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How to Write an Expository Essay

Writing assignments can be mind-boggling and difficult. As a student, you may have to deal with a multitude of different college papers. You will study a myriad of different subjects such as science, math's, English and History – each subject may require a different purpose essay!

We understand the struggles you may go through – we know that trying to remember writing guidelines and ideas can be draining. There is always help at hand, however. We understand how to write an expository essay, for example, we know how to write any type of essay in fact! In the steps below, we look at expository writing, and give you tips on writing an expository essay.

What is an expository essay?

You have undoubtedly heard of an argumentative essay? An argumentative paper is where you look at a particular subject, analyze it, and give your argument on a certain viewpoint. For example, you may have to write a paper about damage to the ozone layer from greenhouse gasses. You could present the facts and argue that you feel the damage is real and that action must be taken. This is argumentative – you are giving an opinion on a subject.

An expository essay is similar, but the key point is that you should not really give an option. You should just "expose" the subject. This is where the meaning of the word comes from – expository is derived from exposition which in itself is a noun of exposing – to lay something bare and present it in such a way that readers can understand and make their own minds up about.

This form of text is factual. It presents a subject as it is with no writer bias – just comprehensive information from all angles. For example, an expository essay may contain facts both for and against the subject – not just the positives.

What varieties of expository essays are there?

This groups of essays actually have five different sub-categories. By learning the subcategories you can easily identify an expository research paper and learn how to create one with ease. The following are the five forms of expository paper:

  • Descriptive – When writing a descriptive exposition you are using literary devices to describe something – this could be a place, person, experience, situation or object for example. The key point is that you are merely describing it – you are not giving your opinion on it. Let's say you are describing a painting for example. If you were writing an argumentative essay, you may say, "The painting uses bold colors which I feel detracts attention from the main subject". To write an exposition, you could say, "The painting uses a combination of colors including greens, reds, and oranges" – you are simply stating what the painting contains.
  • Process – A process text basically describes how something works. This could be any type of process. Examples of expository process writing could be how a piece of machinery works. How a certain variety of cake is baked. Basically, anything that follows a set procedure could be used. As with the descriptive essay, the process should simply be explained without any commentary or opinion.
  • Comparison – As you would expect, a comparison text looks at the differences and similarities between two things. For example, you could compare two different types of car and their qualities. You could compare their engine size and build, brake, horsepower, top speed, steering capabilities, weight, and other elements. Again, the aim is to simply compare – not to say which car you think is better.
  • Cause and Effect essays – This form of expository essay looks at a particular subject, what causes it, and what effect it can have. For example, you could write about heart disease in humans. You would first describe why heart disease can occur, i.e. poor diet, lack of exercise, or genetic inheritance for example. You would then discuss what effect this can have on your health such as increased chance of heart attacks.
  • Problem/Solution – Problem and solution expository essays are some of the easiest to write. You could discuss a problem such as the depletion of the world’s polar ice caps and glaciers. You could give statistics and facts to show the seriousness of the problem, and look at the different locations it is happening. You would then discuss potential solutions that solve the problem.

As you can see, an exposition essay can take many different forms. Providing that you understand these different categories, you should have no problem forming your own expository paper.

What should an expository essay include?

When writing an expository essay, you must include certain features and literary devices. This will largely depend on which variety of paper you are creating.

Thesis – A thesis is essential. This outlines what your paper is about and what you aim to discuss. A thesis does not have to be lengthy. It should be succinct and to the point. Usually, a thesis is only a couple of well-formed sentences.

Facts – When writing an expository essay you must include facts. You are aiming to provide readers with a non-biased selection of paragraphs about a particular subject. What better way to do this than providing hard cold facts? Statistics and facts are a great way to flesh out your essay and to give weight to what you are saying. Readers can analyze the facts and help form their own opinions and decisions about the subject.

Clear pointers – An expository essay should be clear and concise. It should not contain useless filler text or unnecessary fluff. It should stay on track and only address the main subject and matters at hand. If you stray from the subject, you will lose your readers attention, and they could become confused.

Conclusion – The conclusion should essentially reaffirm what you have discussed in the main body text. It does not necessarily have to provide an opinion but instead summarizes the main pointers. For example, if you were writing a comparison text, you could summarize the main similarities and differences. The conclusion should also relate to your original thesis.

How to structure and write your expository essay?

So we have looked at what is an expository essay, but you still need to know how to structure one. The structure actually flows in a similar format to the pointers we discussed above. The following is a common structure for this form of assignment:

  1. Thesis / Opening statement - As we mentioned, an expository essay should always start with a thesis. You must introduce your readers to the subject and explain to them the main subject/pointers.
  2. Body - The body will differ slightly depending on which variety of exposition you are using.
  3. Conclusion - The conclusion reaffirms your thesis and body of your text. It should summarize what is in the essay.

We hope you have found this article useful. You should now have a firm idea of what an exposition essay is. Our help should make you confident in writing this form of paper. If you still lack in confidence, don't forget that our essay writers can write a good exposition paper for you!

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