How to Write an Explanatory Essay

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How to Write an Explanatory Essay
Phil Collins

Before writing any type of assignment, you must understand its definition. For example, students who need to write an argumentative essay should understand its purpose, format, and how it differs from other kinds of papers. The following approach can be applied to any other type of academic writing, including an explanatory essay.

In this article, we’ll try to explain what an explanatory essay is, its primary goal, and key features. Even though many people think that there is nothing more simple than writing an explanatory essay, for most students it can still be a challenge to distinguish explanatory paper from other types of essays.

If you need to write an explanatory essay, we highly recommend you read this article till the end. Guidelines outlined in our manual will help you gain new knowledge and enhance your writing skills. Designing explanatory essay will become an easy task for you once you put recommendations from our writing professionals into practice.

What is an Explanatory Essay

An explanatory essay is a type of academic paper in which the author presents some point of view or opinion on a particular topic, subject, event or situation. It’s worth noting that explanatory essay is also known as expository essay. 

When completing this kind of assignment you shouldn’t necessarily agree with the point of view you are writing about. Your goal is to report a certain event or situation and offer an analysis of a given subject. Try to present information or arguments of other people impartially. It’s also essential that you do not include any form of criticism in your explanatory essay. You shouldn’t argue or persuade while giving explanations. Let readers make their conclusions rather than persuading them to agree or disagree with the given point of view.

Explanatory essay is all about presenting a neutral view on the set topic by providing analysis from research. Its primary goal is to present a lucid explanation as to why things happened the way they did. After reading your essay, the audience should have a clear understanding of your point of view, even if they don’t pick your side.

Usually, the author of the explanatory essay decides upon a set topic and then approaches the issue from a specific angle. In most cases, this angle is complicated and gives room for discussion. The author presents a point of view of his or her choice that fairly explains why a certain outcome was reached.

Explanatory Essay Topics

In most cases, explanatory essay topics are pre-assigned to students by their teachers or college professors. For instance, you can be asked to explain how your brain works or outline the events that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

If you are asked to select the essay topic by yourself, remember that explanatory papers are based on facts. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you choose a neutral topic which can be easily explained. The idea here is that the more controversial the topic, the more points of view you will need to explore in your essay, making it more complicated and time-consuming. Fortunately, we can explain almost everything as long as it falls within the parameters of the given assignment. Here are a couple of explanatory essay topics created by our topic generator you can choose from:

  • Tell the reader why everybody should know their rights;
  • Discuss the ketogenic diet fad and whether most people must follow it;
  • Describe the process you would follow when buying a new apartment;
  • List the events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Explanatory Essay Format

The typical format for an explanatory paper is the traditional 5-paragraph essay. Usually, this includes an introduction, three body paragraphs (limited to one subtopic each), and a conclusion. This is a basic essay format. 

Keep in mind that the explanatory writing doesn’t need to be limited to five paragraphs — you can make it longer. No matter how many paragraphs you decide to include in your essay, be sure that your introduction includes a powerful thesis statement. Also, double-check if the paper is based on facts rather than personal opinion. Last but not least: make sure to connect paragraphs with transitions. 

Explanatory Essay Outline

In simple terms, an explanatory essay outline is a plan for your explanatory paper. Usually, it varies based on the length of the topic and the information the author is trying to present. The goal of the outline is to organize the main points into paragraphs — it offers a so-called framework of how to write an explanatory essay. As it was mentioned in the paragraph above, most explanatory essays follow the basic essay structure. They consist of:

  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraphs;
  • Conclusion.

Most explanatory essays tend to be a page or two in length. That's why the overall essay is usually around 5 paragraphs long. Remember that your introduction should present the topic to the audience. Also, it’s vital that you incorporate the thesis statement in the last paragraph. After you are done with it, try to develop the body paragraphs with the information detailed in the thesis statement. Finally, include a conclusion that summarizes your essay's key points after the restatement of the thesis. As you can see, creating an explanatory essay outline is not that difficult as it may seem at first glance. And now let’s dig deeper into the definition of the explanatory essay thesis.

Explanatory Thesis

When talking about a thesis statement, most people usually mean one or two sentences that summarize the main idea of their academic paper and clearly express what it is they are going to say about the given topic. Overall, your thesis statement identifies what topic will be discussed and the purpose of your essay. As the explanatory essay is tailored to explain or acquaint your readers with something, the goal of the explanatory thesis is to tell readers what it is you are going to explain and what aspects of the topic will be considered.

How to Start an Explanatory Essay

Before you start writing your explanatory essay, there are some crucial tips to follow. The first recommendation is to carry out proper research and data collection. Explanatory essay authors should ensure that the information in their writing is a blend of personal views and ideas acquired from external sources. Explanatory essay relies heavily on solid research, focus on finding external sources that will supplement your personal opinion. Note down all the important information from those sources and use them as evidence in your essay. So, the first thing you should do is find multiple trusted sources that defend your thoughts. We suggest you look to online journals, historical dictionaries, or find relevant books in your college library to use them as trusted sources.

After collecting all the needed information, the next step is to develop a clear explanatory thesis. A concise thesis will make it easier for readers to understand the essence of the topic from a summarized point of view. In other words, explain what you will be showing to your audience. Be neutral — you are not arguing or criticizing, just stating facts. Remember, you are not supposed to take any side as that causes a loss in the outlook of an explanatory essay.

