Expository Essay: Definition, Writing Guide, Topics, Examples

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Expository Essay: Definition, Writing Guide, Topics, Examples
Table of Contents
  1. Expository Essay: Definition, Writing Guide, Topics, Examples
  2. What is an expository essay and its purpose
  3. 5 types of expository writing
  4. Expository essay vs. argumentative essay
  5. Expository essay structure
  6. How to write an expository essay step-by-step
  7. How to start an expository essay
  8. How to conclude an expository essay
  9. Expository essay topic ideas
  10. Expository essay topics that define something
  11. Expository essay topics that classify something
  12. Expository essay topics that compare and contrast
  13. Expository essay topics that cause and effect
  14. Expository essay topics that define problem solution
  15. Tips from experts for writing a great expository essay
  16. Expository essay examples
  17. Need help with expository essay writing?

When writing expository essays, many students face numerous challenges due to the lack of  understanding the nature of this essay type, its purpose, types, and structure. To explain the basis of the good expository essay writing, we created a detailed guide with all the necessary information to explain the main rules and pitfalls of this type of academic writing. You will save your time and enjoy the essay writing process by studying the information gathered and organized in a strict and concise manner. Our pro essay writing service is also always ready to complete any type of assignment for you for a very affordable price.  

What is an expository essay and its purpose

The expository essays require the student to investigate a particular idea, expound on that idea, evaluate evidence, and set forward an argument to that idea clearly and concisely. This type of essays can be accomplished through the analysis of cause and effect, comparison and contrast, definitions, or examples.

The core purpose of the expository essay is to evaluate students’ academic writing skills and their ability to analyze the information. Therefore, this type of essay is commonly assigned to college students as an effective tool for classroom evaluation. Moreover, an expository essay type is often found in different exam formats.

5 types of expository writing 

Five of the most common in use types of expository papers are: 

  1. Definition. Definition essays provide the reader with enough detailed definition of something
  2. Process. Process essays which explain the reader ideas on how to do something
  3. Compare and contrast. Comparison essays discuss elements that are similar and contrast the elements that are different (check compare and contrast ideas).
  4. Cause and effect. Cause-effect essays tell the reader how one event, in other words, the cause leads to the effect (look through cause and effect topics).
  5. Problem-solution. Problem/solution essays describe a particular problem, try to interest the audience in caring about this problem solution topic, and propose a way out.

Expository essay vs. argumentative essay

Expository essay writing may have some convincing purposes, especially when a student is required to write a problem-solution type of expository essay. However, there are some differences between expository and argumentative papers. Persuasive or argumentative essays always take a position on the particular issue and make attempts to convince the audience to accept all the arguments of the author. By contrast, the expository essay does not try to convince the reader, while the argumentative or persuasive essay does. The direct conviction is missing, and it is a major difference between both essay types.

Check our guide on how to write an argumentative essay and convince your audience. 

Expository essay structure

Typically, an expository assignment should be a 5 paragraph essay. The first is an introductory paragraph that contains the thesis statement, which is the main idea of your essay. The next three paragraphs are the body of the essay, that provides details and evidence in support of the thesis. The last paragraph is conclusion that restates the thesis statement and summarizes the paper.


How to write an expository essay step-by-step

1.Prewriting. This is the first stage of writing an expository essay that aims to generate ideas and determine the topic and/or the position.

2.Drafting. This stage is devoted to the creation of the outline of the future paper. The basic outline of the expository essay is presented below.

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction ( hook, thesis statement)     
  • Paragraph 2: Body (main point one, evidence)
  • Paragraph 3: Body (main point 2, evidence)
  • Paragraph 4: Body (main point 3, evidence)
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion ( key points summary, restated thesis statement).

3.Revising. The revising /re-seeing stage of the writing process aims to see the paper in a new way. Revising refers to improving the global structure and enriching the content of the paper.

4.Editing and proofreading. This is the final stage of the essay writing and editing process that focuses on surface errors, for example, misspellings, grammar mistakes, punctuation.

How to start an expository essay

Start an expository essay with the essay introduction paragraph, which should be: 

  • short
  • informative
  • clear
  • interesting

Each starting paragraph in the paper should include:

  • essay hook
  • general information
  • topic outline
  • thesis

How to conclude an expository essay

To conclude an expository essay properly, you should follow several rules:

  1. Restate the thesis statement by making the same point paraphrasing the core idea with other words.
  2. Review all your supporting ideas represented in the main body.
  3. Summarize the arguments by paraphrasing evidence and facts that proved the thesis.
  4. Connect back to the hook sentence in your essay and link the closing statement to the opening one.
If you want to end an expository essay properly, check our conclusion examples

