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Expository Writing: Definition and Examples

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Hannah Yang

expository writing

Table of Contents

What is expository writing, what is an expository paragraph, expository writing examples, how prowritingaid can help you with expository composition.

One of the most common types of writing is expository writing. Whether you’re a student taking an English class or a professional trying to communicate to others in your field, you’ll need to use expository writing in your day-to-day work.

So, what exactly does this term mean?

The short answer is that expository writing refers to any writing designed primarily to explain or instruct.

Read on to learn the definition of expository writing as well as some examples of what this type of writing can look like.

Before we look at examples of expository writing, let’s start with a quick definition of what this term actually means.

Expository Writing Definition

The term expository writing refers to any writing that’s designed to explain something. We use the word expository to describe any passage of writing that’s supposed to present information and help you understand it in an objective way.

Some common examples of expository writing include academic essays, textbooks, instructional guides, and news reports. Good expository writing should be factual, objective, and clear.

expository writing definition

To better understand what this term means, think about the difference between a scientific article, a short story, and an advertisement.

The scientific article is considered expository writing because its primary purpose is to explain a particular topic in more detail. It presents data, analyzes what that data means, and focuses on the facts.  

On the other hand, the short story isn’t considered expository writing, because its core purpose isn’t to explain or inform—instead, it’s probably trying to entertain you or to take you on a journey. Short stories are narrative writing.

Similarly, an advertisement isn’t expository writing because its core purpose isn’t to explain or inform—instead, it’s trying to persuade you to buy what it’s selling. Advertisements are persuasive writing.   

Here’s a quick rundown of what expository essays should and shouldn’t do.

An expository essay should:

Teach the reader about a particular topic

Focus on the facts

Follow a clearly organized structure

Present information and details from credible sources

An expository essay should not:

Try to change the reader’s mind about something

Present the author’s personal opinions

Include made-up narratives or stories

Follow experimental or nonlinear structures

3 types of writing

An expository paragraph is exactly what it sounds like—a paragraph of expository writing.

A well-written expository paragraph should follow a specific format to make it as clear and easy to read as possible. Most expository paragraphs do the following things:

Start with a topic sentence, which explains what the paragraph will be about

Then, include 3 – 5 body sentences that provide supporting details for the topic sentence

Finally, wrap things up with a closing sentence that summarizes what the paragraph has said

Writing an expository paragraph is a great way to practice expository writing. That’s because the paragraph follows the same structure as a more complex expository essay, just on a smaller scale.

Most expository essays should follow this format:  

Start with an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis statement, which tells the reader the core statement of the essay

Then, include 3 – 5 body paragraphs that provide factual evidence to support the thesis statement

Finally, wrap things up with a concluding paragraph that summarizes what the body paragraphs and thesis statement said

You can see the similarities between the two formats. If you can write a fantastic expository paragraph, you’ll be well-prepared to move on to writing a full expository essay.

Example of Expository Paragraph

Here’s an example of an expository paragraph that follows the structure described above.

The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, which can be fatal if it leads to heart attack or cardiac arrest. Heart attacks occur when a blockage in the coronary artery prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the heart. Cardiac arrests occur when the heart stops pumping entirely, which prevents the patient from breathing normally. Both of these problems can be deadly, even in seemingly healthy people who don’t have noticeable risk factors. As a result, heart disease is an important problem that many doctors and scientists are researching.

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There are many ways you can present information in an expository essay. Here are four of the most popular ways, along with examples of each one.  

Problem and Solution Essay

A problem and solution essay presents the reader with a problem and then considers possible solutions to that problem. 

Here’s an example passage you might find in a problem and solution essay:

Among the many proposed solutions to rising carbon emissions, one promising possibility is carbon trapping. Scientists are figuring out how to pull carbon emissions out of the atmosphere and trap it in less harmful forms, such as by injecting carbon dioxide underground so it will turn to stone.

Compare and Contrast Essay

This type of essay takes two subjects and compares and contrasts them. It focuses on highlighting the differences and similarities between those two things.

Here’s an example passage of this type of expository writing:

Though country music and R&B music have very different sounds, they also share many similarities. For one thing, both types of music embody a specific cultural identity. For another, both genres trace their roots back to the 1920s, when the Victor Talking Machine Company signed singers from the American South.

Classification Essay

In a classification essay, you describe the categories within a certain group of things.  

Here’s an example passage you might find in a classification essay:

There are three ways in which artificial intelligence might become stronger than humans in the future: high speed, high collective intelligence, and high quality. A speed AI would be able to perform calculations and experience the world much faster than humans. A collective intelligence, like a hive mind, would be able to break down a complex task into several parts and pursue them simultaneously. Finally, a quality AI would simply be able to solve more complex problems than humans could.

Process Essay

In a process essay, you give the reader the steps for completing a specific process. This is similar to a how-to guide or an instruction manual.   

Here’s an example passage you might find in this type of expository writing:

Caramelize the chopped onions in a frying pan. When the onions have caramelized, mix in the bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes and stir for 4 – 6 minutes or until all the ingredients have softened. If you want to add meat, you can add ground beef and cook for another 4 – 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Good expository writing should be easy to read. After all, the purpose of exposition is to explain things to your readers, and you won’t be able to accomplish that if they have trouble understanding your writing.

That’s why ProWritingAid can help you write an expository essay. The grammar checker can help you ensure your sentences flow well, you’re not missing any necessary punctuation, and all your words are precise and clear.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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  • How to write an expository essay

How to Write an Expository Essay | Structure, Tips & Examples

Published on July 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

“Expository” means “intended to explain or describe something.” An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a particular topic, process, or set of ideas. It doesn’t set out to prove a point, just to give a balanced view of its subject matter.

Expository essays are usually short assignments intended to test your composition skills or your understanding of a subject. They tend to involve less research and original arguments than argumentative essays .

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Table of contents

When should you write an expository essay, how to approach an expository essay, introducing your essay, writing the body paragraphs, concluding your essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about expository essays.

In school and university, you might have to write expository essays as in-class exercises, exam questions, or coursework assignments.

Sometimes it won’t be directly stated that the assignment is an expository essay, but there are certain keywords that imply expository writing is required. Consider the prompts below.

The word “explain” here is the clue: An essay responding to this prompt should provide an explanation of this historical process—not necessarily an original argument about it.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to define a particular term or concept. This means more than just copying down the dictionary definition; you’ll be expected to explore different ideas surrounding the term, as this prompt emphasizes.

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An expository essay should take an objective approach: It isn’t about your personal opinions or experiences. Instead, your goal is to provide an informative and balanced explanation of your topic. Avoid using the first or second person (“I” or “you”).

The structure of your expository essay will vary according to the scope of your assignment and the demands of your topic. It’s worthwhile to plan out your structure before you start, using an essay outline .

A common structure for a short expository essay consists of five paragraphs: An introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Like all essays, an expository essay begins with an introduction . This serves to hook the reader’s interest, briefly introduce your topic, and provide a thesis statement summarizing what you’re going to say about it.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

The body of your essay is where you cover your topic in depth. It often consists of three paragraphs, but may be more for a longer essay. This is where you present the details of the process, idea or topic you’re explaining.

It’s important to make sure each paragraph covers its own clearly defined topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Different topics (all related to the overall subject matter of the essay) should be presented in a logical order, with clear transitions between paragraphs.

Hover over different parts of the example paragraph below to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

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The conclusion of an expository essay serves to summarize the topic under discussion. It should not present any new information or evidence, but should instead focus on reinforcing the points made so far. Essentially, your conclusion is there to round off the essay in an engaging way.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a conclusion works.

The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.

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An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

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Expository Essays

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What is an expository essay?

The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

Please note : This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.

The structure of the expository essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse.

  • Body paragraphs that include evidential support.

Each paragraph should be limited to the exposition of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. What is more, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph.

  • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

Often times, students are required to write expository essays with little or no preparation; therefore, such essays do not typically allow for a great deal of statistical or factual evidence.

  • A bit of creativity!

Though creativity and artfulness are not always associated with essay writing, it is an art form nonetheless. Try not to get stuck on the formulaic nature of expository writing at the expense of writing something interesting. Remember, though you may not be crafting the next great novel, you are attempting to leave a lasting impression on the people evaluating your essay.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students will inevitably begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize and come to a conclusion concerning the information presented in the body of the essay.

