How to write an expository essay in 5 simple steps: Complete guide with expository writing tips and examples

How to write an expository essay in 5 simple steps: Complete guide with expository writing tips and examples
Table of Contents
  1. How to write an expository essay in 5 simple steps: Complete guide with expository writing tips and examples
  2. What is an expository essay and its purpose
  3. Difference between argumentative and expository essay
  4. What are the 5 types of expository writing
  5. Expository essay outline
  6. What does an expository essay look like? Expository essay format
  7. How do you write an expository essay  fast and effectively
  8. 1.Prewriting
  9. 2. Writing an expository essay
  10. How to start an expository essay
  11. 3. Editing and proofreading
  12. How long is the expository essay?
  13. Good expository expository checklist
  14. 20 most interesting expository essay ideas 2021
  15. An example of expository writing
  16. How to get an expository essay without writing it

Once every student gets an assignment to write an expository paper. Some may get confused, while others will start looking for the helpful guides. In this guide, we have collected the most helpful information on how to write an expository essay, including essay structure, format, writing process, topics, and examples. Even if you have already written an expository essay before, you will find the tips that will help improve your expository essay.


What is an expository essay and its purpose

An expository essay is one of the most common types of academic writing. The main purpose of expository writing is to explain or investigate the chosen topic, idea, phenomenon, etc using the existing fact and knowledge. In this essay, the writer is not required to express opinion, just to conduct factual analysis.

Difference between argumentative and expository essay

Expository essays are often confused or compared with argumentative papers. However, these are different types of writing. While the purpose of argumentative essay is to present arguments and take the particular side in the discussed topic, the purpose of the expository paper is to explain the topic taking a neutral position.

What are the 5 types of expository writing 

There 5 main types of expository essays. Thus, when given an assignment, you should read the instructions attentively to understand which essay type you need to complete.

  1. Descriptive essay. In this essay type, the author has just to explain and provide descriptions of the chosen ideas, notions, phenomena, etc.
  2. Cause and effect essay. This essay presupposes causal relationships between two events and explains how one event or action could or has led to the particular result.
  3. Compare and contrast essay. In a comparative essay, the author is to compare ( to discuss similarities) and contrast (discussed similarities) of the two chosen subjects.
  4. Problem solution. This type of essay presupposes investigation of the existing problem, its causes, as well as finding the most relevant solution for the given case.
  5. Process essay. This essay types is often referred to as How-to-essay. It presupposes providing a detailed step-by-step description of how something is done, as well as expected and possible outcomes of the process.

Expository essay outline

An expository paper has a structure of a classical essay that has three structural components: introduction, main body, conclusion. It looks as follows:


  • Hook
  • General information on the topic
  • Thesis statement

Main body paragraph

  • Topic sentence
  • Controlling idea
  • Supporting idea
  • Concluding sentence 


  • Restated thesis statement
  • Summary of the main points
  • General summary 

What does an expository essay look like? Expository essay format

An expository essay format presupposes analysis of the existing facts. It does not require taking a particular side or convincing the audience, such as in a persuasive essay. Expository essay format allows to analyze the subject/s taking neutral position.

In terms of formatting, expository essay can be any, either MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, IEEE. It should be specified in the easy instructions. So, check them attentively.

How do you write an expository essay  fast and effectively 

To write a good expository essay with no hustle, create a plan or an algorithm of the writing process. Actually, this plan will work well for any other essay type. The point is that the brain works better when you have a plan. 

hands typing text on a laptop


The first step in expository essay writing is the prewriting stage. Before you start writing, check the essay requirements to avoid a situation when you miss points due to unfollowed instructions. After this, move to the essay topic. If it was not assigned, you have a great opportunity to choose an interesting topic by yourself. In case you don’t know how to do it, we are at your service. First, think of the course you are writing your expository paper for, brainstorm and write down all the ideas. Then, narrow down the list to the few most interesting ideas. After this, make a research on the remaining topics to make sure there is enough information to cover the topic. Sometimes, the topic is interesting but there is too little available information for the required word count. After the topic is chosen, formulate the main idea of an essay, i.e. thesis statement. The final step of prewriting is creating an outline.

  1. Read the instructions
  2. Choose the topic
  3. Make research on the topic
  4. Formulate thesis statement
  5. Create an outline

2. Writing an expository essay

When there is a topic, thesis statement, and an outline, it’s high time for the actual essay writing. An expository essay consists of three structural parts: introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion. 

1.Introduction.  Start an introductory part with a hook sentence. Introduce the topic and provide some general background information on it. End the introductory paragraph with a thesis statement.

