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Expository Writing: Definition and Examples

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Hannah Yang

expository writing

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.

expository writing definition

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

3 types of writing

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.

what is expository essays

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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.

Classification Essay

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.

Process Essay

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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Expository Essays

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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

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

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Does Expository Writing Have You Confused?

Maybe you find yourself on this page because your instructor asked you to write an expository essay, and you aren't exactly sure what's expected of you—if so, you've certainly found the right place. Expository writing, or exposition, is a type of discourse used to describe, explain, define, inform, or clarify. It literally means "to expose." Exposition can be found in writing or oral discourse, but for the sake of this article, we'll stick with expository writing.

You are likely familiar with expository writing already, even if the name sounds unfamiliar. Common examples include newspaper articles, how-to manuals, and assembly instructions. Expository writing is also the most frequent type of academic writing !

Present the facts, and only the facts

If you are asked to write an expository essay, then you are essentially being asked to present the facts; there is no place for bias or opinion in expository writing. In a way, this makes writing simple—it is a matter of gathering and presenting the facts about a certain topic.

Something important to keep in mind when writing exposition is that you should not assume your readers have any knowledge of the topic; don't gloss over basic or important details, even if you think they're common knowledge.

When writing expository essays, it is best to use third person narration, although second person is acceptable in some instances, such as for instructions—or articles on expository writing.

Characteristics of expository writing

There are a few characteristics of expository writing you should remember when crafting an expository essay. The first is to keep a tight focus on the main topic, avoiding lengthy tangents, wordiness, or unrelated asides that aren’t necessary for understanding your topic.

In the same vein, be sure to pick a topic that is narrow, but not so narrow that you have a hard time writing anything about it (for example, writing about ice cream would be too broad, but writing about ice cream sold at your local grocery store between 5:00 and 5:15 pm last Saturday would be too narrow).

You must also be sure to support your topic, providing plenty of facts, details, examples, and explanations, and you must do so in an organized and logical manner. Details that can support your expository writing include:

  • Comparisons
  • Descriptive details
  • Definitions
  • Charts and graphs

Formatting an expository essay

The typical format for an expository essay in school is the traditional five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction and a conclusion, with three paragraphs for the body of the paper. Most often, these three paragraphs are limited to one subtopic each.

This is the basic essay format, but expository writing does not need to be limited to five paragraphs. No matter how long your essay is, be sure your introduction includes your thesis statement and that the paper is based on facts rather than opinions. And, as with all good essay writing , make sure to connect your paragraphs with transitions.

Methods for writing an expository essay

There are a few different methods for writing an expository essay. These include:

  • Compare and contrast
  • Cause and effect
  • Problem and solution
  • Extended definition

Generally, you will want to pick one method for each piece of expository writing. However, you may find that you can combine a few methods. The important thing is to stay focused on your topic and stick to the facts.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of expository writing, you're ready to write your essay. One final tip: be sure to give yourself plenty of time for the writing process. After you've completed your first draft, let your paper sit for a few days—this lets you return to it with fresh eyes. If you'd like a second opinion, our essay editors are always available to help.

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what is expository essays

what is expository essays

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How to Write an Expository Essay: Writing Tips & Structure

Have you ever been tasked with writing an expository essay and found yourself struggling to convey information clearly and concisely? Expository essays are a unique form of academic writing, requiring a neutral stance and factual evidence to educate the reader on a specific topic.

In this step-by-step guide on how to write an expository essay, we’ll delve into the intricacies of crafting a compelling expository essay, from brainstorming to polishing the final draft. Prepare to embark on a journey to enhance your writing skills and master the art of expository writing.

Table of Contents

Expository Essay Writing: Key Takeaways

  • Expository essays are structured academic writing that analyze a given topic objectively.
  • This guide provides a comprehensive approach to crafting an expository essay, from idea generation and research through outlining, drafting, refining and polishing techniques.
  • The structure of the essay should include a precise thesis statement with evidence-based body paragraphs and transition words for coherence.

The Essence of Expository Essays

Expository essays are a type of structured academic writing that utilizes factual evidence to analyze or investigate a designated topic. Different from descriptive essays and personal opinion pieces, expository writing focuses on providing the reader with information about a given topic, maintaining a neutral stance. This objective description is crucial in academic settings, where expository essays are often assigned as a means of assessment and featured in various exam formats.

To write a good expository essay, it is important to select an engaging topic and articulate a precise, well-informed thesis statement. Examining expository essay examples can offer valuable insights into constructing a well-organized, informative essay. Remember, creativity and artistry can still be incorporated into expository writing, so don’t let the formulaic nature of such essays discourage you from developing a captivating piece.

Crafting an Effective Expository Essay Outline

An effective expository essay outline is crucial for organizing your thoughts and research, as it serves as the foundation of your essay. The basic structure of an expository essay comprises an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The more comprehensive your outline is, the less time you’ll need to spend on research and writing, ultimately making the writing process more efficient.

There is no specific length for an expository essay; however, it should be sufficient to effectively articulate the thesis statement. Typically, a five-paragraph essay is a common approach, with an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. By crafting a detailed outline, you can ensure that each section of your essay supports and builds upon your thesis statement, resulting in a cohesive and well-structured piece.

The Writing Process: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of expository essays and the importance of outline, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to writing an expository essay.

This guide will cover idea generation, research, outlining, drafting, refining, and polishing, providing a comprehensive approach to crafting a compelling expository essay, including problem and solution essay techniques.

Generating Ideas and Researching

The first step to write an expository essay is brainstorming potential expository essay topics. Consider the topics discussed in class, anticipate what your teacher might expect, and choose something that genuinely interests you. This will ensure that you are engaged in the writing process and motivated to create a captivating essay. After narrowing down your options, conduct research on each topic to determine if reliable sources are easily accessible and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.

Once you have gathered sufficient information, it’s time to analyze your research and select an expository essay topic that best suits your interests and meets your instructor’s guidelines. Keep in mind that your chosen topic should be able to provide enough factual evidence to support your thesis statement, as this will be the core of your essay. By selecting a strong, engaging topic, you set the foundation for a successful expository essay.

Organizing Thoughts with an Outline

Creating an outline is essential for organizing your thoughts and laying the groundwork for your expository essay. Start by developing a strong thesis statement that outlines the main idea of your essay and provides a well-informed, reasoned response to your research question. Your outline should specify what information will be included in each paragraph, ensuring that each section of your essay supports your thesis statement.

The outline serves as a roadmap, guiding you through the writing process and helping you stay focused on your topic. By organizing your thoughts and research in a logical manner, you’ll find it easier to begin writing and stay on track throughout the development of your expository essay.

Drafting the Essay

With a comprehensive outline in hand, it’s time to start drafting your expository essay. Focus on crafting well-structured body paragraphs that stay on topic and provide factual evidence to support your thesis statement. It’s often beneficial to postpone writing the introduction until after you’ve completed the body paragraphs and conclusion, as this will allow you to develop a more accurate and engaging introduction based on the content of your essay.

As you write, use transition words and sentences to connect ideas, maintain narrative flow, and guide readers through your argument. This will ensure that your essay is coherent and easy to follow, ultimately enhancing the reader’s understanding of your topic.

Refining Your Draft

Once you’ve completed the first draft of your expository essay, it’s time to refine your work. Start by reorganizing content, ensuring that each sentence serves its purpose and enhances the reader’s understanding of your topic. Edit for clarity and coherence, and double-check that your essay remains focused on your thesis statement throughout.

As you review your draft, read the paper as if it’s your first encounter with the topic. This will help you determine if the essay is coherent and if the information provided is relevant to the intended purpose of each section. Remember to abstain from attempting to make a persuasive argument and to utilize opinions as evidence, as this can detract from the objective nature of your expository essay.

Polishing the Essay: Editing and Proofreading

The final step in crafting a compelling expository essay is editing and proofreading. Check for errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting, and ensure that your citations are accurate and adherent to the assigned style guide. Tools like Grammarly can be helpful in detecting errors and phrases that lack clarity, as well as ensuring a uniform tone throughout your essay.

In addition to self-editing, consider having someone else review your work. This can provide a fresh perspective and help identify any remaining inconsistencies or areas that need improvement. With your polished expository essay in hand, you’ll be ready to present your well-researched, informative, and engaging piece to your audience.

Analyzing Expository Essay Examples

Examining expository essay examples can be an invaluable tool in understanding how to create a well-structured, informative essay. By analysing the structure, style, and use of evidence in an expository essay example, you can gain insight into crafting your own compelling piece. Remember, it’s not recommended to directly source information or text from expository essay examples, but they can serve as an inspirational reference for your work.

Take note of how the thesis statement is presented, how the body paragraphs are organized, and how the conclusion effectively summarizes the main points of the essay. By carefully studying expository essay examples, you’ll be better equipped to create your own well-crafted, engaging, and informative piece.

Diving into Expository Essay Types

Expository essays come in various forms, each with its own unique purpose and structure. Understanding the different types of expository essays can aid in selecting a subject and organizing your essay’s overall trajectory and framework. The primary types of expository essays include classification, definition, process, compare-and-contrast, and cause-and-effect essays.

