligence might become stronger than humans in the future: high speed, high collective intelligence, and high quality. A speed AI would be able to perform calculations and experience the world much faster than humans. A collective intelligence, like a hive mind, would be able to break down a complex task into several parts and pursue them simultaneously. Finally, a quality AI would simply be able to solve more complex problems than humans could.
In a process essay, you give the reader the steps for completing a specific process. This is similar to a how-to guide or an instruction manual.
Here’s an example passage you might find in this type of expository writing:
Caramelize the chopped onions in a frying pan. When the onions have caramelized, mix in the bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes and stir for 4 – 6 minutes or until all the ingredients have softened. If you want to add meat, you can add ground beef and cook for another 4 – 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Good expository writing should be easy to read. After all, the purpose of exposition is to explain things to your readers, and you won’t be able to accomplish that if they have trouble understanding your writing.
That’s why ProWritingAid can help you write an expository essay. The grammar checker can help you ensure your sentences flow well, you’re not missing any necessary punctuation, and all your words are precise and clear.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.
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