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.
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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Quick and Easy Guide on How to Write an Expository Essay
Understanding What Is an Expository Essay
If you clicked on this article, then you must have recently been assigned an expository essay homework. There is also a possibility that you are here because you enjoy exploring different ideas and concepts rather than solely scratching the surface. Well, that explains why you decided to research more about expository essay writing. We won't leave you hanging, so let's delve right into the expository essay definition.
It's only reasonable to first give you a clear explanation of what is an expository essay and what this kind of paper tries to accomplish. Simply put, an expository essay presents information on a topic. It explains something about a situation, person, idea, or occurrence and communicates knowledge about it to the reader. It does not attempt to persuade the reader of a certain point of view or present a convincing case. An expository essay depends on facts rather than personal opinion since it aims to inform the reader about a subject.
Expository writing involves anything from sharing your day to outlining a job assignment. Therefore it wouldn't be unfair to say that it is the most popular type of writing in the world.
Expository Essay Topics
Speaking of the above, there must be plenty of options to write your expository paper on, right? You're correct! But one needs a properly worded title that would make great expository essay topics. That's why our research paper service covered some interesting areas below. You can browse myriads of choices and find one that is just right for your endeavor!
Expository Essay Topics About Education
- School Dress Codes: A Physical And Mental Stress
- The Idea Of Free Higher Education
- The Issue With High School Massacres
- The Importance of College Success
- STEM versus STEAM educational approaches
- How literate people differ from uneducated ones
- The advantages of studying foreign languages.
- What changes should be made to the educational system in your nation?
- Does 'educated' have the same connotation as 'smart'?
- Can someone receive a top-notch education at home?
Expository Essay Topics About Mental Health
- Is it true that music impacts our mental and physical health?
- Are acts of heroism and patriotic acts typical in terms of mental health?
- Is there a need to increase mental health benefits under health insurance?
- Comparatively speaking, does the American mental health system lag behind other nations?
- Effects of mental health law
- The connection between antisocial personality disorder and parenting methods
- Learning-disabled kids can benefit greatly from school programs.
- How social anxiety is influenced by digital communication
- Patients with mental illness receiving physical care
- Issues with mental health and grief therapy
Expository Essay Topics About Society
- Advertisements seen via the lens of social science.
- Prejudices towards African Americans.
- The social implications of feminism.
- Global refugee crisis.
- Constructing a wall to separate Mexico and the US.
- The psychology of implicit racial prejudice and discrimination
- The effects of racism at work on the economy and mind.
- Gender roles in society: shifting perspectives and effects on families.
- Who was responsible for the cost of the War on Terror?
- Is peace education receiving enough attention from society?
Expository Essay Topics About Politics
- The connection between politics and religion
- What are the pros and drawbacks of democracy?
- How powerful are NGOs?
- What are the UN's primary responsibilities?
- What are the disadvantages of not having a state?
- Has the US soured relations with its European allies?
- What does the Human Development Index mean?
- Celebrity Influence in political campaigning
- What objectives does the anti-globalization movement seek to achieve?
How to Write an Expository Essay with an Expository Essay Outline
Outlining is one of the most vital steps for knowing how to write an expository essay. Many believe that creating an outline is a waste of time, but in reality, the more complete your expository essay plan is, the fewer hours you will have to devote to research and writing. An expository essay outline divides each paragraph of the essay into various components. By doing so, you may divide a more complex activity into more manageable components and better understand how various pieces of information will work together. Let's go through each section of the expository essay format prepared by our writer.
So, how to start expository essay on a strong note? Consider opening with a bold claim that is related to your topic. After that, go on to briefly describe your subject's significance. Finally, make a statement about your essay's core thesis or objective.
- Background information
- Thesis statement
II. Body Paragraphs
In your first body paragraph. introduce the first major point that backs up your primary statement. Then, support your claim with instances or facts, and then explain how these examples or evidence link to your thesis and support your core notion. Remember to include a transitional sentence that relates to the following paragraph.
If you follow a five paragraph essay format, then feel free to develop three body paragraphs with the similar order.