Classification essays identify and organize various subjects within one category, outlining their individual characteristics. A definition essay, on the other hand, provides a clear and concise explanation of a subject matter. A process essay outlines the steps necessary for completing a task, providing the reader with an understanding of the procedure.

Compare-and-contrast essays analyze the differences and similarities between sources cited. Cause-and-effect essays investigate the reasons behind a particular occurrence and the consequences that follow. Familiarizing yourself with these expository essay types will expand your writing capabilities and help you craft a compelling piece.

Structuring Your Expository Essay

To ensure a coherent and engaging expository essay, it’s crucial to understand the expository essay structure, which includes a distinct introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion that support your thesis statement. The introduction should include a precise and succinct thesis statement that outlines the primary focus of your essay, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the topic at hand.

Each body paragraph should contain evidence that supports your thesis statement, ensuring that every section of your essay contributes to the overall argument.

Finally, the conclusion should succinctly summarize the main points and provide a clear and concise statement of the essay’s overarching message. By following this structure, you’ll create a well-organized, informative, and engaging expository essay that effectively communicates your ideas to your audience.

The Role of the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement serves as the foundation of your expository essay, providing a succinct, precise synopsis of the primary point of your essay. A strong, clear, and memorable thesis statement is essential, as it gives the reader a clear understanding of the main focus of your essay and sets the tone for the entire piece. Examples of effective thesis statements include: “The effects of global warming are becoming increasingly evident in our environment,” “The use of technology in the classroom can have both positive and negative effects,” and “The rise of social media has had a profound impact on our society.”

To create a thesis statement, identify your essay topic, conduct research on the topic, and formulate a main idea or argument based on your findings. This statement should be concise and direct, ensuring that your essay remains focused and well-organized throughout the writing process.

Enhancing Your Essay with Transition Words and Sentences

Transition words and sentences play a crucial role in connecting ideas, maintaining narrative flow, and guiding readers through your argument. They serve as the binding element that keeps your essay’s foundation intact, preventing confusion and ensuring that your argument remains coherent and easy to follow. A lack of logical progression of thought can make it difficult for the reader to comprehend your essay’s argument, ultimately compromising its structure.

Examples of transition words and phrases include “however,” “in addition,” “on the other hand,” and “as a result.” By incorporating these transitions into your expository essay, you’ll create a seamless reading experience that effectively communicates your ideas and maintains the reader’s interest throughout the piece.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start an expository essay.

To start an expository essay, begin with a general statement about your topic that captures the reader’s attention. This should be followed by your thesis or main point of the essay, which can be further supported with three body paragraphs.

Use a formal tone and avoid introducing unnecessary information or summaries.

How do you write an expository essay step by step?

Writing an expository essay can be done step-by-step by organizing your thoughts, researching the topic, formulating a thesis statement, writing an introduction, composing the body paragraphs, and summarizing the essay in the conclusion.

Finally, revise and proofread the essay to ensure its quality.

What is an example of an expository essay?

An example of an expository essay is one that provides readers with a step-by-step guide on how to do something, or a descriptive essay that is loaded with details.

These types of essays seek to explain a particular topic in an informative and logical manner.

What are the 4 parts of the expository essay?

An expository essay is composed of four parts: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

It provides a clear and organized explanation of a specific topic.

What is an expository essay?

An expository essay is an essay that communicates factual information, requiring the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning it in a clear and concise manner.

It is important for the student to be able to organize their thoughts and ideas in a logical manner in order to effectively communicate their argument. Splitting the text into paragraphs is a key to better readability. Start a new paragraph whenever you introduce a new idea or change direction in your argument. This will be a success.

In conclusion, crafting a compelling expository essay requires careful planning, research, and organization. By understanding the essence of expository essays, creating an effective outline, following a step-by-step writing process, and analyzing examples, you can develop your writing skills and create an engaging, informative piece.

Familiarize yourself with the different types of expository essays and the importance of structuring your essay to support your thesis statement. Remember to enhance your essay with transition words and sentences, ensuring a smooth, coherent reading experience for your audience. With these tools and techniques in hand, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of expository writing.

Expository Essays Made Simple: The Guide With Examples

What is an expository essay?

How to write, structure, and format it to reach its purpose?

This article is here to answer all your questions on expository writing. I’ll share the meaning and provide a few templates and examples for extra clarity.

Expository Essay Definition

Examples of such explanatory texts are:

  • Scholarly articles
  • Instructional or technical guides
  • Unbiased journalistic investigations
  • A news report
  • Business writing

It’s an expository text definition for us to understand the nature of this paper type. For more info, let’s learn the characteristics and elements of an expository essay.

What are the characteristics of expository essay?

Expository papers are factual and objective. They have a clear purpose, and their structure is linear and logical. In such essays, writers don’t share their opinions and don’t try to persuade readers.

Expository essays:

  • Teach readers about the topic.
  • Provide detailed information.
  • Describe and explain facts.
  • Clear, concise, and written with formal language.
  • Organized, in the 3rd person, with precise word choice.

What are the elements of an expository essay?

  • Strong thesis statement
  • Evidence and examples
  • Specific supporting details to explain the topic for a better understanding
  • Logical structure and transitions between paragraphs
  • Compelling conclusion to help readers remember the information better

What Is the Purpose of an Expository Essay?

The purpose of an expository essay is to present information and explain a topic. No personal opinions or biased statements are here, just facts with evidence.

The main focus is logic and coherence.

I’ve found the method for you to remember expository essays’ organization. It’s POET:

what is expository essays

  • P — Purpose: analyze, tell, explain, and connect the information.
  • O — Organization: do research, outline, and structure your paper.
  • E — Evidence: use facts, statistics, expert quotes, and examples.
  • T — Thesis: be concise and straightforward.

Expository vs. Argumentative

An easy way to understand the meaning and purpose of explanatory papers is to compare them with other text types. Students most often confuse expository essays with argumentative (persuasive) ones. The above table demonstrates the differences for you to remember.

Types of Expository Writing

As a rule, teachers mention the type of expository essay in the assigned prompt. It helps you understand how to structure and present the information in your paper.

The five types of expository writing are:

  • Definition. These papers describe and explain concepts. You just tell readers about something: a person, a place, a situation, etc.
  • Classification. Here you need to break a broad concept into subcategories. Start with a general topic, and then tell about each subgroup. (Example: an essay about movie genres, cat breeds, book styles, etc.)
  • Process (how-to). These texts explain to readers how to create or do something. Give instructions, steps, and practical tips. We also know process essays as problem-solution papers. A writer introduces and describes a problem and then tells the audience how to solve it.
  • Compare-and-Contrast. Here you tell about the similarities and differences between at least two subjects. Or, you can describe the pros and cons of something. (Example: compare two novels of the same author; pros and cons of living in a village; etc.)
  • Cause-and-Effect. These essays explain why something happened and what the outcome was. (Example: why Executed Renaissance (1) happened in Ukraine in the 1930s and what effects it has now.)

Expository Essay Structure

In academia, expository essays are standard 5-paragraph papers. You write an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Below is more information on what to include in every paragraph.

Introduction

The introduction of expository essays includes the topic and the main idea. Three elements to write here:

  • A writing hook to grab the reader’s interest
  • A topic’s background (introducing the topic)
  • A thesis statement summarizing the main idea (what you’ll tell about the subject)

Here’s an example:

what is expository essays

Body Paragraphs

Expository papers have at least three body paragraphs, each exposing one idea. It’s critical to craft logical transitions between paragraphs and include evidential support.

Each paragraph should have a logical connection to the thesis statement. As for evidence, use statistics, citations, and other info you’ve got when researching. (2)

Here go your four E’s to consider:

  • Explanations
  • Elaboration

That’s what a body paragraph of your expository paper might look like:

what is expository essays

Three elements to include:

  • Topic sentence (to state what this paragraph will be about)
  • Explanation of the topic in detail
  • Concluding sentences with a logical transition to the next paragraph

The final paragraph restates the thesis, given the evidence you provided in the essay. Summarize the topic, but don’t introduce any new information. Leave readers with a positive impression of your work.

Three elements of expository essay conclusions:

  • Readdressing the thesis in light of the provided information
  • A brief overview of the essay’s key points
  • The key takeaway for readers to remember from your essay

what is expository essays

Expository Essay Format

Example of expository essay.

Below is your example of expository writing to see the structure and format. It’s a standard five-paragraph essay students write in college. The number of words and paragraphs may differ depending on the prompt you get from teachers.

Feel free to use it for inspiration and a better understanding of how to write:

what is expository essays

What is the primary purpose of an expository text?

The primary purpose of an expository text is to inform readers about the topic. Such texts describe and explain concepts to educate the audience. They are objective. A writer shouldn’t express personal opinions or attempt to persuade readers. Expository essays are descriptive, not argumentative or persuasive.

How to write an expository essay?

First, review the prompt; it will tell you all the instructions. You’ll know a topic, a word count, a format, etc. Then, do research and gather all the information about your subject. What will you tell the readers? What evidence you’ll use to support your points? Once ready, create an outline. You’ll need to specify the thesis statement and think about how you structure an essay. Finally, write a draft and proofread and edit it before submitting it to a teacher’s review.

