expository essay

How to Write an Expository Essay (Updated for 2018)

Have you been asked to write an expository essay? One of the most common assignments at all levels of education, an expository essay is something almost all students need to learn. Teachers often assign expository essays to assess your learning about any subject.

This article will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to write the best possible expository essays. Whether you are a total beginner to expository essay writing, or an experienced student who just wants to improve your expository essay writing skills, this article will offer you helpful tips, topic ideas, and even a sample outline. Let’s begin.

What is an Expository Essay? A Clear Definition

An expository essay is a piece of formal academic writing. The term “expository” means to expose, expound, and explain. When you write an expository essay, you are exposing the main ideas of the subject, expounding on a topic in detail, or explaining the meaning of a topic, idea, or phenomenon. You will typically be expected to have an introduction, body, and conclusion, plus a strong thesis statement to keep your ideas focused.

Although you want to have a clear argument in an expository essay, an expository essay is different from a persuasive or argumentative essay. Although an expository essay might involve some research or reference to outside sources, it is also different from a research paper. An expository essay can resemble other types of academic essays, too, such as compare/contrast essays, definition essays, cause and effect essays, or process essays. In fact, many common academic essays can be classified as expository essays.

When you write an expository essay, pretend you are a teacher. Your goal is to inform the reader, such as by providing facts about a subject or explaining the importance of a topic. An expository essay can be about literature, the arts, history, business, or religion. 

How to Write an Expository Essay

To write an expository essay, you will begin with a clear idea and then progress through the steps of effective scholarly writing. The first step in writing an expository essay is selecting the topic. If a topic has been selected for you, you’ll need to determine the approach you will be taking. No two expository essays will be alike, because each student will think slightly differently about the subject and will have a special style of exposition. Your teacher is looking for your unique voice when you write, and also for interesting ideas in your expository essay.

After you have decided on the topic you will tackle in the expository essay, you will want to brainstorm your ideas. Methods of brainstorming include a free writing session, in which you quickly jot down some thoughts without censoring yourself. Another type of brainstorming method involves drawing pictures or diagrams such as word maps. You can also brainstorm with other people like your classmates or a writing tutor.

Next, take what you have learned in your brainstorming session and start doing some research to substantiate your main ideas. Now that you have a strong idea about what you want to write about, you can develop an outline, do some research, and write a rough draft. The outline of your expository essay gives you a road map. An indispensible part of writing an expository essay, outlining helps you to stay organized. A good outline will also make the writing process easier.

Once you finish the outline, you can get started on a first draft or rough draft. This first draft might not be perfect, which is why it is always best to re-read your essay or have a writing tutor to review your work. If you want the best possible feedback for your expository essay, polish your rough draft and make sure that you addressed all the issues that you wanted to discuss. Make sure you have no grammatical or spelling errors, and that your arguments are grounded in factual evidence.

Remember always follow the instructions that your instructor or professor gave you. If you have been asked to write a minimum of 500 words, make sure that you write 500 words and no fewer. If you have been asked to compare five different presidents, make sure you do write about all five and not about two or three. Many students get caught up in the act of writing the essay and forget to follow the instructions.

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Avoiding Plagiarism

Academic honesty is expected of all students when they write expository essays. When you do research on the topic you selected for the expository essay, you will sometimes be paraphrasing from what you have read. Make sure you properly cite your sources when you paraphrase. Any time you borrow information or a direct quote, you need to cite the source using whatever citation format your instructor asked you to use. The most common citation formats include APA, MLA, and Chicago. If you are ever in doubt, it is better to include a citation than to omit one. You might get accused of plagiarism if you inadvertently took someone else’s idea and incorporated that information into your expository essay.

Is an Expository Essay a Research Paper?

You might need to do research for your expository essay, looking in books or journals for credible information. However, an expository essay is not a research paper. A research paper consists of you collecting, summarizing, and analyzing the data and then presenting the results of your research in a paper. Many research papers are also longer than expository essays. Although expository essays are not research papers, they do often require you to do research. The purpose for doing the research is explain your topic using credible information and facts, rather than just your emotions or opinions.

Not all expository essays will require you to do research. In fact, some expository essays specifically call upon you to not use any outside sources or to rely only on your own ideas. If you are unsure whether your instructor expects you to do research, ask.

Expository Essay Format

Unless you have been explicitly instructed otherwise, an expository should be formatted with an introduction, body, and conclusion. This typical format is used for a reason: students who do not follow this format risk rambling about the subject, veering off-topic, and failing to respond to the essay prompt. Formatting an expository essay in a logical and organized fashion will help you explain your topic and inform your reader. If you want to write a good expository essay, always try to please your reader with straightforward language and strong organization. The expository essay follows a similar format to a traditional five-paragraph essay. This does not necessarily mean that your expository essay must have exactly five paragraphs. Some expository essays will be too long to only include five paragraphs. The five-paragraph essay format that includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion is a model or a skeleton. Consider that each body paragraph is actually just a section or a main idea of your expository essay. Notice how the following expository essay outline can be used for an essay of just five paragraphs or a longer essay too.

