How to Format An Expository Essay

October 21, 2022 F WP
expository essay

How to Format An Expository Essay

Table of Contents

Striving For Expository Excellence

Writing an expository essay is easier when you compare it to writing exceptional essays that can woo readers and fetch competitive marks. There is always an enigmatic element to writing essays where some writers constantly manage to bring the best to the table, whereas others fail without any respite.

Since we are not experts in explaining or solving enigmas, we will focus on the more visible and quantifiable elements of expository essays. Among the essentials, formatting is a deal-breaker as it is what the structure and organization of the information imparted in the essay are all about.

What Is Expository Essay Writing

Expository writing seems confusing to many novice writers because it is very similar to argumentative writing. Essentially, an expository essay is about conveying factual and evidence-based information to the readers through organized structures. The writer’s approach in expository writing is objective and unbiased. There is no way he can give his opinion or views on any subject, except if it is backed by proof from credible sources.

The purpose of expository essay writing is also something that makes it different from others. For instance, the primary motive for writing narrative and descriptive essays is to inform and entertain readers with literary language and devices. However, the purpose of expository essay writing is to convince the readers about an issue or debate through objective and unadulterated information.

Since there is no room for subjective details and passages, students often find it hard to write expository essays compared to other types of essays.

The Ideal Format For An Expository Essay In School & College

Getting back to the core of our topic, students must understand the need and benefits of a rigid format. When an expository essay is written in proper structure and format, it becomes easier for the readers to follow through. Even the writer finds the process to be easier and simplified. However, when writers do not follow a set path and add information to the essay as they go along, it becomes hard to find cohesion and bridging between different sections.

That’s why we have dedicated this post to help students learn how to format an expository essay – from start to finish!

Introduction of The Topic

For those who are not going to read your essay, how can you convince them to change their minds? It starts with the title of the essay. When you are assigned a topic or come up with one on your own, it is necessary to turn it into a working title. Then, it is time to work on the opening of the essay. The starting lines should be impactful and should not mince words. There are many ways to do so. For instance, many writers use bold statements, pose direct questions, and mention statistics to get a point across while making an impression. Once the context becomes clear, it is time to move on to the thesis statement. A thesis statement is the summary of the writer’s stance regarding the given subject or topic. It should be bold and brief to make and come at the end of the introduction to make the highest impact.

Main Body of Evidence And Explanations

Compared to the main body in a narrative essay where elements such as conflict, theme, setting, and characters play out, that of an expository essay is simple and, somewhat predictable. It is because the writers should adhere to the purpose and provide evidence and explanations for the ideas they introduced in the opening. Since a standard essay allocates three paragraphs to the main body, a writer can put forward three main postulates and provide supporting evidence in these. In addition to this, they can even ignore the three-paragraph rule and add more to the body if they think the given space is not enough. However, in the last paragraph of the main body, writers should start the transition toward the conclusion by wrapping up the discussion without actually summarizing the main thesis of the essay. This will help both the writers and the readers to bridge the last paragraph of the main body with the conclusion.

Conclusion of The Discussion

Concluding a discussion is very important, especially in an academic setting. It is because it can sum up the expansive lesson or debate into something compact and more palatable. The same goes true for expository essays. After opening the essay and then providing the necessary details in the main body, it is time for the writers to summarize the main points of the essay. They should keep in mind the key postulates they made throughout the essay, the title, and the thesis statement. The culmination of the debate should reflect the thought and ideas behind these elements. There is no doubt that the conclusion is one of the most important sections of the essay because many people will read it at the end and remember it. That’s why extra care should be taken in the conclusion so that it becomes memorable and catchy. Otherwise, it would be a missed opportunity to go to great lengths of starting a debate and then finish it poorly.

Features of A Standard Expository Essay

A narrative essay is recognized by the details it employs to weave a story. A descriptive essay can be recognized from its figurative language and sensory experience. How can you recognize an expository essay? Are there any distinct hallmarks that are only visible in expository essays?

There are many features that the above-mentioned essay types share among them. However, there are certain that are exclusive to them. In the case of an expository essay, this section will discuss its salient features.

Description & Explanation

It would not be an overstatement to say that an expository essay is the zenith of academic writing. It does not bother with the personal details and experience of the writer but limits itself to credible descriptions and scientific explanations.

While writing one, writers should keep in mind that their job is to present the facts and then back them up with empirical evidence. When it comes to writing expository essays, there is nothing more to it!

Objective Information

Another hallmark of an expository essay is its commitment to only impart objective information to its readers. Where narrative and descriptive essays lean toward subjective details and elements, this stays true to its course. That’s why researching and gathering necessary information is the most important prerequisite that writers should adhere to before outlining and writing their first draft. Anything less and the whole essay will lose its essence. So, this aspect should be kept in mind because it defines expository essays.

Clarification of The Topic

The topics chosen for expository essays are debatable and incite disagreement. So, the writers pick a topic and collect all the evidence to support their stance. The whole process of writing is about providing context to the debate and then presenting evidence with an objective intent.

For instance, if the topic is “problems with diversity in American college campuses”, the introduction and main body should explain the reasons and the problems themselves. The conclusion can recommend solutions to the problem.

Unbiased Tone & Voice

Narrative essays and descriptive essays are dependent on narrators to provide the information. Even the narrators can be biased and unreliable. This is not an option for an expository essay. The tone and voice of the essay should be objective and unbiased with no room for ambiguity.

If the writer wants to convey a message, it should be clear and not elicit numerous conclusions. In addition to this, anything suggestive or opinionated does not have a place in expository essays.


An expository essay conveys factual information to the readers through hard facts and evidence. It employs many structures such as cause and effect, process, and so on to elucidate a point. The ideal tone for an expository essay is objective and unbiased so as not to blemish the truths.

The main point of difference between an expository essay and an argumentative one is that the former is about explaining a topic subjectively. Whereas the latter can have statistics, facts, and the writer’s personal opinion about the topic. No matter how grounded and well-backed a writer’s opinion is, it cannot go in an expository essay.

It is hard to determine the ideal word count for a college expository essay. If we go by the three-paragraph structure, then the word count comes to around 1200 to 1500. This should be enough for the writers to introduce a topic, provide the necessary evidence to support their stance, and then conclude it in a great way.

Here are some practical tips to get the format right for an expository essay:

  • Understand the purpose of each major section
  • Outline the whole essay
  • Proofread and edit
  • The structure is not always rigid

Unfortunately, no! You cannot even use opinionated language in an expository essay, let alone put forward your personal opinions. Other essay types such as narrative, descriptive, and argumentative allow this element.

The following are the main parts of the expository essay:

  • Introduction (1 paragraph)
  • Main Body (3 to 4 paragraphs)
  • Conclusion (1 paragraphs)

Final Thoughts

Writing an expository essay can be a daunting task, especially when novice writers do not understand the chemistry and mechanics of the write-up. An expository essay is objective and unbiased in its tone and only shares evidence-backed information with the readers. That’s the reason research and outlining should be the necessary steps in the pre-writing stage. We have covered multiple bases in this blog post, including the formatting of a good expository essay, as well as how to recognize one from its standard features.

Hopefully, students will find the resource useful and apply the knowledge in their next assignments to secure first-class marks in their assignments.

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