What is typically included in the introductory section of an expository essay?

An introductory paragraph starts with a hook to grab readers’ attention to the topic. Then, provide a topic’s background for readers to understand what you write about. Finally, finish your introduction with a thesis statement. In the thesis, summarize the main idea of your paper.

How long is an expository essay?

Target about 800 words for expository writing. It includes five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Check your prompt carefully: It often mentions the number of words to write.

Over to You

I hope this article has answered your “What is an expository essay” question. Remember about the purpose: inform and educate readers. Imagine yourself as a lecturer who needs to tell the audience about the subject — and voila !

Follow the logical structure, write in the 3rd person, and use evidence to prove your information. The above tips and examples are here to help you.

References: 

  • https://www.husj.harvard.edu/articles/the-executed-renaissance-paradigm-revisited  
  • https://www.nhcc.edu/academics/library/doing-library-research/basic-steps-research-process  
  • Essay samples
  • Essay writing
  • Writing tips

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The Write Practice

Expository Essay: 3 Building Blocks to Propose an Idea and Defend It

by Dixie-Ann Belle | 0 comments

If you saw the words “expository essay” on a writing assignment, would your mind draw a blank? Would you immediately feel as if you had stumbled into unexplored territory?

Well there's good news.

expository essay

This post is written by guest writer Dixie-Ann Belle. You can learn more about Dixie-Anne at the end of this article. Welcome Dixie-Ann! 

You might not realize it, but chances are this is not your first encounter with this type of essay. Once you have been writing essays in academic environments, you have probably already worked on expository writing.

In this article, I hope to help you recognize this essay type and understand the expository essay outline. Comprehending the building blocks is instrumental in knowing how to construct an exceptional expository essay.

Lay a Strong Foundation

Over the years, I have taught and tutored college students one on one as they write academic essays, in face to face classrooms and online, and I have noticed a pattern. They often approach essays in one of two ways.

Some consider them with apprehension and are fearful of making mistakes. Others feel confident that they have written many essays before and think they have already mastered expository writing.

Interestingly, it's the latter who often end up the most shaken when they realize that they are not as familiar as they think with this type of writing.

What I hope to instill in my students is that they should not feel intimidated whatever their situation or essay assignment.

I encourage them to make sure they understand the foundations of the expository essay structure. I try to get them to grasp the basic blocks that need to be there, and once they do, they have a good chance of crafting a substantial piece of writing.

What is an Expository Essay?

Students are typically assigned one of at least four types of essays: the persuasive/argumentative essay, the descriptive essay, the technical essay, or the expository essay.

Writing an expository essay is one of the most important and valuable skills for you to master.

According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

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.

Keep in mind that your expository writing centers on giving your reader information about a given topic or process. Your goal is to inform, describe, or define the subject for your readers.

As you work to achieve this, your essay writing must be formal, objective, and concise. No matter what your discipline, it's almost guaranteed that you will be required to write this common type essay one day.

Some expository essay examples could include:

  • Define the term ‘democracy'
  • Compare and contrast the benefits of cable television vs streaming
  • Outline the process that generates an earthquake
  • Classify the different types of tourism
  • Outline the aspects of a good fitness program

The possibilities are endless with expository writing, and it can cover a wide variety of topics and specialties.

3 Building Blocks of a Great Expository Essay

To make sure you're on the right track with this type of paper, it helps to understand the three building blocks of the expository essay format and how to apply them to the final expository essay structure .

1. Write an introduction

Most students know that an introductory paragraph should grab the interest of the reader. However, they might not realize that it should also provide context for the essay topic.

Ask yourself : What are you talking about in this essay? Why is this topic important? Some background details could help to establish the subject for your reader.

For example:

If you were writing an essay on the impact smartphones have on society, you might want to start with some information on the evolution of smartphones, the number of smartphones in society, the way people use the phones and more.

The introduction should start off with general information.

You then work your way down to the more specific and principal part of your introduction and the crown of your whole essay, the thesis statement.

What is the thesis statement?

Your thesis statement states in concise language what this essay is going to be about. It is one clear sentence which expresses the subject and the focus of this piece of writing. If there is a prompt, the thesis statement should directly answer that prompt.

Our smart phones topic might create a thesis statement like:  Smart phones have many positive impacts for adults in the business world.

Right away the reader has some idea of what's ahead.

2. Write your body paragraphs

With your thesis statement clear in your mind and your introduction setting the scene, it is time to write your body paragraphs.

Each body paragraph contains supporting information including factual evidence for your essay topic. Each paragraph should each focus on one idea.

Depending on your word count and the teacher requirements, you can write any number of body paragraphs, but there are usually at least three for a basic five paragraph essay.

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is one single statement that explains the point of the paragraph. It directly refers to your thesis statement and tells you what the body paragraph is going to be about.

Remember our smart phone thesis statement? You need something that will relate to that thesis sentence and will alert the reader to what is to come.

Here's one possibility: 

Smart phones can help increase productivity  for professional adults.

This topic sentence not only reminds us that you are talking about positive impacts for adults with smart phones, it now shows us what the following paragraph will cover.

The best body paragraphs will go on to include different types of details, all of which would support your topic sentence. A good abbreviation to encapsulate the different details is spelt TEEES.

The TEEES Body Paragraph Structure

Let's break down this abbreviation and explore the types of details you'll need in your body paragraphs

T: Topic sentence

You'll begin with your topic sentence establishing the purpose of this paragraph. We'll use our example from above:

Smartphones can help increase productivity for professional adults.

E: Explanation

This is where you expand on your topic and include additional supportive information.

If you were talking about smartphones and productivity, maybe you could mention what elements of the smartphone make it optimal for productivity.

E: Evidence

This is the information from reputable sources you researched for your topic. Here's where you can talk about all the information you have discovered from experts who have carefully studied this subject.

For our smartphone essay, perhaps you could mention a quote from a technology reporter who has been following the rise of smartphones for years.

E: Examples

This would be concrete subject matter to support your point.

Maybe here you can list some of the smartphone apps which have proven to increase productivity in the workplace.

S: Significant/Summarizing sentence

This is the last sentence in the body paragraph which summarizes your point and ends this part of your essay. There should be no doubt in the reader's mind that you have finished talking about your topic, and you are moving on to another in the next paragraph. Here's how we could conclude this paragraph on smartphones and productivity:

Smartphones have transformed the productivity of the modern workforce.

3. Write the conclusion

Once you have written your body paragraphs, you're in the home stretch. You have presented all of your points and supported them with the appropriate subject matter. Now you need to conclude.

A lot of students are confused by conclusions. Many of them have heard different rules about what is supposed to be included.

One of the main requirements to keep in mind when ending an expository essay is that you do not add new information.

This is not the time to throw in something you forgot in a previous body paragraph. Your conclusion is supposed to give a succinct recap of the points that came before.

Sometimes college students are instructed to re-state the thesis, and this puzzles them. It doesn't mean re-writing the thesis statement word for word. You should express your thesis statement in a new way.

For example, here's how you could approach the conclusion for our smartphone essay.

You've come up with three points to support your thesis statement, and you've explored these three points in your body paragraphs. After brainstorming, you might decide the benefits of smartphones in the workplace are improved productivity, better communication, and increased mobility.

Your conclusion is the time to remind your reader of these points with concise language. Your reader should be able to read the conclusion alone and still come away with the basic ideas of your essay.

Plan Your Essay Based on an Expository Essay Outline

While writing fiction, it is sometimes okay to “pants” it and just leap into writing your story.

When writing essays in academia, this is rarely a good idea. Planning your essay helps organize your ideas, helps you refine many of your points early on and saves time in the long run.

There are lots of great brainstorming techniques you can use to get your ideas together, but after that, it's time to create a topic to sentence outline.

There are three steps to creating your topic to sentence essay outline.

  • Develop a powerful thesis statement. Remember, this is the overarching idea of your entire essay, so you have completed a significant step once you have one done.
  • Come up with the ideas you would like to support your thesis statement.
  • Based on your points, craft your topic sentences.

Here is an example of a topic to sentence outline:

Having these important foundation details completed is a great way to develop your essay as you build on each part. It is also an effective method to make sure you are on the right track.

Depending on your instructor (or tutor, if you have one), you can show your outline to them to get feedback before you launch into your entire essay.

Even if you don't have anyone to provide a critique, the outline can make it easier to revise how you will approach the rest of your paragraph essay.

You now have some firm foundations to help you as you construct your expository essay.

How do you organize an expository essay?  Let us know in the comments .

Take fifteen minutes to practice writing your own expository essay.

First, choose an expository writing assignment topic. If you can't think of one, use one of the expository essay examples below .  

  • What are the nutritional elements of a healthy breakfast?
  • What are some of the most influential types of music?
  • Compare and contrast the benefits of electric and gas cars. 
  • What are the major steps to planning a stress-free vacation?
  • How do smartphones affect mental health?
  • Define true love.

Craft a thesis statement about your topic. Then, write three topic sentences for your body paragraphs.

With the time you have left, start writing your essay. You might be surprised how much you can write in fifteen minutes when you have a clear outline for your essay!