Expository Essay Outline

I. Introduction

            A. Powerful opening statement.

            B. Introduce the main points of the essay.

                        1. Main point.

                        2. Main point.

                        3. Main point.

            C. Thesis Statement.

II. Body paragraph/Section on first main point

            A. Topic sentence.

            B. Develop ideas using factual support and examples.

            C. Transition to next paragraph/section.

III. Body paragraph/Section on second main point

A. Topic sentence.

           B. Develop ideas using factual support and examples.

           C. Transition to next paragraph/section.

IV. Body paragraph/Section on third main point

            A. Topic sentence

            B. Develop ideas using factual support and examples

            C. Transition to the conclusion.

V. Conclusion

            A. Reiterate the thesis statement or main idea.

            B. Reflect on the main points and what they mean.

            C. Offer some closing insight or wisdom.

Expository Essay Outline Example

I. Introduction

A. Opening statement: Diverse workplaces are 35% more likely to outperform their more homogenous counterparts.

B. Main points

1. Workforces are more diversified than ever before due to globalization, but also due to changing social norms.

2. A diverse workforce also has the potential to offer creative and innovative solutions that can help companies gain competitive advantage.

3. Diversification is part of corporate social responsibility, which improves the company’s reputation and brand identity.

C. Thesis: Companies with strong diversity management policies will be equipped to meet the challenges of a globalized workforce. 

II. Workforces are more diversified than ever before due to globalization, but also due to changing social norms.

A. Globalization has encouraged companies to establish a presence in multiple countries, creating an international workforce.

B. Even domestic companies are diversifying due to changing demographics in the labor force.

C. Companies are recognizing that a diverse workforce reflects the values and norms of the current generation.

III. A diverse workforce also has the potential to offer creative and innovative solutions that can help companies gain competitive advantage.

A. When a company expands into a new market, it needs to understand the new target market’s values, norms, and beliefs.

B. Likewise, a company entering a new market needs strategic methods of communicating products and services.

C. Companies with diverse workforces will have a competitive advantage over companies that do not.

D. A diverse team will be capable of coming up with more novel ideas than a homogenous team because each member will think differently about each issue or challenge.

IV. Diversification is part of corporate social responsibility, which improves the company’s reputation and brand identity.

A. Corporate social responsibility is a top-down process whereby senior management commits to an ethical approach to human resources practices.

B. Corporate social responsibility boosts a company’s image among consumers and can be incorporated into public relations and media relations strategies.

V. Conclusion

A. To sum up, a diverse workforce presents a strategic advantage for companies, allowing for more innovative marketing and improved public relations.

B. Diversity is part of corporate social responsibility, which is becoming increasingly important for remaining competitive.

C. Diverse teams bring more to the table, enabling the most creative solutions.

D. Diverse workforces facilitate breaking into new markets.

 

Example Expository Essay

 Diverse workplaces are 35% more likely to outperform their more homogenous counterparts (Hunt, 2015). Therefore, diversity needs to be considered a key factor determining the success of an organization. Diversity strategies in human resources are increasingly important to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. Diversification not only increases competitive advantage, but also in many cases helps organizations avoid lawsuits. Workforces are more diversified than ever before due to globalization, but also due to changing social norms. A diverse workforce also has the potential to offer creative and innovative solutions that can help companies gain competitive advantage. Diversification is part of corporate social responsibility, which improves the company’s reputation and brand identity. Companies with strong diversity management policies will be equipped to meet the challenges of a globalized workforce. 

Workforces are more diversified than ever before due to globalization, but also due to changing social norms. Social norms and the political climate are encouraging workforces to diversify in order to attract top talent and also to respond to the challenges of globalization. Globalization has encouraged companies to establish a presence in multiple countries, creating an international workforce. The workforce is migratory in some cases, but in other situations, the workforce is diverse due to changing demographics. Even domestic companies are diversifying due to changing demographics in the labor force. Companies are recognizing that a diverse workforce reflects the values and norms of the current generation.

A diverse workforce also has the potential to offer creative and innovative solutions that can help companies gain competitive advantage. For example, when a company expands into a new market, it needs to understand the new target market’s values, norms, and beliefs. Not all products and services will appeal to all people. Similarly, a company cannot use the same marketing or communications strategies in every new market because of differences in culture, language, and values. Likewise, a company entering a new market needs strategic methods of communicating products and services with business partners or clients. Because of the way diverse teams improve the way companies develop or market their products and services, companies with diverse workforces will have a competitive advantage over companies that do not. A diverse team will be capable of coming up with more novel ideas than a homogenous team because each member will think differently about each issue or challenge.

