How to write an expository essay

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Expository stems from the word “explain”. So, expository essays tend to explain a topic objectively and neutrally.

For instance, you need to provide information on digital marketing, how it works, and the different branches of it when writing an expository essay on digital marketing.

You need to maintain a neutral tone while writing your expository essay. After all, the primary target is to explain or inform the reader rather than convincing, unlike persuasive or argumentative essays.

Expository and argumentative essay

Students sometimes get confused about the difference between these types of essays. However, an expository essay tends to explain but an argumentative essay tends to create and defend an argument. The difference is quite clear. If the topic is digital marketing; 

You would try to convince the reader that digital marketing is better than conventional marketing in terms of price, efficiency, and accessibility.

You would explain what digital marketing is, how it works, and describe further the different types of digital marketing.

How & when to write an expository essay?

Understanding when you are asked to write an expository essay might be challenging. What is even more challenging is knowing how to write one if you don’t know the common practices.

Expository essay best practices

When to write an expository essay

You may, directly and indirectly, be assigned to write an expository essay. Mostly, the type is not stated in your instructions. However, you can easily find some clues that indicate the type of your essay.

For expository essays, “explain” and “define” prompts are the main keywords. Below there are some examples of expository essay topics.

As seen from the examples, these keywords are clear indicators of an expository essay. You don’t have to create an argument or original idea. Instead, you’ll be asked to explain or define a concept, term, or a past incident.

Introduction of an expository essay

Similar to other types of essays, an expository essay starts with a smooth and interesting introduction. That is, you need to hook the reader’s interest, present your research topic, and state your thesis statement.

Following is an example of expository essay introduction. You can see the purpose of each part and take it as a guideline.

The Second World War changed the history in terms of the political and societal structure of the world. Hook: Try to catch the reader’s attention with a striking opening sentence. Post-war period is often remembered as the recovery process after millions of death, in which the so-called boomer generation occurred. Also, many new political alliances were formed across the world, such as the United Nations and European Union. Background: Create a context by providing background information about your topic. The post-Second World War period allowed the world to embrace a new formation in terms of politics, society, and even technological developments due to the Cold War. Thesis statement: Introduce the central argument of your paper.

Body paragraphs of an expository essay

This is where you cover the topic with details and evidence. Although many students tend to use a three-paragraph body structure, you may write longer essays (even research papers) as well.

Body paragraphs should gradually develop into your thesis statement. Also, the topic of each paragraph should be clearly defined by your topic sentences.

Don’t forget to use transition sentences, and transition phrases and words such as furthermore, moreover, nevertheless, and in addition.

The political shape of the world has drastically changed after the Second World War. Topic sentence: What will you talk about in the paragraph? A new era for each country involved has begun. We have seen the rise of two superpowers: the United States (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR). They have become competitors and engaged in the Cold War. Also, the Allies created the United Nations to prevent a possible third world war. The devastated Western nations formed a union, which is now called European Union. Detail: Explain the topic of the body with presenting detailed information. After all, one can highlight that the world political formation has rapidly transformed into new alliances and unions that would lead to a more peaceful environment. Concluding sentence: Summarize the key points of the paragraph.

Conclusion of an expository essay

This is where you summarize your essay. Typically, the conclusion should not include any new information or evidence not mentioned in the body paragraphs. However, you need to highlight your points and rephrase your thesis statement.

Below, you’ll find an example of an expository essay conclusion so you can also write one by following it.

The Second World War was significant in terms of societal changes and new political formations across the world as it introduced a new “boomer” generation and new alliances. Summary: Briefly mention your topic and remind the reader about it. The decades following the War created the Cold War era, which resulted in constant competition and technological development in return. Also, political alliances that were formed after the War prevented probable devastating worldwide wars. Overview: Highlight the key points of your essay. A bloody worldwide battle marked history and created long-term societal, political, and technological outcomes. Concluding sentence: Conclude your essay with a strong sentence by rephrasing your thesis statement.

Steps for writing an expository essay

Before we dig deeper into an expository essay structure, you may need some steps to organize your work.

Step 1 — Choose the right topic

You may be asked to define your expository essay topic. Tons of websites offer different topics of expository essays.

However, essay writing is a complex process, and you need to think about the reader. Therefore, it is always best to write about something in which you are interested.

You can also try to make a shortlist with topics that interest you. See the following shortlist as an example;

However, don’t forget your reader. Choosing a quite advanced topic isn’t the best idea because your reader should easily understand and enjoy your paper.

From the list above, I’d choose social media or digital marketing as they are easy to explain and understand by many people.

Step 2 — Research and choose examples

Students tend to skip researching after choosing a familiar topic. This is a huge mistake. Citing from credible sources is very useful when preparing an academic essay.

You’ll find trustworthy articles to support your knowledge and cite them in your essay. You might even learn something interesting and decide to add it to your essay, no matter how familiar with the topic you are.

You’ll probably have dozens of great examples to present in your body paragraphs. However, an expository essay should not be so long. You need to choose the best examples. You may as well make use of the common examples you find in different sources.

Step 3 — Outline, outline, and outline!

After you do your research and choose your examples, it’s time to plan your paper. An outline is essential in academic writing regardless of the type of essay. You might use an outline like the following.

Step 4 — Focus on Your Thesis Statement

Remember that you’re not writing an argumentative paper, and you don’t need a strong and assertive thesis statement. Expository essays tend to explain and define.

You just need to let your reader know what you’re going to talk about; that’s enough. The following example is a digital marketing thesis statement for an expository essay.

With such a thesis statement, you inform your reader of what you’re going to talk about. You’ll discuss the impacts of digital marketing on dropshipping and others without presenting a strong argument. Remember, you aim to inform and explain.

Step 5 — Draft and Edit!

You now have a good thesis statement and outline. It’s time to start writing. Gather your findings in your paper, choose a good title, cite your sources in APA or MLA, and organize your paper with correct capitalization and headings.

You may also make use of transition sentences and word examples (see transition words, common words, and phrasal verbs in academic writing).

When you finish, it is always better to proofread your first draft a couple of hours after your writing. Also, someone else can proofread your paper to detect your mistakes. We have some ideas for proofreading:

When you write your expository essay, follow these steps. These will help organize your ideas and paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Expository stems from the word “explain”. So, expository essays tend to explain a topic objectively and neutrally. The primary goal is to explain or inform the reader rather than convincing, unlike persuasive or argumentative essays.

Anything can be the topic of an expository essay, but it needs to be something you like. But for reference, digital marketing, football, and psychological disorders are great expository essay topics.

First of all, you need to choose the right topic for your essay. After that, you need to prepare an outline that defines the each part of your essay in detail so the writing process is easier for you.

The five crucial steps for an expository essay are choosing a topic, researching, preparing an outline, writing a thesis statement, and writing your draft which you proofread afterwards.

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.

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