When your time is up, share your outline and your essay in the Pro Practice Workshop here . After you post, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

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Dixie-Ann Belle

Since she started scribbling stories in her notebooks as a child, Dixie-Ann Belle has been indulging her love of well crafted content. Whether she is working as a writing teacher and tutor or as a freelance writer, editor and proofreader, she enjoys helping aspiring writers develop their work and access their creativity.

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Expository Essay

Definition of expository essay.

Expose means to uncover or lay something bare, or to discover something in a way that others know what it is. Expository is derived from exposition , which is a noun of ‘expose.’ An expository essay is a genre of writing which tends to explain, illustrate, clarify, or explicate something in a way that it becomes clear for readers. Therefore, it could be an investigation, evaluation, or even argumentation about an idea for clarification.

Types of Expository Essay

Expository essay is further divided into five major categories .

  • Descriptive Essay : A descriptive essay describes something, some place, some experience, or some situation through sensory information.
  • Process Essay : A process essay explains or shows a process of making or doing something.
  • Comparison Essay : A comparison essay makes comparison and contrasts between two things.
  • Cause/Effect Essay : A cause and effect essay finds out the cause of something and then its effects on something else.
  • Problem/Solution Essay : A problem/solution essay presents a problem and its solution for readers.

Difference Between an Expository Essay and an Argumentative Essay

As is clear, an expository essay is an exposition, explanation, investigation, or illustration for the purpose of clarification, therefore, its tone is often kept neutral. However, in an argumentative essay , a clear position about something is taken before the argument is presented. There is no issue of objectivity or neutrality.

Examples of Expository Essay in Literature

Example #1: how chinese mothers are superior (by amy chua).

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.”

This is an excerpt from a comparison/ contrast essay by Amy Chua, which explains how mothers are different in different cultures. This paragraph compares mothers from Chinese, Iranian, Jamaican, and Irish contexts .

Example #2: Learning to Read (by Malcolm X)

“It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education. I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there. I had commanded attention when I said something. But now , trying to write simple English, I not only wasn’t articulate, I wasn’t even functional. How would I sound writing in slang , the way I would say it, something such as, ‘Look, daddy , let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad — ‘ Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.”

This passage has been taken from a process essay. In this essay, Malcolm X tells the process of his learning. In this paragraph, he gives full detail how he learns letters.

Example #3: Summer Ritual (by Ray Bradbury)

“About seven o’clock you could hear the chairs scraping from the tables, someone experimenting with a yellow-toothed piano , if you stood outside the dining-room window and listened. Matches being struck, the first dishes bubbling in the suds and tinkling on the wall racks, somewhere, faintly, a phonograph playing. And then as the evening changed the hour, at house after house on the twilight streets, under the immense oaks and elms , on shady porches, people would begin to appear, like those figures who tell good or bad weather in rain -or-shine clocks. Uncle Bert, perhaps Grandfather, then Father, and some of the cousins; the men all coming out first into the syrupy evening, blowing smoke, leaving the wSWomen’s voices behind in the cooling-warm kitchen to set their universe aright. Then the first male voices under the porch brim, the feet up, the boys fringed on the worn steps or wooden rails where sometime during the evening something, a boy or a geranium pot, would fall off.”

This is an example of a passage from a descriptive essay. It has full description which tells us about sounds and colors; a type of sensory information.

Functions of an Expository Essay

The function of an expository essay is to clarify and expose things, ideas, persons, and places through description, process, comparison/contrast, or through problem solution. The objective of this type of essay is to make readers aware of things given in the essay. It proves full and detailed information in a way that readers become knowledgeable about the topic.

Related posts:

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  • Narrative Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Descriptive Essay
  • Types of Essay
  • Analytical Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Critical Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Process Essay
  • Explicatory Essay
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  • Comparison and Contrast Essay

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what is expository essays

How to Write an Expository Essay: Definition, Outline, Writing Tips, and Examples

what is expository essays

In the realm of academic writing, this type of essay stands as a beacon of clarity, demanding writers to illuminate a subject with precision and objectivity. Whether you're a seasoned essayist or a student embarking on your first exploration of this genre, mastering the art of expository writing is a valuable skill that transcends disciplines. This form of essay invites you to delve into expository essay topics, dissect their intricacies, and present your findings in a straightforward manner. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the terrain of expository writing, unraveling the techniques and strategies that transform a mere composition into a beacon of insight. From understanding the fundamental principles to honing your ability to craft a compelling thesis, join us on a journey that promises to demystify the process of writing, empowering you to articulate ideas with clarity and purpose. Or, you can get our essay writing help and take care of other important tasks set for today.

What Is an Expository Essay

An expository essay is a form of academic writing that aims to elucidate, clarify, and present a balanced analysis of a particular topic or idea. Unlike other essay types that may delve into personal opinions or narratives, the expository essay emphasizes objectivity and factual accuracy. The primary objective is to provide a clear and comprehensive explanation of the chosen subject, exploring its various facets, presenting evidence, and ensuring a logical progression of ideas. 

What Is an Expository Essay

According to an expository essay definition, this genre requires the writer to delve into research, organize information systematically, and deliver a coherent and informative piece that educates the reader on the chosen topic. Whether investigating a scientific concept, historical event, or literary work, it serves as a vehicle for conveying knowledge in a concise, lucid manner.

Expository Essay Examples

An expository essay example serves as a valuable tool for students, offering a concrete illustration of the structure, style, and depth expected in this genre of writing. By studying examples, students gain insights into effective thesis formulation, organizing ideas within paragraphs, and integrating supporting evidence to bolster arguments. 

Additionally, examples showcase how to balance factual accuracy and engaging prose, providing a model for clear and concise communication. Students can draw inspiration from the content and presentation of well-crafted expository essays, honing their own skills in research, analysis, and effective expression. By the way, we have an interesting autobiography example , so check it out!

Example 1: “The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence”

This expository essay explores the multifaceted evolution of artificial intelligence (AI), examining its historical roots, contemporary applications across various industries, and the consequential societal impact. It provides a comprehensive overview of AI's journey from philosophical debates and early computational developments to its current role as a transformative force in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and entertainment. Additionally, the essay addresses ethical considerations surrounding the widespread adoption of AI, including concerns related to job displacement, privacy, and responsible development. Ultimately, it navigates the complex landscape of artificial intelligence, shedding light on its remarkable advancements and its challenges to our ever-changing society.

Example 2: “The Benefits of Outdoor Education for Children”

This essay highlights the advantages of outdoor education for children, emphasizing its positive impacts on their physical, mental, and social development. It argues that outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and team sports not only promote physical health by encouraging movement and reducing sedentary behavior but also contribute to mental well-being by providing a respite from everyday stressors and fostering a connection with nature. Furthermore, it suggests that exposure to outdoor environments cultivates environmental awareness and a sense of stewardship among children.

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Types of Expository Essay

Expository essays come in several distinct types, each serving a unique purpose and requiring specific approaches to convey information effectively. One common categorization includes:

  • Descriptive Expository Essay. This type focuses on painting a vivid picture of a subject, using sensory details to engage the reader's imagination. It aims to create a clear and sensory-rich portrayal of a person, place, object, or experience.
  • Process Expository Essay. Here, the writer breaks down a complex process or procedure into manageable steps, providing a detailed and sequential explanation. This type of essay is instructional, guiding readers through a series of actions to achieve a specific outcome.
  • Comparison and Contrast Expository Essay. This form involves analyzing similarities and differences between two or more subjects, offering insights into their shared characteristics or divergent qualities. It requires a careful examination of the chosen elements to highlight their relationships.
  • Cause and Effect Expository Essay. Focused on exploring the reasons behind an occurrence and its subsequent consequences, this type delves into the cause-and-effect relationships within a given topic. Writers elucidate the connections between actions and outcomes, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Problem and Solution Expository Essay. Addressing real-world issues, this essay type identifies a specific problem, analyzes its root causes, and proposes viable solutions. It encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, compelling readers to consider alternative approaches to challenges.
  • Definition Expository Essay. This essay seeks to clarify and explain the meaning of a particular term, concept, or idea. Writers provide a comprehensive definition, often including examples and illustrations to ensure readers grasp the essence of the subject.
  • Cause and Effect Expository Essay. This type of essay examines the reasons behind a particular phenomenon or event and explores its subsequent effects. It aims to establish a clear cause-and-effect relationship, allowing readers to comprehend the interconnected elements of the topic.

Understanding these diverse types of essays empowers writers to choose the most suitable approach for effectively conveying information and achieving their communicative goals. Our experts can rewrite essay that you already did according to any of the above-mentioned types.

Expository Essay Topics

Selecting compelling expository essay topics requires thoughtful consideration of both personal interest and the potential engagement of the intended audience. Start by identifying subjects that genuinely captivate your curiosity or align with your expertise, as this enthusiasm will naturally infuse vigor into your writing. Additionally, assess the topic's relevance in the broader context, ensuring it addresses contemporary issues or timeless themes. 

