How to Write an Expository Essay Step by Step

How to Write an Expository Essay Step by Step

Published by on 2021-05-20 19:10:06

As usual, it is better to remind a student what an expository essay is before they proceed with the step-by-step explanation of the writing process. Understanding the basic principles is critical when you want to craft a worthy paper that would potentially bring you that top grade. Professional tips and definitions available below can guide students through the expository essay writing process perfectly.

What Is an Expository Article?

So what does an expository essay mean? Well, it is a type of academic paper that should investigate or explain a topic. Its aim is not to take a side or make judgments, rather, a writer needs to draw a full picture of the subject by investigating and evaluating all sides of the issue. Thus, this type of paper is given to students to test their analytical abilities and teach them about unbiased writing styles. 

Also, students often confuse this type of paper with an argumentative essay. This is a mistake. The main difference between those two papers is that any argumentative work will always end up semi-biased and subjective. In this case, a writer needs to pick a side and present their opinions to support their stand on the issue. On the other hand, with the expository essay, a writer needs to discuss every side of the issue with the remaining neutral. Hence, a writer’s position on the issue here is irrelevant. Also, the use of the first-person pronoun is not allowed. 

The featured requirement making this kind of paper stand out from the crowd is the investigation a student performs to reveal the idea, estimate the available proofs, pick and provide arguments concisely and clearly. In fact, expository papers can use elements of essay subgenres, such as:

  • contrasting and comparison;
  • definition;
  • cause and effect;
  • analytical approach;
  • explanatory approach.

Expository writing frequently appears as a classroom evaluation and examination instrument. So, most probably, you’ll face it during some of your future exams. Professors tend to challenge students with crafting this type of paper without warning them beforehand. Consequently, it is normal for expository writings not to rely on a lot of facts or statistics as argumentative proofs.

Expository Essay Format

Before we move on to any specific wiring instructions, you need to know the types of expository essays. There are five of them. Before you choose a topic, do your research, and start an outline, you need to know what options you can have here. So, here are four main types that every student needs to know when approached with this assignment: 

  1. Cause and effect.
  2. Comparison or contrast.
  3. Description.
  4. Problem and solution.

Let’s have a closer look at all of these types.  

Cause and Effect

This type requires a writer to search for the causes of the given situation or problem at hand and to explore the consequences of those cases. Overall, a writer needs to find a problem, its roots, and its effects. 

Problem and Solution

The problem and solution essay are similar to the previous type, though it comes with a few differences. In this case, a writer needs to find the problem and explore the possible solutions to it. Those solutions can be only theoretical, meaning the potential solutions, or the real ones, which mean the analysis and evaluation of taken actions. 


Many students may find the descriptive type of essays the easiest one of all. It’s not hard to see why. A descriptive type gives the most creative freedom to students. All they need to do here is to pick a subject and offer a thorough description of it. Hence, you may describe a piece of art or explain a certain event in history. There are not many rules here except for being unbiased and using critical thinking. 

Comparison or Contrast  

The comparison or contrast type is also similar to the previous one. The main difference here is that you need to pick at least two objects and compare them to one another. Hence, you get to describe both of those objects and contrast them. Once again, you don’t need to choose a side or tell your opinions. You need to stay objective and neutral. 

How to Write an Expository Essay Step by Step

The guide below is a short, understandable instruction on crafting an expository academic paper worth a good grade. Keeping up with the recommendations you’ll see there will make you more confident about your understanding of the discussed genre, as well as its composition and specialties. Be as attentive as you can, but don’t worry too much: it’s just another essay.

Topic: Pick and Understand It Right

The discussed type of academic paper is about facts despite we already know that it does not rely on many of them. A student’s opinion is not something that interests a professor. So, you can’t use your imagination to gain additional space for maneuvers. A concise, structured, and clear approach towards arguments and writing manner is a must.

Expository writings are about investigation and evaluation. As it was mentioned above, professors frequently use them as examination tools (this is especially relevant for college students). So, it is quite possible that your prof will assign a specific topic for you to expose. If they don’t, then the correct choice of your theme is the basic step required to reach future success.

Here below, you can find suitable topics to use as expository essay foundations. Feel free to copy them as they are or use them as references to generate some original ideas:

  1. Explain Who You Admire and Why.
  2. Explain Reasons Making Adults Be Strict to Their Kids.
  3. Which Animal Would You Like to Be and Why?
  4. Who Is Your Favorite Professor and Why?
  5. Who of the People You Know Is a True Leader?