Expository essay introduction example:

Emily Dickinson is one of the most outstanding and prominent poets of American Romanticism whose rather significant body of work employs themes and motifs characteristic of the movement brushing them off with her unique treatment of visionary nature. Her poetry revolves around several binary oppositions such as life and death, eternity and immediacy, earthly and divine, body and soul that undergo various speculations for Emily Dickinson approaches them as if she were an eye-witness, sometimes dragged into transcendental states and later sharing her persona’s experiences with the reader. Three poems of Emily Dickinson were chosen for the analysis, namely “Death is a dialogue between...”, “Death sets a thing significant...”, and “Let down the bars, o Death!” which explicitly state the purpose of the analysis: examining the concept of death and its manifestation in works selected.

2.Thesis statement. It is the main idea of an essay that is usually placed at the end of the introductory part. It should be clear, specific, concise, and debatable.

3.Main body. Present and develop only one main idea per paragraph. Make sure each idea develops and supports the thesis statement. Paragraphs should be balanced and logically developed. Each body paragraph should include one topic sentence and supporting as well as controlling idea.

4.Conclusion. In the concluding paragraph, restate thesis statement, and shortly summarize the main points discussed in paper. Finish your essay with a concluding sentence that sums up the whole essay.

Expository essay conclusion example:

Three different interpretations for what is death are offered by Emily Dickinson; many more are given in her other poems. She does not seem to be aiming at exhausting all the possible interpretations, for according to the romantic worldview, the universe is infinite and so no one is able to know it in its fullest. Her method is visionary; she sees or imagines things and then shares her revelations with the reader.

  1. Title your essay. Create a title for your essay after you have finished writing your essay. In this case, you will be able to choose the most pertinent title.

How to start an expository essay

An introduction is the first part a reader sees. Thus, its purpose is to catch the readers’ attention. Also, the aim of the introduction is to give a reader a general idea what the essay is about. 

To trigger the attention and entice the reader into reading the whole essay, it is recommended to start an essay with a hook sentence. A hook can be:

  1. An unknown fact
  2. Controversial statistics
  3. Provocative question
  4. Relevant quote
  5. Real-life example

Although it is considered that a quote is a good essay opener, you should be very picky. The quote should be current and belong to a really famous person. In fact, we recommend to prefer real-life examples, to quotes. They always work better.

3. Editing and proofreading

No matter how little time you have for your essay, always leave yourself a few minutes for proofreading the paper. If the essay is really good but contains some grammar, spelling mistakes or inconsistencies, it may spoil the general impression. Also, check your paper for plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic issue. A student can be even expelled if guilty of plagiarizing.

How long is the expository essay?

It is rather a common question. But there is no unique answer to it. The length of an expository essay depends on the instructions given to you. Read your instructions carefully before your expository essay writing. It is an important step to make sure you follow the guidelines. If the length is not mentioned, do not be afraid to specify this question with the professor. 

Although there are no standards in terms of word count or paragraphs, there are some regarding the paragraph. An expository essay, like any common type of writing, such as a persuasive essay or position paper, should have at least five paragraphs; namely, an introductory paragraph, at least three body paragraphs, and conclusion. Make sure you miss neither of them in your paper. Otherwise, your paper will be incomplete.


Good expository expository checklist

 After you have written your expository essay. Look through this checklist to make sure you have completed all the necessary to have an A+ essay

  • The topic corresponds to the essay instructions
  • There is a strong thesis statement
  • The essay has introduction, main body, and conclusion
  • Ideas in essay are expressed clearly and developed logically 
  • There are no repetitive ideas/sentences in an essay
  • No new ideas are introduced in the conclusion part
  • The paper is written following the instructions
  • The essay is 100% original

20 most interesting expository essay ideas 2021

If you have spent a few hours but still cannot choose the right topic, check our list of expository essay topics. We have collected the most interesting and relevant topics for your inspiration and to make your choice easier.

  1. The reasons why teenagers start smoking
  2. Explain the consequences of unhealthy eating
  3. Main causes and outcomes of stress in college students
  4. Should students wear uniforms at schools?
  5. Causes and results of teenage pregnancy
  6. What is emotional intelligence and why it is important
  7. Explain the main causes of child obesity in the US
  8. How to write an essay fast
  9. Countries with lowest literacy levels
  10. Marvel vs DC
  11. How to cope with stress in college
  12. Days in your life you would like to live once again
  13. What is happiness for you
  14. Most common superstitions
  15. Explain the consequences of having a part-time job when in college
  16. The causes and the outcomes of Black Lives Matter
  17. Explain how COVID-19 has affected the global economy
  18. The reasons to volunteer
  19. How to prevent bullying at schools
  20. How to live happy life

An example of expository writing

 We have prepared a good example of an expository essay, for you to see how expository paper should be written.

Example 1


Example 2 


How to get an expository essay without writing it 

Writing an expository essay can be tricky. If you learn all the essay peculiarities, it will be clear as a bell. However, if you are pressed for time, need a good expository essay fast, and a thought  "just write my paper for me " is stuck in your head, our professional writers will complete a comprehensive expository essay following all the given instructions just in few hours. Just give it a try.