Expository essay topic ideas 

If you need to write and expository essay but cannot choose what to write about, we have 

college students

Expository essay topics that define something

  1. Surrealism and Magic
  2. Everything about Modern Art
  3. Define the Role and Nature of Downshifting
  4. How Should a Perfect Couple Look?
  5. What is True Happiness
  6. Features of a Strong Leader

Expository essay topics that classify something

  1. Marijuana Supporters and Critics 
  2. Generous Restaurant Tippers
  3. Politics and Politicians
  4. Best Vacation Destinations
  5. Social Network Users - Worldwide Rank and Classification
  6. Youth Groups in Modern America

Expository essay topics that compare and contrast

  1. Females vs. Males.
  2. Red vs. White.
  3. Driving Your Own Car or Riding a Public Bus.
  4. The country in War vs. The country in Peace.
  5. Moon and Sun.
  6. Pros and Cons of Overwork.

Expository essay topics that cause and effect

  1. Effects of College Sport on The Future Career of Children.
  2. Effects of Pollution.
  3. Current Changes in the Ocean.
  4. The popularity of Fast Food Restaurants: Causes and Effects
  5. The Civil Rights Movement Effects.
  6. Alcohol and Human Nervous System.

Expository essay topics that define problem solution

  1. Driving and Transportation.
  2. Undocumented Immigrants in America.
  3. Mass Shootings in 2020.
  4. Sexual Assaults in College.
  5. Police Brutality and Violence in the USA.
  6. Suicides among College Students.

Tips from experts for writing a great expository essay 

Our talented writers outlined the core tips on how to write an expository essay to follow the grading rubric. Have a look at the list of tips below, and try to follow each point to make sure your paper receives the best grade. 

  • Be attentive while choosing topics for expository essay
  • Outline expository essay beforehand
  • Involve a clear and defined thesis statement in the first paragraph of your essay
  • Use clear, logical, and effective transitions between the introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Involve evidential support in every body paragraph
  • Use evidential support: factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal
  • Present your creativeness
  • Be sure to involve a conclusion that explains and readdresses the thesis statement in light of the evidence provided.
  • Avoid using the first person
  • Avoid using second-person narration

Expository essay examples 

To make sure you get acquainted with all the important information regarding how to write an effective expository essay, have a look at some expository essay examples:


Example Essay One - “Harry and Draco: Not As Different as They Seem”

Whether you're sorted into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, your background and behavior tells a lot about who you are. Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone are in opposite houses, and at times they seem like opposite characters. Even though Harry and Draco appear different in every way, readers can see how alike these two rivals really are.

The first difference between Harry and Draco is their upbringing. Harry was raised by Muggles (non-magical people), while Draco comes from an elite wizarding family that hates Muggles. When the boys meet for the first time, Draco talks about whether Muggle-born wizards should even attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

"I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families." (Rowling 61)

Harry doesn't respond to Draco's comment. Even though Harry is from an "old wizarding family" like Draco's, he is one of those people who had not heard of Hogwarts because of his Muggle upbringing. Draco's negative opinion about families he believes to be "lower" than his family creates his first conflict with Harry.

The way that Draco and Harry treat people from other backgrounds is another difference between them. On the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Draco meet again, this time with Ron Weasley. Harry makes friends with Ron, while Draco immediately insults him.

"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."

[Draco] held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it.

"I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," he said coolly. (Rowling 81)

Harry won't join in with Draco's put-down and even refuses to shake his hand. Harry is the kind of person who stands up for people, while Draco tears them down. But even though Harry and Draco are early enemies, their character traits can be quite similar, too.

They are both competitive and passionate about their houses. Both boys are even willing to break Hogwarts rules for their own purposes. When Hagrid, the school groundskeeper, has an illegal dragon that is about to hatch, Harry convinces his friends to break the rules and see it.

"Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a dragon hatching?" (said Harry.)

"We've got lessons, we'll get into trouble, and that's nothing to what Hagrid's going to be in when someone finds out what he's doing." (Rowling 171)

Harry and his friends end up sneaking out to see the dragon. But, as they are about to leave, they find out that another student has also broken the rules to see the dragon: Draco.

Harry bolted to the door and looked out. Even at a distance there was no mistaking him. Malfoy had seen the dragon. (Rowling 172)

Harry broke the rules to protect Hagrid, and Draco broke the rules to get Harry in trouble. Their motivations are different, but neither character seems to care too much about Hogwarts rules. Later on, they both get detention at Hogwarts for different reasons, demonstrating that their behavior is treated the same way.

Even though Harry and Draco are enemies throughout the book, they are not completely different. Their similarities help them grow, and their differences help them make choices that are right for their character. Their houses may be opposites, but their characters certainly aren't.

