How to write an explanatory essay


An explanatory essay is a writing style in which the author expresses a viewpoint on a particular topic, case, or circumstance.

You should present facts or arguments from others in an objective manner, encouraging readers to draw their own conclusions rather than persuading them to agree or disagree with a point of view.

Step 1: Choose a topic

An explanatory essay may seem difficult to find a topic about, but it is actually quite easy. As long as it fits within the instructions of your assignment, you can describe almost everything.

Explanatory essay topics are usually assigned to students beforehand. If you need to choose your own topic, it is better to consider some factors.

Explanatory essay topic checklist

For this guide, we will be choosing the topic of the events that led up to World War I in our explanatory essay. We choose this topic because it is fact-based and non-controversial.

Step 2: Do your research

Strong arguments to support the main theory are the secret to a well-written explanatory essay. Therefore, you must remember to do proper research and data collection before starting the writing process.

This essay type relies mainly on data and research. You need to make a list of all the critical details from your references and include them as facts in your essay.

Research checklist

Step 3: Create a thesis statement

Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary data, the next and most critical step is to write a thesis statement.

The thesis statement communicates your overall perspective on the issue concisely. In other words, you’re showing what you’ll be telling your reader. A strong thesis statement sums up what you’re going to say in your academic essay.

For our sample explanatory essay on the events that led up to World War I, we have created this thesis statement:

Militarization, colonialism, and mutual defense treaties heightened tensions among European countries, leading to the outbreak of World War I.

With this thesis statement, we have made it clear what the essay will be about and stated the main points in the essay.

Step 4: Prepare an outline

Preparing an essay outline will help you organize your headings, findings, and thoughts. If you do not want to prepare an outline, you can try mind mapping or writing your thoughts on individual index cards, as in the old days.

essay outline infographic (740 × 540 px) 3
The reader will be introduced to the discussion topic and the thesis statement in the introduction.
Following that, the body paragraphs will support the thesis statement with evidence, reasoning, statistics, etc.
Finally, the conclusion will outline your essay’s key points and end with a general comment.

Step 5: Write an introduction

The hook, contextual information, and thesis statement are the three critical components of the explanatory essay introduction.

Introduction tips

World War I was one of the most destructive battles in modern history. Because of the war’s global effect and historical importance, it is also known as “The Great War.” Hook: Write something interesting, a fact maybe, to draw the attention of the reader. World War I was the first global disruptive battle in which Western Civilization had ever been involved. The War has been the subject of several studies that have presented numerous factors contributing to the outbreak of the conflict. Background: Inform the reader about the subject by providing a background of the issue. The studies on the war tell us that militarization, colonialism, and mutual defense treaties heightened tensions among European countries, leading to the outbreak of World War I. Thesis statement: State your main argument on the subject.

Step 6: Write body paragraphs

Unless the subject is highly detailed, the body should most certainly include three paragraphs, each with its own topic sentence. Here are the steps to a great body paragraph.

Four steps to a great body paragraph

Militarism, which was one of the leading concepts that caused World War I, was highly relevant during that time. Topic sentence: Start with a topic sentence that supports your main argument on the subject. Militarism is the creation of military forces for both national defense and imperial interest’s security. Context: Provide contextual information so the readers understand the issue better. A race of guns had started between the world’s leading powers at the beginning of the 20th century. By 1914, Germany had increased its military spending the most. Furthermore, the military establishment, especially in Russia and Germany, began to exert a significant impact on public policy. Background: Provide additional background information in detail. This rise in militarism prompted countries to join the war effort. Closing sentence: Finish the paragraph by explaining and evaluating the arguments of the paragraph.

Step 7: Write a conclusion

In the conclusion paragraph of an explanatory essay, three key elements must be used.

Best practices for conclusion

After all, it is clear from these points that militarization, colonialism, and mutual defense treaties were the main events that led up to the outbreak of World War I. Restatement: Restate your main argument in the conclusion. The rise in military power led the countries to join the war. Colonialism practices of some European countries had derived from the quest for bigger empires. This increased rivalry culminated in an increase in warfare. This moved the globe closer to World War I. Also, countries throughout Europe developed mutual defense alliances over time, which gradually drew them into war. Summary: Mention the key points of your body paragraphs. All these practices and concepts were steps toward World War I, a destructive war whose effects we still feel today. Concluding sentence: Finish the essay with a memorable sentence to attract the readers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for reading. If you need further information, feel free to have a look at our essay samples or contact us at live chat.

Ibrahim Akturk
Ibrahim Akturk
Content editor at Tamara Research. Translation major, huge coffee and baking nerd. Addicted to good music and great articles.

Recently on Tamara Blog

Asena Kocakusak

How to write a horror story

This article will guide you on how to write a horror story. You will learn how to plan your setting, characters, and outline and see examples of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 

Read More »
Asena Kocakusak

How to write a story

Learn how to write a story with our guide on the steps of story writing and see examples of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Read More »
Education concept. Student studying and brainstorming campus con
Asena Kocakusak

How to structure an essay

Learn how to structure an essay with our comprehensive guide. We also give tips on writing a solid thesis statement and supporting your arguments with evidence.

Read More »
Asena Kocakusak

How to write a hook sentence

Learn how to write a hook sentence that will grab your reader’s attention and keep them interested in your essay. Discover the steps and types with examples.

Read More »
How to write an explanatory essay
Fatih Gul

Essay Topic Ideas

Get inspiration for your essay with our list of essay topic ideas, from persuasive and argumentative to narrative and research essay topics.

Read More »