A complete argument

Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of the Great Depression and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the exposition in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the Depression. Therefore, the expository essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.

The five-paragraph Essay

A common method for writing an expository essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of:

  • an introductory paragraph
  • three evidentiary body paragraphs
  • a conclusion

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How to Write an Expository Essay

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Does Expository Writing Have You Confused?

Maybe you find yourself on this page because your instructor asked you to write an expository essay, and you aren't exactly sure what's expected of you—if so, you've certainly found the right place. Expository writing, or exposition, is a type of discourse used to describe, explain, define, inform, or clarify. It literally means "to expose." Exposition can be found in writing or oral discourse, but for the sake of this article, we'll stick with expository writing.

You are likely familiar with expository writing already, even if the name sounds unfamiliar. Common examples include newspaper articles, how-to manuals, and assembly instructions. Expository writing is also the most frequent type of academic writing !

Present the facts, and only the facts

If you are asked to write an expository essay, then you are essentially being asked to present the facts; there is no place for bias or opinion in expository writing. In a way, this makes writing simple—it is a matter of gathering and presenting the facts about a certain topic.

Something important to keep in mind when writing exposition is that you should not assume your readers have any knowledge of the topic; don't gloss over basic or important details, even if you think they're common knowledge.

When writing expository essays, it is best to use third person narration, although second person is acceptable in some instances, such as for instructions—or articles on expository writing.

Characteristics of expository writing

There are a few characteristics of expository writing you should remember when crafting an expository essay. The first is to keep a tight focus on the main topic, avoiding lengthy tangents, wordiness, or unrelated asides that aren’t necessary for understanding your topic.

In the same vein, be sure to pick a topic that is narrow, but not so narrow that you have a hard time writing anything about it (for example, writing about ice cream would be too broad, but writing about ice cream sold at your local grocery store between 5:00 and 5:15 pm last Saturday would be too narrow).

You must also be sure to support your topic, providing plenty of facts, details, examples, and explanations, and you must do so in an organized and logical manner. Details that can support your expository writing include:

  • Comparisons
  • Descriptive details
  • Definitions
  • Charts and graphs

Formatting an expository essay

The typical format for an expository essay in school is the traditional five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction and a conclusion, with three paragraphs for the body of the paper. Most often, these three paragraphs are limited to one subtopic each.

This is the basic essay format, but expository writing does not need to be limited to five paragraphs. No matter how long your essay is, be sure your introduction includes your thesis statement and that the paper is based on facts rather than opinions. And, as with all good essay writing , make sure to connect your paragraphs with transitions.

Methods for writing an expository essay

There are a few different methods for writing an expository essay. These include:

  • Compare and contrast
  • Cause and effect
  • Problem and solution
  • Extended definition

Generally, you will want to pick one method for each piece of expository writing. However, you may find that you can combine a few methods. The important thing is to stay focused on your topic and stick to the facts.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of expository writing, you're ready to write your essay. One final tip: be sure to give yourself plenty of time for the writing process. After you've completed your first draft, let your paper sit for a few days—this lets you return to it with fresh eyes. If you'd like a second opinion, our essay editors are always available to help.

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How to Write an Expository Essay

4-minute read

  • 29th March 2020

An expository essay explains something. This means investigating an idea, looking at evidence, coming to a conclusion, and explaining your thinking. But how do you write a strong expository essay? Our top tips include:

  • Read the essay prompt carefully and using it to guide your research.
  • Come up with a thesis statement (i.e., a position that you’ll explain).
  • Plan the structure of your essay before you start writing.
  • Once you have a first draft, revise and proofread to make sure it is perfect.

For more advice on how this works, check out the guide below.

1. Read Your Essay Prompt

Most expository essay prompts will ask you to do one of the following:

  • Define and explain a concept or theory.
  • Compare and contrast two ideas.
  • Examine a problem and propose a solution.
  • Describe a cause and effect relationship.
  • Explain a step-by-step process.
  • Analyze a broad subject and classify examples into groups.

When you’ve been set an expository assignment, then, check the prompt or question carefully. You can use the phrasing to guide your research. You may also need to select a topic to write about. If so, try to think of something:

  • You already know at least something about.
  • You find interesting enough to research.
  • That fits with the instructions in the essay prompt (e.g., if you’ve been asked to contrast two things, you’ll need a topic that allows for a comparison).
  • That is narrow enough to discuss in one essay.

Start by brainstorming topics, then narrow it down to one or two ideas.

2. Come Up with a Thesis Statement

Once you have a topic, you’ll need to do some research and develop a thesis statement. This is the proposition or position that you’ll explain in your essay.

Your thesis statement should be something you can back up with evidence and facts, as well as something that answers the question in your essay prompt. Keep in mind, too, that an expository essay should present a balanced account of the facts available, not personal opinions. For instance, we’ve come up with thesis statements for a few example essay prompts:

 

 

 

When you’ve selected a thesis, make sure you’ve got evidence to back it up! This may mean doing a little more research before you start writing.

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3. Structuring an Expository Essay

The exact length and content of your essay will depend on the topic and prompt. However, most expository essays follow a similar basic structure:

  • Introduction – A paragraph where you introduce the essay topic and your thesis statement (i.e., the issue or idea you will explain in the essay).
  • Main Body – A series of short paragraphs in which you explain your thesis statement, providing evidence and arguments to support each point.
  • Conclusion – A final paragraph where you restate your thesis and how your evidence supports this. Try not to introduce any new information here (if it’s important, it should go in the main body).
  • References – If required, include a bibliography of sources you’ve used.

Before you start writing, then, create an essay outline with the structure above in mind and plan what each paragraph will say.

4. Editing and Proofreading

When you have a first draft, take a break and re-read it. Now comes the redrafting ! This is where you go back over your essay and look for areas to improve. Do you provide enough evidence? Is your argument clear? Even a few tweaks may increase your mark, so make sure to redraft at least once!

Finally, make sure to have your essay proofread before you submit it for marking. This will ensure your writing is error free and easy to read, giving you an even better chance of getting the grades you deserve.

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How to Write an Expository Essay

Published by Grace Graffin at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On July 26, 2023

Expository means “to describe or explain something” . It is related to the words ‘exposition’, ‘expound’, and ‘expose’ – to explain or reveal the meaning, to lay open, speak one’s mind.

Whenever there is a need to gather research and describe an idea, a  topic , or a process clearly and logically, it is done in the form of an expository  essay .

An expository essay requires the writer to take a balanced approach to the subject matter rather than justifying a particular point of view.

Expository essays are assigned to students to evaluate their subject knowledge and composition skills. When compared with  argumentative essays , they involve a lot less research.

Definition of Expository Essay

“The expository essay is the  type of essay  that involves an investigation of an idea or topic, appraises relevant supporting evidence material, and presents an argument in a clear and concise manner. ”

When to Write an Expository Essay

Your school or university could assign an expository essay to you as coursework or as part of an online exam.

However, the guidelines may or may not clearly state that your assignment is an expository essay. If that is the case, then look for keywords like ‘explain’, ‘describe’, ‘define’, etc., to be sure that what has been asked for is an expository essay.

You might even be asked to explain and emphasise a particular concept or term. Writing a simple definition will not be enough because you will be expected to explore the ideas in detail.

Writing an Expository Essay

An expository essay should not be based on your  personal  experiences and opinions. It rather takes an objective approach. You will be expected to explain the topic in a balanced way without any personal bias.

Make sure to avoid the first and second person (“I” and “You”) when writing an expository essay.

How to Structure an Expository Essay

The  structure  and format of your expository essay assignment will depend on your school’s guidelines and the topic you are investigating. However, it is always a good idea to develop an outline for your  essay  before starting to work.

The Five-Paragraph Essay Writing Approach

An expository essay will require you to take the five-paragraph essay approach: an  introductory paragraph , a main body paragraph , and a concluding paragraph . This is often referred to as the hamburger style of the essay because, like a hamburger, it contains five main parts: the introduction and conclusion being the bun that encapsulates everything.

Rationale and Thesis Statement

Start your essay  with a rationale and thesis, also known as the  thesis statement , so your readers know what you set out to achieve in your expository essay assignment. Ensure the thesis statement is narrow enough to follow the guidelines in the assignment brief. If the thesis statement is weak and too broad, you will struggle to produce a flawless expository essay.

The Framework

Construct a framework, so you know what elements will constitute the basis of your essay.

