How to Write an Expository Essay (Expository Writing): The Ultimate step-by-step Guide

Last Updated: 03 July 2023

expository writing

We have this far had thousands of students confess that expository writing confuses them. No matter how hard an instructor tries, writing an expository essay needs time, patience, and resilience. That said, many students worry about how to write an expository essay.

So what is expository writing? Expository writing is also referred to as exposition and is a term used for to explain, define, inform, make a clarification, or to describe. Exposition can be both in writing and oral discourses, however, for the prime purpose of this article, we stick to expository writing.

 If you are a movie die-hard, then you are privy of the term exposition. In the movie context, it refers to a technique used by film directors to bring the audience up to speed with the significant points in the plot of a movie in question. Now, here, we will look at some basics, structure, and how to write a good exposition essay.

Keep this in mind: Being asked to write an expository essay means you are asked to present evidence or facts objectively.

Definition of an Expository Essay?

For a perfect expository writing mastery, we need to get the real definition of what an expository essay is. Well, an expository essay is a type of academic writing task or an essay that involves exploring a given topic from various points of view and giving comprehensive information objectively to the intended audience.

Put simply; expository essays help the readers to understand a given subject or topic. It merely investigates and reports on something. So, this type of essay involves the analysis of evidence, expounding of ideas, and presentation of concepts in a logical sequence.

Mostly, an expository essay adheres to the 5-paragraph essay structure (as we will explore shortly).

Here are salient features of expository writing every college student must master:

Major Types of Expository Writing Strategies

There are different types of expository essays. To avoid asking the question how do you write n expository essay? let us explore them. Here are the five major types of expository writing approaches:

  1. Process Essay. Do you remember the classic how-to essays? Well, those are also expository essays. Process essays help the readers understand how stuff work or the procedures of doing something. How to drill a hole on a wall, how to shave, how to ride a bike, how to write an essay, or how to score better grades.
  2. Cause and Effect Essays. Some call it the knee-jerk reaction assignments or essays because they explore how and why things happen and the consequences that accrue. We have compiled an entire cause and effect essay writing guide; you can have a look.
  3. Solution/problem definition essay. This is by far the common assignment prompt students in high school, colleges, and universities write. It entails delving deep into a problem and looking for solutions. For example, writing an essay on how the devastations or aftermath of hurricanes can be avoided through proper emergency planning. It could also be an essay on countering the effects of deforestation in the Amazon.
  4. Compare and Contrast (comparison) Essay. Although this type of essay sounds simple, writing a compare and contrast essay is no mean feat. It entails analysis of two subjects, ideas, or phenomena and fining as well as explaining their similarities and differences alike.
  5. Descriptive Essay. The professor can choose to assign you an essay describing something. It could be a place, a country, pet, experience, event, or phenomenon, to mention a few. Well, a descriptive essay uniquely presents facts and creates a visual aspect in the minds of the readers. And when taking a descriptive approach, always appeal to emotions and logic to win the hearts of your readers.

Difference between Expository Essay and Argumentative Essays

It is very easy to confuse expository and argumentative/persuasive essays, and thus the expository vs. argumentative essay debate. Well, an argumentative essay or a persuasive essay takes one side of the view on a topic and defends it. Besides, argumentative essays focus on convincing readers to adopt the writers' point of view, which makes them subjective.

For instance, if the topic is on private prisons, an argumentative essay writer will convince the readers how the new private prison model works best compared to the traditional government-controlled prison model. On the other hand, the expository essay will explore what private prison model entails, its pros and cons, and the view of the public on the same. While doing so, an expository essay writer will be using facts and evidence from peer-reviewed journals, books, government websites, and other credible sources, just the same way as the former.

Here is some summarized version of the differences between argumentative and expository essays.

Expository essay

Argumentative/Persuasive Essay

Focuses on the different points of views or angles on a given topic in an unbiased manner.

Takes one side or position from the onset either for or against a topic and defends it entirely.

The thesis outlines the topic of focus in the expository essay.

The thesis is usually the argument the writer seeks to defend.

Mostly written in the third person.

Can be written either in first or third persons depending on the instructions.

Objective as it presents facts, evidence, and information without taking sides.

Is subjective as it picks a side and defends it with facts.

 So, the next time you get an expository essay at the end of an exam or even a semester, do not take an argumentative approach.

Related: How to write an argumentative essay (guide and examples).

