Expository Essays: Explaining With Facts

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An expository essay involves investigating an idea, evaluating evidence, expounding on the idea and developing an argument about the idea clearly and concisely. Exposition presents an idea with plenty of detail but without criticisms. Once you understand the assignment, you must decide upon an approach, and follow the expected format.

Approaches to expository essays

Expository essays can take several different approaches with the developmental pattern. Which you choose depends on your assignment instructions and your preferences. The following patterns may be used in this type of essay:

  • Cause and effect—illustrate a relationship by describing the way one variable affects another and why
  • Classification—categorize subjects by specific criteria into separate groups
  • Compare and contrast—consider both the similarities and differences between two or more subjects
  • Definition—thoroughly define the topic
  • Example—provide an example of something and describe it in detail

Format of expository essays

The nature of the expository essay means it is often used on exams or for in-class writing assignments. Regardless of whether it is an in-class writing assignment or a take-home essay, an expository essay requires following a particular format.

Introduction of the expository essay

The introduction is the first piece of an expository essay that holds the written piece together. Your introduction should contain a strong, well-written thesis statement that is both clear and concise. The thesis statement must stay narrow enough in scope to meet the assignment guidelines. Without a thesis statement that is up to par, you are unlikely to write the assignment effectively.

Body paragraphs of the expository essay

The body paragraphs of the expository essay, regardless of how many of them there are, must include evidential support. This support can be anecdotal, factual, logical or statistical. Employ the use of smooth transitions between body paragraphs and between the body and the introduction and the conclusion.

In addition, each body paragraph must incorporate the following:

A distinct main topic to which all other sentences relate

Transitions that help your readers follow the logic of your presented information; without smooth transitions, your points can become lost in the shuffle.

Finally, each body paragraph of an exposition must focus solely on one main idea or point and establish a logical connection to the thesis statement in the introduction.

Conclusion of an expository essay

The conclusion of the expository essay restates the thesis statement as it relates to the evidential support that precedes the conclusion. Here is where you want to leave a lasting impression while also clearly wrapping up your essay. Finally, a conclusion for this essay type should never contain or introduce new information.

Example topics for an expository essay:

There is no shortage of potential topics for expository essays, but the list below gives you an idea on the types of things you might find yourself needing to explain in detail.

  • Explain why some cities have teen curfews
  • Explain why you like to work on a team
  • Describe the consequences of excessive drug use
  • Explain why laughing at embarrassing moments is good for the soul.

Whatever topic you select for an expository essay or approach you decide to take, creating an outline can help you keep your focus as you write. After completing the essay, always make sure to proofread and edit your work to ensure you receive a higher grade for the extra effort.