What is expository writing? Why is it so complicated? And how can you write an A-level paper with ease?
The purpose of the expository essay is to explain a topic in a logical and straightforward manner. Without bells and whistles, these essays present a fair and balanced analysis of a subject based on facts—with no references to the writer’s opinions or emotions.
Expository writing, or exposition, is a type of discourse used to describe, explain, define, inform, or clarify.
Expository writing is a life skill. More than any other type of writing, expository writing is a daily requirement of most careers. Understanding and following the proven steps of the writing process helps all writers, including students, master this type of essay writing.
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.
Common examples include newspaper articles, how-to manuals, and assembly instructions. Expository writing is also the most frequent type of academic writing!
There are 5 main types of expository essays:
Cause and Effect Essay
As a rule, expository writing is done in MLA format and typically has a standard 5-paragraph essay structure: 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.
The introductory paragraph contains the thesis or main idea. The next three paragraphs, or body of the essay, provide details in support of the thesis. The concluding paragraph restates the main idea and ties together the major points of essay.
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.
Now, when you have a clear understanding of the key terms, know the basic structure, and the purpose of this work, you may wonder how to write an expository essay.
In the prewriting phase, students should take time to brainstorm about the topic and main idea. Next, do research and take notes. Create an outline showing the information to be presented in each paragraph, organized in a logical sequence.
2. Expository Essay Outline
Creating an outline is vital, regardless of the type of paper you were assigned to do. First of all, it helps to organize your thoughts and to put them in a logical sequence. Secondly, having an outline will make the writing process simpler.
Intro – the opening clause that engages the readers, reflects the topic and main idea, and guides the reader to the main part of the text;
Body (3 paragraphs) – the main three paragraphs that provide the author’s key points with supporting sentences (such as facts, evidence, and examples);
Conclusion – the last part of the paper that summarizes everything and highlights the larger significance of the paper.
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.
This is always the most important part of your paper, as it is what grabs a reader’s attention and smoothly directs them into the content of the essay. To get an A for an expository essay, you need to make sure that your introduction is concise, straight to the point, and eye-catchy.
The most important sentence in the introductory paragraph is the topic sentence, which states the thesis or main idea of the essay. The thesis should be clearly stated without giving an opinion or taking a position. A good thesis is well defined, with a manageable scope that can be adequately addressed within a five-paragraph essay.
Focus on a single point in each of your three body paragraphs;
Make what each paragraph focuses on clear;
Provide supporting examples, facts, and arguments;
Make smooth transitions between paragraphs;
Where appropriate, explain the value and importance of your arguments.
Since an expository composition discusses an event, situation, or the views of others, and not a personal experience, students should write in the third person (“he,” “she,” or “it”), and avoid “I” or “you” sentences.
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.
Next, proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics, and edit to improve style and clarity. While your essay should be clear and concise, it can also be lively and engaging. Having a friend read the essay helps writers edit with a fresh perspective.
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.