- Topic sentence
In your concluding paragraph, try restating your thesis statement in a different way to successfully conclude your work. Then put your essay's essential ideas in a brief summary before concluding with a powerful remark that will stay with your readers.
- Restate thesis
- Closing sentence
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How to Write an Expository Essay
Even though you now know a lot about the expository essay format, there are other things to keep in mind as well. In this section, we'll go over the specific steps you should take when figuring out how to write an expository essay.
The absolute first thing you should do when given an expository essay assignment is to carefully go over the guidelines. Make sure you completely understand what is required of you. If it is for class, you may be limited to certain topics and word counts, there may be restrictions on the quality of sources you can use, etc. You might write an incredible essay but get a low grade because you missed out on some small restriction or guideline.
Once you know exactly what you are supposed to do, it's time to think about different concepts you would like to explain. Make sure you are aware of the different types of expository essays so that when you brainstorm topics you have a tentative idea of what type of expository essay would be best suited for that topic.
Think about what has been covered in class, what the teacher might expect, and what you find interesting to try and come up with a list of topics. Do a little bit of research on each topic to figure out whether you can easily find reputable sources and to gain a further understanding of the topic. After keeping all these things in mind, you should end up with an expository essay topic that is appropriate, engaging, and high-scoring.
Fill Up an Outline
Once you have zeroed in on a topic it's time to do research. One of the best ways to plan your writing is to use an expository essay outline to organize interesting information. While conducting research focus on the body paragraphs rather than on the introduction or conclusion. Think about three main ways you can explain the topic and put information that fits into those subtopics under the appropriate body paragraphs.
While conducting research and filling out an outline, think about potential thesis statements. Coming up with a thesis statement too early will restrict your research, so it is better to develop a thesis statement as you find out more and more information. That being said, by the end of the planning stage you should have a finalized thesis statement
Planning out your essay beforehand will give direction to your research, cut down on the amount of time you spend on the assignment, improve the overall flow of the final essay, and make the actual writing process much easier.
Write the First Draft
Now is the time to translate your outline into full sentences. It is often useful to leave the writing of the introduction till the end because after writing the body paragraphs you will have a better idea of what to say in an introduction, but make sure that you write down your thesis statement.
Use the information you have found to create a cohesive analysis of the topic in each body paragraph. Make sure that the information you present is on topic and connects to the other facts around it. Think about what the purpose of each body paragraph is and question whether the information you are presenting fits that purpose or not. Make sure to use transition words within the paragraph and use transition sentences between paragraphs to improve overall comprehensibility and flow.
Finalize Your Draft
Go over the first draft of the essay and focus on whether the different paragraphs make sense or not. Don't be afraid to reorganize sections or completely get rid of some pieces of information. As you write your draft, new ways of expressing the information can come to mind that will make the overall essay more powerful.
Make sure that you are not trying to make a persuasive argument and that you are using facts rather than opinions as evidence.
Go over each sentence to make sure that it is clear and that it fits the purpose of the paragraph it is in. Look at the information you have included and make sure that it is useful and enhances understanding of the topic. It is better to have less information than more if the information is distracting or does not add anything to the essay.
Try and read the paper as if it is the first time you are coming across the topic to see if it makes sense or not. Congratulations, you are just one step away from being able to submit an expository essay!
Editing and Proofreading
Go over the final draft of your essay and check for formatting errors, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, etc and make sure that it complies with all the guidelines of the assignment. Finally, ask a friend or relative to go over the paper to do the last check. If you feel like you still need to make a lot of changes, don't be disheartened, spend the extra time to make the changes or reach out to expository essay writing service .
Expository Essay Examples
One of the best ways to learn how to write an expository essay is to look at an expository essay example. Looking at expository essay examples can give you a deeper understanding of what is expected as well as how to write an essay that flows well. Make sure that you use any examples you find as inspiration rather than a place to directly source information or text!
