Expository Essay - Definition, & A Complete Writing Guide

expository essay

An expository essay is a form of writing that explains or describes something. We know that you are here because you need help with writing your expository essay.

This kind of essay can be considered an informative article, usually written in paragraph format, with the author's opinion and analysis included.

The essay writer should include background information on the topic to help readers understand what they are reading about.

Expository essays can cover any topic imaginable but generally focus on explaining ideas, principles, or facts rather than personal opinions.

Read this complete expository essay writing guide for details on how to write your expository essay in easy-to-follow steps.

Let’s begin!

What is an Expository Essay?

As per the expository essay definition,

An expository essay is a popular genre of essays, in which the student investigates and evaluates an idea before presenting it to the reader.

Expository essays are often written with techniques like definition or comparison and contrast so that they can present clear-cut arguments about what should happen next.”

These essays are common classroom assignments, and the teachers use them to teach critical and analytical thinking to the students.

Since these essays are based on in-depth evaluation and examination of an idea, theme, or fact, they help the students use their critical skills.

Usually, these are short assignments that involve the writer’s original views and less researched ideas. It is because the main goal of these essays is to help the students hone their analytical skills.

Purpose of Writing an Expository Essay

‘What is the purpose of writing an expository essay?’

The foremost purpose of writing these essays is to explain an idea, theme, fact, or belief in detail. Expository writing involves both the writer’s personal evaluation as well as relevant and well-researched details.

When writing the essay, many students make the mistake of assuming that the reader would know about the main topic.

This is wrong! When writing the essay, make sure that you explain everything in detail and with ample and relevant evidence and explanation.

How much of the essay should be based on your personal views? It depends on the essay topic and the way you deal with it.

Some topics would need more personal discussion than facts and other information. While others would require you to prove your point with significant evidence and proof. Either way, the main aim of an expository essay is to ‘expose’ something and explain it to your readers.

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Types of Expository Essay

Here are the main types of expository essays.

  • Cause and Effect Essay - These essays focus on explaining a cause and its effects.
  • Compare and Contrast Essay - This essay compares two or more things and focuses on their similarities and differences.
  • Descriptive Essay - Students write these essays to describe something like an idea, a theme, or a work.
  • Problem and Solution Essay - These types of expository essays explain a problem and its possible solutions.
  • Process Essay - These essays are also known as how-to essays and explain a process to the readers.

Since an expository essay focuses on the writer’s point of view and explanation, all these types of essays are also based on the writer’s opinion.

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How to Write an Expository Essay?

Here are the steps to write a great expository essay.

  1. 1. Choose an Interesting Essay Topic

    An interesting topic is essential for an interesting and ‘readworthy’ essay or paper. When given the opportunity, choose the topic of your interest.

    Look for sources on the web that explore this subject and look at who researched it before to see what findings they present.

    Doing research like this ensures strong arguments in any essay or paper you write. This is relevant for essays and papers related to various fields and studies.

  2. 2. Develop a Work Plan

    The most important step in the writing process is planning. This ensures that your essay content will be structured and coherent, which allows you to convey a message effectively with clear points for an outstanding grade.

    When making your essay’s plan, take care of the following things.

    • Focus on the main argument.
    • State details that pique the readers’ interest.
    • The claims that you will make in your body paragraphs.
    • The evidence and proof that you will add in the essay.

    Outline and divide the information between the paragraphs. With a reliable outline as a guide, there's no need to worry over any blank pages or blocks ever again.

  3. 3. Write your Essay Draft

    In this step, you're going to make a rough draft of your future expository essay. You should divide the text into five paragraphs and include an introduction and conclusion.

    Make sure that each new idea is discussed in its own body paragraph with a primary and a secondary claim supported by evidence that leads back to the thesis statement.

    Don’t worry if the draft is imperfect at this point.

  4. 4. Write your Final Draft

    When the plan and draft are ready, it is time to put pen to paper. Simply follow your writing process step by step.

    Make sure you do not leave anything important behind. Also, don't forget about all of your research data that will help prove everything else in the essay true!

  5. 5. Proofread and Revise Thoroughly

    Proofreading is an essential process that ensures your essay will be graded as you expect. Even the most attentive people make mistakes. So, take some time to check for grammar and spelling errors before submitting it for grading.

    Make sure that you check it thoroughly and make it as flawless as possible.

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Expository Essay Outline

‘How to develop an expository essay outline?’

Developing an outline before writing the essay is an important step in writing.

