Essay Writing: The Expository Form

               Being able to write a proper expository essay is an absolute necessity for all students.  From elementary school to graduate programs, teachers and professors require written work from students, in the form of short answers to 100 page reports.  Writing seems to be a huge challenge for many, but if you follow these writing guidelines and spend time practicing expository writing, you will have a skill that will lead you to academic success.

Expository verses Narrative Writing 

               First, let us distinguish narrative writing and expository writing. Narrative writing tells a story and can be fictional. It has elements of setting, character, themes, and problems to resolve. This writing is usually used for short stories, fairy tales, and fables. Expository writing informs the reader by way of definition, categories, compare and/or contrasts, lists, description, analysis, or cause-effect relationships.  This type of writing is usually found in textbooks, reports, articles, essays, or manuals. Narrative writing may be something you would do for a creative writing class, but in general the majority of our academic courses will ask for expository writing.

Developing Thesis Statements

                The absolute first task for any writing work is to develop a topic sentence or a thesis statement. The topic sentence lets the reader know what you will be discussing and the relevance of that particular subject.  Here are some examples of topic sentences: “People are affected by color more than they realize because color is in all aspects of our lives.” “Cyber bullying is the cause for increasing teen suicides.” “The data from the science experiment proves that mixing coffee grounds in plant soil will help plants grow.”

                Your topic sentence must include the thing or subject you are going to write about. It makes a statement about something you will give more information about in the paragraphs following. Also, when thinking about your topic sentence, make sure you understand the directions of the assignment and know the purpose for your writing. You will save lots of time and energy if you have a clear focus.   

Essay Outline

Once you have a good topic sentence, outline the structure of your writing with a point for each paragraph and details. See the following outline structure for essay writing.  


Topic Sentence:

First Point:

  1. Detail
  2. Detail

Second Point

  1. Detail:
  2. Detail:

Third Point

  1. Detail:
  2. Detail:

Concluding sentence:

                As you could see, the outline provides an easy framework to work from. The final step would be to put the outline into paragraph form using examples and supportive sentences. You may quote articles or references that support your particular topic. You may even use quotes from doctors or related people that speak to the issue. When you include information that is published, your writing becomes more authoritative.  Following the above guidelines will help you write a proper expository essay. It is an essential skill to have in order to pass many academic classes, so start practicing today.

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