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Writing Expository Essays: Guidelines And Tips

From early on in a student’s academic career, he or she will be required to custom-write an expository essay. Not only that, the student will likely be asked to produce numerous expository essays throughout the academic career, on a wide variety of subjects and topics. The following article will provide you with the basic skills and outline the steps necessary to create an expository essay that will meet or even exceed your professor’s expectations.

What is Expository Writing?

In order to write great expository essays, it’s important to understand exactly what expository writing is. Expository writing is any type of writing that is used to describe, explain, or inform. In a nutshell, expository writing is used to convey information from writer to reader.

  • STEP ONE: SELECTING A TOPIC
    If your professor assigns you a specific topic to write about, then this step is completed before you even begin. However, often the teacher will allow students to choose their own essay topic, so it is important to be able to choose effectively. This is also true is the professor proposed a broad topic, but demands that you write about a particular facet of that larger subject.
    Whenever choosing an expository essay topic, it is important to narrow down your choice so that it is appropriate to the essay length requirements. For example, if the professor has assigned a two-page essay, it is not a good idea to choose an expansive topic such as “The History of the Civil War.” There would simply not be enough room within two pages to adequately cover the topic. Conversely, if the professor wants an especially lengthy essay, do not choose too narrow of a topic so that it becomes difficult to fill up the pages with information.
  • STEP TWO: CHOOSE A DEVELOPMENTAL PATTERN
    There are a variety of ways to develop a custom expository essay, just as there is a variety of ways to convey information. The following are just a few examples of the developmental patterns you can adopt for your own essay:
    Definition – This may be the most straightforward of the developmental patterns. As its name suggests, you will simply use the expository essay to thoroughly define a topic.
    Example – In this developmental pattern, you will provide and describe an example of a particular subject or group.
    Cause and Effect – With this developmental pattern, you will illustrate the relationship between to variables, one dependent on the other. Describe the many ways in which this particular variable affects the other, and explain why it does so.
    Classification – This developmental pattern is used to categorize multiple subjects into separate or distinct groups by certain criteria.
    Compare and Contrast – With this developmental pattern, the writer will examine both the similarities and the differences between two or more distinct subjects.
  • STEP THREE: CHOOSE AN ORGANIZATIONAL PATTERN
    The choice of organizational pattern really depends upon the length of the essay. For shorter essays, teachers often espouse the “five paragraph” organizational pattern, in which there is one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Of course, this is not feasible if the essay is of longer length, but it is important to provide both an introduction and a conclusion, regardless of length.
  • STEP FOUR: PERFORM ADEQUATE RESEARCH ON YOUR TOPIC
    Too often students begin writing expository essays without first having learned about their subject. If the teacher requires you to write the essay with knowledge from the top of your head, then obviously you will not have to perform research. However, if this is not the case then it is vital that you take some time to learn about your topic before beginning to write. Doing so will only lead to a much stronger essay.

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