Without a proper outline, the writer would go astray and lose focus, which is why outlining is essential for a strong and well-organized essay.

Here is a sample outline structure.

Write the Introduction - 1st Paragraph
  • Pique your readers’ interest with an interesting hook - use an anecdote, quote, statistical data, or question to grab your readers’ attention.
  • State and explain important details about the essay topic.
  • Work by the outline and present the introduction and background information according to it.
  • Create an arguable thesis statement that you could defend in your essay’s body section.
Organize the Main Body Section - 2 to 4 Paragraphs
  • Begin with a topic sentence and explain the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Provide supporting arguments and evidence to back your claim and ideas.
  • Comment on and talk about existing details and evidence about the main detail.
  • Add a conclusion to the paragraph.
  • Use transitions between the paragraphs to create a consistent flow.

P.S. This structure will be followed by all the main body section paragraphs.

End with a Strong Conclusion - 6th Paragraph
  • Restate your essay’s thesis statement.
  • Brief summary of the main arguments and evidence.
  • Ending with a positive perspective and note about future research and study about the topic.

Here is a detailed explanation about writing each section.

Expository Essay Introduction

How to write an expository essay introduction?

An introduction is the most important part of an essay. This is your chance to grab the attention of readers. It helps the readers find the main focus of your essay and understand the main arguments and ideas.

How to write a well-organized introduction? Start the essay with a grabbing hook like the ones mentioned below.

  • A famous quotation
  • A relevant question
  • An anecdote
  • A relevant example
  • New or lesser-known statistics

Once you are done writing the introduction, finish it off with a strong and relevant thesis statement.

Expository Essay Thesis Statement

Writing a good thesis statement is important for any assignment. Without it, how will you tell the readers about the main focus of your research work?

It is two to three sentences long and should reflect your main argument and idea. This will give the readers a chance to know about the things the essay will talk about.

Expository Essay Main Body Section

It is the meatiest part of the essay and includes nearly 80% of the essay.

This part includes a minimum of 3 paragraphs, but you can increase the number based on the scope of your essay. Each paragraph discusses an idea that supports the thesis statement.

Each paragraph must have an organized structure and should follow the following format.

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting arguments
  • Supporting evidence
  • Conclusion

Make sure that you back your claims with strong and relevant evidence and arguments. Use proper referencing style to reference external sources and arguments.

Expository Essay Conclusion

It is the final and last part of the essay, and it concludes the entire essay. Similar to the introduction, it is also important and should leave a mark on your readers.

Focus on adding a brief summary of the main points that you have added in your essay or paper. However, do not add any new ideas or information in this section.

A great way of ending your essay is to end it on a positive and optimistic note, telling the readers about the future prospects of the main topic.

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Expository Essay Format

‘What is an expository essay format?’

Like other essays, the paragraphs of these essays require the usual essay format and structure. These essays are different in terms of the topics, but the writer will have to add at least five paragraphs.

The number of body paragraphs could increase, but it depends on the scope of the essay topic. However, you must maintain a smooth and effortless transition between the paragraphs and sentences.

Here is a sample expository essay format and structure.

Main Body Section
  • 1st Paragraph - Topic sentence, main idea, and conclusion.
  • 2nd Paragraph - Topic sentence, main idea, and conclusion.
  • 3rd Paragraph - Topic sentence, main idea, and conclusion.
Conclusion Section

You can increase the number of body paragraphs. But, make sure each has a topic sentence and relevant details and evidence to back the claim.

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Expository Essay Examples

To help you further, here are some expository essay examples.

Expository Essay Sample

Expository Essay on Consumer Culture

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Expository Essay Topics

  • Who was your favorite kindergarten teacher, and why?
  • Sports help in Developing Patience among Children. Discuss.
  • How does homeschooling help in better budgeting for families?
  • Describe your favorite book and name some reasons for it.
  • Which is your favorite children’s movie and why?
  • How does the media use different public icons to convey their message?
  • Who is your favorite leader?
  • What are the reasons behind forgetfulness in people?
  • Define and discuss the meaning of life according to you.
  • How is modern life different from the lives of past generations?

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using expository text?

Expository texts help the students develop analytical and logical skills. Since the students have to analyze and explain the given topic or theme in detail, these essays help the students in doing it.

What should be avoided in the conclusion of the expository essay?

Avoid introducing new ideas here and focus on the ones that are already explained and added in the body of the essay. However, do not use the same words and phrases repeatedly.


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