Expository Essay Guide: Outline, Topics, Examples

Expository Essay Guide: Outline, Topics, Examples
Jennifer Lockman

Students are systematically asked to prepare expository essays. Although it is one of the most common types of essays, it does not make it that simple. An expository essay has a specific structure and requires students to apply their critical thinking skills to write an A-level piece. Getting a commendable essay also involves having an organized and consistent writing process. Read on to learn how to write it outstanding with our expository essay writing service and get an excellent mark for it.

What is an Expository Essay?

An expository essay is a piece of writing that involves exploring a particular idea or issue, researching the existing evidence, and presenting a coherent and to-the-point argument. A writer should define concepts, exemplify the ideas, compare and contrast related phenomena, or provide cause-effect reasoning to reach the desired result.  

what defines an expository essay

What differs an expository essay from other writing assignments is its goal. The very name of the essay type gives a hint - to “expose” an idea. Thus, your objective is to inform the audience about a particular concept or view. Your argumentation must be based on hard facts, be simple, and explicit. The tone of the expository essay should be neutral; you shouldn’t try to persuade the reader or take sides. Whether you write descriptively or draw a comparison, you need to be unbiased.

Types of Expository Essays

Now that you know the expository writing definition, there is one more important aspect to consider: expository essays can be of various types, which influences their structure and content. You need to know the differences between them to write a quality paper. Commonly, there are six main types of expository essays:

types of expository essays

Process or “how-to” essays 

This type of expository essay explains how to get something to work. It guides the reader through the stages of a certain process. Process essays usually include the descriptions of steps and directions for the reader to follow. These can be technical instructions or recipes, for example: 

  • “How to Bake a Cake”
  • “How to Repair a Bike”

Compare and contrast essays

Compare and contrast expository essays aim at discussing similar and divergent aspects of ideas, concepts, locations, or objects. To present your findings, you can use one of the following techniques: the alternating method, combination method, or block method. The examples of a compare and contrast essay can include the following topics:

  • “Democracy vs. Autocracy: Differences and Similarities”
  • “Comparison of In-Class Education and Homeschooling”

Cause and effect essays

Working on this type of essay, you need to investigate the cause-effect relations of a particular event. This entails identifying and classifying the reasons and discussing the results. The topics that fall within this type are:

  • “Causes of Unemployment in Your Country”
  • “What are the Reasons for Burnout at Work?”

Problem and solution essays

A problem and solution expository essay raises a relevant issue and analyzes it from different points of view. Having presented the problem, you need to develop a possible solution. For example, you can discuss:

  • “How Can the Influence of Social Media on Body Image Be Reduced?”
  • “How to Encourage Students to Be More Interested in Sports?”

Classification essays

Classification essays require a particular mastery of critical thinking as you need to categorize objects according to their distinctive features. Thus, these essays discuss the aspects of a certain broad topic in detail. You should explain the reason for sorting items into categories and provide examples. The classification essays include such topics as:

  • “Types of Holiday Destinations”
  • “The Impact of Social Media on Different Age Groups”

Definition essays

This type of expository essay focuses on the definition of a term or concept. It entails providing a common dictionary definition in addition to less conventional interpretations. You may add examples, explain the origin of the term, and refute the wrong understanding of the concept under discussion. For instance, you may discuss the following topics:

  • “What is Friendship?”
  • “What does Being Tolerant Mean?”

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Expository Essay Structure

There are several text structures you can use to write an expository essay and present your arguments. The block structure and the chain structure are the two most common types. The block method implies that you discuss one subject at first, and then you move on to another subject in a separate paragraph. For example, such a structure of a problem and solution essay may be illustrated in the following way: 

  • Problem 1
  • Problem 2
  • Solution 1
  • Solution 2

The chain structure for the same problem and solution essay would look like this:

  • Problem 1
  • Solution 1
  • Problem 2
  • Solution 2

Thus, the chain structure allows you to discuss each aspect of the problem point by point, which is especially useful for longer papers. However, both of these structures are a suitable expository essay format. You should choose the method you feel more comfortable with.

Expository Essay Prompts

Students will typically encounter many different types of expository essay prompts throughout their school careers—from primary school to high school to the college/university level. In general, these prompts help students to get started writing an expository essay, and they may be inspirational in nature. They have a more focused purpose, too, requiring students to research and explain a specific topic to meet an educational objective.

