A Complete Guide to Expository Essays

September 20, 2022

Last Updated on September 20, 2022


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An expository essay is used to convey factual information, as opposed to creative writing such as a narrative essay. It is the language of studying and understanding the world around us. If you’ve ever read an encyclopedia article, a how-to article on a website, or a chapter in a tutorial, you’ve come across examples of how to write in an expository style. This article will explain everything about expository writing, and expository essays in particular.

Expository Writing with Examples

A writing style designed to arm the reader with a lot of information is an expository writing style. In the social sciences, everything boils down to a lot of explanations of what things to do and how, what caused something, the cause and effect of something, and so on. An expository style is used to explain things and provide information, like a teacher would do in his class teaching his students. The primary goal of the expository writing style is to EDUCATE the audience/reader.

A business letter is a form of expository style where management tries to communicate with employees explaining their policies, or informing them of something. Another example of expository writing is when things are compared and contrasted, revealing their similarities and differences. 

A distinct category of expository writing is informative writing, the main purpose of which is to provide the audience with as many facts and information as possible in a clear and simple manner. The expository writing style also has subcategories of answer writing (for example, FAQ section on a website), technical writing (e.g. a technical specification to your home appliance/device), and research writing (such as an academic thesis, report on an experiment, etc.).

Expository Essay: The Key Characteristics

  • Just the facts, pure and convincing facts. An expository essay is informative writing, not creative writing.
  • Every time you write to describe or explain, you are using expository spelling.
  • Use a logical flow when planning an expository essay, report, or article: introduction, body text, and conclusion.
  • It is often easier to write the main body of your expository essay first, before drafting your introduction or conclusion.

Expository writing is everywhere around us in everyday life, not just in an academic environment; it is present whenever there is information to be conveyed. It can take the form of an academic newspaper, social media article, business report, or even scientific literature. It explains, informs, and describes.

Types of Expository Essays

In college studies, an expository essay is one of four traditional types of essays (others being argumentative, descriptive, and narrative). It can include elements of storytelling, description, and argumentation. Unlike narrative or persuasive writing, which can evoke emotion and use anecdotes, the main purpose of an expository essay is to convey information about a problem, subject, method, or idea using facts.

The expository essay can take one of the following forms (types):

  • Definition: in this writing style, topics are defined by characteristics, traits, and examples. An encyclopedia entry is a great example of a definition.
  • Process/Sequential: this essay lays out a series of steps required to complete a task or create something. The recipe at the end of a food magazine article is one example.
  • Comparative and Contrast: this type of exposure is used to show how two or more objects (elements or facts) are the same. 
  • Problem Solving: this type of essay presents a problem and possible solutions supported by data and facts, not just opinion.
  • Classification: a classification essay breaks down a broad topic into categories or groups.
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Expository Essay Writing Tips

As you begin or even plan writing, keep in mind the following tips for creating an effective expository essay:

  1. How to overcome the fear of a blank sheet of paper. In any kind of essay and expository one, in particular, the key part is the main body. This is where you present your main facts and information, whereas the introduction and the conclusion only supplement your writing. Hence, you should begin writing an expository essay with the main body, slowly but steadily presenting your facts and arguments. You will soon notice how your confidence grows and how much more clearly you start to imagine the introduction and the conclusion.  
  2. Be clear and concise. Usually, readers have a limited attention span. Briefly state your point of view in a language that the average reader can understand.
  3. Stick to the facts. While your story may be compelling, it shouldn’t be based on your opinion alone. Backup your text with facts, data, and authoritative sources that can be tracked and verified.
  4. Consider your writing voice and tone. The type of essay you are writing defines how you address the reader. A first-person essay is fine for a narrative essay, but inappropriate if you are a graduate student explaining the results of the scientific experiment conducted. Always think about your audience before you start writing.
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