How To Write An Expository Essay

What is an expository essay

An expository essay is a type of academic writing used as a way to look into a problem and explore it.

This type of essay goes beyond storytelling and explains an idea, giving information and explanation without making an argument. When writing an expository essay you explain complex factual information in a simple, easy-to-understand way. This type of essay is written in a neutral tone of voice. It is usually used to simplify a subject which is usually difficult for people to understand.

What Is Expository Writing?

Expository writing is a way of explaining a topic or idea in a balance, concise, logical and straightforward manner. Expository writing is factual, with no references to the writer’s opinions, arguments or emotions.

For example, a topic like “Write an essay explaining how the internet has changed the way we socialize.” Such a topic require an explanation of facts. No need to form an opinion or argument on whether or not the internet has changed the way we socialize.


Structure of an expository essay

Essays are usually composed of five paragraphs:

  • the introductory paragraph containing the thesis or main idea.
  • three body paragraphs supporting the thesis.
  • the concluding paragraph restating the thesis and summarising the main points of essay.

Introduction

The introduction should start with a hook sentence that captures the attention of the reader about the topic. This should make the reader want to continue reading. After the hook sentence, provide the context for the audience to understand your topic. Then finish the introduction with a thesis statement. The thesis helps the reader understand what you are going to expose in the essay.

Here is the basic structure for the introduction of an expository essay:

  • An attention-grabbing hook sentence: one sentence.
  • Topic context: 2-3 sentences.
  • A thesis statement: one sentence.

Body paragraphs

Start each paragraph with the main idea of the paragraph. Then include the evidence (facts, statistics, quotes, interviews, etc.) to support the main idea. When using the factual evidence to support the topic:

  • analyze the evidence
  • explain why this particular piece of information supports your thesis.

Conclusion

Reinforce your thesis with a summary of the main ideas you used in the essay. Avoid adding new evidence in the conclusion. Make the conclusion neutral but at the same leave the readers with something to think about.


Steps for writing an expository essay

Step 1. Prewriting

Before writing any essay, you should take time to brainstorm about the topic and main ideas. This includes doing thorough research and taking notes about the topic. Collect facts from reliable sources like peer-reviewed journals, books, and newspapers. The facts should include statistics, research findings, chronicles of previous events and historical facts.

After researching, then create an outline of the essay showing the information to be presented in each paragraph.

Step 2. Drafting

When you have an outline of the essay, the next step is create a draft. When drafting an expository essay, use the following suggestions:

  • Start every body paragraph with the topic sentence. This is a sentence which states the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Each of the body paragraphs should cover a single point that develops the essay’s thesis.
  • The sentences that follow the topic sentence of each paragraph should offer facts and examples that support the paragraph’s topic.
  • The concluding paragraph should restate the thesis and summarise the main ideas that support the thesis. Avoid introducing new material in the conclusion.
  • An expository essay doesn’t reference a personal experience, so it should be written in the third person perspective (“he,” “she,” or “it”), not in first person (“I” or “you”).

Step 3. Revising, editing and proofreading

After drafting the essay, edit, modify, and reorganize the ideas in your essay to make it the best it can be. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Does the essay give a logical and unbiased analysis?
  • Are facts and examples relevant to the topic?
  • Is the information clearly presented to the reader?
  • Is the sentence structure varied?

After revising the draft, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure the essay is not only clear and concise, but also lively and engaging. If possible, have a friend read the essay in order to get a different perspective.


Main types of expository essays

There are many types of expository essays, including:

1. Cause and effect essay

A cause and effect essay is a type of essay written to explain the cause and effects of a certain thing. In this type of expository writing, you choose an event and highlight:

  • what exactly happened
  • why it happened
  • what its consequences were.

2. Problem and solution essay

A problem and solution essay is a type of expository writing where you identify a problem and offer a solution. In this type of expository writing, you choose an problem and highlight:

  • what the problem is
  • why causes the problem
  • what its consequences were
  • how to solve the problem.

3. Compare and contrast essay

A compare and contrast essay is an essay written to create a detailed comparison and contrast between two things, such as points of views.

4. Definition essay

A definition essay is written to define an idea, object or concept. In this type of expository writing, you:

  • explain what a certain thing is
  • describe its properties
  • describe how many types of that thing exist.

5. Process essay

A process essay is a type of essay that is written to outline a process so that readers can understand it. It is also known as a “How to” essay. The idea behind this type of essay is to explain to readers how a certain thing is done.

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Sydney Chako

Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Sytech Learning Academy. From Junior Secondary School to Tertiary Level Engineering Mathematics and Engineering Science.

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