For instance, a descriptive essay can be assigned to a student to teach him to describe something such as a place, a person, an experience, an object, or a situation. A cause and effect essay prompt may compel a student to discuss the causes and effects of cheating at school, thus reinforcing the idea that he should avoid cheating.

Here is a list of examples of expository essay prompts and what they are trying to achieve compiled by our online paper writing service professionals:

  • Were the Jews the primary targets of the Nazis during the Second World War?
  • This would require the writer to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the Holocaust and then decide, using evidence, whether the statement is correct.
  • Is animal testing ethical?
  • Here, the student should evaluate the pros and cons of animal testing and then present an argument, using evidence, for or against the practice.
  • Is cloning against humanity?
  • This prompt requires the writer to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of cloning in general and then explain his position, using facts, on the ethics of human cloning.
  • Which female leader do you consider your mentor, and why?
  • This prompt requires the student to choose a female leader as a mentor and use facts about that mentor to explain his choice, thus educating the reader about the virtues of his chosen female mentor.
  • If time travel were possible, which year would you want to go back to, and why?
  • This prompt requires the writer to explain which past time he would travel to, citing personal and perhaps historic reasons.

Expository Essay Topics

While the overall content of an expository essay will depend largely on the prompt, the student may have some freedom to choose the specific topic, or at least the angle; he wants to illuminate in the paper. For instance, he could explain the origin of a particular group of individuals in society; in such a case, the author should make the story as interesting as possible. For a process essay, the writer could explain the process of digestion in a cow. A descriptive essay could describe a time when the writer experienced depression, as well as what he believes to be the cause of it.

Lastly, the topic for a problem or solution essay could be how society can reduce or eliminate racism, using facts to expose the history of racism in specific communities.

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Expository Essay Outline

Traditionally, expository essays include five paragraphs:

  • Introduction
  • Main Body Paragraph 1
  • Main Body Paragraph 2
  • Main Body Paragraph 3
  • Conclusion

This is a standard way to approach this type of paper, but you can add alterations if the task requires it. Do not neglect to structure your essay as it allows you to organize your thoughts and present clear arguments to the reader. 

How to Start an Expository Essay?

As with any other piece of writing, an expository essay should start with the introductory paragraph. Keep it short (3-5 sentences) but informative. In the first sentence, try to present the problem to the readers in an interesting way. This would be your hook. You should then write general information about the topic, mention why this issue is relevant, and outline the context in which you plan to discuss the problem. This part must be engaging and compelling for the audience to become interested in your piece. Keep in mind that the introduction lays the foundation for the further development of your argument. 

You should incorporate a powerful thesis statement in the last sentence of the introduction. A thesis statement reflects the main idea of the expository essay and makes an assertion about the author’s findings. When making this claim, our custom essay writing professionals recommend asking yourself what you are trying to say with your essay. However, you should refrain from expressing your personal opinion. It is better to stay neutral and present only proven facts. Invest some extra time to make this sentence thoughtful and convincing.

The outline of the introduction can be summarized in the following way:

  1. Hook
  2. General information
  3. Proof of topic relevance
  4. Context of the topic
  5. Thesis statement

Expository Essay Body

The body of the essay should explain your arguments. It must be the most detailed part of the text, so make it specific and do not add any fluff. Make sure that each body paragraph is focused on one particular idea or claim. It would help the reader to stay focused and follow your line of argumentation without effort. Typically, you would need to write three paragraphs. Each of them must have the following outline:

  • A topic sentence that correlates with a thesis statement
  • Evidence that supports a topic sentence
  • Explanation of the evidence
  • A concluding sentence that summarizes the main points of the paragraph

A topic sentence should introduce the idea of the whole paragraph. Make it concise and clear. Do not forget that all topic sentences you write should be connected with the thesis statement introduced in the first paragraph. It would be a good idea to use facts, examples, and statistics as evidence to support your claim. 

Make sure you cite the information from outside sources in the style that your assignment requires, such as MLA, APA, Harvard referencing, etc. Correctly cited and incorporated evidence will show the audience that the information you present is credible and trustworthy. It is best to have three points or pieces of evidence to support each topic sentence. Finish the paragraph with a concluding sentence to summarize the claims you have made.

Make sure that the body paragraphs are logically linked. Incorporate transitions either in the last sentence of the previous body paragraph or in a topic sentence of the following one. Use linking words to make the text cohesive. 

