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Learning how to write a good expository essay is an academic writing skill that lays the foundation for the type of expository writing that's necessary for numerous professions.

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What Is an Expository Essay?

An expository essay is a form of structured academic writing that uses factual evidence to explain or investigate a specific topic. Unlike an argumentative essay, which requires that the writer form an opinion on a topic, expository essays have a neutral point of view and are only focused on providing a factual analysis.

What Is the Purpose of Expository Writing?

The purpose of expository writing is to present a balanced, objective description of a topic. The format of an expository essay allows for the clear and logical explanation of complex information instead of proving a point or providing the writer's personal opinion on a subject. Expository writing is a valuable skill in many fields of work, including journalism, business, science.

5 Types of Expository Essays

When tasked with writing an expository essay, you'll most likely be given a writing prompt that makes it clear what type of essay you should write. The main types of expository essays are:

  1. Cause and effect essay: This essay type requires the writer to explain why something occurred and what happened as a result.
  2. Compare and contrast essay: For a comparison essay, the writer takes two subjects or ideas and analyzes their similarities and differences.
  3. Descriptive essay: This essay type is simply a detailed description or explanation of a topic. The topic may be an event, place, person, object, or experience. The writer has considerable creative freedom in this essay type.
  4. Problem and solution essay: In this type of expository essay, the writer must shed light on a specific problem and write a thorough breakdown of valid potential solutions.
  5. Process essay: Also called a how-to essay, this essay type breaks down a step-by-step procedure in order to teach the reader how to do something.
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How to Write an Expository Essay

Write your expository essay in MLA format and follow a basic five paragraph structure.

1. Prewrite and Outline.

To write a well-organized five-paragraph essay, it's important to take some time to jot down pertinent notes and perform research about your expository essay topic. Once you’ve had time to brainstorm, create a basic expository essay outline that details what information you plan to include in each paragraph. Before moving on to your first draft, remind yourself to write in the third person to ensure that you don't accidentally state your own personal opinions.

2. Write an Introductory Paragraph.

Your first paragraph should include a topic sentence that clearly states your thesis or main point of the essay. A good thesis should be simple enough that you can capably support it with three body paragraphs.

3. Write Three Body Paragraphs.

Each paragraph in the body of the essay should focus on its own distinct issue that helps develop and support the thesis statement in your topic sentence. Make sure you're using factual information to support your thesis and are maintaining an objective point of view.

4. Write a Concluding Paragraph.

This paragraph should only contain information you’ve already presented earlier in the essay. Use this space to restate your thesis, summarize your supporting points from each body paragraph, and wrap up your essay.

5. Revise and Proofread.

Reread your essay and double check that your thesis is clear and supported with evidence from credible sources. Make sure you present all information in a completely unbiased way. Work to create paragraph transitions that are fluid and logical. Lastly, proofread to fix grammatical errors and poor word choices.

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