Expository Essay Example
The shift from traditional to current methods in treating diseases has improved the quality of many services, products, and processes. However, many regions worldwide are still applying traditional medicines (Stefanov et al., 2020). Therefore, conventional western medicine and alternative Eastern medicine are two recognized approaches to treating multiple diseases. Researchers have developed the foundational differences between these two approaches that have helped establish the pros and cons of each. Each approach has advantages and drawbacks. There have been debates on which approach is cheaper in terms of time and cost of treatment. Also, there is ongoing concern on which approach is safer than the other.
As of 2019, there were over 3.5 billion social media users globally, and this figure still increases by 9% each year. It is impossible to deny that social media has become an important part of many people’s lives. There are various positive effects linked with the platforms, including better connectivity. However, addiction to social media platforms, the increased comparisons between individuals, and the fear of missing out have increased depression and sadness. Social media addiction has become rampant, which has negatively influenced the lives of many individuals in society. Checking and scrolling through the different social media platforms has become increasingly popular over time, leading to excessive and compulsive use.
FAQs on Expository Essay Writing
If the information was not quite enough for you to create an outstanding paper, our college essay writer has yet to supply you with further details about expository essays. Below you'll find the most frequently asked questions on this matter, so you won't have to spend extra time and effort researching any unanswered questions.
What are the Different Types of Expository Essays?
Since expository writing may take various forms, understanding the different sorts of essays will help you pick a topic and organize the essay's general trajectory and framework.
- Process Essays - In a typical process essay, the introduction presents what you will learn, the body paragraphs offer step-by-step instructions, and the conclusion discusses the significance of what you have taken away.
- Compare and Contrast Essays - The purpose of comparing and contrasting is to present facts and allow readers to reach their own conclusions. This is still an expository essay and not an evaluation of one over the other. A contrast essay may highlight differences, similarities, or both.
- Cause and Effect Essays - Cause and effect essays examine the reasons behind events or speculate on possible effects. They can also draw attention to relevant connections or provide details about a cause or consequence.
- Classification Essays - In classification essays, distinct items in the same category are compared, stressing their differences while pointing up the similarities that place them in the same category. Classification essays may be quite intriguing when attempting to classify something into a category it often does not belong to.
- Definition Essays - Apart from an argumentative essay format , the basic objective is to define a topic by providing information. In contrast to just providing the word's dictionary definition, a definition essay also builds on the term's general notion while thoroughly defining it.
What is the Most Important Part of the Expository Essay Structure?
The core of the outline for expository essay is your thesis. It's what your essay's audience will remember. It is critical to select a thesis statement that is both intriguing and provocative yet accurate and true. It is what makes the structure of expository essay powerful and constructive.
What is the Main Idea in Expository Writing?
Identifying the core concept, or the most crucial message the author wishes to convey, is the fundamental objective for all expository papers. The text's main concepts are frequently introduced early, generally in the introductory paragraph.
Using headings, subheadings, and other emphasis techniques, you may further emphasize key ideas. Main concepts, meanwhile, can also be inferred from the text and not explicitly expressed. Occasionally, you must draw the major concept from the text's specifics, assertions, and justifications.
Now that you know whats an expository essay, you must agree that writing an expository essay is a great method to learn how to effectively communicate information while also pursuing an interest of yours. Therefore, there are many ways in which knowing how to convey ideas and explain things will help you both professionally and individually.
And if you ever feel like you need an extra push towards pursuing your dream academic life, consider us your go-to college life partner. We won't criticize you no matter how many times you need essay writing help . The EssayPro team is loyal, always reliable, and never judgmental!
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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…
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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.
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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How to Write an Expository Essay: 6 Basic Steps
Essays are a principal component of academic writing. Scholars and students need to write a plethora of essays on a recurring basis as a core requirement of their research or curricula. Depending on the writing purpose, these essays can be persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or expository. This article expounds on expository essays and suggests some helpful steps to write an expository essay.
Essays are a principal component of academic writing . Scholars and students need to write a plethora of essays on a recurring basis as a core requirement of their research or curricula. Depending on the writing purpose, these essays can be persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or expository. This article expounds on expository essays and suggests some helpful steps to write an expository essay.
What are expository essays?
