An expository essay aims to inform the reader about the subject clearly, concisely, and objectively.
The keyword here is “inform”. You are not trying to persuade your reader to think a certain way or let your own opinions and emotions cloud your work. Just stick to the facts.
Want to learn more? This article by Custom-writing experts contains a four-step writing guide, three useful checklists, and everything you need to understand about expository essays. Keep reading and write an A-grade essay!
🔖 Types of Expository Essays
Whenever an essay or article explains complicated details or simplifies a bulk of hard-to-understand information, this type of writing is called expository.
Imagine you are talking to a curious child who keeps asking you “how” and “why” things are such or another. You need to explain everything from scratch, yet making it sound compelling. Small and peculiar details are essential here.
The principal purpose of an expository essay is to elucidate a topic logically and consistently. It is an objective analysis of facts without any reference to the writer’s emotions or opinions.
|Problem & solution||Here you need to identify the issue, provide its details and causes, and develop a solution. A problem can have several possible solutions, so you can list several alternatives, highlighting the best one. In such a case, dedicate one main body paragraph to one solution and be sure to explain your choice. Otherwise, if you give only one variant, describe it in detail, justify it, and propose its implementation plan.|
|Cause & effect||The focus of this essay is on the reason why something happened and the consequences it has entailed. The most popular examples of cause and effect expository essays are environmental problems, historical events, biodiversity issues, and economic analysis. If the predicted result is based on assumptions, it requires validation.|
|Compare & contrast||This essay requires you to compare the similarities of two phenomena or ideas and contrast their differences. For example, you can be asked to compare and contrast homeschooling and attending a public school. The common feature will be the teacher’s presence, but the difference is the number of pupils attending the class.|
|Definitions & classification||The best example of this type of writing is this article. Here you are explained what a notion or phenomenon is and what kinds it can be divided into.|
|How-to||These essays describe a task and the process of its completion. E.g., in an article on how to perform a Japanese tea ceremony, you have to briefly overview this tradition and then give a step-by-step plan of its implementation.|
👣 How to Write an Expository Essay: 4 Steps
🔍 Step 1: Choose Your Expository Essay Topic
The first step of the writing process implies that you brainstorm, make a list of expository essay ideas, and then choose the topic you like most. Note that your topic shouldn’t be either too broad or too narrow.
Let’s take a look at the expository essay topic examples:
|❌ TOO BROAD||❌ TOO NARROW||✔️ JUST OK|
|The negative consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle||The negative consequences of eating French fries with salsa sauce||The negative impact of junk food on life duration and quality|
And here are some good expository essay topics that would be a good choice:
- Why does the human body need food and water?
- What are the different ways to travel long distances?
- Compare the legacy of any two US presidents.
- How can crime be reduced in your local community?
- What is the best way to learn a new language?
You might be given a specific topic, or you might have the freedom to choose one. Either way, your starting point is to look at the task you have been set and be sure that your focus remains within its boundaries.
If you do have a choice, then go for a subject that you already have some knowledge of as this will give you a head start at the planning stage. And choose something that interests you—you are probably going to be doing a lot of reading, so that process will be much easier if your curiosity is carrying you forward.
📑 Step 2: Research and Plan Your Essay
Consider Your Audience
It’s always worth clarifying with your teacher who your essay’s intended audience is if it’s not clearly stated in the instructions. Your readership might be limited to your teacher or whoever is assessing your work, so the main goal, in that case, is to convince them that you have a good understanding of the subject and can organize your thoughts in a clear and appropriate way.
Either way, you should be mindful of who you intend to inform as you carry out your research and planning.
Choose Your Sources
You will need to find multiple sources that are relevant and reliable in order to deal with your subject matter accurately and comprehensively. Below is a checklist that might help you choose the right sources for your essay.:
Academic Sources Checklist
|✔️||Author’s credentials||Is the author qualified to write about the subject?|
|✔️||Publisher’s reputation||Is the work published by a well-respected organization that has checks and standards in place?|
|✔️||Citations||Has the author cited a sufficient number of respected sources to support his/her work?|
|✔️||Bias||Does the author and/or publication have an agenda that might cloud the objectivity of the work?|
|✔️||Publication date||Is the work up to date and still relevant?|
Take notes as you read, and cross-check sources. Your goal is to formulate the points you need to deal with the set task and find evidence to support them.
Once you’ve completed this, you will have a clear sense of direction, and if it hasn’t already been assigned, you will be able to compose a thesis statement for your essay that meets the requirements of the task and fits your sources.