Expository Essay Conclusion

The concluding paragraph should summarize the main points of your expository essay. You do not need to add any new information. Start by restating the thesis statement, but do not copy it. Then, summarize the supporting arguments and create a thought-provoking statement or question, making it the last sentence of your paper. 

How to Write an Expository Essay?

A successful writing process requires thoughtful preparation and planning. If you don’t have time for that, you can always buy an essay online from our service. But if you do decide to write it yourself, divide your work into five following stages.


Before you start writing your expository essay, you need to select a topic and brainstorm ideas and possible arguments. If it is your school or college assignment, most probably you already have particular guidelines. Read what your teacher or professor wants you to do and see what ideas you can come up with regarding the topic. Note them down. Make sure that you can fully cover the topic within the required word count limits. For this reason, do not choose the subject matter that is too broad or too narrow. In addition, the topic must be relevant not only to society in general but also to you personally.


Once you’ve done brainstorming, start planning. Use the outline mentioned above. It will help you stay focused on the topic and build your argumentation in an effective way. 

During planning, try to divide the researched information into sections. For example, the outline on the topic “Leadership Styles” can look like this:

  1. Introduction:
  • Definition of a leadership;
  • General information about leadership;
  • A thesis statement that claims that there are different leadership styles that work well when properly balanced.
  1. Main Body Paragraph 1
  • Topic sentence that introduces the first style to be discussed, the democratic leadership, and states its essence;
  • Supporting evidence: it provides freedom;
  • Supporting evidence: it encourages learning and creativity;
  • Supporting evidence: it ensures loyalty;
  • Concluding sentence: the democratic leadership style benefits the working process. 
  1. Main Body Paragraph 2
  • Topic sentence that introduces the delegative leadership and provides its definition;
  • Supporting evidence: it empowers employees;
  • Supporting evidence: it allows relying on a team;
  • Supporting evidence: it enhances team building;
  • Concluding sentence: the delegative leadership style involves employees’ autonomy.
  1. Main Body Paragraph 3
  • Topic sentence that introduces the authoritarian leadership and explains it;
  • Supporting evidence: it can be applied in combination with other styles;
  • Supporting evidence: it has certain limits;
  • Supporting evidence: it requires the leader to be strict;
  • Concluding sentence: the authoritarian leadership style has its negative sides but can be combined with other leadership styles.
  1. Conclusion
  • Summary of the main points;
  • Restatement of the thesis.


Only after your essay plan is ready, you can start writing the actual essay. It should be easy, as you already have a detailed outline. You need to combine the ideas using linking and transition words between paragraphs and sentences. Make sure you address each point of the plan and distribute the information equally among the paragraphs. It will help you to discuss all the points. Do not forget to refer to reputable sources to underpin your claims. 


Once you are done with the writing, you need to proofread and edit your essay to correct any flaws you might come across. If the deadline permits, do it several days or at least hours after the initial drafting. Apart from editing grammar, spelling, and punctuation, you need to ensure that the essay has smooth transitions. It would be better if you read the text aloud as though there is an audience. 

As it is an academic piece of writing, refrain from using contractions, informal phrasal verbs, slang, and even first-person pronouns. Make sure that the style of writing is formal, and the tone is neutral and objective. 


If you are sure that the essay is flawless and effectively conveys your main idea, then you can take the final step and submit or publish it. It may seem like the scariest stage of the writing process to some students. However, you can be sure that if you have invested enough time and effort into writing your expository essay, your teacher or professor will definitely notice it and give you the mark you deserve. Never be afraid of the feedback, even if it is negative, because it is an opportunity for you to grow and develop your writing skills. 

Expository Essay Writing Guidelines

To Sum Up

As you can see, writing an expository essay is rather straightforward when you are well-prepared. You should know the purpose of your work and choose the right essay type. When you are sure about the topic, you can research it and express creativity when selecting appropriate evidence for your claims. With the proper planning and adherence to the instructions, you can easily write a successful essay and get a good grade. 

However, the writing process can be intimidating, even if you know it all. In addition, stress and tight deadlines can prevent you from getting the desired result. It is when an essay writer service can help you with your expository essays and other academic writing assignments. Buying an essay by a professional writer with a degree in your subject on EssayService guarantee you a quality paper without effort.

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