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How to Write an Expository Essay

Explaining a complicated concept is a very useful skill to pick up in life which is why expository essays are one of the four basic types of essays taught in school. We might think we're good at explaining but writing an expository essay is a challenge because it requires critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to present your ideas clearly. In this article, you will learn what an expository essay is, how to structure it, get an outline, get step-by-step instructions for every paragraph, a list of topic ideas, and general tips and advice.

What Is an Expository Essay?

Put simply, an expository essay exposes facts about a subject. It relates information to the reader about a situation, person, concept, or phenomenon, and explains something about them. It does not try to convince the reader about a certain viewpoint or make a persuasive argument. The goal of an expository essay is to educate the reader about something, therefore, it relies on facts not personal opinion.

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What Is Expository Writing?

Since the goal of expository writing is to convey information to the reader, many types of writing you come across in your daily life are expository. This includes articles found in newspapers, magazines, social media websites, and listicles as well as scientific papers, textbooks, business communication, and a host of other things. Expository writing is the most common form of writing in the world because it includes everything from conveying information about your day to explaining a work project.

Remember, the main distinction between expository writing and other forms of writing is that the goal is not to convince or persuade someone, rather just to provide information. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot use techniques from descriptive, narrative, or persuasive writing to make your exposition more interesting. Borrowing techniques from descriptive or narrative writing can make the information you convey more real in the reader's mind and when presenting facts and figures for persuasive writing you automatically use techniques from expository writing.

When writing an expository essay make sure you are using facts and logic rather than personal opinion or subjective truths. An expository essay definition could be “a type of writing that aims to expose the facts about a certain topic”, which means that the reader can expect trustworthy information about a topic presented in a logical way. Depending on the type of expository writing, you may have to structure it in different ways, but using an expository essay outline is always going to be beneficial to organize your research and to visualize the flow of the essay. Later on in this article you will come across an in-depth section about expository essay outlines.

Expository Essay Topics

Now that you know what expository writing is, you should think about what kind of topics you would like to write about. Finding the right topic is incredibly important because it will guide your research as well as help you determine the specific pieces of information that you will include in the final essay.

The single biggest piece of advice when coming up with a topic is to choose one that you are actually personally interested in. Doing research and relaying information can be boring, but if you choose something that you have a passion for then the entire process can become more enjoyable. What might be considered a boring assignment can be transformed into a fun way of talking about something you are passionate about.

Make sure that the topic you choose isn't too broad. Broad topics may seem easier to write about but they don't let you showcase in-depth research and bring up interesting facts. It may seem easier but most likely you will end up with a low grade. On the other hand, don't choose a topic that is too specific. You need to make sure that there is enough information out there from reputable sources to back up any point you are trying to make.

Don't just go with the first topic idea that pops into your head. Brainstorm several ideas and conduct a little bit of research on all of them to find a topic that you enjoy as well as a topic that has interesting research about it.

The most important thing to be careful of when coming up with an expository essay topic is to make sure that the topic you choose isn't trying to convince or persuade somebody of something, rather it is just conveying information.

Here are some interesting topics for expository essays for you to consider and draw inspiration from.

10 Expository Essay Topics About Education

  • What is the history of the western education system?
  • What are the most effective ways of studying?
  • At what age should children go to school?
  • Are high grades the best predictor of future success?
  • Pros and cons of college versus technical education?
  • How has the pandemic affected education?
  • Compare public high schools private high schools.
  • What are the practical benefits of STEM education?
  • Are there any benefits to home education?
  • How video games can improve the quality of education for rural children.

10 Expository Essay Topics About Mental Health

  • Mental disorders that are culturally specific.
  • What are some of the effective treatments for personality disorders?
  • What are the benefits of meditation on Mental Health?
  • How is depression different based on socio-economic background?
  • An analysis of social media psychologists.
  • How has the treatment of mental disorders changed in the last century?
  • How to help a friend with anxiety disorders?
  • Potential ways to get help for improving mental health.
  • What qualifies as a substance abuse disorder?
  • What is the impact of war on mental health?

10 Expository Essay Topics About Society

  • Compare human society to elephant society.
  • What will future humans criticize present-day humans for?
  • How does society impact media and vice versa?
  • How does a country determine its national values?
  • How should modern humans interact with indigenous humans?
  • The history of colonialism in Southeast Asia.
  • How did the Mongol Empire impact modern civilization?
  • How is Europe different than America?
  • Categorize different subcultures.
  • What were the first human societies like?

