How Long Should An Expository Essay Be?

November 3, 2022 F WP
how long should a expository essay be

How Long Should An Expository Essay Be?

Table of Contents

The Ideal Word Count

Essays share many common characteristics. The need for quality prose and justification of the topic and the premise of the essay are some of the recurring ideals in every type of essay. Among these targets is the ideal word count. 

In writing, less can be more if the writer knows how to use vocabulary and sentence structure to the greatest effect. Since we are concerned with school and college students, it is necessary to discuss the ideal word count and how to achieve it. 

In this blog, we will cover the ideal length of the expository essay according to its major sections, types of expository essays, and some tips to help students achieve the ideal word count.

Expository Essay 101

Expository essays are not hard to define. They are somewhat close to argumentative or persuasive essays but differ with them on a very important premise. An expository essay is concerned with providing only factual information to the reader. There is no subjective approach toward the subject matter or the use of charged emotional language to get the desired effects for readers’ understanding.

These essays concern themselves only with the facts and their supporting pieces of evidence. This is one of the most important things about them as they are defined and classified on this aspect. Apart from this, they are based on organized information provided in a succinct and unadorned manner. That’s why there is hardly a show of the writer’s character when it comes to expository essays.

Students in schools and colleges find it hard to write expository essays compared to other types. It is because they require a lot of research and editing before they are submission-ready.

Three Major Sections Of An Expository Essay

To understand the ideal length of the expository essay, it is best to understand the units that create the whole. In this case, there are three major sections in expository essays, similar to other essay types. They cover different aspects of the essay which is why the word count allotment is different for them. This section is dedicated to understanding the nature and purpose of each section along with the ideal word count for them.

The introduction or opening of the essay is where it all starts. Mostly, writers employ hooks to grab the readers’ attention. A hook is a literary device that helps writers open an essay or any writing piece with greater impact. Some of the best and most commonly-used hooks include a question, a bold or shocking statement, a fact, or a statistic that can be related to the topic of your expository essay. After a successful opening with a hook, the writer needs to provide relevant context for the topic. This will make the readers acquainted with the issue and condition them for the thesis statement. It is the essence of the theme or main idea of the essay, covered in a single or a couple of bold sentences. It also transitions the introduction to the main body. The ideal length of this section is a single paragraph, around 200 to 250 words.

Main Body

Whether it is an expository essay or any other kind of essay, this is where the real and the bulk of the action takes place. In a way, you can say that the introduction and conclusion exist to illuminate and highlight the contents of this section. In a typical essay where a single paragraph is allocated for the introduction and one for the conclusion, the main body gets three. For the sake of expository essay writing, the writer can expand and design the arguments and their supporting proofs accordingly. There are two different methods for this. One is a chain structure where evidence follows each argument. The other is a block structure where all the arguments are stated in one go and their proofs in another. Since this section is awarded three paragraphs, the ideal word count for the main body is around 600 to 750 words.


The main body transitions to the conclusion or the closing of the expository essay. This is another important part that works in line with the main body. The purpose of a conclusion is clear – to highlight and summarize the important points from the main body in a compact form for the reader. Just like the introduction, writers can employ tricks and literary devices to reiterate the arguments in a miniature form. But there is a common mistake that many students make, which is adding a new idea or dimension to the essay. This is not the place for that as a conclusion is merely there to conclude. The closing lines should be designed to make them memorable for the readers since this is the part they will read in the end and remember the most. It is also awarded a single paragraph with a typical word count of 200 to 250 words.

Types of Expository Essays

There are no different types of narrative and descriptive essays because the difference in the subject matter can later be their type. They are often divided in terms of their themes or central ideas. Compared to this, expository essays have different types, based on the structure and the purpose of writing. This helps writers to understand the need of the topic and write accordingly.

Students should keep in mind that teachers do not indicate which type of expository essay they need to write for their assignments. They may have to come up with this on their own. That’s why this section exists!