Consider the audience's interests, aiming for subjects that resonate with their experiences or evoke a sense of shared relevance. Striking a balance between uniqueness and accessibility is key—opt for topics that allow you to offer fresh perspectives while ensuring there is ample research material available. Ultimately, the best topics seamlessly blend your passion, the audience's interests, and the broader significance of the chosen subject, ensuring a captivating and informative exploration for both writer and reader alike. Here are expository essay ideas from our writers for your inspiration:

Expository Essay Topics

  • The influence of art on human emotions.
  • Exploring the life cycle of a star.
  • Tips for sustainable living in urban areas.
  • The impact of social media on political awareness.
  • How to cultivate a positive mindset in challenging times.
  • The history and cultural significance of tattoos.
  • The process of recycling electronic waste.
  • Benefits of incorporating meditation into daily routines.
  • The role of laughter in maintaining mental health.
  • Understanding the psychology of decision-making.
  • The impact of fashion on individual expression.
  • Tips for effective conflict resolution in relationships.
  • The science behind the sense of taste.
  • The significance of biodiversity in ecosystems.
  • Exploring the history of traditional folk music.
  • How to foster a sense of community in a neighborhood.
  • The benefits of learning a musical instrument.
  • The evolution of communication technologies.
  • The process of seed germination in plants.
  • Tips for creating a productive home office space.
  • The impact of artificial intelligence on job markets.
  • Understanding the concept of emotional intelligence.
  • The benefits of practicing gratitude daily.
  • The history and cultural importance of tea.
  • How to develop effective public speaking skills.
  • Exploring the world of virtual reality technology.
  • The significance of water purification methods.
  • Tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • The process of making sustainable food choices.
  • The role of literature in shaping societal norms.

Expository Essay Outline

An outline for expository essay is a structured plan that serves as a roadmap for organizing the main ideas and supporting details of the essay in a logical and coherent manner. While the specific structure may vary based on the assignment or preferences, a typical outline generally includes the following components, beginning with how to start an expository essay:

expository essay outline

Expository Essay Introduction

  • Hook or attention-grabbing statement.
  • Background information on the topic.
  • Clear thesis statement that presents the main idea.

Body Paragraphs (usually three or more)

  • Topic sentence for each paragraph, presenting a main point or supporting idea.
  • Supporting evidence, facts, or examples to illustrate and explain the topic sentence.
  • Analysis or interpretation of the evidence to connect it back to the thesis.

Expository Essay Conclusion

  • Restatement of the thesis in different words.
  • Summary of the main points discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Concluding thoughts or insights, possibly suggesting implications or future considerations.

Transitions

  • Smooth transitions between paragraphs to ensure a cohesive flow of ideas.
  • Clear connections between sentences and paragraphs to guide the reader through the essay.

Revising and Editing

  • Space for notes on areas that may need revision or improvement.
  • Consideration of clarity, coherence, and overall effectiveness.

By creating an expository essay outline, a college essay writer can organize their thoughts, ensure a logical progression of ideas, and maintain a clear and concise structure. This framework helps writers stay focused on the main purpose of the essay – to inform, explain, or analyze a particular subject – while providing a roadmap for readers to follow and comprehend the information presented.

How to Write an Expository Essay Step by Step

Writing an expository essay involves a systematic process that ensures clarity, coherence, and effectiveness in conveying information. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you craft an expository essay:

Choose a Topic

  • Select a topic that interests you and aligns with the purpose of an expository essay – to inform, explain, or analyze a subject.

Conduct Research

  • Gather relevant and credible information to support your chosen topic. 
  • Utilize reputable sources such as academic journals, books, and reliable websites.

Create an Outline

  • Develop a clear and organized outline that includes the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Each section should have a specific purpose and contribute to the overall coherence of the essay.

Write the Introduction

  • Start with an attention-grabbing hook that relates to your topic. 
  • Provide background information and context, leading to a concise and focused thesis statement that outlines the main idea.

Develop Body Paragraphs

  • Each body paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence that introduces the main point. 
  • Support the topic sentence with evidence, facts, or examples. 
  • Ensure a logical flow between paragraphs, using transitions to guide the reader.

Provide Evidence

  • Support your points with credible evidence and examples. 
  • Ensure that each piece of evidence directly relates to the topic sentence and supports the overall thesis of the essay.

Analyze and Interpret

  • After presenting evidence, analyze and interpret it. 
  • Explain the significance of the evidence and how it relates to your thesis. 
  • This step helps to ensure that your audience understands the relevance of the information presented.

Write the Conclusion

  • Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs without introducing new information. 
  • Restate the thesis in different words and offer concluding insights or implications related to the topic.

Revise and Edit

  • Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency. 
  • Check for grammatical errors and awkward phrasing, ensuring a smooth flow of ideas. 
  • Consider feedback from others or take a break before revising to gain a fresh perspective.
  • Carefully proofread your essay to catch any remaining errors, typos, or issues. 
  • Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and argumentative essay format .

By following these steps, you can systematically approach the writing process and create a well-organized and informative expository essay. Remember to stay focused on the purpose of informing, explaining, or analyzing the chosen topic throughout the entire writing process.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to write an expository essay offers students several important advantages. First off, it helps them express their thoughts clearly and organize ideas effectively, skills that are useful not only in academics but also in various professional situations where clear communication is key. 

Moreover, writing expository essays improves critical thinking as students practice analyzing information, connecting ideas, and presenting well-supported arguments. This skill is valuable in everyday decision-making and problem-solving scenarios. 

Additionally, the process of crafting such essays enhances research abilities, teaching students how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively. Overall, mastering expository writing equips students with practical, transferable skills that can positively impact their academic and professional pursuits. You can use our research paper service to cope with assignments better and faster.

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Understanding What an Expository Essay Is

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  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

If you search the Internet for a definition of an expository essay , you might become confused. Some books and websites define them as "how to" essays, while others give a long and confusing definition that seems to include every possible essay type out there.

Expository essays are simply essays that explain something with facts, as opposed to using opinion to inform the reader. Sample styles for expository essays may include:

  • Papers that described how to do something ( how to essay ).
  • Papers that analyze events, ideas, objects, or written works.
  • Papers that describe a process ( step by step essay) .
  • Papers that explain/describe a historical event ( descriptive essay ).

Expository essays are often written in response to a prompt that asks the writer to expose or explain a specific topic. Essay questions on tests are normally written to prompt an essay in this very style, and may look like the following:

  • Explain the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.
  • Explain how to balance a checkbook.
  • Describe the composition and function of a chicken's egg.
  • Explain the process of changing a tire.

An expository essay should have the same basic structure as any typical essay , with an introductory paragraph , body paragraphs , and a summary or conclusion. The length of your essay can vary, according to context.

The introductory paragraph will contain the thesis sentence , and the topic of the thesis should be grounded in fact.

A concluding essay will provide a summary of your main points and re-statement of your goal or thesis.

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Expository Essay

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Complete Guide to Expository Essays: Writing Help and Topics

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Expository Essay

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Writing essays can be a real challenge for many students. They often struggle to organize their thoughts and convey them clearly in expository essays.

This struggle leads to essays that lack clarity and fail to captivate the reader’s interest.

But worry not! This guide is your go-to helper. We're going to break down the ins and outs of expository writing using simple steps. Plus, we’ve included some tips and topic ideas, so you can craft essays that are both clear and engaging!

So, keep reading!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is an Expository Essay?
  • 2. Expository Essay Vs. Argumentative Essay
  • 3. Types of Expository Essay
  • 4. Structure of an Expository Essay
  • 5. How to Write an Expository Essay?
  • 6. Expository Essay Example
  • 7. Tips for Writing a Good Expository Essay
  • 8. Expository Essay Topics

What is an Expository Essay?

An expository essay is a type of essay that seeks to inform, describe, or explain a particular subject or topic. 

It's distinct in its approach as it emphasizes presenting facts, analyzing information, and providing a comprehensive understanding without incorporating personal opinions or biases.

Why Write an Expository Essay?

The purpose of writing an expository essay extends beyond academic requirements. 

This form of writing nurtures the ability to research deeply, logically organize thoughts, and articulate information coherently. 

Developing these skills not only enhances academic performance but also prepares individuals for effectively communicating complex ideas in various real-world scenarios.

Expository Essay Vs. Argumentative Essay

Expository and argumentative essays vary in their purposes and approaches. 

Expository essays aim to inform or describe a topic without personal opinions, using a neutral, informative tone. 

On the other hand, argumentative essays seek to persuade by presenting a clear viewpoint and supporting it with evidence. 

Expository essays follow a simpler structure, providing information, while argumentative essays involve complex structures, presenting and countering arguments. Understanding these differences helps in choosing the right essay type for specific writing goals.

Types of Expository Essay

Before we dive into the different types of expository essays, let's check out five common ones:

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive essays aim to create a detailed image or sensory experience in the reader's mind by vividly describing a particular place, object, person, or event. 

They use rich language and sensory details to paint a clear picture and evoke emotions, making the reader feel like they're experiencing what's being described.

Process Analysis Essays

In a process analysis essay , the writer breaks down a series of steps needed to achieve a specific task or goal. 

They provide a clear, step-by-step guide, making complex tasks easy to understand. For example, they might explain how to bake a cake, fix a bicycle, or perform a scientific experiment.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays focus on exploring the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. 