These are only some of the topics one may use to craft expository writing. In fact, you can adapt any concept or event to make it serve as a theme here. If you are free to pick a topic on your own, think of your hobbies, favorite on-campus and off-campus activities, future profession aspects, etc., to turn them into questions or ideas you know how to expose with reasonable, factual arguments.

Expository Writing Outline: Know the Structure

It is better to refresh your knowledge of the academic essay structure before you proceed with preparing that paper outline. The described paper is a typical essay with some specific requirements for its content.

In short, the usual structure of five paragraphs works here perfectly. That means your writing includes:

  • one intro paragraph;
  • three body paragraphs – one per argument;
  • one concluding part.

Still, the word count requirement by your professor may be the reason to introduce some changes. However, the extended paper usually means that the prof wants to see more arguments and proofs. Therefore, you need to add some content to your paper’s body part. Check more on each element further.


A typical essay intro contains a short topic description, a hook to keep the professor’s attention, and a clearly visible thesis statement. The latter is a must. You can’t craft a worthy paper without that fundament.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement defines the sole purpose of your writing. It is the goal of your paper. Its message must be very clear. Overall, you need to express what you are trying to achieve by writing this work and what outcomes you expect in the end. 


This is a part with at least three paragraphs logically backing up your thesis with evidence. Try coming up with one concept per paragraph to make writing more readable and easier to perceive and understand. Keep an eye on properly built interconnections between the intro, all arguments, and their proofs.

A five-paragraph structure is one of the most common formats of writing a paper. With this structure, you dedicate the first and the last one to the introduction and conclusion while leaving the three paragraphs in the middle to the main body. Of course, you can have more body paragraphs than that. It will all depend on the required size of your paper and word count.

However, you also need to understand that each body paragraph has to carry the thesis statement on its own. Thus, they all come with the core idea. You can’t have too many such paragraphs as you need to keep your work simple but informative. 

Each paragraph also comes with a supportive statement, evidence, and a brief conclusion. Also, you need to have a transition in the end so your readers will have an easier time moving from one thought to another. Overall, each paragraph must deliver, explain, and summarise a single idea. 


Once you are done with the main part of your paper, it’s time to build your conclusion. At this stage, you practice everything this essay is about, which is a neutral, objective opinion. You need to collect all the main points that you have enlisted in the main body. Recount them, put them all together and draw a logical conclusion out of all the information you have written in the text above. Don’t try to form a particular opinion or subject anything to your judgment.

Also, don’t add any new information to the text. A conclusion can’t have anything in it that hasn’t been told above in the main body. If anything, you may state that the subject in question requires further research to deliver a fuller picture. 

Expository Essay Outline: How It’s Made

If you are still worried after checking the info above, it’s time to calm down. Coming up with an outline for expository essay papers is less challenging than it might seem. Remember, an outline does not require you to write the entire essay A to Z. Think of it as a future paper’s skeleton. See the example below to understand basic principles.

Expository Essay Outline Template: Example

Topic: The Professor I Like the Most

Intro thesis: My favorite professor is Mr. John Smith.

Body argument 1: Their love about their field.


  • qualification;
  • keeping up with trends.

Body argument 2: Respect for students.


  • punctuality;
  • equal relationship;
  • no favorites.

Body argument 3: Teaching talent.


  • most students demonstrate an interest in the subject;
  • complicated things explained with simple words;
  • reasonable strictness with no superiority.

Conclusion: I like learning from Mr. John Smith the most because he is a high-skilled professor who loves his field and knows how to teach his students.


After an outline is done, all you need to do is to expand every point with one to three sentences. If that skeleton is built thoroughly, then adding the required muscle mass to your paper will be a piece of cake. Still, you shouldn’t forget about merciless editing and thorough proofreading after.


At last, you have finished your work and think about having a rest. Well, not so soon. You need to complete one final task. You must proofread and revise your work. It is an essential step to having a perfect paper. First of all, look at any misspelled words or grammar mistakes. Next, take a look at your citation style. Are all of your references done in the same style? See if you have added all cited sources to the bibliography page. 

Among all the expository essay steps, proofreading is often neglected, which is a big mistake. Proofreading can give your work a straight-A look. The lack of errors and minor mistakes helps create a perfect first impression and shows your dedication to your work.

To Sum Up

Writing an expository essay is nothing difficult. To organize the process after choosing the topic, one might want to come up with an effective expository paper outline. When done correctly and thoroughly, that outline will serve as a solid fundament that a student only needs to expand with logically connected sentences.

Make sure you follow all the instructions and guidelines as you work on this type of assignment. Follow the structure, format and pay due attention to other aspects that may help you craft an A+ paper.