Classification Essays

A classification essay explains and classifies the subject for the readers. The main structure in these types of essays covers three tiers. One is defining the subject. The second is to compare it with the subjects that are somewhat related to it. Third, is contrasting them with subjects that are completely different from them. Through these tactics, students can illuminate the distinguishing characteristics of the subject and fulfill the purpose of writing a classification essay.

Process Essays

As the name indicates, this type of essay covers a process, from start to finish. How-to articles and manuals are the best examples of process expository writing. This also proves the nature of expository essays as they are only concerned with providing actionable information. After reading process essays, readers should be able to reach a predictable solution. For instance, if the process essay is about a recipe, readers should be able to make it by following the essay.

Cause And Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays are used in academic discourse to investigate the underlying forces behind processes and phenomena. The essay can follow two distinct structures. One involves writing all the causes in one section and then shedding light on their effects in the other section. This is called block structure. Compared to this, the chain structure deals with covering a cause and its effect in a single section. Writers can manage it accordingly while writing the main body.

Problem And Solution Essays

These are somewhat similar to the cause-and-effect essays but they have an additional dimension to them. In schools and colleges, teachers also ask students to investigate the parallels concerning problem and solution essays. For instance, if they are writing an expository essay on inflation, instructors can ask them to identify the effects of inflation on the job market. Like other expository essays, it takes a lot of research and writing to ace problem and solution essays.

Tips To Make The Ideal Word Count For Your Expository Essay

Students often ask for more, in addition to lectures and classes to learn and understand the concepts. When it comes to making the word count for the expository essay, it is necessary to have something actionable on hand.

In this section, we are sharing some practical tips that will help students to reach the ideal length of their expository essays.

Providing Examples For Important Concepts

If you have written an expository essay and you found that you are short a hundred or two hundred words, then you can make them up easily. The best way to do so is by going through the essay and seeing the important concepts. If they are not provided examples or thorough explanations, you should do so. This will strengthen your essay in both qualitative and quantitative terms. You can also skim the fat using this method, if necessary.

Understanding The Rationale of Each Section

The three major sections in an expository essay cover different purposes. The introduction covers the hook, some context, and the thesis statement. The main body explains the arguments and provides evidential support for them. The conclusion concludes by mentioning the main points from the entire essay. Since they are different in their approaches, they should cover different word counts. Typically, the introduction and conclusion cover one section each whereas the main body gets three.


Just making the word count is not the purpose of writing an expository essay. The purpose is to illuminate the reader through factual and actionable information on a subject. In academic institutions, there are rules to help students learn. So, it becomes necessary for them to make the minimum word count.

There are three major sections in an expository essay. They all have different roles and purposes resulting in the desired effect from the complete essay. The introduction opens the discussion with a hook, some context, and a thesis statement. The main body covers the meat and bones of the essay – arguments, evidence, and proofs. The conclusion closes the discussion by summarizing the points covered in the main body.

One of the hallmarks of expository essays is an objective approach and a neutral voice and tone. You cannot break the norms and conventions to make the word count as it would harm the quality of the essay.

Since the bulk of expository essays is made of arguments and evidential information to support them, research is an important part of writing good expository essays. Descriptive and narrative essays can be written through sheer imagination or memories, but expository essays require research and facts.

Following are examples of expository writing from daily life:

  • Newspaper articles
  • How-to pieces
  • Manuals
  • Scientific papers

A thesis statement is the distillation of the main idea or theme of the essay. Mostly, it comes in the closing lines of the introduction to bridge the introduction with the main body. In expository essays, a thesis statement can take the lead and open the essay.

Summing Up The Discussion

Students in schools and colleges are often concerned with the ideal length of their expository essays. The concern is well-founded because the scores of their essays and the overall result depend on it. Since there is no set word count but the number of paragraphs, we have come up with the ideal length of the expository essays for students in the above sections.

We hope that novice writers and students will find it helpful and use the information to compose excellent essays.

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