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How To Write An Expository Essay: A Comprehensive Guide

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Expository Essay


The core feature of an expository essay is that it seeks to expose a given topic, idea or process by providing an objective description of it. The core purpose of an expository essay is to provide a coherent and thesis-driven description of any given entity. Writing an expository essay thus diverges significantly from writing other types of traditional academic essays because of how an expository essay is not centered on a subjective line of argumentation. With it instead being centered on an objective form of description meant to inform the reader about a certain entity or topic, it is a unique type of essay because of the descriptive and objective nature of its thesis.

Writing an expository essay requires that you maintain absolute objectivity when describing the topic, idea, phenomenon or process that you have chosen to write an expository essay one on. There is no place in writing an expository essay for injecting your opinion into the writing process. The only exception to this is when your professor specifically requests that you write an expository essay that has a conclusion in which you subjectively reflect on the description your have provided. Otherwise, writing an expository essay involves using only facts to describe a given phenomenon or situation.

In writing most expository essays, your perspective must be backed up by facts. Because writing an expository essay is based on description rather than argumentation, you must ensure that all of your data and sources are neutral in their treatment of what you are writing an expository essay on. Writing an expository essay will involve the use of class or outside sources because of the need to provide objective facts about the subject of your expository essay. These sources should not show a bias or the subjective perspective of a given author but should instead be focused on describing the objective and measurable characteristics of the topic you are writing an expository essay on.

Ultimately, the expository essay is a very simple descriptive form of the traditional academic essay. Where it becomes slightly tricky is when you realize that you must maintain absolute objectivity when you write an expository essay! To mitigate this challenge, write an expository essay as if you were attempting to describe something objectively to a person who was blind or deaf. Because this person would care about knowing the real details of what you are describing rather than your opinion on what you are describing, writing an expository essay in an effective manner means leaving your opinions at the door throughout the writing process.



The first step in writing an expository essay is to choose a topic. For most expository essay, you will have a choice of the topic on which you will write your expository essay. Because writing an expository essay involves being objective, it is important that you choose a topic that you feel comfortable writing about without bias. If you are against abortion or do not believe in climate change, do not pick these topics as it is likely that you will lose points for bias. Similarly, if you support the electric car or like a given political candidate, do not write your expository essay on this person or topic as you will likely show bias. In writing an expository essay, choose a topic that you are interested in but that you are not significantly biased in relation to.

Once you have chosen your topic, find the main point of your expository essay. This will be the core feature of what you are exposing in writing an expository essay and your body paragraphs will all focus on different elements of it. Each of your body paragraphs should focus on objectively describing a different element or component of your topic and in writing an expository essay, every body paragraph should make some mention of the thesis. When writing an expository essay, you should also cite your sources regularly and appropriately as you are meant to be writing in an objective fashion. It is also important, when writing an expository essay, to keep track of your sources and where you got your information from. Failing to properly cite a source when writing an expository paper could lead you to be accused of plagiarism.

Finally, an example of an expository essay could be one written on the subject of vinyl records for music. Your core topic or thesis would be the resurgence of vinyl records in the current music industry. In such a case, your first body paragraph would focus on how a vinyl record is made. Your second body paragraph would focus on how the music industry is changing and leading to a renewal of demand for vinyl records. Your third body paragraph would focus on the shortage of vinyl pressing plants and the challenge of producing enough vinyl records to keep up with your demand. In writing the conclusion of your expository essay, you would tied these three elements back to your thesis that there is a resurgence in demand for vinyl, and then conclude writing your expository essay by questioning whether or not the resurgence of vinyl records is a fad a or a new reality. While this is but one example of how an expository essay can be written, it is the general structure that you will use in writing expository essay in an objective manner.



When writing a descriptive essay, you will likely be using external sources because you are describing something objectively. More often than not, you will be writing an expository essay in MLA style for an English course. Make sure that you follow the MLA template provided by your professor or examine an MLA style guide before you begin writing an expository essay to avoid losing points for formatting and referencing.

Once you have formatted and referenced your expository essay, it is time to once again review it to ensure that each paragraph talks about a different element of what you are exposing, and that all your body paragraphs tie back to your thesis. These are some of the most important components of writing an expository essay because part of your grade will dependent on the manner by which you organize the information that is presented in your expository essay. Finally, as you format your expository essay, make sure that every single piece of information that you present is both objective in nature and backed up by an appropriate citation so as to avoid plagiarism accusations and get the best grade possible for writing an expository essay.


While writing an expository essay involves the same techniques as writing a traditional academic essay, it differs from a traditional academic essay because it is completely objective and neutral in nature. While you are still making a thesis when writing an expository essay, you are not making a subjective argument regarding your topic and attempting to convince the reader that you are right. Rather, you are attempting to describe or expose your topic in as neutral a fashion as possible. Think of the thesis of your expository essay as being informational rather than argumentative in nature. When writing an expository essay, this difference pertaining to the thesis and the objective nature of the essay is what differentiates it from writing a traditional academic essay.

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