They present a balanced view, showing how things are alike and how they're different. Whether it's comparing different cultures, products, historical events, or ideas, these essays aim to offer insights into relationships and contrasts.

Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays delve into examining the causes that lead to specific effects or the effects that arise from certain causes. 

They analyze the relationship between events, explaining why things happen and what outcomes result from those actions or occurrences. They aim to provide a clear understanding of the connections between different elements.

Problem and Solution Essays

Focused on a specific issue, problem and solution essays identify a problem, its causes, and effects, and propose solutions to address and resolve the problem. 

They aim to offer practical, effective solutions to real-life issues, providing a roadmap for solving problems or improving situations.

Structure of an Expository Essay

An expository essay typically comprises three main parts: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Here's what the general structure of an expository essay looks like:

Introduction

The introduction of an expository essay is where the writer presents the topic, provides background information, and ends with a clear thesis statement . 

This section aims to grab the reader's attention and set the stage for the discussion that follows.

Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay contains a series of paragraphs that delve deeper into the topic. 

Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea or argument. 

These paragraphs present evidence, examples, or explanations supporting the thesis statement. Smooth transitions between paragraphs ensure a coherent flow of information.

The conclusion of an expository essay restates the thesis statement using different wording. It summarizes the key points discussed in the body paragraphs. 

Finally, it offers a sense of closure, wrapping up the essay's main ideas. It's not just a repetition of earlier information but rather a synthesis of the key points to leave a lasting impression on the reader.

How to Write an Expository Essay?

Writing an expository essay involves a step-by-step process to effectively communicate information. Here's a guide to crafting an expository essay:

Select a Topic

When selecting a topic for an expository essay, it's crucial to choose something that's not only interesting but also suitable for an informative discussion. 

Consider the following pointers while choosing an expository essay topic:

  • Select a topic that personally interests you.
  • Choose a topic that can be explained within the essay's scope
  • Choose subjects allowing for an objective, fact-based analysis.
  • Consider prevalent issues or areas of curiosity for discussion.

Conduct Research

When researching for your expository essay, explore diverse and credible sources like books, scholarly articles, and reputable websites. 

Ensure the information gathered directly relates to your topic and is from reliable sources. Verify the credibility by checking the author's credentials and publication dates. 

Consider various perspectives to present a well-rounded view. Organize your findings systematically, keeping detailed notes for citation. This approach helps in crafting a well-informed and supported expository essay.

Create an Outline

Develop a structured outline for your essay. Organize your thoughts, decide on the main points, and arrange them logically. 

Here's what the general structure of an expository essay looks like:

This outline template provides a clear structure, allowing for a well-organized and coherent expository essay.

View this in-depth guide on creating an expository essay outline for a structured essay!

Write The Introduction

The introduction of an expository essay plays a pivotal role in engaging the reader and setting the stage for the discussion. Here are the essential components:

  • Engaging Hook : Begin your essay with a captivating fact, question, quote, or story related to the topic to captivate the reader's attention and encourage them to continue reading.
  • Background Context: Offer essential background information about the topic, providing the necessary context for the reader to understand its relevance and importance.
  • Clear Thesis Statement: End the introduction with a clear thesis statement. It should express the main idea or argument of your essay. This statement helps guide the reader, indicating the purpose and direction of your essay.

Compose Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs serve as the essay's core. 

Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence introducing the main idea. Back up this idea with evidence or examples to support your point. 

Make sure each paragraph smoothly connects to the next for a logical flow of ideas. This structured approach ensures a coherent and well-supported discussion throughout your expository essay.

Write the Conclusion

In the conclusion of your expository essay, recap the main points without introducing new information. 

Restate the thesis in different words to reinforce the main argument. Additionally, offer closing thoughts or discuss the broader implications related to the topic. This section serves as a summary, emphasizing the significance of the essay's ideas and their broader relevance.

Revise and Edit

Revision and editing are crucial steps in the essay writing process. 

Review the content for coherence and logical flow, ensure the essay structure is smooth and well-organized, and focus on clear, concise language. 

Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, verify citations, and seek feedback for improvements. Finally, perform a final proofread to ensure the essay is error-free and polished for submission.

Expository Essay Example

Below is an example illustrating the concept of climate change and its effects, exploring the causes, impacts, and potential solutions.

This essay serves as a basic example of how an expository essay on climate change might be structured, offering insights into its causes, effects, and potential solutions.

Need more examples? Check out these expertly crafted expository essay examples on multiple topics and themes!

Tips for Writing a Good Expository Essay

Here are some tips for writing a good expository essay:

  • Ensure the essay has a clear and narrowly defined topic for effective exploration.
  • Present facts, statistics, and evidence without incorporating personal opinions or biases.
  • Utilize a well-structured format with logical sequencing of ideas and paragraphs.
  • Provide detailed and comprehensive explanations to support each point or idea.
  • Use diverse and relevant examples to illustrate and reinforce key points.
  • Present information in a concise and easily understandable manner, avoiding unnecessary details.
  • Use transitional words and phrases for seamless connections between paragraphs and ideas.
  • Make sure that all information presented is relevant and sourced from credible, reputable materials.

Expository Essay Topics

Expository essay topics typically revolve around subjects that can be explained, clarified, or described without personal opinions. 

They cover a wide array of areas such as science, technology, education, health, social issues, historical events, and more. These topics should allow for in-depth exploration and factual analysis.

Here are some essay topics for students:

Expository Essay Topics for High School Students

  • The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers
  • Benefits of Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Choices
  • Exploring Climate Change: Causes and Effects
  • The Importance of Education in Today's Society
  • Understanding Cyberbullying and its Impact
  • Analyzing a Historical Event: The Civil Rights Movement
  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning
  • Explaining the Process of Photosynthesis
  • The Effects of Video Games on Adolescents
  • The Role of Leadership in Problem Solving

Expository Essay Topics for University Students

  • The Future of Artificial Intelligence and its Ethical Implications
  • Analyzing the Impact of Globalization on World Economies
  • Climate Change: Policy Interventions and Global Strategies
  • The Psychology Behind Procrastination and Ways to Overcome It
  • Exploring Renewable Energy Sources and Their Viability
  • The Evolution of Social Media and its Societal Impact
  • Gender Disparities in the Workplace: Causes and Solutions
  • The Effects of Stress on Mental Health in Modern Society
  • Analyzing the Influence of Cultural Diversity in Global Business
  • Understanding Quantum Mechanics: Principles and Applications

Can’t pick a topic? Have a look at these extensive expository essay topics and get more ideas!

With our steps, tips, and topics, you have all you need to get started on your expository essay.

If you're still encountering challenges in composing your expository essay, our custom essay writing service is here to help. 

Our proficient writers specialize in creating well-structured, informative expository essays. With our expert support, you can be sure you’ll receive a top-quality, plagiarism-free essay.

Reach out to our expository essay writing service today to get the help you need. Place your order today!

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Expository Essay Topics

expository essay

What is expository essay definition, usage, and literary examples, expository essay definition.

An  expository essay  [ik-SPOZ-ih-tohr-ee ess-ay] is an essay in which the writer researches a topic and uses evidence to inform their readers or clarify the topic. They can take many forms, including a how-to essay, an essay that defines something, or an essay that studies a problem and offers a solution.

The Five-Paragraph Model

Most expository essays follow the five-paragraph essay model:

  • Introduction:  The introduction contains the thesis statement or main point of the essay. Here, the writer describes the subject and gives necessary  context .
  • Body:  This section is usually three or more paragraphs and offers supporting evidence for the thesis.
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion revisits the thesis and summarizes the writer’s main points.

Types of Expository Essays

There are several types of expository essays that can be written.

  • Cause and Effect:  These essays question why something happened and the outcome of that occurrence. For example, an essay of this type might question why there’s a large homeless population in Seattle and what effects it has on the city and its citizens.
  • Classification:  These break a broad subject down into several, in-depth subcategories. A classification essay might study the various kinds of movies, define genres, and break the most common genres down by subgenre (for example, action thriller and action adventure as subgenres of the action genre).
  • Compare and Contrast:  These essays lay out the similarities and differences of at least two subjects. One such essay might compare two different novels by the same author. These essays can explore the pros and cons of different choices as well, like living in the city versus living in the country.
  • Definition:  As indicated, a definition essay describes or defines something. For example, it might define the internet and provide a detailed explanation of how it works.
  • How-To:  Also called a process essay, a how-to essay gives the reader steps for creating or doing something. For example, a process essay might walk its reader through setting a table, step by step.
  • Problem and Solution:  This type of essay explores a problem and, using evidential support, offers potential solutions. For example, a writer might consider the example of Seattle’s homeless population, cite a solution that other cities have used successfully, and propose that same solution for Seattle.

Other Forms of Expository Writing

In addition to the aforementioned, there are other uses for expository writing. Most commonly:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Encyclopedic entries
  • Manuals/assembly instructions

Expository vs. Argumentative Essays

Expository essays are like argumentative essays in that they both require research. Unlike argumentative essays, expository essays are meant to inform their audience rather than persuade it.

