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The Ultimate Writing Guide: How to Complete an Expository Essay

What Is an Expository Essay?

An expository essay is a specific form of academic writing that seeks to investigate a topic, evaluate the evidence, explain the idea, and make your own argument. It’s no wonder why this assignment is so overwhelming for students. There are too many things to include.

How to Write an Expository Essay

For this genre of essay, you can use different writing methods:

  • Definition
  • Cause and effect analysis
  • Compare and contrast
  • Example, and so on

Your professor will probably indicate the recommended method, but maybe you’ll be left with general instructions. The expository essay definition is clear, but it doesn’t give you specific guidelines on how to complete this essays. You need step-by-step tips that will help you achieve the proper expository essay structure and write the paper with success.

To start with, here are the most important tips to have in mind:

  • In this type of writing, you’re expected to expose the facts, facts, and some more facts. There is no place for bias when you’re writing an expository paper. You’re solely expected to gather and present resources, and only then make an argument that you form as a result of that evaluation.
  • It’s best to rely on third-person narration. You’re not addressing the reader directly, so avoid using second-person narration; and you’re not writing about yourself, so avoid using first person.
  • In addition to facts that you can find from statistics and scientific/academic research, you may also use comparisons, quotations, descriptive anecdotes, definitions, or even anecdotes when writing an expository essay. Just consider your topic to figure out what it allows you to use.
  • If your topic allows that, it’s highly recommended to include charts and graphs. They will help the reader understand the issue a bit better without reading too much content.
  • Since the expository paper may include elements of argumentation, narration, and description, you should choose the type of exposition before you start writing:
  • Problem/solution – with this approach, you describe a problem and you offer a solution. You probably like how-to blog articles, right? Well, this type of expository writing is similar to a how-to article, but a bit more formal.
  • Cause/effect – this form of writing describes the way one thing leads to another. You explore a particular issue and document the results it causes over time.
  • Comparison/contrast – you may use this type of exposition when you want to show how two or more things are similar and different to one another.
  • Process – in this type of expository essay, you present a series of steps that lead to a specific result.
  • Descriptive – this is the most common type of expository writing, and it requires you to define the characteristics of a particular topic. Since this is a descriptive expository paper, it’s not identical to the descriptive essay. You still need to explain an idea, evaluate evidence, and offer an argument.

What Is the Purpose of an Expository Essay?

When you have no idea how to approach this type of assignment, maybe it’s because you don’t understand its purpose. When you get through that point, it will be easier for you to deliver what your professor expects to see.

The purpose of an expository essay is to educate and convince. Think of it this way: you’re trying to present your point of view to someone, but this person knows nothing about the issue you’re tackling .That’s why you’ll have to gather and present some facts regarding the topic, and then you’ll explain the idea.

This type of writing is commonly used by journalists. When writing long-form articles to describe a particular issue, they give background and they explain the major concepts, so they can draw the reader in. After such a preparation, they present the argument.

For example, let’s say you’re writing an essay about a specific brand of clothing that you like to wear. You will investigate the background of that brand and you’ll find statistics in order to show how popular it is among a particular target audience. When you present enough evidence, you’ll share your argument, which may revolve around the assumption that this brand’s youthful vibe attracts customers and keeps them returning.

How to Structure an Expository Essay

The expository essay structure is pretty straightforward. If you’ve written any type of essay before, you’ll know how to handle this academic format. You simply need to follow the 5-paragraph essay structure. In that academic format, you should follow this pattern:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

However, there is one difference: expository writing is flexible in terms of the body paragraphs. The overall essay may contain more than five paragraphs if the topic you’re exploring requires a more in-depth analysis.

Still, the essential format remains the same. You’ll write an introduction with a rock-solid thesis statement, body paragraphs where you’ll provide your arguments, and a conclusion that sums things up.

When you’re aware of the structure you’re supposed to maintain, it’s easy to write your expository essay outline. In this outline, you’ll plan how you’ll expose all information and ideas while following the given structure. You will note down what you intend to write in the introduction, body, and closing paragraphs of the paper.

How to Start an Expository Essay

When you have that outline, you’re finally ready to start writing the paper. In the introduction, you’ll lay the foundation of the essay. When engaged in expository writing, you’re supposed to inform your reader about the topic. The opening sentence should get their attention, so you may start with a particular fact that will emphasize the importance of the topic you’re exploring.

If, for example, you’re writing about a particular brand, you may start with the fact that this brand makes over 10 million dollars in monthly sales to a local audience. Find something really interesting for the opening sentence, and then follow up with some background that gives the reader more context regarding the topic you’re going to discuss.

Naturally, you’ll include a thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph. Although expository writing is analytical in its essence, it’s still different from descriptive writing. The thesis statement should express the main focus of your paper and state an argument. In this particular example, your thesis statement may be focused on the fact that this brand’s youthful vibe is what’s keeping it on the market for decades.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Expository Essay

The introduction opens your way towards the body paragraphs. At a minimum, you should include three paragraphs in the body, but you may opt for more if you intend to write a lengthier paper. Each of these paragraph will start with a topic sentence related to the main thesis statement.

Finally, you’ll end the expository paper with a strong conclusion. In this type of writing, you don’t want to simply summarize. Once the reader is done reading the introduction and body paragraphs, they will wonder: “So what does this mean and why should I care?” That’s the question you should answer in the conclusion.

Expository Essay Topics

All these tips mean nothing to you when you lack expository essay ideas to start with.

We’ll help with that, too. If you’re asked to define your own topic, you may get inspired by the following examples of good expository essay topics:

  1. Explain the need for students to wear uniforms at school.
  2. Describe three factors that symbolize your unique culture and explain why you chose them.
  3. Life in an apartment or a house - what’s better?
  4. Describe the things you’d change in this world if you had the power to make change.
  5. Describe three things that are important for one to live a happy life.
  6. Explain the effects of closing public libraries in the U.S.
  7. Why is divorce so difficult for teenagers?
  8. Describe the consequences/benefits of taking a gap year before college.
  9. Explain the phenomenon of bullying and describe its consequences.
  10. Describe the history of capital punishment.
  11. Describe the benefits of proper time-management.
  12. Describe the effects of medical marijuana.
  13. Describe the role that Greek life has in U.S. colleges.
  14. Describe the consequences/advantages of teenage pregnancy.
  15. Explain the differences between single parents and couples who raise children together.
  16. Explain why some women choose to stay with their partners even when there’s violence involved?
  17. Describe the reasons why teenagers decide to try drugs.
  18. Describe the phenomenon of suicide and its consequences to society.
  19. Describe the character traits of a true leader.
  20. Explain why you admire your role model.

As you can see, these topics ask you to explain or describe something, but they still leave space for your own point of view. If, for example, you’re asked to describe the characteristic of a true leader, you’ll be providing your own arguments on what a true leader means.

Conclusion

This type of assignment is complex, but it’s quite necessary in higher education. It teaches you how to observe and analyze different issues and relate those observations to your own arguments.

Thanks to the tips and topic suggestions above, you’re finally ready to start writing your expository paper.

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