Another recommendation is to choose a neutral topic you'd like to explain. If your teacher or professor didn’t give you a specific topic, select the one that will be understandable for you. Just choose such a topic that is in line with your assignment.

Once you’ve chosen a suitable topic, it’s time to draft an outline of your explanatory essay. The best option here is to stick to five paragraphs that were mentioned above: draft an introduction, three main body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The outline helps students ensure that they follow a logical pattern to detail all their trains of thought. After completing all of the above steps - review your material and start writing your explanatory paper.

Each explanatory paper should start with an introduction. Try to capture your audience’s attention. No matter how you decide to do that - it may be a quote, rhetorical question, catchy motto, or anecdote. Feel free to improvise and use your imagination. Picking a hook thesis statement is also important. After presenting a thesis statement, include any necessary information that gives a background of the topic. The last sentence of your introduction should integrate a thesis statement to give a preview of the content in the body paragraphs.

Body

No matter how many paragraphs you decide to include in your explanatory essay, they all should follow a similar style. They all should be in-line with each other and maintain a certain flow in the paragraphs. Within each paragraph, you are to include a claim that is linked to the thesis statement. This way, it will be easier to connect all the points.

Try to support your claims with evidence from external sources. Make your readers feel confident about the information you present to them. Don’t forget to integrate a concluding statement that offers a summary of the claim's significance. Concluding statement should go along with the thesis statement. In simple terms, all body paragraphs in your explanatory paper should follow this format.

Conclusion

The explanatory essay must have a proper conclusion. When finishing your explanatory paper, follow these recommendations:

  • Restate your thesis. This way you will bring your readers’ attention back to the main point as well as add strength to your presented point of view.
  • Summarize your supporting points presented in each of the body paragraphs accordingly. Restate the importance of each one. This way you will logically defend your explanatory thesis.
  • Provide an overall concluding statement. In other words, explain the value of the particular point of view chosen from a global perspective. Your goal here is to captivate your readers to study the subject further on. 

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Tips to Write an Explanatory Essay

Some useful tips will help you write an excellent explanatory essay. Here are some of the most powerful ones:

Take advantage of transitions and linking words

While connecting all your body paragraphs, use transition words and sentences. They will make your explanatory paper flow more smoothly. Some of the words you can use to connect your sentences are: 

  • However;
  • For instance;
  • Such as;
  • In comparison;
  • Firstly, secondly, thirdly;
  • On the other hand;
  • In conclusion, to summarise.

Cite your sources

This one is an absolute requirement when writing an explanatory essay. You better try hard in this area. A successful explanatory essay will be factual and contain verifiable information. Cite your sources and make it easy for the audience to check where you drew your facts. 

Revise your essay

After completing your explanatory paper, it’s always a good tip to revise it a couple of times. To make your revision phase more effective we advise you to answer the following questions:

  • Does the essay give an objective analysis that unfolds logically? Did I use relevant facts and examples in your essay?
  • Has the information in my paper been communicated to the audience? Is the word choice precise?
  • Did I use transitions and linking words in the essay to help the reader’s understanding?
  • Does the concluding paragraph communicate the value and meaning of the thesis statement and supporting ideas?

Edit your essay

Double-check your paper for different of mistakes and typos. When proofreading your paper, make sure that nobody distracts you. It would be perfect if you revise and proofread your essay in silence. If you notice any kinds of errors - edit your paper to improve both style and clarity. Even though your essay should be clear and concise, also think on how to make it engaging and lively as well.

Share your essay with a close person

Showing your essay to your parent, friend or other readers can be both useful and exciting. They can give you their opinion on what should be changed. They can also notice some grammar or punctual mistakes you missed while writing the essay. Overall, it always good to use the feedback to make your essay even better.

Explanatory Essay Examples

Perks of Living in Canada

Canada is considered one of the best countries in the world in which to live. [bold fact] Thousands of immigrants come to Canada each year and start a new better life here. [statistic] People enjoy living in Canada because here they succeed in business, give good education to their children, and improve their quality of life due to advanced healthcare services. [thesis statement that illustrates three main ideas]

Without a doubt, Canada is one of the best countries for people who want to run their businesses. [topic sentence – main idea 1] It is easy to start a venture here because entrepreneurs can register their businesses online. [supporting detail 1] Workforce in this country includes alumni of the most prestigious colleges in the world, which means that Canadian businesses can hire the most skillful professionals. [supporting detail 2] Furthermore, the GDP is constantly growing. [supporting detail 3] This suggests that the economy is performing well, and people can afford to spend money on high-quality goods. Despite taxes, people can easily become successful entrepreneurs, and the money they earn contribute to the standard of living of future generations. [concluding sentence]

To Sum Up

We hope we managed to explain how to write a great explanatory essay. Now you know how this type of academic paper differs from other essays and what writing style and topic to choose when preparing such kind of assignment.

We sincerely hope that the tips outlined in our guide will help you enhance your writing and get better grades. However, if you have difficulties with completing this kind of assignment,  our team of professional writers is always ready to help you draft a top-notch explanatory essay from scratch. All you need to do is order an essay you need. In addition to helping you create a great informative essay, we can also help you with other types of assignments, such as coursework, dissertation writing, or research paper. If you experience any kind of difficulties writing an explanatory essay — welcome to our first-class service!

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