Expository essays aim to peruse a subject matter, assess the available factual information regarding that subject matter, and educate the readers on it. As opposed to persuasive/argumentative essays that try to convince the readers of the credibility of the author’s arguments, expository writing is formal and objective with the purpose of presenting information to the readers in a cogitable manner without taking sides.
Let us consider, for example, an essay on the detrimental effects of the Great Depression on the psyche of middle-class Americans. This essay will briefly mention what brought about the Great Depression and explain how the deteriorating economy negatively affected the mental health of the less financially well-off citizens. It will not include the author's opinions on corruption, malpractices, human rights issues, etc., and how the government could have mitigated them in those times. Also, since expository writing is straightforward, writers should avoid using tricky language, allusions, slang, and ilk.
Steps to writing expository essays
Expository essays are some of the most systematic and well-structured essays in academic writing. Hence, one needs to follow all the structural and writing guidelines of expository writing.
1. Conduct extensive research on the topic at hand
The first step to writing an essay is to have sound knowledge of the subject matter. This implies locating trustworthy sources, referring to them constantly, and writing plenty of notes.
Once sufficient information is collected, writers should then move on to creating a rough outline of the essay. Having an essay outline enables one to arrange the available information in a comprehensible manner. However, one should not strive to draft the perfect outline at the outset.
Also, one should not do the writing and research parallelly, as doing so will deteriorate the quality of their essays.
2. Pick a structure for the essay
Essays typically comprise five paragraphs:
1st body paragraph
2nd body paragraph
3rd body paragraph
But one does not have to necessarily abide by this essay structure and can consult the teachers or supervisors for the word count and the number of paragraphs.
3. Formulate a thesis statement
A thesis statement is fundamental to any essay as it accentuates the crux of the essay. It is generally subsequent to the introductory paragraph and is one or two sentences long. The ideal way to write a thesis statement is to create a rough draft and revise it as the writing process progresses toward completion. Doing so ensures that the thesis statement is in line with the contents of the essay.
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4. Write an introductory paragraph with a hook
The introductory paragraph carries the onus of ensuring whether the readers will read the whole essay or leave midway. Thus, it is imperative for writers to write a compelling introductory paragraph , complete with a hook statement, that will pique the interest of the readers and tell them that the essay is worth their time.
5. Write the body paragraphs
The body paragraphs are equally important as the introductory as they carry the entire weight of the essay. Therefore, writers should make sure to include only incontestable and properly cited information. Also, since an essay is composed of several paragraphs, one should ensure that the transition from one paragraph to the other is seamless and there are minimal instances of incoherence.
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6. Summarize the expository essays
The final paragraph, i.e., the conclusion or summary, consists of reinstating the thesis statements with some input from the other paragraphs. A good conclusion effectively brings together the essay, ties all loose ends, and does not divulge any new information. As such, writers should not treat it as a mere obligation.
Expository essays are analytical, evidential, formal in tone, and educational. This makes it essential to have strong language skills and a knack for explaining complex concepts with ease. Hence, students and scholars should actively practice their writing skills and follow this guide to master expository writing.
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This article expounds on expository essays and suggests steps to write an effective one. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.
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What Is an Expository Essay and How to Write It
You’ve been asked to write an expository essay on a particular topic. You know that an essay is generally a written composition that is usually limited in length and reflects the author’s perspective. However, the “expository” part is a little less clear. Keep reading, and you’ll get enough information to understand what an expository essay is and how to create an effective expository essay that meets the assignment requirements.
Table of Contents
What is an expository essay, what is the purpose of expository writing, when should you write an expository essay, 5 types of expository essays, how to structure an expository essay, how to write an expository essay, key takeaways, frequently asked questions about expository essays.
The expository essay is the appropriate type of essay to write if you need to inform your audience. If your intent is to critically compare, argue, or persuade, you will want to consider a different essay format. To explain it in more detail:
- An expository essay is a type of academic writing that aims to present a balanced and objective analysis of a specific topic.