Argumentative essays are often controversial and contain the writer’s personal opinions, whereas expository essays give factual information and explore a topic from many  perspectives . Educational spheres often use expository essays to test writing ability, reading comprehension, and/or the writer’s understanding of a topic.

Examples of Expository Essays

1. Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp’”

This is a definition essay that explores the meaning and usage of the slang word  camp . When she wrote the essay in 1964, people used the word to describe a person or thing as exaggerated, effeminate, or theatrical. Sontag suggests that camp isn’t a solid concept but rather a sensibility, and she acknowledges its connection to contemporary gay culture. Her definition of camp is given in the following passage:

[Camp] is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric–something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques.

2. David Foster Wallace, “Consider the Lobster”

Herein, Wallace reviews the 2003 Main Lobster Festival and questions the morality of boiling lobsters alive. He examines the problem from all facets, including whether a lobster feels pain, without directly asserting his opinion. After descriptions of the festival, physical properties of lobsters, and the common use of the crustaceans, Wallace poses the main question of the essay:

So then here is a question that’s all but unavoidable at the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in the kitchens across the U.S. Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does “all right” even mean in this context? Is it all just a matter of individual choice?

3. Rebecca Solnit, “The Longest War”

From Solnit’s 2014 book of essays,  Men Explain Things to Me , “The Longest War” explores issues of male violence against women. Solnit uses both statistical and  anecdotal  evidence to inform her audience of the issue, which supports some of her argumentative essays that appear later in the book:

[T]hough a rape is reported only every 6.2 minutes in this country, the estimated total is perhaps five times as high. Which means that there may be very nearly a rape a minute in the United States. It all adds up to tens of millions of rape victims. A significant portion of the women you know are survivors.

Further Resources on Expository Essays

You can find more examples of expository essays on  LiteraryDevices.net .

Bibme.org  offers guidance for writing expository essays.

Essaytigers.com  provides step-by-step writing instructions and an additional argumentative essay and expository essay comparison.

Related Terms

  • Argumentative Essay
  • Expository Writing

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  • The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples

The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples

Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type. 

In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.

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Table of contents

Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.

An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.

Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.

The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
  • The body presents your evidence and arguments
  • The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance

The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.

Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.

The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.

A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.

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.

A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.

Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.

A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.

Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.

Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.

A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.

Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.

On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.

My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.

With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…

Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.

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what is expository essays

Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.

Rhetorical analysis

A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.

The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.

The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.

The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

Literary analysis

A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.

Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.

The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.

Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

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.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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How to Write an Expository Essay?

27 April, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

Mastering the art of writing a good expository essay is the backbone of writing A grade essays. This extensive guide written by the Handmade writing team will help define exactly what an expository paper is in fact. This is done by examining it in relation to other genres of essays as well as giving you a broad view on a range of different essays that fall into this category.

Expository Essay

What is an expository essay?

The definition of an expository essay is to expose an idea by explaining the evidence and facts surrounding the topic. Its purpose is to explain or clarify information on a subject. It is important to present the topic in an impartial and non-biased fashion without forming a conclusion.

All types of academic papers such as argumentative and persuasive essays include expository writing in some shape or form. Due to this, it can be hard to define where the expository paper ends, and the other papers begin. To get a clear understanding of how expository writing differs, it is best to compare it to different essay genres.

Is an argumentative essay an expository essay?

An expository essay is objective, neutral and focuses on explaining all sides of a situation, whereas an argumentative essay is about arguing for and supporting one side of the debate by contrasting it with different viewpoints. Below is an illustration of the conventions and structures of both essay genres.

is an argumentative essay an expository essay

How are a persuasive essay and an expository essay different?

A persuasive essay and an argumentative essay are extremely similar in format and will follow most of the rules outlined for argumentative essays. A persuasive writing is used to persuade. Expository writing is used to inform.

How to write an expository essay

The main points of what an expository essay should contain have been summarized in the graphic above. Good expository writing needs you to know how to present and write the information in the correct format. This guide will take you through the things you need to do to write a fantastic and detailed paper step by step. The first step is understanding what type of expository essay you are going to write.

What are the main types of expository essays?

Good writers understand the purpose of their essays. Identify the type of paper that you need to write and focus on answering the question in a suitable format. Here are five main types of expository papers:

Main types of expository essays

A Descriptive Essay

The purpose of a description is to describe something in detail. It could be a person you know, a place that you have visited or even describing the steps in a natural process such as photosynthesis. You should explain the subject matter in detail but not necessarily include any conclusion or analysis.

A Process Essay

The purpose of a process essay is to recount the steps taken. Good examples are scientific reports of experiments or a guide on how to create something. The essay explains the process that was taken and the results that were gained without judgment.

A Comparison Essay (Compare and Contrast Essay)

A comparison essay’s purpose is to compare and contrast two subjects. Examples of this can be how a theme is present in two books, two perspectives on social theory or even a flowers appearance. The essay should just list the differences without any kind of analysis or argument attached.

A Cause and Effect Essay

A cause and effect essay identify the reason why a phenomenon occurs and what happens as a consequence. These essays lend themselves to social research in topics like “ What causes dyslexia and what effects will it have on learning? ” Or history topics that discuss the cause of policies and their effects on society. An expository essay should detail the causes and effects without any further analysis.

A Problem and Solution Essay

A problem and solution essay will identify problems in a system and offer solutions that could fix or lessen the burden of those problems. As an expository paper there shouldn’t be an argument for one solution but an outline of all possible solutions.

Read the question you have been set or the criteria of your assignment and measure it against these expository essay formats to choose the best question for you. For more in-depth advice on how to write the styles of essays detailed above please follow the embedded links!

How to choose a title for an expository essay?

When you are given free reign, it can be hard to decide what to write an essay on. The easiest method of how to start an expository writing is to decide on the topic and title. A simple way of coming up with a basic title for an essay is to insert its type into the title.

  • A description of Stephen King/Harlem/Photosynthesis
  • The process of baking a cake/testing Boyle’s law/of camping.
  • A comparison of Byron’s poetry / international social policy / political stances on taxation.
  • The cause and/or effects of potato blight/obesity/voter apathy
  • The problems and/or solutions to gun regulation / gendered language/stigmatization of mental issues.

Creating a basic title will give your essay direction, and a subject to focus on. It can act as a primary thesis statement as research and can be narrowed and to a more meaningful title later. News channels&papers and websites are sources of current and ongoing issues to discuss.

Formulating a clear title will help clarify the purpose of your paper by giving the reader your topic and the context in which you are reporting on it. When choosing a title and essay type always consider whether they are appropriate to the guidelines and subject matter. The most important thing is to choose a subject you enjoy.

where to look for topic for an expository essay

Feel free to buy essay online with our top-level essay writers .

Expository essay topics for high school and college

Being given the freedom to choose an essay topic in high-school or college is a hard assignment. Here are some general expository essay topics for high school and college students to help you brainstorm and decide on a subject.

Keep in mind that learning to write good essays has benefits that go beyond your academic life. Good writing skills are essential for your future career as well. As many as 80 percent of corporations with employment growth potential evaluate the writing skills of their applicants during the hiring process.

Here are some colorful examples of topic titles that we suggest looking into.

Process titles

  • The perfect recipe for an amazing summer vacation
  • How to test the resistance of an electrical current

Comparison titles

  • A comparison of positivism and communist perspectives on social education
  • Compare and contrast the use of technology in Harry Potter and Frankenstein

Cause and effect titles

  • Explain how the Treaty of Versailles contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.
  • What are the causes and consequences of climate change?

Problems and solution titles 

  • What problems arise from the depiction of violence on in the media?
  • What can you do to help someone with a hearing impairment adapt to mainstream education?
  • How is the representation of women a problem in video-gaming and what can game developers do to stop it?

Expository essay Outline

The structure of this essay type usually consists of five paragraphs. These include the introduction, three supporting paragraphs that comprise the body of your essay, and a conclusion that sums up your points.

Start your introduction with a strong sentence that pulls the readers in. The introduction of your expository essay is the first thing that readers will see, so it directly influences how they receive your essay. You should take your time to make it effective. Keep in mind that the purpose of your introduction is to hook your readers and provide a guideline for your topic and main argument, known as the thesis statement. This hook should tell your readers something they didn’t know before, for example, an interesting fact, a surprising statistic, or a quote from a well-known person.

Related Posts: How to write an Essay outline | Essay format guide  | How to write an Essay introduction  

Next, the best expository writing format is to choose three items about the topic that you will discuss in the body of your essay. These are the points that you introduced in your introduction and should discuss in more detail in the body.

No matter the style or the type of essay  – choose three points about the subject that you can elaborate on and explain in detail.

Finally, your conclusion should restate your thesis statement and give details about the end goal. You can also make a prediction based on the discussion of your essay and provide closure for your readers.

What should I include in the introduction?

The introduction of an expository essay should  have a thesis statement . The thesis statement here is simply to introduce the subject you are explaining and in what context.

How should I write the body paragraphs?

Each paragraph of the body paragraph should discuss a single idea on the subject. The first sentence of each paragraph should introduce the topic that you will discuss. The following sentence should elaborate and describe the subject in detail. Use facts, evidence, and quotations to support the statement and elaborate. The final sentence should be conclusive to signal the topic has ended. Writing in this formula will sign-post your work and make it easier to read.