Expository Essay Introduction

Like other  essay types , an expository essay begins with an  introduction , including a hook, background to the topic, and a thesis statement. Once you have grabbed the readers’ interest, it will be easier to get them to read the remaining essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will i need the skill of expository writing after i finish my studies.

It depends on what you are studying for. While you might or might not write any more expository essays after your formal education has ended, the skill will be very useful in certain careers, such as business reports, journalism, and in scientific and technical writing.

How does an expository essay differ from an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay is usually longer and requires more research. It starts with a claim about something that will need supporting evidence. And both sides of the argument need to be discussed. In an expository essay, there is no requirement to make an original argument and defend/support it.

What is the purpose of expository essays?

This style of essay is necessary when you have to showcase your knowledge on a given subject, or your ability to gather research on one and present your findings.

How long is an expository essay?

There is no fixed length but an expository essay could be part of an exam, in which case it might only be 1,000 words or less. They are usually shorter than argumentative essays . It can depend on the subject under discussion. You will likely be given instructions on the required word count.

Are there different types of expository essay?

There are six different types of expository essay, each with a different purpose.

The six types are:

Process essay – describing a task, a method, how to complete something Cause and effect essay – why something happened and its effects Problem-solution essay – provide analysis of problems and their solutions Compare and contrast essay – describe the similarities and differences between two subjects Definition essay – define the topic in detail and explain the how, what, and why Classification essay – separate the topic’s categories and define them in detail

When you are assigned your essay, you should be able to distinguish which of these approaches you are required to take.

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The term “expository” refers to expounding on, or elaborating on a topic. Hence, the main goal of an expository essay is to provide factual information on a particular subject. Although writing an engaging essay is definitely a plus, it is secondary. The main goal of writing an expository essay is to educate. 

An expository essay is a relatively unbiased piece of writing that explores a topic from all angles. In this article, we will explore the meaning of an expository essay and how to write one with the help of a few expository essay examples. Let’s take a look.

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What is an expository essay?

An expository essay is an unbiased, factual piece of writing that provides an in-depth explanation of a topic or set of ideas. It aims to explain a topic from all angles and takes no decisive stance on it.

Expository essays make no new arguments on a topic but rather explain preexisting information in a structured format. They are mainly used in assignments or exams to test the student’s knowledge of a subject. 

However, the expository essay definition remains incomplete without understanding the different types of expository essays. An “expository essay” is an umbrella term used to describe different types of essays. These essays include classification essays, definition essays, process essays, compare and contrast essays, and cause-and-effect essays.

Now that we’ve understood what is an expository essay, let’s look at its types.

1. Classification essay

A classification essay aims to group objects into distinct categories. It also involves comparing objects within the same group and highlighting their similarities and differences. For example, if the essay topic is evergreen trees, it would explore different types like pine and fir and discuss the similarities and differences between them.

2. Definition essay

A definition essay aims to provide a comprehensive explanation of a particular topic. As the name implies, the main goal is to define the subject matter in detail. So if you were writing a definition essay on the Victorian era, you would begin by defining the historical period. Then, you would move on to describe the cultural aspects such as fashion styles, notable figures, and societal norms that characterized that period.

3. Process essay

A process essay is a step-by-step guide to performing a particular task. It follows a logical, chronological order of detailed steps on how to achieve a desired outcome. For instance, if you want to write a process essay on “how to make a paper airplane” you will provide a step-by-step chronological guide on how to fold the paper in different ways to create the airplane. 

4. Compare and contrast essay

A compare and contrast essay aims to point out the subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two or more subjects. For instance, a compare and contrast essay about the types of ramen served in different parts of Japan may include the differences and similarities in the broth, ingredients used, types of noodles, and flavor profiles in each of them. 

5. Cause and effect essay

A cause-and-effect essay seeks to explore the aftermath of a specific incident. So a cause-and-effect essay on the Himalayan mountain range may analyze the movement of the tectonic plates that led to the formation of the Himalayas.

Now that we’ve fully understood what’s an expository essay let’s understand its structure.

Expository essay structure

An expository essay is written in the third person and the expository essay format, like any other essay format, consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. There is no limit on the length of your essay unless instructed by your teacher or professor. 

The expository essay format typically consists of one paragraph for the introduction and conclusion and three paragraphs for the body. But you can add additional body paragraphs depending on the scope of your topic. Here’s the expository essay paragraph structure:

1. Introduction

The purpose of an introduction is to acquaint your reader with‌ your topic or thesis statement. It also involves using engaging information and a relevant context to captivate the reader.

The thesis statement for an expository essay should be unbiased and should aim to provide the reader with more information on a topic. Here’s an example of an introductory paragraph for an expository essay:

  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

The Victorian era, spanning from 1837 to 1901, left an indelible mark on English society. With its strict expectations governing everything from fashion to employment, it was known to be a conservative society. But amidst the rigidity, the period also saw remarkable progress in industry, technology, and science. It’s a time of paradox, where tradition and innovation coexisted. In this essay, we’ll delve into the fascinating complexities of the Victorian era and how they shaped English society for generations to come.

2. Body paragraph

After understanding how to start an expository essay the next step is to construct substantial body paragraphs. Each body paragraph in an expository essay consists of a topic sentence, its explanation, and a transition statement. A single idea should be introduced in each paragraph. 

These ideas can be arranged chronologically, in the order of importance, or even in a random manner, depending on the purpose and the message of your essay. For instance, a step-by-step guide will always be written chronologically, from the first to the final step.  Let’s take a look at an example of a body paragraph for an expository essay.

  • Topic sentence
  • Explanation
  • Transition statement

During the Victorian era, the social hierarchy was rigid, with the aristocracy and landed gentry holding most of the power, wealth, and privilege . Shockingly, the upper class comprised only 0.7% of the population, yet dominated England’s resources and politics. Meanwhile, the working class, who made up the majority of society, faced harsh living and working conditions and had limited opportunities for upward mobility. Working-class men in industrial cities had an average life expectancy of just 16 years. Despite these challenges, the Victorian era also saw a growing movement towards social reform, such as the National Health Service and Factory Act, aimed at improving the working class’s quality of life. Although the oppressive social hierarchy was highly apparent, the Victorian era represented a time of progress and change in England for many.

3. Conclusion

The purpose of the conclusion is to tie up loose ends and to provide a short summary of your essay. End your essay with a strong, meaningful statement that leaves a lasting impression. This helps reinforce the significance of your thesis statement to the reader.

The conclusion should introduce no new information but rather focus on the broader impact and applications of your topic and central idea. Here’s an example of a concluding paragraph for an expository essay.

  • Updated thesis statement
  • Brief overview
  • Concluding statement

The Victorian era brought about significant changes in society, culture, and technology, including the rise of the middle class, the expansion of the British Empire, the emergence of new literary and artistic movements, and the advancement of science and technology. Despite its flaws, it laid the foundation for modern society and continues to impact contemporary culture. This essay explored the Victorian era’s impact on literature, social norms, and technological advancements, providing a comprehensive overview of this era’s influence on society and culture. Overall, the Victorian era’s legacy continues to shape our world today.

Now that we’re familiar with the structure of an expository essay, let’s understand how to write it.

How to write an expository essay  

Although an essay is a highly versatile piece of writing, it follows the same basic steps. This involves choosing a relevant topic, crafting a clear thesis statement, creating a structured outline, and writing and revising your essay. Here are some simple steps to write an expository essay.

1. Choose an appropriate topic

An expository essay is based on accurate facts and information, so it makes sense to choose a topic you’re already familiar with. This will not only make the research process much easier but will also help you approach your topic in depth.

2. Craft the thesis statement

Create an interesting and succinct thesis statement that you can expound on. A thesis statement that is both intriguing and clear creates a strong foundation for your essay.

3. Create an essay outline

You can better understand how to structure your expository essay by constructing an outline.

An outline not only provides flow to your essay but also serves as a base to fall back on when in doubt. It is created by constructing relevant topic sentences that support your thesis statement and arranging them in a logical order. 

4. Write the first draft

Once you have created the outline, the next step is to flesh it out and start writing your essay. Make sure that you use reliable sources of information and accurately cite them during your writing process.

5. Revise and proofread 

After the first draft of your essay is complete, make sure to proofread it and revise any structural, grammatical, or factual inconsistencies. If you have the option, it always helps to hire essay editing services that can handle this crucial task for you.