- Expository essays often employ various techniques to enhance clarity and understanding. These techniques may include definition, comparison and contrast, cause and effect analysis, problem and solution exploration, or descriptive explanations. The writer should also ensure that the essay maintains a neutral and objective tone, avoiding personal biases or emotional language.
- In an expository essay, the writer typically starts with an introduction that presents the topic and provides an overview of what will be discussed in the essay. The body paragraphs then delve into the details, presenting evidence, examples, and relevant information to support the main points. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect or subtopic, and the information should be organized logically and coherently.
- Expository essays are commonly assigned in academic settings as they encourage critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to present information in a clear and concise manner.
- The ability to write an expository essay is an essential skill for students and professionals. It promotes critical thinking, objectivity, and clear and concise communication.
The primary goal of expository writing is to explain or clarify a concept, process, or phenomenon using evidence, examples, and logical reasoning. Unlike persuasive or argumentative essays, the purpose of an expository essay is not to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint or opinion, but rather to provide clear and concise information.
The main objectives of expository writing are:
- Informing: Expository writing aims to educate and provide readers with new or valuable information. It seeks to convey facts, details, concepts, or ideas about a topic in a straightforward and concise manner.
- Explaining: Expository writing helps readers grasp complex subjects by breaking them down into simpler terms. It aims to clarify abstract concepts, processes, or phenomena, making them more accessible and understandable.
- Instructing: Expository writing provides step-by-step instructions or guidelines on how to perform a task, accomplish a goal, or understand a process. It offers a clear sequence of actions or explanations to ensure readers can follow and replicate the instructions.
- Presenting an analysis: Expository writing often involves analyzing and evaluating information, data, or evidence related to a particular subject. It may include comparing and contrasting different viewpoints, examining cause-and-effect relationships, or offering an objective evaluation of a situation.
Overall, the purpose of expository writing is to provide readers with accurate, unbiased, and well-organized information about a specific topic. It aims to enhance understanding, broaden knowledge, and facilitate learning by presenting information in a clear, coherent, and logical manner.
An expository essay is a good choice when the goal is to inform, explain, describe, or instruct. You may be assigned an expository essay as part of an in-class exam or coursework assignment. Here are some common situations in which writing an expository essay would be appropriate:
- Academic Assignments: Expository essays are frequently assigned in educational settings. Teachers often use this type of essay to assess students’ understanding of a particular subject or to teach them how to research and present information effectively. They are common in subjects such as English, history, science, social studies, or any discipline that requires a clear explanation or analysis of a topic.
- Instructional or How-to Writing: When you want to provide step-by-step instructions or guidance on how to perform a task, solve a problem, or achieve a specific outcome, an expository essay can be an appropriate format. This type of writing is commonly used in manuals, guidebooks, tutorials, or any instructional material.
- Journalism or News Writing: Expository writing is prevalent in journalism, where the goal is to inform readers about current events, news stories, or investigative reports. Journalists strive to present objective information, provide background details, and explain complex issues clearly to their audience.
- Professional or Technical Writing: In various professional fields, such as business, healthcare, engineering, or law, expository writing is utilized to convey information to colleagues, clients, or the general public. This includes writing reports, memos, manuals, research papers, or any form of communication that requires clear and factual presentation of information.
Expository essays can serve different purposes and present information in various ways. Here are five common types of expository essays:
- Descriptive essay: This type of expository essay focuses on describing a person, place, object, event, or any subject in detail. It aims to create a vivid and sensory-rich portrayal of the topic, using language that appeals to the reader’s senses and emotions.
- Process essay: Also known as a “how-to” essay, a process essay explains a sequence of steps or procedures to accomplish a task or achieve a particular outcome. It provides clear instructions and guidance, breaking down complex processes into manageable and easy-to-follow stages.
- Compare-and-contrast essay: This type of expository essay explores the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. It involves examining various aspects, characteristics, or elements of the subjects and highlighting their similarities, differences, or both.
- Cause-and-effect essay: A cause-and-effect essay explores the reasons (causes) behind an event, situation, or phenomenon, as well as the consequences (effects) that result from it. It aims to analyze and explain the relationship between causes and effects, demonstrating how one factor leads to another.
