What You Need to Know before Studying Explanatory Essays

There are certain tips and tricks that you have to know before getting started studying nearly anything. Jumping in the deep end is just a way to get overwhelmed and burn out rather than learn.

However, with these 7 easy tips, you are going to find studying explanatory essays much easier. These are some of the larger topics when it comes to explanatory essays (more commonly called expository). Once you know these, it’s only a matter of breaking them down further.

1. Know What an Explanatory or Expository Essay Is

Whether you are reading or writing, you need to know what an expository essay is before you get started.

An expository essay is used to explain something. For example, they might explain to you how to do something or what something is. This can be anything from historical to an instruction guide or a critical analysis.

What expository essays do not do is sharing an opinion. They are purely factual and do not insert any bias or opinion in that.

2. There are Several Types of Expository Essays

“Expository essay” is an umbrella term and underneath it are a variety of essay types. The types of expository essays and brief explanations are listed below.

  • Definition Essays. This is rather self-explanatory and simply explains their topic. This can be a solid or an abstract topic but it must explain what the topic means.
  • Classification Essays. This type takes a broader topic and breaks it down into categories. This usually starts broad and gets more specific as the essay unfolds.
  • Compare and Contrast Essays. This type of essay will compare 2 things, people, places, etc. and explain how they are both alike and different.
  • Cause and Effect Essays. This explains how concepts are related to each other. Specifically, they aim to explain how one thing causes another.
  • “How To” Essays. Again, this type is rather self-explanatory. They offer step-by-step guides on how to complete a process.


3. Understand Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is something that can be found within the introduction of an explanatory essay. It explains the topic of the paper and the topic that the author will be discussing.

When you are the author of an expository essay, make sure that you write your thesis sentence to be specific but not too specific. Remember, this is the idea for your whole paper, so you have to have room to expand on the topic but still be able to explain it fully.

Most sources will explain it like this – a thesis statement should highlight your point or topic, suggest how you can back it up, and structure what your argument all at the same time. If there is one thing that everyone can agree on, though, it is that the thesis sentence is the most important sentence in your entire paper.

4. Understand the Design of an Expository Paper

When you are reading or writing an explanatory paper, you need to understand the style in which you are writing. It goes as follows;

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Conclusion

The introduction, as mentioned, contains a hook to draw readers in and a thesis. The body paragraphs expand and explain the topic. Finally, the conclusion ties it all together, closing off loose ends and summarizing.

The most basic structure is usually the 5 paragraph structure. This includes an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, as you move further up and do these essays more often you may find that you will exceed the 5 paragraph format.

5. Learn to Determine Good and Bad Essays

You need to be able to tell the difference between good and bad essays. For an expository essay, take a look and see if there is any opinion or bias in the article. If there is any, take the facts given with a grain of salt until you can double check them yourself.

If you are the writer, stick to the facts. Don’t include anything that could be taken for your opinion or as bias.

This means if you are writing something political, for example, explain both sides equally. Just explaining one side of the issue would be biased. If you were to explain one side or try to guide readers’ opinions, you would be delving into persuasive writing rather than expository.

6. Understand the Topic of What You’re Reading

This is especially important if you are writing. When you are writing an expository essay, do your research. If you just jump right in your essay won’t – in all likelihood – be factual. In addition, without any planning, your essay is likely to be disorganized.

The point of one of these essays is to teach your audience something. If you are confusing or unclear, they won’t learn anything.

7. Focus on the Topic at Hand

Another important rule is to stay on topic when you write an expository essay. It is very easy when you are explaining something to ramble. However, to a reader, this is confusing and boring and it’s a quick way to get your paper disregarded.

When you are writing, you want to be concise. Don’t use run-on sentences, go on tangents, or jump from topic to topic. Stick to the order of your essay that you planned out beforehand. This way, you won’t have to worry about rambling or straying from your thesis.



There is a lot to know about expository essays and even what we have shared here is only a portion of what there is to learn. However, this should be enough to get you started.

Remember, in your introduction you need to focus on your thesis and use your body paragraphs to back it up. Don’t focus on opinion and don’t ramble too much. In general, plan carefully and research diligently.

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