Expository essay outline 

Before embarking on your essay writing journey, make sure that you have a solid base to fall back on. This can be done by creating a comprehensive expository essay outline with a detailed thesis statement, relevant topic sentences, and supporting bits of information. 

Here’s an example of an expository essay outline on the impact of the wheel on modern-day technology: 

The Impact of the Wheel on Modern-Day Technology

I. Introduction

A. Hook: An interesting fact or a historical anecdote about the invention of the wheel

B. Context: The significance of the wheel in ancient times

C. Thesis statement: The wheel has been a crucial invention that has influenced modern-day technology in various fields.

II. History and Evolution of the Wheel

A. Origin and early uses of the wheel

B. Development of the wheel and axle

C. Role of the wheel in ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt

D. The role of the wheel in the Industrial Revolution

III. The Influence of the Wheel on Transportation Technology

A. The invention of the modern-day car and its components

B. The development of airplanes and trains

C. The influence of the wheel on space exploration

IV. The Influence of the Wheel on Manufacturing Technology

A. The role of wheels and conveyors in modern factories

B. The use of wheels in heavy machinery and equipment

C. The influence of the wheel in assembly line production

V. The Influence of the Wheel on Everyday Technology

A. The role of the wheel in household appliances and gadgets

B. The use of wheels in sporting equipment and toys

C. The influence of the wheel on modern-day robotics

VI. Conclusion

A. Restate thesis statement

B. Summarize the main points of the essay

C. Final thoughts: The significance of the wheel on modern-day technology

D. Call to action or recommendation for further research or action

Expository essay example

To help you in your writing process, we’ve provided a comprehensive expository essay example. It discusses the impact of Shakespeare’s work on modern-day literature. This expository essay sample deviates from the original five-paragraph structure and consists of an introductory paragraph, four body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.

Influence of Shakespeare on Modern-Day Literature

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in the history of English literature. His works have had a significant influence on modern-day literature, and his plays continue to be performed and adapted into various forms, including films, television shows, and novels. In this essay, we will explore the influence of Shakespeare on modern-day literature.

Shakespeare’s influence on the English language cannot be overstated. He is credited with the invention of over 1,700 words and phrases, including “eyeball,” “fashionable,” “addiction,” and “bedazzled,” to name a few. His writing style, characterized by poetic language, rich imagery, and powerful themes, has inspired countless writers and poets over the centuries. Many writers have attempted to imitate his style or use his works as a reference for their writing.

Moreover, Shakespeare’s plays, which were written over 400 years ago, still resonate with audiences today. His exploration of universal themes such as love, jealousy, power, and ambition, continues to captivate readers and audiences worldwide. The characters in his plays, such as Romeo and Juliet , Hamlet , Macbeth , and Othello , are iconic and have become part of our cultural heritage.

As a result, today’s media and entertainment have been heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s works. Many writers have adapted his plays into modern settings, retelling the stories in contemporary contexts. For example, the musical West Side Story , which is based on Romeo and Juliet , is set in 1950s New York City, while the film 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew .

Shakespeare’s influence is not only evident in media but also in the language and themes used in modern literature. His exploration of human nature and the human condition has inspired many writers to delve deeper into the human psyche, exploring complex emotions and motivations. His use of metaphors, symbolism, and imagery has become a hallmark of literary writing, inspiring many writers to use similar techniques in their works.

In conclusion, William Shakespeare’s influence on modern-day literature cannot be overstated. His works continue to be read and performed, inspiring writers and artists around the world. His use of language, themes, and characters has become part of our cultural heritage and continues to shape how we view the world. Shakespeare’s impact on modern-day literature is a testament to his enduring legacy as one of the greatest writers of all time.

Now that you have clarity about expository essays, you can use this information to write expository essays. As providers of essay editing services , we realize that you may also have doubts about other types of essays like narrative essays, argumentative essays, and more.

Keep reading with more resources from your loyal editors and proofreaders:

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  • 8 Types of Essays | Quick Summary with Examples
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  • What Is an Essay? Structure, Parts, and Types
  • How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Examples

Frequently Asked Questions

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Expository Essay

Definition of expository essay, types of expository essay, difference between an expository essay and an argumentative essay, examples of expository essay in literature, example #1: how chinese mothers are superior (by amy chua).

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.”

Example #2: Learning to Read (by Malcolm X)

“It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education. I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there. I had commanded attention when I said something. But now , trying to write simple English, I not only wasn’t articulate, I wasn’t even functional. How would I sound writing in slang , the way I would say it, something such as, ‘Look, daddy , let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad — ‘ Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.”

Example #3: Summer Ritual (by Ray Bradbury)

“About seven o’clock you could hear the chairs scraping from the tables, someone experimenting with a yellow-toothed piano , if you stood outside the dining-room window and listened. Matches being struck, the first dishes bubbling in the suds and tinkling on the wall racks, somewhere, faintly, a phonograph playing. And then as the evening changed the hour, at house after house on the twilight streets, under the immense oaks and elms , on shady porches, people would begin to appear, like those figures who tell good or bad weather in rain -or-shine clocks. Uncle Bert, perhaps Grandfather, then Father, and some of the cousins; the men all coming out first into the syrupy evening, blowing smoke, leaving the wSWomen’s voices behind in the cooling-warm kitchen to set their universe aright. Then the first male voices under the porch brim, the feet up, the boys fringed on the worn steps or wooden rails where sometime during the evening something, a boy or a geranium pot, would fall off.”

Functions of an Expository Essay

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What Is Expository Writing?

How to Write an Expository Essay

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

Expository writing is used to convey factual information (as opposed to creative writing, such as fiction). It is the language of learning and understanding the world around us. If you've ever read an encyclopedia entry, a how-to article on a website, or a chapter in a textbook, then you've encountered examples of expository writing.

Key Takeaways: Expository Writing

  • Just the facts, M'am: Expository writing is informational, not creative writing.
  • Anytime you write to describe or explain, you use expository writing.
  • Use a logical flow when planning an expository essay, report, or article: introduction, body text, and conclusion.
  • It's often easier to write the body of your article first, before composing the introduction or conclusion.

Expository writing is everywhere in everyday life, not just academic settings, as it's present anytime there's information to be conveyed. It can take form in an academic paper, an article for a newspaper, a report for a business, or even book-length nonfiction. It explains, informs, and describes.

Types of Expository Writing

In  composition studies , expository writing (also called exposition ) is one of the four traditional  modes of discourse . It may include elements of  narration ,  description , and  argumentation . Unlike creative or  persuasive writing , which can appeal to emotions and use anecdotes, expository writing's primary  purpose  is to deliver information about an issue, subject, method, or idea using facts.

Exposition may take one of several forms:

  • Descriptive/definition:  In this style of writing, topics are defined by characteristics, traits, and examples. An encyclopedia entry is a kind of descriptive essay. 
  • Process/sequential:  This essay outlines a series of steps needed in order to complete a task or produce something. A recipe at the end of an article in a food magazine is one example.
  • Comparative/contrast:  This kind of exposition is used to demonstrate how two or more subjects are the same and different. An article that explains the difference between owning and renting a home and the benefits and drawbacks of each is one such an example.
  • Cause/effect:  This kind of essay describes how one step leads to a result. An example is a personal blog chronicling a workout regimen and documenting the results over time.
  • Problem/solution: This type of essay presents a problem and possible solutions, backed by data and facts, not just opinion.
  • Classification: A classification essay breaks down a broad topic into categories or groupings.

Tips for Expository Writing

As you write, keep in mind some of these tips for creating an effective expository essay:

Start where you know the information best. You don't have to write your introduction first. In fact, it might be easier to wait until the end for that. If you don't like the look of a blank page, move over the slugs from your outline for the main body paragraphs and write the topic sentences for each. Then start putting in your information according to each paragraph's topic.

Be clear and concise.  Readers have a limited attention span. Make your case succinctly in language that the average reader can understand. 

Stick to the facts.  Although an exposition can be persuasive, it should not be based on opinion only. Support your case with facts, data, and reputable sources that can be documented and verified.

Consider voice and tone.  How you address the reader depends on the kind of essay you're writing. An essay written in the first person is fine for a personal travel essay but is inappropriate if you're a business reporter describing a patent lawsuit. Think about your audience before you begin writing.

