How to write an expository essay

Expository essays are often assigned in academic settings. In such an essay you need to consider an idea, research it, explain it, and then create an argument. While it may seem overwhelming, writing an expository essay is straightforward as long as you do it one step at a time.


Define your goal. Think about why you are writing an expository essay. Write down some of the reasons you will be writing it and what you hope to do with it when you complete it.
  • If you're writing it for an assignment, read the guidelines provided. Ask your teacher in case something is not clear to you.

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Consider your audience. Think about who will read your expository essay. Before you start writing, consider the needs and expectations of your readers. As you write your essay, write down some of the things to keep in mind about your readers.
  • If you're writing it for a class, think about the points your teacher will expect you to include in it.

Think of some ideas for the expository essay. Before you start writing your essay, you should take some time to develop your ideas and write them down. Invention activities such as list-making, freewriting, grouping, and asking questions can help you develop ideas for your expository essay.

  • Make a list. Make a list of all your ideas for the expository essay. Then look at the list and group similar ideas. Expand it by adding more ideas or by using another prewriting activity.
  • Try freewriting. Write non-stop for about 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind without editing anything. When you finish writing, review the text. Highlight or underline the most important information for your expository essay. Repeat this exercise, using the passages you underlined as a starting point. You can repeat it many times to continue refining and developing your ideas.
  • Try idea grouping. Write a brief explanation of the topic of your expository essay in the center of a sheet of paper and circle it. Then draw three or more lines that extend from the circle. Write a pertinent idea at the end of each of these lines. Keep developing the grouping until you have explored as many connections as you can.
  • Try asking questions. On a piece of paper, write “Who? Than? When? Where? Why? How?". Space the questions about two or three lines apart so that you can write your answers on them. Answer each question in as much detail as possible.

Write a draft. Once you've put some of your ideas down on paper, you may want to organize them into a draft before you start writing your essay. You can write an essay draft to plan your overall essay, develop more ideas, and find out if you forgot anything.