10 Expository Essay Topics About Politics

  • Compare and contrast different political systems.
  • How does democracy help marginalized populations in society?
  • How to become a senator.
  • Ways of getting involved in local government.
  • What are the basic differences between conservatives and liberals?
  • Describe the life of a famous politician.
  • How does oil impact politics?
  • Trace the history of the UN.
  • Analyze the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • Why are more young people interested in politics now?

The Different Types of Expository Essays

Writing an expository essay can be easier if you know the different types of expository essays. Because expository writing can take on so many forms, knowing the different types of essays can help you choose a topic as well as plan the overall flow and structure of the essay. The following list of different types of expository essays is not exhaustive but contains the most common ones you will come across in an academic situation.

Process Essays

You can think of a process essay as a formal how-to guide. The goal of this type of essay is to give a step-by-step explanation of how to do something. A typical process essay introduces what you will learn in the introduction paragraph, uses the body paragraphs to provide step-by-step directions, and talks about the importance of what you have learned in the conclusion. A process essay can cover something like “how to groom your dog” or can be as complicated as “6 methods to expand your online digital marketing business”.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays analyze a topic by looking at how it is similar or different from something else. Remember that this is still an expository essay, so the goal of comparing or contrasting isn't to make a judgment on whether one is better or worse, rather it is to provide information and let the reader make a decision for themselves. Comparison essays can either focus on similarities, differences, or both.

Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays look at how something came about or what the impact of something was. It provides information about the relationship between two connected things. An essay about the impact of being bullied on self-esteem as an adult is an example of a cause and effect essay. Cause and effect essays explore why things happened or what the impact of something might be and can point out interesting connections or highlight information about a cause or effect.

Classification Essays

Classification essays compare different things in the same category, highlighting what makes them different from each other but also noting what puts them in the same category. For example an essay about casual video games can talk about games like Mario Party as well as Candy Crush, and explain why even though they exist on different platforms they are both considered casual games. Classification essays can be particularly interesting when trying to fit something into a form of classification it usually does not belong.

Definition Essays

A definition essay or descriptive essay is one of the most pure forms of expository writing because it's goal is to give information that defines a topic. This can be made more interesting by presenting information about the history of the topic, the etymology of the word, and by presenting information about how the definition has changed over time or will change with time. A definition essay doesn't just give the dictionary definition of the word, rather it provides information that expands the overall idea of the term while explaining it in depth.

The Expository Essay Structure

If you are writing an expository essay for school then the essay will usually follow the typical 5-paragraph essay structure.This means that there will be an introductory paragraph, followed by three body paragraphs, followed by the conclusion. While the expository essay format can and should change based on the assignment and the audience, this is a general expository essay outline.

  • Introduction paragraph
  • Hook
  • Background information
  • A thesis statement or a sentence explaining the main purpose of the essay
  • Transition sentence
  • Body paragraph 1
  • Topic sentence about the first main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the second body paragraph
  • Body paragraph 2
  • Topic sentence about the second main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the third body paragraph
  • Body paragraph 3
  • Topic sentence about the third main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the conclusion
  • Conclusion
  • Summary of the main ideas
  • Restate the thesis statement or main purpose
  • Final thoughts

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Expository Essay Outline

Creating an outline is one of the most important steps before you actually start writing the essay. Many people think making an outline is a waste of time, but the truth is that the more thorough your expository essay outline, the less time you will need to spend researching and writing.

An outline breaks down each paragraph of the essay into different sections. This allows you to break down a larger task into manageable chunks as well as helps you visualize how different pieces of information will fit together. Let's go through each section of the expository essay structure.

Expository Essay Introduction

An introduction is the first thing somebody reads. It is your first opportunity to impress the reader and to explain what the essay will be about. Writing a good introduction can be challenging, but If you follow the outline below you will have an introduction that is clear and engaging.

  • Introduction paragraph
  • Hook
  • Background information
  • A thesis statement or a sentence explaining the main purpose of the essay
  • Transition sentence

A hook is the very first sentence of the introductory paragraph and therefore the essay. It's called a hook because the goal is to hook a reader's attention the same way a hook catches the mouth of a fish. A good hook for an expository essay can pose a question or state an interesting fact with the goal of engaging the reader as quickly as possible. Whether it's writing an article or an assignment for school, making the reader interested from the beginning is going to make you stand out.