Planning Your Essay

  • Brainstorm: Jot down ideas on a blank piece of paper. Connect them with arrows and lines, or just make lists. Rigor doesn't matter at this stage. Bad ideas don't matter at this stage. Just write down ideas, and the engine in your head will lead you to a good one. When you've got that idea, then repeat the brainstorming exercise with ideas that you want to pursue on that topic and information you could put in. From this list, you'll start to see a path emerge for your research or narrative to follow.
  • Compose your thesis: When your ideas coalesce into a sentence in which you can summarize the topic you're writing about, you're ready to compose your thesis sentence. Write down in one sentence the main idea that you'll explore in your paper.
  • Examine your thesis: Is it clear? Does it contain opinion? If so, revise that out. For this type of essay, you stick to the facts and evidence. This isn't an editorial. Is the thesis' scope manageable? You don't want your topic too narrow or too broad to be covered in the amount of space you have for your paper. If it's not a manageable topic, refine it. Don't be dismayed if you have to come back and tweak it if your research finds that your initial idea was off-kilter. It's all just part of the process of focusing the material.
  • Outline: It may seem inconsequential, but making even a quick outline can save you time by organizing your areas of pursuit and narrowing them down. When you see your topics in an organized list, you may be able to discard off-topic threads before you research them—or as you're researching them and you find they just don't work.
  • Research: Find your data and sources to back up the areas you want to pursue to support your thesis statement. Look for sources written by experts, including organizations, and watch for bias. Possible sources include statistics, definitions, charts and graphs, and expert quotes and anecdotes. Compile descriptive details and comparisons to make your topic clear to your reader, when applicable.

What Is an Expository Essay?

An expository essay has three basic parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Each is crucial to writing a clear article or effective argument.

The introduction: The first paragraph is where you'll lay the foundation for your essay and give the reader an overview of your thesis. Use your opening sentence to get the reader's attention, and then follow up with a few sentences that give your reader some context for the information you're about to cover.

The body:  At a minimum, include three to five paragraphs in the body of your expository essay. The body could be considerably longer, depending on your topic and audience. Each paragraph begins with a topic sentence where you state your case or objective. Each topic sentence supports your overall thesis statement. Then, each paragraph includes several sentences that expand on the information and/or support the topic sentence. Finally, a concluding sentence offers a transition to the following paragraph in the essay.

The conclusion:  The final section of your expository essay should give the reader a concise overview of your thesis. The intent is not merely to summarize your argument but to use it as a means of proposing further action, offering a solution, or posing new questions to explore. Don't cover new material related to your thesis, though. This is where you wrap it all up.

Expository Examples

An expository article or report about a lake, for example, could discuss its ecosystem: the plants and animals that depend on it along with its climate. It could describe physical details about its size, depth, amount of rainfall each year, and the number of tourists it receives annually. Information on when it was formed, its best fishing spots, or its water quality could be included, depending on the audience for the piece.

An expository piece could be in third person or second person. Second-person examples could include, for example, how to test lake water for pollutants or how to kill invasive species. Expository writing is useful and informative.

In contrast, someone writing a creative nonfiction article about a lake might relate the place to a defining moment in his or her life, penning the piece in first person. It could be filled with emotion, opinion, sensory details, and even include dialogue and flashbacks. It's a much more evocative, personal type of writing than an expository piece, even though they're both nonfiction styles.

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Expository Essays Made Simple: The Guide With Examples

What is an expository essay?

How to write, structure, and format it to reach its purpose?

This article is here to answer all your questions on expository writing. I’ll share the meaning and provide a few templates and examples for extra clarity.

Expository Essay Definition

Examples of such explanatory texts are:

  • Scholarly articles
  • Instructional or technical guides
  • Unbiased journalistic investigations
  • A news report
  • Business writing

It’s an expository text definition for us to understand the nature of this paper type. For more info, let’s learn the characteristics and elements of an expository essay.

What are the characteristics of expository essay?

Expository papers are factual and objective. They have a clear purpose, and their structure is linear and logical. In such essays, writers don’t share their opinions and don’t try to persuade readers.

Expository essays:

  • Teach readers about the topic.
  • Provide detailed information.
  • Describe and explain facts.
  • Clear, concise, and written with formal language.
  • Organized, in the 3rd person, with precise word choice.

What are the elements of an expository essay?

  • Strong thesis statement
  • Evidence and examples
  • Specific supporting details to explain the topic for a better understanding
  • Logical structure and transitions between paragraphs
  • Compelling conclusion to help readers remember the information better

What Is the Purpose of an Expository Essay?

The purpose of an expository essay is to present information and explain a topic. No personal opinions or biased statements are here, just facts with evidence.

The main focus is logic and coherence.

I’ve found the method for you to remember expository essays’ organization. It’s POET:

definition of expository writing in essay

  • P — Purpose: analyze, tell, explain, and connect the information.
  • O — Organization: do research, outline, and structure your paper.
  • E — Evidence: use facts, statistics, expert quotes, and examples.
  • T — Thesis: be concise and straightforward.

Expository vs. Argumentative

ObjectiveSubjective
Thesis statement is a topic presentationThesis statement is an argument
Explore a topic, only give facts and reasons; neutralChoose a position about a topic (for or against)
Write in the 3rd person (he, she, it, they)Possible to write in the 1st person (I, we) unless otherwise stated in the prompt

An easy way to understand the meaning and purpose of explanatory papers is to compare them with other text types. Students most often confuse expository essays with argumentative (persuasive) ones. The above table demonstrates the differences for you to remember.

Types of Expository Writing

As a rule, teachers mention the type of expository essay in the assigned prompt. It helps you understand how to structure and present the information in your paper.

The five types of expository writing are:

  • Definition. These papers describe and explain concepts. You just tell readers about something: a person, a place, a situation, etc.
  • Classification. Here you need to break a broad concept into subcategories. Start with a general topic, and then tell about each subgroup. (Example: an essay about movie genres, cat breeds, book styles, etc.)
  • Process (how-to). These texts explain to readers how to create or do something. Give instructions, steps, and practical tips. We also know process essays as problem-solution papers. A writer introduces and describes a problem and then tells the audience how to solve it.
  • Compare-and-Contrast. Here you tell about the similarities and differences between at least two subjects. Or, you can describe the pros and cons of something. (Example: compare two novels of the same author; pros and cons of living in a village; etc.)
  • Cause-and-Effect. These essays explain why something happened and what the outcome was. (Example: why Executed Renaissance (1) happened in Ukraine in the 1930s and what effects it has now.)

Expository Essay Structure

In academia, expository essays are standard 5-paragraph papers. You write an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Below is more information on what to include in every paragraph.

Introduction

The introduction of expository essays includes the topic and the main idea. Three elements to write here:

  • A writing hook to grab the reader’s interest
  • A topic’s background (introducing the topic)
  • A thesis statement summarizing the main idea (what you’ll tell about the subject)

Here’s an example:

definition of expository writing in essay

Body Paragraphs

Expository papers have at least three body paragraphs, each exposing one idea. It’s critical to craft logical transitions between paragraphs and include evidential support.

Each paragraph should have a logical connection to the thesis statement. As for evidence, use statistics, citations, and other info you’ve got when researching. (2)

Here go your four E’s to consider:

  • Explanations
  • Elaboration

That’s what a body paragraph of your expository paper might look like:

definition of expository writing in essay

Three elements to include:

  • Topic sentence (to state what this paragraph will be about)
  • Explanation of the topic in detail
  • Concluding sentences with a logical transition to the next paragraph

The final paragraph restates the thesis, given the evidence you provided in the essay. Summarize the topic, but don’t introduce any new information. Leave readers with a positive impression of your work.

Three elements of expository essay conclusions:

  • Readdressing the thesis in light of the provided information
  • A brief overview of the essay’s key points
  • The key takeaway for readers to remember from your essay

definition of expository writing in essay

Expository Essay Format

No paragraph/section headers
Standard five-paragraph paper
12-point Times New Roman
Left
Double-spaced, standard-size paper
1-inch on all sides
MLA
+/- 800 words

Example of Expository Essay

Below is your example of expository writing to see the structure and format. It’s a standard five-paragraph essay students write in college. The number of words and paragraphs may differ depending on the prompt you get from teachers.

Feel free to use it for inspiration and a better understanding of how to write:

definition of expository writing in essay

What is the primary purpose of an expository text?