Example Essay Two - “The Cause and Lasting Effects of World War I”


It's almost impossible to imagine a war that involved 32 countries, 40 million fatalities, and 186 billion dollars. But World War I, also known as The Great War or The War to End All Wars, ended up being one of the costliest global conflicts in terms of both funds and human lives. While it's difficult to understand the magnitude of World War I, it's even harder to comprehend how the actions of Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian assassin, could trigger such an international chain event.

Though there were many underlying causes to World War I, the events of June 28, 1914 are considered the inciting incident. Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo was designed to influence the creation of Yugoslavia. As a result, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia one month later during the July Crisis.

Though Serbia effectively accepted all of Austria's demands except for one, the Austrian government broke diplomatic relations with the other country on July 25 and went ahead with military preparedness measures. ("Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia," History.com)

When Austria-Hungary entered the war, Germany was immediately involved. Serbia's ally, Russia, posed a significant threat to Austria-Hungary's objective. What could have been a small-scale skirmish turned into a larger operation when Germany then declared war on Russia.

His Majesty the Emperor, my august Sovereign, in the name of the German Empire, accepts the challenge, and considers himself at war with Russia." (The German Declaration of War on Russia).

By bringing Russia to the war, Germany found itself at war with Russia's ally, France. Soon after, Germany began "The Rape of Belgium," in which it illegally invaded Belgium in an attempt to bring its troops to Paris. The atrocity quickly attracted international attention, including that of Britain, who declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. Britain's declaration of war is considered the true beginning of World War I. The assassination that caused the initial conflict was left behind long ago, as its effects were rapidly escalating long past that fateful day.

The effects of Princip's actions quickly ricocheted around the world. The Ottoman Empire entered the war after making a secret alliance with Germany, and Montenegro and France declared war against Austria-Hungary. The Battle of the Marne in 1914 between Germany, France, Russia, and Britain began four years of constant trench warfare. Soldiers suffered from the advances of chemical warfare, as detailed by nurse Vera Brittain in her 1933 memoir Testament of Youth.

"I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke." (Brittain)

Operations continued in the Pacific as Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa declared war against Germany. Italy, having already proclaimed their neutrality, declared war on Germany after the Treaty of London. In 1917, Germany tried to coerce Mexico to declare war against America, leading President Woodrow Wilson to finally bring the United States into the strife.

But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-democracy. . . . ." (Wilson)

Immediately following the United States' entrance into the war was Cuba and Panama, who declared war on Germany the next day. Greece followed suit in June 1917, followed closely by Liberia and China. Over the next year, countless battles and operations pushed boundaries and lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the cause. The final offensive of World War I, the Hundred Days Offensive, led Germany to the brink of defeat. After Germany signed the Armistice of Compiègne on November 11, 1918, the fighting was officially over - but the effects of the war were just beginning.

World War I may seem like it took place over four very busy years, but the effects of the international strife would come to define the 21st century. By the time the Paris Peace Conference began in January 1919, Germany's economy and morale had plummeted. They had fought against nearly 30 countries and had come close to complete destruction, only to feel cheated by the Versailles Treaty.

The social and economic upheaval that followed World War I gave rise to many radical right wing parties in Weimar Germany. The harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles led many in the general population to believe that Germany had been "stabbed in the back" by the "November criminals." ("WWI: Aftermath").

The discouraged nation was resistant to the provisions of the treaty and to their new democratic rule. Many German citizens longed for more authoritarian rule as they'd had prior to World War I. A ruined economy led to hyperinflation, which made Germany fearful of Communism as well. Adolf Hitler, an Austrian extremist and leader of the Nazi Party, became a welcome voice in right-wing nationalist politics.

Beyond Marxism he believed the greatest enemy of all to be the Jew, who was for Hitler the incarnation of evil. ("Rise To Power," britannica.com)

Hitler's leadership in the years following World War I was a direct result of the war's events. The next global crisis, World War II, would result in atrocities far beyond the scope of its predecessor. The world would spend the second half of the 20th century recovering from the enormous costs of both of these wars.

One assassin on an ordinary day in 1914 ended up starting an unfathomable chain of events. The wars that resulted would define an entire century, several generations, and countless government actions. It's important to consider the effects of any action, political or not, to decide whether it's the best path to take.

Need help with expository essay writing? 

To get an A grade for your writing, you should study all the information regarding the definition of the essay genre, its purpose, types, and proper structure. Moreover, it is of vital importance to follow the points mentioned in the guidance on how to write an expository essay, as it is rather important to make proper paragraphs, involve a concise thesis statement, use credible sources, and follow the proper format. While our experts created a clear and detailed guide on how to write an expository essay, you may have some questions left after reading the information devoted to the expository essay type. 

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