The next few sentences of the introduction paragraph should give background information about the topic you want to discuss. This does not have to be too specific because you will expand upon these points in the body paragraphs, but make sure that the background information you present is both interesting as well as directly connected to the topic. The reader should have a basic understanding of some of the key terms and concepts that will be discussed in the paper after these sentences.

Next comes the thesis statement. A thesis statement is a one- or two-sentence declaration of what the purpose of the paper is. For an expository paper, a thesis statement clearly states the topic being explained and how it will be explained. As usual for expository writing, make sure that your thesis statement is not making an argument or trying to be persuasive.

You can either end the paragraph after your thesis statement or include a brief one-sentence transition to the body paragraphs. This transition sentence is usually more common when writing articles rather than writing academic papers.

Expository Essay Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs are where you put your research. In an expository essay, you don't need to build an argument, which can make body paragraphs simpler to write, but that doesn't mean you should just dump information randomly. Typically, you should have three body paragraphs, each one talking about a specific issue related to your topic.

  • Body paragraph 1
  • Topic sentence about the first main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the second body paragraph
  • Body paragraph 2
  • Topic sentence about the second main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the third body paragraph
  • Body paragraph 3
  • Topic sentence about the third main idea or fact being presented
  • Supporting evidence and facts
  • Transition to the conclusion

When conducting research, distill three main ways you want to explain your topic and explain each of them in a different body paragraph. You may be tempted to present as much information as possible, but a paper that is too dense with information can be complicated to understand. The goal of the body paragraph is to express information in a way that is clear, logical, and interesting.

Start a body paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly states what the paragraph will be about. Make sure you connect the topic sentence to the overall topic and make it clear to the reader how they are related.

Next, present the facts and information, making sure that each fact you present is correctly cited and comes from a reputable source. Since the purpose of an expository essay is to explain something objectively, the quality of your sources is very important.

Finally, end a body paragraph with a transition sentence that either wraps up the information in the paragraph or hints at what the next paragraph will be about. Transition sentences improve the flow of an essay by giving the reader either a recap of important information or by clearly marking the end of one subtopic and connecting it to the next one.

Expository Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of an expository essay aims to recap the main pieces of information in the essay and restate the hypothesis to remind the reader about the purpose of the writing.

  • Conclusion
  • Summary of the main ideas
  • Restate the thesis statement or main purpose
  • Final thoughts

You can summarize the main pieces of information by looking at your topic sentences and transition sentences. Include all the main information that relates to your thesis so that the reader is reminded about it.

You should restate the thesis statement so that the audience understands how the information you have presented in the body paragraph connects to the main purpose of the essay. Follow this up with an explanation of why the topic is important, highlight interesting connections, and identify other interesting ways the information can be explained.

How to Write an Expository Essay

Even though you now know a lot about the expository essay format, there are other things to keep in mind as well. In this section, we'll go over the specific steps you should take when figuring out how to write an expository essay.

Brainstorming Ideas

The absolute first thing you should do when given an expository essay assignment is to carefully go over the guidelines. Make sure you completely understand what is required of you. If it is for class, you may be limited to certain topics and word counts, there may be restrictions on the quality of sources you can use, etc. You might write an incredible essay but get a low grade because you missed out on some small restriction or guideline.

Once you know exactly what you are supposed to do, it's time to think about different concepts you would like to explain. Make sure you are aware of the different types of expository essays so that when you brainstorm topics you have a tentative idea of what type of expository essay would be best suited for that topic.

Think about what has been covered in class, what the teacher might expect, and what you find interesting to try and come up with a list of topics. Do a little bit of research on each topic to figure out whether you can easily find reputable sources and to gain a further understanding of the topic. After keeping all these things in mind, you should end up with an expository essay topic that is appropriate, engaging, and high-scoring.

Fill Up an Outline

Once you have zeroed in on a topic it's time to do research. One of the best ways to plan your writing is to use an expository essay outline to organize interesting information. While conducting research focus on the body paragraphs rather than on the introduction or conclusion. Think about three main ways you can explain the topic and put information that fits into those subtopics under the appropriate body paragraphs.

