You know exactly what an expository essay is, right?
It’s for a friend of yours?
Ok fine. In a nutshell:
Expository essays inform your reader about a subject, as well as demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of it.
The keyword here is “inform”. You are not trying to persuade your reader to think a certain way or let your own opinions or emotions cloud your work. Save that for the argumentative essay.
Just stick to the facts.
The purpose of an expository essay is to deliver the subject matter to your reader clearly, concisely and objectively.
So here follows a four-step guide that contains everything you need to understand how to write an expository essay. And if you need any extra support you can ask Custom Writing about their high quality research and essay writing services.
Step 1: Choose your topic
Here are some common types of expository essay:
- Gives your reader a straightforward explanation of a subject.
- Breaks a broad subject area down into sub categories or groups.
- Compare/contrast. Deals with the differences and similarities between two or more elements.
- Problem/solution. Looks at the possible solutions to a particular problem.
- How to. Provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete a task.
And here are some good expository essay topics that would be a fit for each of these types:
- Why does the human body need food and water?
- What are the different ways to travel long distance?
- 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 can see that these expository essay examples cover a wide and varied area. But don’t despair—for all of the above, following these simple steps will lead you directly to A+ glory.
You might be given a specific topic or you might have the freedom to choose one. Either way, your starting point is 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.
Once you have decided on the subject area you need formulate a precise thesis statement. This needs to be a good fit for the expected length of your essay. “How to boil an egg” is a very narrow and precise statement that would be suitable for a short essay, whereas “The ways in which eggs are used in cooking” has much more scope for a longer piece.
Now you know where you’re headed, it’s time to build some foundations.
Step 2: Research and plan
There is one crucial element to expository writing that is often forgotten:
Describing Albert Einstein as “a very clever man who lived a long time ago” is fine if you’re writing for a five year-old, but not so great if the convention for math professors is in town.
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 organise your thoughts in a clear and appropriate way.
Either way, you should be mindful of who you are intending to inform as you carry out your research and planning.
You will need to find multiple sources that are relevant and reliable in order to deal with your subject matter accurately and comprehensively. So consider the following issues when assessing someone else’s work:
- 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: Write it up
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.
Its structure is simple:
- Introduction (one paragraph)
- Main body (three paragraphs)
- Conclusion (one paragraph)
So first up, you need to know how to write an introduction for an expository essay:
The introduction needs to be 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.
The three (or more if necessary) paragraphs of the main body should each deal with a different point and be organised in a logical order that addresses the focus statement you started with. Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence, then support it with your evidence. The final sentence of each paragraph should lead your reader into the next—just like this one which says you’re now ready to tie it all up.
The conclusion for your expository essay needs to restate your original focus statement, but this time including 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.
But it’s not over yet.
In order to deliver a knockout blow, you need to go back to the beginning:
Step 4: Review your work
Think of the first draft of your essay 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 following questions:
- 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.
Content-wise your essay is now perfect, but proofreading will make it really shine.
Run it through a spell-checker, then read slowly from the beginning again, asking the following questions:
- Is your word choice clear and concise?
- Are there any issues with grammar or spelling?
- Have you been consistent with 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 has purchased by Jennifer Lopez and she plans to show it off on the Oscars red carpet.
The right topic, organized and smart planning, the five-paragraph template, and a careful reviewing process is all you need for a perfect expository essay.
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.