The primary purpose of an expository text is to inform readers about the topic. Such texts describe and explain concepts to educate the audience. They are objective. A writer shouldn’t express personal opinions or attempt to persuade readers. Expository essays are descriptive, not argumentative or persuasive.

How to write an expository essay?

First, review the prompt; it will tell you all the instructions. You’ll know a topic, a word count, a format, etc. Then, do research and gather all the information about your subject. What will you tell the readers? What evidence you’ll use to support your points? Once ready, create an outline. You’ll need to specify the thesis statement and think about how you structure an essay. Finally, write a draft and proofread and edit it before submitting it to a teacher’s review.

What is typically included in the introductory section of an expository essay?

An introductory paragraph starts with a hook to grab readers’ attention to the topic. Then, provide a topic’s background for readers to understand what you write about. Finally, finish your introduction with a thesis statement. In the thesis, summarize the main idea of your paper.

How long is an expository essay?

Target about 800 words for expository writing. It includes five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Check your prompt carefully: It often mentions the number of words to write.

Over to You

I hope this article has answered your “What is an expository essay” question. Remember about the purpose: inform and educate readers. Imagine yourself as a lecturer who needs to tell the audience about the subject — and voila !

Follow the logical structure, write in the 3rd person, and use evidence to prove your information. The above tips and examples are here to help you.

References: 

  • https://www.husj.harvard.edu/articles/the-executed-renaissance-paradigm-revisited  
  • https://www.nhcc.edu/academics/library/doing-library-research/basic-steps-research-process  
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How to Write Excellent Expository Essays

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WHAT IS AN EXPOSITORY ESSAY?

An Expository essay ‘exposes’ information to the reader to describe or explain a particular topic logically and concisely.

The purpose of expository writing is to educate or inform the reader first and foremost.

Though the term is sometimes used to include persuasive writing , which exposes us to new ways of thinking, a true expository text does not allow the writer’s personal opinion to intrude into the text and should not be confused.

Expository Writing follows a structured format with an introduction, body paragraphs presenting information and examples, and a conclusion summarising key points and reinforcing the thesis. Common expository essays include process, comparison/contrast, cause and effect, and informative essays.

EXPOSITORY ESSAY STRUCTURE

TEXT ORGANIZATION Organize your thoughts before writing.

CLARITY Use clear and concise wording. There is no room for banter.

THESIS STATEMENT State position in direct terms.

TOPIC SENTENCE Open each paragraph with a topic sentence.

SUPPORTING DETAIL Support the topic sentence with further explanation and evidence.

LINK End each body paragraph by linking to the next.

EXPOSITORY ESSAY TYPES

PROCESS Tell your audience how to achieve something, such as how to bake a cake.

CAUSE & EFFECT Explore relationships between subjects, such as climate change and its impact.

PROBLEM & SOLUTION Explain how to solve a problem, such as improving physical fitness.

COMPARE & CONTRAST Compare and contrast two or more items, such as life in China life vs life in the United States or Australia.

DEFINITION Provides a detailed definition of a word or phrase, such as self-confidence.

CLASSIFICATION Organizes things into categories or groups, such as types of music.

STRUCTURE & FEATURES OF EXPOSITORY WRITING

While there are many types of expository essays, the basic underlying structure is the same. The Hamburger or 5-Paragraph Essay structure is an excellent scaffold for students to build their articles. Let’s explore the expository essay outline.

INTRODUCTION:

This is the top bun of the burger, and here the student introduces the exposition topic. This usually consists of a general statement on the subject, providing an essay overview. It may also preview each significant section, indicating what aspects of the subject will be covered in the text. These sections will likely relate to the headings and subheadings identified at the planning stage.

If the introduction is the top bun of the burger, then each body paragraph is a beef patty. Self-contained in some regards, each patty forms an integral part of the whole.

EXPOSITORY PARAGRAPHS

Each body paragraph deals with one idea or piece of information. More complex topics may be grouped under a common heading, and the number of paragraphs will depend on the complexity of the topic. For example, an expository text on wolves may include a series of paragraphs under headings such as habitat, breeding habits, what they eat, etc.

Each paragraph should open with a topic sentence indicating to the reader what the paragraph is about. The following sentences should further illuminate this main idea through discussion and/or explanation. Encourage students to use evidence and examples here, whether statistical or anecdotal. Remind students to keep things factual – this is not an editorial piece for a newspaper!

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Expository writing is usually not the place for flowery flourishes of figurative imagery! Students should be encouraged to select a straightforward language that is easy for the reader to understand. After all, the aim here is to inform and explain, and this is best achieved with explicit language.

As we’ve seen, several variations of the expository essay exist, but the following are the most common features students must include.

The title should be functional. It should instantly inform the reader what they will learn about in the text. This is not the place for opaque poetry!

A table of contents in long essays will help the reader locate helpful information quickly. Usually, the page numbers found here will be linked to headings and subheadings to be found in the text.

HEADINGS / SUBHEADINGS:

These assist the reader in finding information by summarizing the content in their wording.

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Usually listed alphabetically, the glossary defines unusual or topic-specific vocabulary and is sometimes accompanied by pictures, illustrations etc.

The index lets the reader identify where to find specific information in longer texts. An index is much more detailed than a table of contents.

VISUAL FORMS OF INFORMATION

Expository essays sometimes support the text with visuals, such as:

  • Pictures / Illustrations / Photographs:

These can be used to present a central idea or concept within the text and are often accompanied by a caption explaining what the image shows. Photographs can offer a broad overview or a close-up of essential details.

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Diagrams are a great way to convey complex information quickly. They should be labelled clearly to ensure the reader knows what they are looking at.

  • Charts and Graphs:

These are extremely useful for showing data and statistics in an easy-to-read manner. They should be labelled clearly and correspond to the information in the nearby text.

Maps may be used to explain where something is or was located. 

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Types of expository essay

There are many different types of expository texts (e.g. encyclopaedias, travel guides, information reports , etc.), but there are also various expository essays, with the most common being.

  • Process Essays
  • Cause and Effect Essays
  • Problem and Solution Essays
  • Compare and Contrast Essays
  • Definition Essays
  • Classification Essays

We will examine each of these in greater detail in the remainder of this article, as they have slight nuances and differences that make them unique. The graphic below explains the general structure for all text types from the expository writing family.

THE PROCESS ESSAY

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This how-to essay often takes the form of a set of instructions. Also known as a procedural text , the process essay has very specific features that guide the reader on how to do or make something.

To learn more about this type of writing, check out our information-packed article here .

Features of a process essay

Some of the main features of the process essay include:

  • ‘How to’ title
  • Numbered or bullet points
  • Time connectives
  • Imperatives (bossy words)
  • List of resources

Example Expository Process Essay:

The cause and effect essay.

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The purpose of a cause-and-effect essay is to explore the causal relationships between things. Essays like this often bring the focus back to a single cause. These essays frequently have a historical focus.

The text should focus on facts rather than assumptions as an expository essay. However, cause-and-effect essays sometimes explore hypothetical situations too.

There are two main ways to structure a cause-and-effect essay.

The Block Structure presents all the causes first. The writer then focuses on the effects of these causes in the second half of the essay.

The Chain Structure presents each cause and then immediately follows with the effects it created.

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Example Expository Cause and Effect Essay:

The problem and solution essay.

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In this type of essay, the writer first identifies a problem and then explores the topic from various angles to ultimately propose a solution. It is similar to the cause-and-effect essay.

While the problem and solution essay can use the block and chain structures as outlined above – substitute cause with problem and effect with a solution – it will also usually work through the following elements:

  • Identifies a problem
  • Contains a clear thesis statement
  • Each paragraph has a topic sentence
  • Supports with facts, examples, evidence
  • The conclusion summarizes the main points

Suggested Title: What Can Be Done to Prevent Bullying in Schools?

Example Expository Problem and Solution Essay:

The compare and contrast essay.

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In this type of essay, students evaluate the similarities and differences between two or more things, ideas, people, etc. Usually, the subjects will belong to the same category.

The compare-and-contrast expository essay can be organized in several different ways. Three of these are outlined below.

In the three structures outlined, it is assumed that two subjects are being compared and contrasted. Of course, the precise number of paragraphs required in the text will depend on the number of points the student wishes to make and the number of subjects being compared and contrasted.

Suggested Title: In-Class or Remote Learning: Which Is Best?