- Problem-and-solution essay: In this type of expository essay, a specific problem or issue is identified and analyzed, followed by the presentation of potential solutions or strategies to address it. The essay outlines the problem, examines its causes and effects, and proposes practical solutions or recommendations.
It’s important to note that these are not the only types of expository essays, and there can be variations or combinations of these types. Additionally, within each type, the specific approach and structure can vary depending on the requirements of the assignment or the writer’s purpose.
Structuring an expository essay involves organizing your thoughts, ideas, and information in a clear and logical manner. Here is a commonly used structure for an expository essay:
- Begin with an attention-grabbing hook to engage the reader.
- Provide some background information on the topic to set the context.
- Present a clear and concise thesis statement that states the main idea or purpose of the essay.
- Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.
- Support your topic sentence with evidence, facts, examples, or expert opinions that relate to the main point.
- Provide detailed explanations, analysis, or descriptions to clarify and develop your ideas.
- Use transitional words and phrases to ensure smooth flow and coherence between paragraphs and ideas.
- Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect or subtopic related to the main idea.
- Restate the thesis statement but rephrase it in a way that reinforces the main idea.
- Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs.
- Avoid introducing new information or ideas in the conclusion.
- End with a closing statement that leaves a lasting impression.
Writing an expository essay involves a systematic approach to presenting information in a clear and objective manner. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write an expository essay:
- Understand the purpose and requirements: Familiarize yourself with the purpose of the essay and any specific guidelines or requirements. Then, determine the topic or subject of your expository essay and gather relevant information and resources.
- Conduct research and gather information: Conduct thorough research on your topic to gather factual information, examples, evidence, or expert opinions.
- Plan and outline: Develop a clear and coherent outline that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Decide on the main points or subtopics you will cover in each paragraph of your expository essay and arrange your ideas in a logical order that flows well.
- Write the introduction: Be sure to include a clear and concise thesis statement that states the main idea or purpose of your expository essay.
- Write the body paragraphs: Write one paragraph for each main idea, using transitions to ensure a smooth flow throughout.
- Write the conclusion: Restate your thesis statement and summarize the evidence.
- Revise and edit: Review your expository essay for clarity, coherence, and logical flow, and check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Remember to always maintain an objective tone and focus on presenting information rather than expressing personal opinions.
As you can see, effective expository essays vary widely based on their topic and ultimate purpose. However, they have several important characteristics in common. When you’re writing an expository essay, keep the following tips in mind:
- Use clear, concise, and formal language, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex terms.
- The thesis statement needs to be clear, concise, and appropriately focused.
- Provide sufficient evidence and examples to support your claims and make your writing more credible.
- Consider the logical flow of your ideas and make sure they are presented in a coherent manner.
- Use appropriate transitions to connect your sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.
- Remember that the specific structure of your expository essay may vary depending on the requirements of your assignment or the complexity of your topic. Adapt the structure as needed while ensuring that your essay is organized and focused on conveying information effectively.
You should consider writing an expository essay when you need to explain, inform, or describe a particular topic or subject to your readers. Expository essays are usually assigned in academic settings, but they can also be used in other contexts, such as writing articles or blog posts. For example, an expository essay would be appropriate for purposes such as explaining the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, describing the process of a scientific experiment, or discussing the impact of technology on society.
Expository essay: The main purpose of an expository essay is to explain, describe, or inform the reader about a particular topic or subject. It should be written in a neutral manner, focusing on presenting facts, explaining concepts, and offering a clear understanding of the topic. Argumentative essay: The primary purpose of an argumentative essay is to present a well-structured argument or position on a specific issue. The writer takes a clear stance on a topic and provides strong arguments, counterarguments, and evidence to support their position. The language used may be more passionate and persuasive to convince the reader.
The length of an expository essay can vary depending on the specific requirements or guidelines provided by your instructor or the purpose of your writing. Expository essays can range from a few hundred words for shorter essays to several thousand words for more in-depth or research-based essays. The number of body paragraphs typically range from three to five, but it can vary based on the complexity of the topic and the amount of information you need to convey.
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