Now you’re ready to lay down your expository essay outline!
✍️ Step 3: Make Your Expository Essay Outline & Draft
The five-paragraph essay is a classic literary composition and a perfect template for your expository essay format—even if your set task demands something longer.
The outline for a 5-paragraph expository essay is simple:
- Introduction (one paragraph)
- Main body (three paragraphs)
- Conclusion (one paragraph)
Expository Essay Structure: Useful Tips
- Make the introduction of your expository essay short and sweet. Start with a focus statement that will grab your reader’s attention and make them want to read on. Then give an overview of your subject matter and set out the direction that the rest of your essay is going to take. There’s no need to back up your words with evidence at this stage—save the meat and potatoes for the main course.
- Organize the three (or more if necessary) paragraphs of the main body in a logical order. Each of them should deal with a different point and address the focus statement you started with.Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence, then support it with your evidence. Each paragraph’s final sentence should lead your reader into the next—just like this one, which says you’re now ready to tie it all up.
- Restate your original focus statement in your expository essay conclusion.his time, include the weight of all the evidence you have provided in the main body. Follow this with a powerful closing statement, and your reader will be on the ropes.
🏁 Step 4: Review Your Expository Essay
Think of your expository essay’s first draft as an uncut diamond—the value is there, but you still have some work to do before it’s ready for the display cabinet at Tiffany and Co.
First, you need to look at the overall content of your essay and ask the questions below.
Expository Essay Checklist: Content
- Does the essay stay focused on the set task throughout?
- Does the introduction give a clear sense of where the rest of the essay is headed?
- Does the main body cover the subject matter in a logical order?
- Is your supporting evidence accurate, relevant, and properly referenced?
- Does the conclusion tie up the essay in a clear, concise, and powerful way?
- Have you stuck to the facts and avoided clouding the essay with your own opinions?
- Will your reader find your essay engaging and enjoyable to read?
- Will your reader be better informed about the subject matter once they have finished the essay?
Be hard on yourself when you go through this process. Step into the shoes of the most critical person you know who loves to highlight your faults. You will come out the other side leaner, meaner, and stronger.
You’re almost there now—just some final polishing required. Your essay is now almost perfect, but proofreading will make it shine. Run it through a spell-checker, then read slowly from the beginning again, asking the questions below.
Expository Essay Checklist: Style
- Is your word choice clear and concise?
- Are there any issues with grammar or spelling?
- Have you been consistent with the use of abbreviations, acronyms, capitalization, etc.?
- Are your quotations and references presented correctly and consistently?
- Is your document formatted correctly and consistently?
Done all that? Congratulations! Your diamond was purchased by Jennifer Lopez, and she plans to show it off on the Oscars red carpet.
The great thing about expository essays is that you only need to concern yourself with the facts. If you follow these four steps, you can’t go wrong. And in addition to your A+ grade, you will also have gained an incredibly useful life skill. The ability to explain a concept to someone in a way that makes them better informed will take you a long way in any environment.
✒️ Expository Essay Example
In this section, you’ll find a free expository essay sample. It focuses on the factors that cause stress in adolescents. Note that the full version of the text is downloadable!
Major Stressors in Teenagers’ Lives
The high dynamics of social interactions is a factor that may cause the fear and anxiety in adolescents who face increased demands and expectations from adults. Being physically developed, teenagers often have a fragile psychological background, and various external drivers, usually related to social adaptation, can be dangerous triggers of stress.
Adolescents are rarely able to entrust their concerns to parents and other adults, which causes isolation, pathological anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. The major stressors in adolescence are social in nature and relate to school relationships, family disagreements, and issues of friendship and love.
✏️ Expository Essay FAQ
In simple terms, an expository essay informs its readers about a subject. It is quite concise, and typically presents a topic with 2-3 subtopics and relevant examples. To make the definition complete, we need to add that you also show your understanding of the topic as you write that paper.
If you are a high school student, we strongly recommend that you start off by creating an outline. You need to highlight a few points in the Body of your essay. Then, create an appropriate introduction. Finally, add a corresponding conclusion.
An expository essay is one of the most typical tasks starting from middle school. Thus, if you are not sure about the essay structure, write an outline first. Then you go step by step: an Introduction, Body, Conclusion. You may write the Body first and add the other two afterward.
An expository essay does not have significant peculiarities in terms of structure. Its outline includes: an Introduction, some Body paragraphs with examples, a Conclusion. Do not choose too many subtopics: such essays are usually just about 5 paragraphs / two pages long.