Expository Essay Structure/Outline

We began by stating that expository essays are written mostly in the five-paragraph format. They can be 500-word essays or 1000-words essays or even 2000 or 2500-word essays.  So, that means it has an introduction, three body paragraphs, and the conclusion.

The introduction comprises of the hook sentence or attention grabber, the background information or the connecting sentences, and the thesis. Mostly, expository essays are part of an exam and are written in MLA format. Therefore, you need to write the essay fact and use reliable sources as your references.

The body is divided into three parts. The first paragraph gives an example that supports the thesis. The second paragraph has a second set of example that supports the thesis. Finally, the third paragraph also has some points that support the thesis.

Your expository essay conclusion wraps the essay by carefully summarizing the major points in the essay. It should have a strong and memorable statement.

Essay Hooks for Expository Essays

Hooks for expository essay writing are similar to those used in argumentative essays. Therefore, when writing an expository essay, you could use anecdotes, statistics, catchy phrases, rhetorical questions, noises, riddles, etc. The table below demonstrates some examples of effective and creative ways to begin expository essays.

Expository writing Hooks



Give me liberty or give me death.


What do you call an eight-legged


In Richmond county, the number of obese people has reached an all-time high in the last half a decade.

Alliterative Phrase

Stepping and stomping. Whirling and
swirling. To the Native American
Dance Troop these moves are the key
to their art.


Whew! And you thought cancer could be the top killer globally!

Noises (onomatopoeia)

Slurp, slurp. Glug, glug. On a hot day
the best thing to quench your thirst
is a tasty fruit drink from Holler
Hollow Snack Bar.

Exaggeration/outrageous fact/hyperbole

The entire nation watched in dismay.. or With the new law, apprehended terrorist suspects felt a sigh of relief..

Statistic or fact

Americans and Europeans spend $17 billion on pet food, $4 billion over the estimated amount needed to offer basic health and nutrition to the rising global population.   



Have you wondered why you keep adding weight despite being very keen on your diet?


Are pets better than other humans considering they receive better treatment?

Blunt beginning

America should outlaw all guns held by civilians.

The essay hook is always part of the introduction, but it comes before the thesis. Some literature refers to it as an attention grabber. A bridge sentence serves to connect the two to make a loaded introduction paragraph.

Related: how to generate good essay hooks.

How to Write an Expository Essay Introduction

After writing your outline, you are ready to begin writing your essay. Your introduction lays the foundation of the paper. The introduction of an expository essay comprises of a hook/attention grabber, bridge or connecting sentences, and the thesis (the closing sentence of your first paragraph).

Remember, expository writing is meant to inform your readers on a chosen topic : nothing less, nothing more! Therefore, the first or opening sentence should be an attention grabber or a hook (check examples above).

For instance, when writing about Apple's iPhone as a popular smartphone brand, you should state a very important fact about the brand. For example, you could focus on its sales forecast, customer base, and unique customer segment. Your opening sentence should not be dull or just a set of stuffed words.

The opening sentence is successes by a set of connecting sentences, which serve as the background of your chosen topic. The background elucidates or introduces facts on the topic. You can take the funnel approach.

After the connecting sentence comes the thesis statement. It is always the last sentence in your introductory paragraph. The thesis statement should state the topic that is of focus in your paper. So, if it is iPhone, focus more on the youthful vibe of the iPhone that makes it attractive to millennials.

Related: How to write a thesis statement for an essay.

Writing a conclusion of an Expository Essay

When all is said and done, you will need to learn how to write the best conclusion for an expository essay. Now, there is no dispute over the importance of having a strong conclusion.

Expository writing does not want an ad hoc and hurried conclusion. Instead, the conclusion should be thorough rather than just being a summary of the entire essay.

The conclusion should clearly state what the reader should believe or do. It is a chance to call the reader to action or make a strong statement on the topic.

You can always use a prediction or forecast, recommendation, quotation, visual description, setting a scene, or even a question approach.

It should answer the question of what then? that lingers in the mind of the reader soon as they are done with your essay.

Related: How to write a strong and convincing conclusion.

Rules of Expository Writing

It is wise to acquaint yourself with some of the dos and don'ts when it comes to writing an excellent expository essay. Here are some Dos.

Dos for Expository writing:

In a similar vein, when doing expository writing, do not do these things (the don'ts):

If you were initially wondering how to write a good expository essay introduction, we believe that by this far you are half-way a polished expository essay writer.