Diversification is part of corporate social responsibility, which improves the company’s reputation and brand identity. Corporate social responsibility refers to ethical policies, principles, and strategies that include everything from using fair trade suppliers to creating a healthy work environment. Because it is related to organizational culture, corporate social responsibility is typically a top-down process. In other words, senior management commits to an ethical approach to human resources practices. By practicing corporate social responsibility in the C-suite, the middle managers and all employees have a model they can follow. Corporate social responsibility boosts a company’s image among consumers and can be incorporated into public relations and media relations strategies. For instance, organizations that have diverse workforces can boast about their diversification in the media and attract new clients and the best talent from around the world.

In conclusion, a diverse workforce presents a strategic advantage for companies, allowing for more innovative marketing and improved public relations. Diversity is no longer an option for work forces, even in domestic companies. Companies need diverse work forces to come up with creative solutions to problems or creative approaches to product design and development. Diversity is part of corporate social responsibility, an ethical strategy that is becoming increasingly important for remaining competitive. Diverse teams bring more to the table in their companies, enabling the most effective solutions. Diverse workforces facilitate breaking into new markets. Ultimately, investing in and developing a diverse workforce is a cost-effective strategy for organizational success.

References

Hunt, V. (2015). Why diversity matters. Retrieved online: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters        

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Expository Essay Topics

Expository essays can be about almost anything. Having trouble coming up with an expository essay topic? Here are some ideas.

Religion

Explain the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

Discuss the theme of submission in Islam.

What are three general doctrinal differences between Protestantism and Catholicism?

Compare and contrast two different Native American religions.

History

Discuss the causes and effects of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

What were the causes of the Civil War?

Describe the spread of Buddhism from India to East Asia.

Explain Jared Diamond’s theory in Guns Germs and Steel.

Explain the rise of global terrorism, and jihadism in particular.

Business

What does it mean to be a learning organization and why is it important?

Describe two different risk management strategies, and explain which one would be more appropriate for your selected company.

Differentiate between different models of leadership, using examples from case studies.

Write an expository essay on the impact of labor laws on the ways businesses operate.

Nursing

What are three of the most important philosophies of nursing and why?

Explain the importance of evidence-based practice.

What are the most important characteristics or roles of a nurse leader?

Why is it important for a nurse to be a patient advocate?

Literature

What are the themes of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”?

Compare and contrast Hamlet and Oedipus as tragic heroes.

Analyze the character of Rama in the Ramayana.

Discuss the literary devices Walt Whitman uses in Leaves of Grass.

Political Science

Explain the instruments of power used in foreign policy and strategy.

Compare and contrast Machiavelli’s The Prince with Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

What are the similarities and differences between liberalism, neo-liberalism, and realism?

What strategies would you recommend for resolving the crisis in the Middle East?

Art

Choosing two artists, show how each uses chiaroscuro in their paintings.

Offer a formal analysis of any one of DeKooning’s paintings.

Explain some of the defining features of Impressionism.

How and why did cubism and abstraction evolve? In your discussion, explain the social, cultural, historical, and political context of these movements.

Why Are Expository Essays So Important?

If writing expository essays frustrates or frightens you, it might help to realize why they are important. In addition to providing your instructor with evidence that you have mastered the art of scholarly writing, expository essays also show how well you have mastered the subject matter. When you are asked to explain, describe, or analyze something you learned in class, you are writing an expository essay useful for assessing your learning.

Beyond its value for teachers, expository essays also resemble different types of business communications. Therefore, the tools and skills you use for expository essay writing can be transferred easily to your current and future work. If you are new to expository essay writing, developing your skills now will help you perform better in future coursework and in your professional life. Expository essays allow you to improve essential written communications skills.

Conclusion

Expository essays are going to be one of the most common assignments you will have throughout your education. The vast majority of essays you will be asked to prepare are technically expository essays. Compare/contrast essays, cause/effect essays, process essays, analytical essays, and some argumentative essays are all expository essays. When you write an expository essay, you are explaining something, providing as much information as possible.

An expository essay is a work of non-fiction, and is usually written in the third person because you are explaining something to your reader. You might need to write an expository essay in almost any subject, from the arts to the sciences. Therefore, practicing writing expository essays will help you improve your performance. Eventually, you will get better at writing expository essays.

Expository essays generally follow the five-paragraph essay format with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Likewise, expository essays are thesis-driven. Your thesis is the main idea of the essay, or central argument. Before you start writing an expository essay, it is helpful to brainstorm your ideas and write a rough outline to organize your thoughts. If you need help writing your expository essay, ask for help or consult a writing tutor


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