All information should be objective and written in the third person.

An expository writing purpose is to describe subjects in detail to explain and clarify. As such the focus should be on simple, clear sentences with concentrate messages. It is important to stay focused on the topic at hand and not go off on tangents.

How to write a conclusion?

The conclusion of an expository paper should recap all the points made previously and avoid coming to a conclusion about which side of the argument is right or adding new ideas to the essay. You can signal the end of the paper with a final general point, for example:  “Only by evaluating all aspects of homelessness we can come to an understanding of what causes it and how to implement better solutions.”

Expository essay example

Do’s and don’ts of expository essays.

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what is expository essays

I write like I mean it!

4/10/2024 By | Paige Chung

Cornell Writes! Tips from our community of writers is a digital newsletter sponsored by the  Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines  and the Cornell University Graduate School .

Each week, a member of our writing community – a Graduate Writing Service ,  English Language Support Office , or Cornell Writing Centers tutor; a writing specialist from the Knight Institute; a writing instructor from our First-Year Writing Seminars or Writing in the Majors programs; maybe YOU – will share a writing strategy from their own writer’s toolkit.  #writelikeabear

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Meet Paige Chung

Paige Chung is a writer and DJ. They currently research hip-hop and DJ turntablism. They write poetry, plays, and essays. Born x Raised in Los Angeles but they roll everywhere. They currently train in DJ turntablism at the Beat Junkies Institute of Sound and study Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University.  

Here is this week’s Writing Tip!

Sometimes I get anxious or nervous when I am about to start writing. Stress to do well and impress the audience or the professor. Doubts of whether I am a good enough writer to pull off an idea I want to execute. Regardless, when I get a bit emotional, I take a deep breath and I approach the page with three strategies. 

  • Write like my best friend is listening to my latest tea and wants to know every word. What were they wearing? Who is that again, the one from your math class? How dare she!!! Sounds silly, but whenever I am talking to my best friend, I am welcomed with love, curiosity, and a genuine desire to know every detail of my story. So when I am stuck, I write like she is listening. This can apply to any kind of writing, I am a scholar like you writing papers for my professors too. 
  • Breakdown what I need to write like instructions to build a shelf. 1-2 sentences describing the performance. 3 sentences about the theoretical framework and why it is related to this performance. 6 sentences about the musical structure of the party. 4 sentences about the……….I don't always know exactly what I need to write next, which is sometimes where the anxiety rolls in. However, planning this way anticipates what I might need to say and how much. It's an art not a science, so it is only an approximation. But when I can see an outline like this, I think I only need to write one sentence at a time. Then I build and build and build. This structure can always change later.
  • Cut with a knife. My mentor Dr. G gave me this one. When you are editing, NOT WRITING, cut with a knife meaning go through each of your sentences and cut any words that you do not need to make the point you need to make. If you already made the point, why make it again? We are going for expansion, concision, potency: expand the idea from another perspective, say it simple and say it clean. No need for repetitiveness, unless that's what you're going for, in that case you know what you are doing. Cue O.T. Genasis: Cut it, cut it, cut it -- you need to cuuuuuuut it. 

Now, get to it.

what is expository essays

Paige Chung

Graduate Student, Performing and Media Arts, Cornell University

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IMAGES

  1. What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide

    what is expository essays

  2. How To Write An Expository Essay (7 Best Tips)

    what is expository essays

  3. How To Write An Expository Essay in 6 Steps

    what is expository essays

  4. Expository Essay Samples: Just The Facts

    what is expository essays

  5. How to Write an Expository Essay

    what is expository essays

  6. 6 Types of Expository Writing with Examples

    what is expository essays

VIDEO

  1. Essay 18: THE EXPOSITORY ESSAY

  2. Expository Essays: Body Paragraphs (April 6, 2020)

  3. Why Expository Essays?!

  4. Expository Essay

  5. How to Write a Thesis Statement for Expository Essays

  6. Conclusions that impress examiners (5/6) Discursive Writing

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Expository Essay

    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.

  2. Expository Writing: Definition and Examples

    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 ...

  3. Expository Essays

    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. ...

  4. What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide

    An expository essay is a type of essay that involves explaining an idea or theme within a given subject or topic. We guide you through writing one with examples.

  5. How to Write an Expository Essay

    Formatting an expository essay. The typical format for an expository essay in school is the traditional five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction and a conclusion, with three paragraphs for the body of the paper. Most often, these three paragraphs are limited to one subtopic each. This is the basic essay format, but expository writing ...

  6. How to Write an Expository Essay in 5 Steps

    The main types of expository essays are: 1. Cause and effect essay: This essay type requires the writer to explain why something occurred and what happened as a result. 2. Compare and contrast essay: For a comparison essay, the writer takes two subjects or ideas and analyzes their similarities and differences. 3.

  7. How to Write an Expository Essay: Types, Tips, and Topics

    An expository essay is a type of essay wherein the writer investigates and expounds on an idea, evaluates evidence, and presents an argument about that idea in a clear and concise manner. The word expository comes from exposition , the noun form of "expose," which means to uncover something to let others know what it is.

  8. How to Write an Expository Essay: Writing Tips & Structure

    Writing an expository essay can be done step-by-step by organizing your thoughts, researching the topic, formulating a thesis statement, writing an introduction, composing the body paragraphs, and summarizing the essay in the conclusion. Finally, revise and proofread the essay to ensure its quality.

  9. What Is an Expository Essay? Types, Structure, Examples

    An expository essay is an academic paper that exposes facts, explaining a topic to a reader. A writer shares the info to educate the audience, not entertain or persuade them. Examples of such explanatory texts are: It's an expository text definition for us to understand the nature of this paper type.

  10. Expository Essay: 3 Building Blocks to Propose an Idea and Defend It

    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. Keep in mind that your expository writing centers on giving your reader information about a given topic or process. Your goal is to ...

  11. Expository Essay

    Definition of Expository Essay. Expose means to uncover or lay something bare, or to discover something in a way that others know what it is. Expository is derived from exposition, which is a noun of 'expose.' An expository essay is a genre of writing which tends to explain, illustrate, clarify, or explicate something in a way that it becomes clear for readers.

  12. Topics, Outline, Examples

    Here is a step-by-step guide to help you craft an expository essay: Choose a Topic. Select a topic that interests you and aligns with the purpose of an expository essay - to inform, explain, or analyze a subject. Conduct Research. Gather relevant and credible information to support your chosen topic.

  13. Your Complete Guide to Expository Writing in 5 Quick Steps

    What Is Not Expository Writing. Your Complete Guide to Expository Writing And Tips For Success. #1 - Pull out your main points and facts. #2 - Double check your facts. #3 - Decide how you are going to lay out your facts. #4 - Get feedback. #5 - Edit ruthlessly.

  14. Understanding What an Expository Essay Is

    Papers that explain/describe a historical event ( descriptive essay ). Expository essays are often written in response to a prompt that asks the writer to expose or explain a specific topic. Essay questions on tests are normally written to prompt an essay in this very style, and may look like the following: Explain the events leading up to the ...

  15. How To Write An Expository Essay

    An expository essay typically comprises three main parts: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Here's what the general structure of an expository essay looks like: Introduction. The introduction of an expository essay is where the writer presents the topic, provides background information, and ends with a clear thesis statement.

  16. Expository Essay in Literature: Definition & Examples

    Expository Essay Definition. An expository essay [ik-SPOZ-ih-tohr-ee ess-ay] is an essay in which the writer researches a topic and uses evidence to inform their readers or clarify the topic.They can take many forms, including a how-to essay, an essay that defines something, or an essay that studies a problem and offers a solution.

  17. Expository Essay: Definition, Outline, Topics & Examples of ...

    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.

  18. The Four Main Types of Essay

    An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays. Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and ...

  19. Expository Essays

    An expository essay is an unbiased, factual piece of writing that provides an in-depth explanation of a topic or set of ideas. It aims to explain a topic from all angles and takes no decisive stance on it. Expository essays make no new arguments on a topic but rather explain preexisting information in a structured format. They are mainly used ...

  20. 4.1: Expository Essays

    An essay that explains a writer's ideas by defining, explaining, informing, or elaborating on points to allow the reader to clearly understand the concept. Many of your future academic workplace writing assignments will be expository-explaining your ideas or the significance of a concept or action. An expository essay allows the writer the ...

  21. Tips on Writing an Excellent Expository Essay

    A persuasive writing is used to persuade. Expository writing is used to inform. How to write an expository essay. The main points of what an expository essay should contain have been summarized in the graphic above. Good expository writing needs you to know how to present and write the information in the correct format.

  22. Expository Writing

    Expository Writing is a structured essay or paragraph which uses evidence, facts, and information to explain a topic or concept. It is best used when the writer wants to fully explain a topic ...

  23. I write like I mean it!

    Paige Chung is a writer and DJ. They currently research hip-hop and DJ turntablism. They write poetry, plays, and essays. Born x Raised in Los Angeles but they roll everywhere. They currently train in DJ turntablism at the Beat Junkies Institute of Sound and study Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. Here is this week's Writing Tip!