Expository Essay Topics

  1. The importance of being on time
  2. The importance of honesty
  3. How movies are created?
  4. Understanding the history of jazz music
  5. Popular culture and its popularity
  6. The American Dream
  7. Exploring phobias
  8. The Oedipus complex
  9. How Wi-Fi works
  10. How gravity operates
  11. Describe how you would save the Amazon from deforestation
  12. Describe an APP that will save girls from human trafficking and prostitution
  13. How does it feel living in abject poverty
  14. Essay on world hunger
  15. Climate change and its implications on human life
  16. The causes of hunger in the world
  17. Child obesity in the United States
  18. Home-grown terrorism in Europe and the United States
  19. History of competitive sports
  20. How a gun works
  21. Why are tankers used in wars?
  22. Veganism
  23. Leukemia
  24. Robotics
  25. Blockchain technology and small businesses
  26. Cryptocurrencies
  27. Universal healthcare in the United States
  28. Comparison of the U.S. and the UK healthcare systems
  29. How to play basketball
  30. Understanding the rules of football
  31. Football and nationalism
  32. Social media and bullying
  33. Describe the early foundations and evolution of capital punishment
  34. The benefits of medical marijuana
  35. Reasons why teenagers leave home
  36. Women in bodybuilding
  37. Women breaking the glass ceiling
  38. The male gaze in the corporate world
  39. Characteristics of a charismatic leader
  40. Reasons why role models exist
  41. Role of Greek in U.S colleges
  42. The rising student loans debt
  43. Impacts of closing public libraries on reading culture among U.S. youths
  44. Differences between single-parenting and co-parenting
  45. Impacts of divorce on children
  46. Consequences of taking gap years before entering college
  47. Why countries trade with each other
  48. Why teenagers leave their homes
  49. Reasons teenagers get into drugs
  50. Suicide and its rising incidences among the youths
  51. The importance of living happily
  52. What would you change in the world if given power?
  53. Causes and consequences of homelessness
  54. Salvation Army and their poverty eradication strategies
  55. History of college education
  56. The role of electoral colleges in the U.S. elections
  57. Singe parents and educational attainment of children
  58. Benefits of health insurance to parents
  59. Problems faced by foreign students in America
  60. Threats of a nuclear weapon to global peace
  61. Impacts of pollution
  62. Pollution in cities
  63. Juveniles and the criminal justice systems
  64. Benefits of wearing school uniforms
  65. Effects of smartphones on children's health

This list is not exhaustive. Here is an expert tip.

Professional tip: whatever the case, choose an expository essay topic that interests you, has content and supporting sources online and offline, and one you can articulately present facts and information on.

A Highlight of the step-by-step approach in expository Writing

  1. Choose a good topic for your essay. Your topic should be one you are passionate to write about.
  2. Conduct thorough research online to gain insights on the chosen topic. Bookmark, download, and screenshot some of the potentially credible sources. Focus on books, peer-reviewed articles, journals, newspaper articles, and governmental as well as organizational websites (.au, .gov, .edu, etc.).
  3. Look at free expository essay samples online. If you are writing an expository essay, you can be lucky to get a standard 500-word essay or even 1000-word essay. Such examples help you get a hold on what to put where. You can get help from our online essay writers. They will write the best model expository essay for you.
  4. Select examples to use when writing your points. To articulately drive the point home, it is paramount to use examples. For instance, when describing the impacts of cellphones on human health think outside the box and talk of things like text-driving-related accidents, emission of radioactive rays, and blue light that disrupts sleep patterns,etc.
  5. Write your Outline: As stated above, an expository essay aligns to the 5-paragraph essay structure. It has an introduction, three body paragraphs, and the conclusion.
  6. Craft your thesis statement. If it is about bullying. An example could be Even though many people overlook the psychological impacts of bullying, the victims have a nasty story to tell deep within themselves.
  7. Carefully and creatively write the first draft of the essay. When writing, follow the rules we have discussed herein. Every paragraph should feature only one idea. Also, do not veer into tangents, instead stay on course. Carefully and constructively use transitions to flavor up your essay.
  8. Do thorough editing of your essay. You can get someone to edit your essay if you are fatigued at this point. However, an A-grade expository essay lacks grammatical, syntax, and punctuation errors. This is your chance to shine on your paper. There are many editing apps such as Hemmingway editor, Grammarly, or Ginger.