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DEFINITION ESSAYS

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This type of essay provides a detailed description and definition of a word or phrase. It can be a concrete term, such as car or glass, or a more abstract concept, such as love or fear .

A definition essay comprehensively explains a term’s purpose and meaning. It will frequently contain some or all of the following elements:

  • A definition of the term
  • An analysis of its meaning
  • The etymology of the term
  • A comparison to related terms
  • Examples to illustrate the meaning
  • A summary of the main points

Example Expository Definition Essay:

CLASSIFICATION ESSAYS

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Like definition essays, a classification essay sorts or organizes things into various groups or categories and explains each group or category in detail.

Classification essays focus on:

  • Sorting things into functional categories
  • Ensuring each category follows a common organizing principle
  • Provides examples that illustrate each category.

Example Expository Classification Essay:

expository essays | what is an expository essay | How to Write Excellent Expository Essays | literacyideas.com

One of the best ways to understand the different features of expository essays is to see them in action. The sample essay below is a definition essay but shares many features with other expository essays.

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EXPOSITORY WRITING PROMPTS

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Examples of Expository Essay Titles

 Expository essay prompts are usually pretty easy to spot.

 They typically contain keywords that ask the student to explain something, such as “define,” “outline,” “describe,” or, most directly of all, “explain.”

 This article will examine the purpose of an expository essay and its structure. It will also examine the primary language and stylistic features of this vital text type.

 After this, we’ll explore five distinct tips for helping your students get the most out of writing their expository essays.

Expository Essays vs Argumentative Essays

 Expository essays are often confused with their close cousin, the argumentative essay. Still, it’s easy to help students distinguish between the two by quickly examining their similarities and differences.

 In an expository essay, students will attempt to write about a thing or a concept neutrally and objectively, unlike an argumentative essay where the writer’s opinions permeate the text throughout. Simple as it sounds, this may take some doing for some students as it requires the writer to refine their personal voice almost out of existence!

 Luckily, choosing the correct viewpoint from which to write the essay can go a long way to helping students achieve the desired objectivity. Generally, students should write their expository essays from the third-person perspective.

Contrastingly, argumentative essays are subjective in nature and will usually be written from the first-person perspective as a result.

 In an expository essay, the text’s prime focus is the topic rather than the writer’s feelings on that topic. For the writer, disassociating their personal feelings on a topic is much easier when they’re a step removed from the narration by using the third-person POV rather than the first-person POV.

Expository Essay Tips

Follow these top tips from the experts to craft an amazing expository essay.

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 Tip #1: Choose the Right Tool for the Job

writing-tools

Surprising as it may seem, not all expository essays are created equal.

 In fact, there are several different types of expository essays, and our students must learn to recognize each and choose the correct one for their specific needs when producing their own expository essays.

 To do this, students will need to know the 5 types of expository essays:

  • The Cause and Effect Essay : This type of essay requires that the writer explain why something happened and what occurred due to that event and subsequent events. It explores the relationship between people, ideas, events, or things and other people, ideas, events, or things.
  • The Compare and Contrast Essay: In a compare and contrast essay, the writer examines the similarities and differences between two subjects or ideas throughout the body of the piece and usually brings things together in an analysis at the end .
  • The Descriptive Essay: This is a very straightforward expository essay with a detailed description or explanation of a topic. The topic may be an event, place, person, object, or experience. This essay’s direct style is balanced with the freedom of the writer can inject some of their creativity into the description.
  • The Problem and Solution Essay : In this expository essay, the student will work to find valid solutions to a specific problem or problem.
  • The Process Essay : Also called a how-to essay, this essay type is similar to instruction writing, except in essay form. It provides a step-by-step procedure breakdown to teach the reader how to do something.

 When choosing a specific topic to write about, students should consider several factors:

 ●      Do they know the topic well enough to explain the ins and outs of the subject to an unfamiliar audience?

 ●      Do they have enough interest in this topic to sustain thorough research and writing about it?

 ●      Is enough relevant information and credible sources available to fuel the student’s writing on this topic?

Tip # 2: Research the Topic Thoroughly

Regardless of which type of expository essay your students are working on, they must approach the research stage of the writing process with diligence and focus. The more thorough they are at the research stage, the smoother the remainder of the writing process will be.

A common problem for students while researching is that sometimes they don’t have a clear understanding of the objective of their research. They lack a clear focus on their efforts.

Research is not mindlessly scanning documents and scrawling occasional notes. As with any part of the writing process, it begins with determining clear objectives.

Often, students will start the research process with a broad focus, and as they continue researching, they will naturally narrow their focus as they learn more about the topic.

Take the time to help students understand that writing isn’t only about expressing what we think; it’s also about discovering what we think.

When researching, students should direct their efforts to the following:

REad our complete guide to researching here

  • Gather Supporting Evidence : The research process is not only for uncovering the points to be made within the essay but also the evidence to support those points. The aim here is to provide an objective description or analysis of the topic; therefore, the student will need to gather relevant supporting evidence, such as facts and statistics, to bolster their writing. Usually, each paragraph will open with a topic sentence, and subsequent sentences in the paragraph will focus on providing a factual, statistical, and logical analysis of the paragraph’s main point.
  • Cite Sources : It’s an essential academic skill to be able to cite sources accurately. There are several accepted methods of doing this, and you must choose a citation style appropriate to your student’s age, abilities, and context. However, whatever style you choose, students should get used to citing any sources they use in their essays, either in the form of embedded quotations, endnotes, or bibliography – or all three!
  • Use Credible Sources: The Internet has profoundly impacted knowledge sharing as the Gutenberg Press did almost 600 years ago. It has provided unparalleled access to the sum total of human knowledge as never before, with each student having a dizzying number of sources available at their fingertips. However, we must ensure our students understand that not all sources are created equal. Encourage students to seek credible sources in their research and filter out the more dubious sources. Some questions students can ask themselves to help determine a source’s credibility include:

●      Have I searched thoroughly enough to find the most relevant sources for my topic?

●      Has this source been published recently? Is it still relevant?

●      Has the source been peer-reviewed? Have other sources confirmed this source?

●      What is the publication’s reputation?

●      Is the author an expert in their field?

●      Is the source fact-based or opinion-based?

Tip #3: Sketch an Outline

Every kid knows you can’t find the pirate treasure without a map, which is true of essay writing. Using their knowledge of the essay’s structure, students start whipping their research notes into shape by creating an outline for their essay.

The 5-paragraph essay or ‘Hamburger’ essay provides a perfect template for this.

Students start by mapping out an appealing introduction built around the main idea of their essay. Then, from their mound of research, they’ll extract their most vital ideas to assign to the various body paragraphs of their text.

Finally, they’ll sketch out their conclusion, summarize their essay’s main points, and, where appropriate, make their final statement on the topic.

Tip #4: Write a Draft

Title chosen? Check! Topic researched? Check! Outline sketched? Check!

Well, then, it’s time for the student to begin writing in earnest by completing the first draft of their essay.

They’ll already have a clear idea of the shape their essay will take from their research and outlining processes, but ensure your students allow themselves some leeway to adapt as the writing process throws up new ideas and problems.

That said, students will find it helpful to refer back to their thesis statement and outline to help ensure they stay on track as they work their way through the writing process towards their conclusions.

As students work through their drafts, encourage them to use transition words and phrases to help them move smoothly through the different sections of their essays.

Sometimes, students work directly from an outline as if on a checklist. This can sometimes be seen as the finished essay resembling Frankenstein. That is an incongruous series of disparate body parts crudely stitched together.

Learning to use transitions effectively will help students create an essay that is all of a whole, with all the joins and seams sanded and smoothed from view.

Tip #5: Edit with a Fresh Pair of Eyes

eagle-owl-fresh-eyes.jpg

Once the draft is complete, students enter the final crucial editing stage.

But, not so hasty! Students must pencil in some time to let their drafts ‘rest’. If the editing process occurs immediately after the student finishes writing their draft, they’ll likely overlook much.

Editing is best done when students have time to gain a fresh perspective on their work. Ideally, this means leaving the essay overnight or over a few nights. However, practically, this isn’t always possible. Usually, though, it will be possible for students to put aside their writing for a few hours.

