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What is an expository essay and how to write it?


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Writing an expository essay on a laptop at the Pro-Papers office

This is the most popular type of academic work that every student has definitely completed throughout his/her academic career. However, many admit that analytical expository essay writing process is a complex one, and it is hard to cope with it. So what is the secret of writing an expository essay?

In order to answer the question set above, it is necessary to give a definition of expository essay. It is a type of work, which is characterized by strict structure, logical and balanced reproduction of facts, and the review of evidence supporting presented facts. Writing a good expository essay requires a student to avoid giving any subjective judgments or points of view regarding the content of the paper. Also, it obviously takes planning and research, which we will tell you more about in this very article.

How to write a good expository essay step by step

As all of us probably know that the essays are written at various stages of a person's education. An expository essay for high school goes first, and in university or college, such task is still assigned a few times. But, most often, it is given during exams, for example, graduation ones.

Therefore, we have decided to provide you with a few useful tips on writing an expository essay and all the preliminary work you need to do:

  • Before anything else, it is necessary to think over a winning and interesting topic.
    Finding a good one is always a challenge, however, do not be too picky. Students often lose too much time searching for the perfect option and end up having no time left for writing. You may surely look through a few lists of topics, and try to see which one grabs your attention. However, if none does, do not worry. What you need to do is start reading news and articles on the subject this assignment was given on. This way you may find a unique idea your teacher has not yet heard of, which will give you an opportunity to impress him/her with your paper.
  • When the choice is made, you need to conduct research and collect adequate and relevant data and evidence for the body paragraph.
    Use only credible sources to gather factual data, and be sure to write the names of these sources down to cite them in the paper later. Note that some sources that you might consider trustworthy may not be on your teacher’s list of credible ones. Therefore, it is better to avoid websites where people are free to add and alter info with no reliability checks. The perfect option would be visiting the library, at least an online one for the purpose of finding the solid info, and if you have an opportunity to do so, you definitely should.
  • When you have everything you need for the paper, proceed to writing and begin with an introduction and a thesis.
    A thesis statement should be concise and clear, with a detailed description of the problem or question discussed in the assignment. Professionals recommend starting with the hook, which is the sentence that draws reader’s attention. You should also provide some background information to the readers so that it is easier for them to understand your paper.
  • When you finish writing the opening paragraph, you are welcome to focus on three body paragraphs.
    Here, you are supposed to reveal a point of the problem, as well as provide data and evidence supporting the point. The secret of the body is to write as if you are a skilled scholar and essays writer with a strict and clear understanding of the problem, knowing what should be done to eliminate the problem or improve obtained results.
  • Depending on the requirements, try not to write lengthy paragraphs.
    Usually, each paragraph must be several sentences long and, and it is especially important for the short expository essay.
  • Finally, it's high time to proceed to writing a conclusion for a paper.
    The conclusion must summarize all the above-written statements and arguments. Here, a writer is also welcome to state possible already existent solutions found by previous researchers. Once again, it is worth mentioning that the conclusion, as well as the whole paper, is to be free of any personal judgments and points of view.
  • Do not forget about expository format.
    Your teacher has surely told you which one to use, so be sure to read expository writing guide on how to prepare a title page, cite the sources in text, and what details to add to references.
  • Keep in mind that your paper should be well-edited.
    Thoroughly check the paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. It is important to check the text as even the smallest mistake can greatly influence your grade. Now you know how to write an expository essay, but beware of the common mistakes!

This is a rather brief overview of the expository paper writing process. If you would like to check more details, we have provided detailed instructions in the further sections of the article.

Expository essay outline

How to start an expository essay? Nope, you shouldn’t write an introduction of the paper straight away. Instead, create a comprehensive outline. Having a good plan of your writing with all ideas and main points, you will surely complete a decent paper! Here is how an expository essay structure usually looks like:

  • Here you need to formulate a strong thesis statement, hook phrase, and add some background info for the readers.
  • Body paragraphs. Prove your thesis here, using arguments and relevant examples.
  • Here, you literally have to wrap up your writing with a restated thesis and supporting sentences that prove you right.

Let’s review the expository essay steps in more detail.


What is the main purpose of the introduction? Of course, to engage the audience into further reading. This is where a hook phrase may come in handy. You may write something interesting about your topic, for example, some fact or statistic. Alternatively, you may put some rhetorical question. After that, it’s time to formulate a good thesis. Using our tips above, you will definitely engage your readers with your thesis. Finally, add some supporting sentences concerning the topic and voila! Your introduction is ready. The main thing to remember is that this part should not be too long and oversaturated with excessive information or irrelevant facts.

Thesis statement

Thesis is a key element of your introduction, which informs your reader about the main idea of your paper. That is why you need to pay due attention to this part. So how ideal thesis statement looks like?

  • It’s brief. Avoid going in too many details because your reader may get confused about what your main point is.
  • It’s clear. Do not present any vague ideas or statements – a reader should understand what you are going to discuss further.
  • It’s strong. The same as every claim you are going to make later in the paper, a thesis should be based on factual data and concrete evidence.

Tips from experts

Meet our advisors

Read the essay question carefully!

Look for these words:

  • Describe/summarize means give the facts
  • Explain means analyze the topic
  • Argue means to reject/accept a viewpoint
  • Discuss refers to presenting a point of view
  • Critique means give both positive/negative sides
  • Compare and contrast discuss similarities/differences

Structure an essay

Beginners use the five-paragraph structure with references. Advanced writers use a variation of this method.


Write the first ugly draft – using first/third person depending on the requirements. Know how to paraphrase and summarize. Don’t plagiarize – everyone checks if the essay is unique.

Editing & Formatting

I use the chainsaw and surgical methods. Chainsaw cuts material that isn’t relevant. Surgical involves fine-tuning spelling and grammar.

What is the formatting style? APA, MLA, or CMS? What is the word/page count? Follow the rubric.

Penny J. Larsen

College professor with 30 years of teaching experience


The body of your essay is the biggest part, which requires you to research an analyze a lot of info. But the most important aspect of the body is the structure of the paragraphs:

  • Introductory sentence with the main idea/argument you are going to discuss.
  • Two to four sentences presenting strong evidence/examples and your analysis.
  • Conclusive sentence that wraps up the discussion and helps you transition into the next paragraph.

Sticking to such a structure, you will definitely provide a really profound presentation of the issue under consideration and keep the discussion brief.


In the conclusion section, you need to synthesize all the information and demonstrate how you managed to prove your thesis. The most important task here is to restate thesis in such a way that it would sound different from the sentence in the introduction. Just a copy of the thesis statement from the intro part may look unprofessional so paraphrasing is crucial.

One more tip for writing a good expository essay conclusion: never include any quotes or new information in this part. This section should be devoted to the info you have discussed in your paper and what you have derived from your findings. Finally, you may finish your essay with some provocative question, which calls for further reflection.

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