While conducting research and filling out an outline, think about potential thesis statements. Coming up with a thesis statement too early will restrict your research, so it is better to develop a thesis statement as you find out more and more information. That being said, by the end of the planning stage you should have a finalized thesis statement

Planning out your essay beforehand will give direction to your research, cut down on the amount of time you spend on the assignment, improve the overall flow of the final essay, and make the actual writing process much easier.

Write the First Draft

Now is the time to translate your outline into full sentences. It is often useful to leave the writing of the introduction till the end because after writing the body paragraphs you will have a better idea of what to say in an introduction, but make sure that you write down your thesis statement.

Use the information you have found to create a cohesive analysis of the topic in each body paragraph. Make sure that the information you present is on topic and connects to the other facts around it. Think about what the purpose of each body paragraph is and question whether the information you are presenting fits that purpose or not. Make sure to use transition words within the paragraph and use transition sentences between paragraphs to improve overall comprehensibility and flow.

Finalize Your Draft

Go over the first draft of the essay and focus on whether the different paragraphs make sense or not. Don't be afraid to reorganize sections or completely get rid of some pieces of information. As you write your draft, new ways of expressing the information can come to mind that will make the overall essay more powerful.

Make sure that you are not trying to make a persuasive argument and that you are using facts rather than opinions as evidence.

Go over each sentence to make sure that it is clear and that it fits the purpose of the paragraph it is in. Look at the information you have included and make sure that it is useful and enhances understanding of the topic. It is better to have less information than more if the information is distracting or does not add anything to the essay.

Try and read the paper as if it is the first time you are coming across the topic to see if it makes sense or not. Congratulations, you are just one step away from being able to submit an expository essay!

Editing and Proofreading

Go over the final draft of your essay and check for formatting errors, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, etc and make sure that it complies with all the guidelines of the assignment. Finally, ask a friend or relative to go over the paper to do the last check. If you feel like you still need to make a lot of changes, don't be disheartened, spend the extra time to make the changes or reach out to a professional service.

Expository Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write an expository essay is to look at an expository essay example. Looking at expository essay examples can give you a deeper understanding of what is expected as well as how to write an essay that flows well. Make sure that you use any examples you find as inspiration rather than a place to directly source information or text!

Expository Essay Example

At the bottom of this page is a link to an essay Pro example of an expository essay. I don't know how to link to it but someone on your side should.

Western Medicine vs. Alternative Eastern Medicines-Expository Essay
Western Medicine vs. Alternative Eastern Medicines-Expository Essay
The shift from traditional to current methods in treating diseases has improved the quality of many services, products, and processes. However, many regions worldwide are still applying traditional medicines (Stefanov et al., 2020). Therefore, conventional western medicine and alternative Eastern medicine are two recognized approaches to treating multiple diseases. Researchers have developed the foundational differences between these two approaches that have helped establish the pros and cons of each. Each approach has advantages and drawbacks. There have been debates on which approach is cheaper in terms of time and cost of treatment. Also, there is ongoing concern on which approach is safer than the other.
Social media and mental health
Social media and mental health
As of 2019, there were over 3.5 billion social media users globally, and this figure still increases by 9% each year. It is impossible to deny that social media has become an important part of many people’s lives. There are various positive effects linked with the platforms, including better connectivity. However, addiction to social media platforms, the increased comparisons between individuals, and the fear of missing out have increased depression and sadness. Social media addiction has become rampant, which has negatively influenced the lives of many individuals in society. Checking and scrolling through the different social media platforms has become increasingly popular over time, leading to excessive and compulsive use.

In Conclusion

An expository essay can be a challenge to write if you don't choose the right topic and don't have a plan. On the other hand, expository papers are a fun way of exploring something you are passionate about and learning how to share information in a powerful way. Expository writing is one of the most common types of writing and chances are you will find it useful throughout your life. Learning how to present information and explain things will benefit you professionally and personally in a variety of ways, so, good luck!

Do You Have an Expository Essay Prompt but Have No Idea Where to Start?

Essay writing is never as easy as ABC, it takes time, knowledge, skill, attention, and dedication to handle the task well. And, in the case of an expository essay in particular, it also requires conducting an in-depth investigation on the given topic. With the tips, tricks, and guidelines from this article, you should be able to handle this task quickly and fairly easily. Still not sure if you can cope with it on your own? If that’s the case, remember that you have a loyal friend — an essay writer from EssayPro, who is always ready to provide you with an essay help and create top-notch papers to boost your grades. We process all "write my essay" requests fast.

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