How to write Expository Essay
What is an expository essay?
An expository, as you might have guessed from the root word “exposition”, is a form of writing intended to inform or explain to the reader. Expository essays tend to have a topic idea which is then expanded on, with the sufficient evidence and explanations to support the idea. At the end of the essay, a conclusion is made.
Expository essays usually do not require much prior preparation to write, other than knowing the facts and having an idea of the points you are going to write about. Depending on the topic you are writing on, you may be required to do some research beforehand to make sure your points are technically or historically accurate. Do not forget to save your sources should you be required to provide citations or references.
The keyword when writing an expository essay is logical coherence. Your writing should flow neatly from the introduction to the conclusion, without it feeling like a jumble of statements thrown together.
If you feel lost as to where to begin writing your essay, it may be good to draw a rough outline of your points and evidence before you start writing. That way, you will be able to come up with a logical progression of ideas and craft your essay as coherently as possible.
For example, have a look at this draft outline containing the points and explanations for the topic “Does social media cause depression?”.
Topic: Does social media cause depression?
Point 1: Social media makes people feel inferior.
Explanation: The “like” system and number of friends or followers one has can quantify one’s self-worth.
Point 2: Social media provides a platform for cyberbullying.
Explanation: Users are able to leave anonymous comments through social media platforms or sign up for accounts under a false name.
Point 3: However, social media also affirms people’s self-identity.
Explanation: Profiles make it easier for users to establish their identities and share facts they may be too embarrassed to share in person.
Why write an expository essay?
While expository essays may be renowned for being the academic’s favorite writing assignment, the expository essay structure and main outline is heavily in use almost everywhere in daily life.
From online articles to newspapers, magazines or business articles, the expository format is all over the place. Additionally, exposition is an excellent format for academic writing because it allows the writer to express their points in a coherent and logical manner.
In fact, this article is also an expository on informing and explaining to you, the reader, how to write an expository essay.
In short, it is not likely that one will be escaping from exposition anywhere.
Possible topics for an expository essay
Expository essays can be about a broad range of topics. They can simply be a description of factual events or procedures where there are no opposing views, or they can be argumentative and discuss the evidence and explanations behind points related to a claim. Argumentative essays tend to have multiple possible viewpoints where there is no “correct” answer.
When choosing your topic, think about how comfortable you are with the topic material. Do you know enough about the topic to expand on its ideas and collect the necessary evidence to affirm your point? For example, you may wish to write about something factual (“How do microphones work?”) than something highly debatable (“Do you think it is possible to save the environment?”) if you do not have a very firm opinion on the latter topic.
Most importantly, pick a topic that you personally have an interest in. It is usually best if you already have an inspiration for writing about the topic than attempting to tackle a topic that is dull and boring to you. Nobody enjoys reading an unenthusiastic essay.
- Explain how microphones work.
- How do you cure a fever?
- Explain the procedure for getting a driving license in your country.
- Describe a character from ancient mythology.
- Describe a historical event of your country.
- Explain how musical instruments have evolved from the medieval ages to the present day.
- Describe the procedure of how blood is drawn.
- Does social media cause depression?
- If you could choose your birth country, which would it be and why?
- Do you think it is possible to save the environment?
- How could 9/11 have been prevented?
- Explain why “selfies” have become so popular.
- Explain the historical significance of the second World War.
- Are poor people happier than rich people?
Structure of an expository essay
Expository essays tend to follow the standard five-paragraph structure of an introduction, body paragraphs (usually three), and a conclusion. While you may deviate from this suggested outline especially if you are arguing two different viewpoints, keep in mind that a good essay should always have a solid introduction and conclusion.
Although an expository essay is factual in nature, you can still write an engaging introduction. The first sentence of an essay is the best place to grab the reader’s attention. Include a short thesis of your topic to finish off the introduction.
Does social media really cause depression? Who would have thought that online communities focused on “liking” and “sharing” one’s favorite moments could cause a mental condition? While opinions are divided on this argument, I believe that social media is indeed a contributing factor to the spiking numbers of depression.
The body paragraphs are where you get to make your pitch – the three (or more) points you have previously drafted out.
It is good practice to bring up at least three points in an expository essay. Keep to one point for each paragraph in the body section. For each point raised, remember to provide supporting evidence for your claim, and then explain how the evidence helps to reinforce the point made.
Some writers may wish to provide a balanced and more compelling argument by discussing opposing sides of their topic. For example, you could argue that social media does influence depression in some cases, but in other cases it does not contribute to depression. If you are going about this approach, decide whether you still wish to argue in favor of any side, or if you wish to remain completely neutral. If the former, it is generally good to provide two points for your desired side and one point against that side. On the other hand, if you choose to remain neutral, give the same number of points for each side (usually one or two each).
Just like other conclusions, the conclusion of an expository essay should not introduce any new ideas, but only contain a summary of the points that have been raised in the body paragraphs. Reinforce your main topic idea by restating it in the conclusion.
To conclude, although social media may have some positive impact on the mental wellbeing of its users, I still maintain that the innocent-looking social media remains a contributing factor to depression.