With the perspective that only time gives, when returning to their work, students can identify areas for improvement that they may have missed. Some important areas for students to look at in the editing process include:

  • Bias : Students need to remember the purpose of this essay is to present a balanced and objective description of the topic. They need to ensure they haven’t let their own personal bias slip through during the writing process – an all too easy thing to do!
  • Clarity : Clarity is as much a function of structure as language. Students must ensure their paragraphs are well organized and express their ideas clearly. Where necessary, some restructuring and rewriting may be required.
  • Proofread: With stylistic and structural matters taken care of, it’s now time for the student to shift their focus onto matters of spelling , vocabulary choice, grammar, and punctuation. This final proofread represents the last run-through of the editing process. It’s the students’ final chance to catch mistakes and errors that may bias the assessor (aka You! ) against the effectiveness of the piece of writing. Where the text has been word-processed, the student can enlist inbuilt spelling and grammar checkers to help. Still, they should also take the time to go through each line word by word. Automatic checkers are a helpful tool, but they are a long way from infallible, and the final judgement on a text should employ the writer’s own judgement.

Expository essays are relatively straightforward pieces of writing. By following the guidelines mentioned above and practising them regularly, students can learn to produce well-written expository essays quickly and competently.

Explaining and describing events and processes objectively and clearly is a useful skill that students can add to their repertoire. Although it may seem challenging at first, with practice, it will become natural.

To write a good expository essay, students need a good understanding of its basic features and a firm grasp of the hamburger essay structure. As with any writing genre, prewriting is essential, particularly for expository writing.

Since expository writing is designed primarily to inform the reader, sound research and note-taking are essential for students to produce a well-written text. Developing these critical skills is an excellent opportunity for students through expository writing, which will be helpful to them as they continue their education.

Redrafting and editing are also crucial for producing a well-written expository essay. Students should double-check facts and statistics, and the language should be edited tightly for concision.

And, while grading their efforts, we might even learn a thing or two ourselves!

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  1. How To Write An Expository Essay in 6 Steps

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  2. What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide

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  3. Expository Essay: Examples and Tips of a Proper Writing That Will Be

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  4. What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide

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  5. How To Write An Expository Essay (7 Best Tips)

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  6. Different Types Of Expository Writing

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COMMENTS

  1. Expository Writing: Definition and Examples

    The term expository writing refers to any writing that's designed to explain something. We use the word expository to describe any passage of writing that's supposed to present information and help you understand it in an objective way. Some common examples of expository writing include academic essays, textbooks, instructional guides, and ...

  2. How to Write an Expository Essay

    The structure of your expository essay will vary according to the scope of your assignment and the demands of your topic. It's worthwhile to plan out your structure before you start, using an essay outline. A common structure for a short expository essay consists of five paragraphs: An introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  3. Expository Essays

    The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

  4. How to Write an Expository Essay: Types, Tips, and Topics

    Descriptive or Definition Essays. This type of expository essay is meant to describe a place, an experience, or a concept by appealing to the senses. The topic might be anything from a concrete object like an animal, city, or tree, or it can also be an abstract idea, such as relationships, love, or freedom. ... Writing expository essays is a ...

  5. Guide to Writing an Expository Essay: How-To with Examples

    An expository essay is a genre of writing that explores and explains a specific topic in a logical and straightforward manner. The main goals of expository writing are to inform the reader, explain a subject, or describe a topic in a way that is accessible and comprehensible. You're not trying to confuse or overwhelm a reader with all of your ...

  6. How to Write an Expository Essay in 5 Steps

    Teaches the Art of the Short Story. Teaches Storytelling and Humor. Teaches Writing for Television. Teaches Screenwriting. Teaches Fiction and Storytelling. Teaches Storytelling and Writing. Teaches Creating Outside the Lines. Teaches Writing for Social Change. Teaches Fiction, Memory, and Imagination.

  7. How to Write an Expository Essay

    Formatting an expository essay. The typical format for an expository essay in school is the traditional five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction and a conclusion, with three paragraphs for the body of the paper. Most often, these three paragraphs are limited to one subtopic each. This is the basic essay format, but expository writing ...

  8. How to Write an Expository Essay

    1. Read Your Essay Prompt. Most expository essay prompts will ask you to do one of the following: Define and explain a concept or theory. Compare and contrast two ideas. Examine a problem and propose a solution. Describe a cause and effect relationship. Explain a step-by-step process.

  9. What Is an Expository Essay? Examples and Guide

    An expository essay is a type of essay that involves explaining an idea or theme within a given subject or topic. We guide you through writing one with examples.

  10. Expository Essay in Literature: Definition & Examples

    Expository Essay Definition. An expository essay [ik-SPOZ-ih-tohr-ee ess-ay] is an essay in which the writer researches a topic and uses evidence to inform their readers or clarify the topic.They can take many forms, including a how-to essay, an essay that defines something, or an essay that studies a problem and offers a solution.

  11. Writing an Expository Essay: Structure, Outline, Example

    It is a form of academic writing where the subject is presented in a completely objective manner. Unlike in the case of argumentative or analytical essays, expository essays do not require the writer to adopt a discernible stance. Expository essays can fall into various categories, such as compare and contrast, descriptive, and cause and effect.

  12. Expository Writing

    Expository writing is a type of writing that is used to explain, describe, and give information and uses evidence, details, and facts to support the topic. An example of expository writing is ...

  13. PDF What is Expository Writing?

    Expository writing is a genre of writing that describes, explains, or investigates an idea, reason, or steps in order to inform or illuminate a particular subject for the reader (Baker, Brizee, & Angeli). Like all kinds of academic writing, expository essays have a clear thesis statement that is supported by sound evidence and reasoning.

  14. How to Write an Expository Essay

    Writing an Expository Essay. An expository essay should not be based on your personal experiences and opinions. It rather takes an objective approach. You will be expected to explain the topic in a balanced way without any personal bias. Make sure to avoid the first and second person ("I" and "You") when writing an expository essay.

  15. Expository Essay: Definition, Outline, Topics & Examples of ...

    An expository essay is one which is used to explain something, in the most simple terms. The word expository comes from the word expose, and this means to uncover something so that other people are able to understand it for what it is. This type of essay is therefore used as a way of explaining or clarifying the subject for the reader.

  16. Expository Essays

    The main goal of writing an expository essay is to educate. An expository essay is a relatively unbiased piece of writing that explores a topic from all angles. In this article, we will explore the meaning of an expository essay and how to write one with the help of a few expository essay examples. ... However, the expository essay definition ...

  17. Expository Essay

    Definition of Expository Essay. Expose means to uncover or lay something bare, or to discover something in a way that others know what it is. Expository is derived from exposition, which is a noun of 'expose.' An expository essay is a genre of writing which tends to explain, illustrate, clarify, or explicate something in a way that it becomes clear for readers.

  18. What Is Expository Writing?

    How to Write an Expository Essay. Expository writing is used to convey factual information (as opposed to creative writing, such as fiction). It is the language of learning and understanding the world around us. If you've ever read an encyclopedia entry, a how-to article on a website, or a chapter in a textbook, then you've encountered examples ...

  19. What Is an Expository Essay? Types, Structure, Examples

    An expository essay is an academic paper that exposes facts, explaining a topic to a reader. A writer shares the info to educate the audience, not entertain or persuade them. Examples of such explanatory texts are: It's an expository text definition for us to understand the nature of this paper type.

  20. How to write Excellent Expository Essays

    Tip # 2: Research the Topic Thoroughly. Regardless of which type of expository essay your students are working on, they must approach the research stage of the writing process with diligence and focus. The more thorough they are at the research stage, the smoother the remainder of the writing process will be.

  21. 4.1: Expository Essays

    An essay that explains a writer's ideas by defining, explaining, informing, or elaborating on points to allow the reader to clearly understand the concept. Many of your future academic workplace writing assignments will be expository-explaining your ideas or the significance of a concept or action. An expository essay allows the writer the ...

  22. Which Of The Following Is An Example Of Expository Writing?

    Answer: a story is about to Begin "once upon a time" is an example of the use of sequence words . Explanation: When we hear the phrase "once upon a time" we know that a story is about to Begin.and This phrase is an example of a sequence of words .. Sequence words are used to mainly organize a story so that the reader can understand the events that occurred in the story . examples of such words ...

  23. PDF Roles, Scope, Criteria, Standards and Procedures of the Department of

    the writing option for students who wish to specialize in the study and production of expository and creative writing and rhetoric, in preparation for professional writing careers or graduate ... short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, books of ... articulated in the definition of teaching in the Faculty Handbook and throughout ...