What Is The Purpose of An Expository Essay

October 25, 2022 F WP
What Is The Purpose of An Expository Essay

What Is The Purpose of An Expository Essay

Table of Contents

Defining Purpose Before Writing

When a writer sets out to write an essay, there are several purposes behind the effort. For a school or college student, securing exceptional scores and towering over peers is a purpose worth writing and fighting for.

But what about the main purpose of writing the essay itself? Essays have many common traits, yet they differ on at least something more intangible – the purpose. When writing an expository essay, writers should understand the motive and make sure this is manifested through every segment of the essay. Otherwise, it will be nothing but an exercise in futility.

Expository Essay – The Art of Investigation And Evaluation For Arguments

Before we jump on to learn more about the purpose of writing an expository essay, let us take a look at the expository essay itself. In a nutshell, an expository essay is a type of essay where a writer only shares factual information with the readers. It is somewhat tense writing with no room for opinions and commentary. One of the hallmarks of expository writing is its complete divorce from subjectivity, emotions, and sentiments.

In schools and colleges, instructors teach students about the mechanics of composing an expository essay. Then the students are expected to produce original works based on intriguing subjects and topics. Many times, the topics are given and students only need to produce a title and the essay.

There are many different types of expository essays, based on the scope of the topic and the underlying purpose behind the discourse. We will take a look at different types in the succeeding chapters.

Major Parts of An Expository Essay

In every type of writing, a writer aims to make the output more than the mere sum of the inputs. This is also true about expository essay writing. Even though the major sections are well-defined and serve a specific purpose, they provide more when they come together. In this section, we will go through the major parts of an expository essay, as they will help students understand their importance and role.
The Opening For Context And Thesis Statement

As the name indicates, an opening or introduction is where the essay takes off. Apart from introducing the part and parcel of the essay, writers can use this space to lure the readers in. The element is called a hook and it helps them grab readers’ attention without roaming afar from the main topic. This can be a direct question, a statement, or even a statistic to get the point across. After that, there is ample space to provide the context and then deliver the thesis statement in a succinct yet bold manner.

The Main Body To Provide Evidence And Support

When it comes to the main body of an expository essay, is the meat and bones of the write-up. In a typical five-paragraph essay, the main body can get three paragraphs which can be stretched to four and more depending on the need. Writers use this space to present their investigation, expound their arguments, and provide the necessary evidence to further strengthen their stances. It is best to limit one argument and its supporting evidence to a paragraph because it will help readers better understand the problem.

The Closing To Summarize The Main Postulates

Like the introduction and the main body of an expository essay, the closing or conclusion is also a very important section. Its purpose is simple – to summarize the main postulates from the main body and tie all the loose ends for the readers. There is no need to introduce new points or developments to the original argument because it can jeopardize the whole structure and premise of the essay. Also, it should keep in mind the thesis statement and the topic of the essay to ensure cohesion between all the sections.

Purpose Behind Writing An Expository Essay

This section is the heart of this essay. We will take a look at the purpose of writing expository essays depending on the outcome. That’s why we have divided this section into four distinct sections. Each section will shed light on the purpose of writing an expository essay from the perspective of the intended outcome. 

Novice writers and students should pay heed to this because it will help them decide what purpose they would want their essays to serve.

Educating The Reader

If you recall the definition of an expository essay, it is about conveying factual information to the reader. Writers provide arguments based on their objective observations and ensure that each argument is backed by empirical evidence. This will help readers see that the information is indeed worthwhile. This purpose is ubiquitous as far as expository writing is concerned because manuals and how-to articles are also written in this format. Actionable knowledge based on facts and verified figures will allow readers to extract value from the write-up.

Tracing The Knowledge Trail

Expository essays are devoid of any character, whether it is about the subjectivity of language or the personal opinions or commentary of the writers. Anything that a writer presents, he needs to support it through references and citations from credible sources. In this light, we can argue that one purpose of writing expository essays can be about tracing the knowledge trail back to the source, including the derivative postulates. This aligns to educate the reader so there is some objectivity to this view after all.

Facts Over Opinions And Commentary

When a writer is writing a narrative or descriptive essay, it is expected from him to show his subjectivity and person through the novel use of language, literary devices, and so on. This ends up adding value to the story and connecting readers with the things, places, and people in the essays. Contrary to this, expository essays are impermeable to personal commentaries and opinions. There is only room for verified facts and figures delivered in unadorned objective language. There should be no room for ambiguity to make the knowledge actionable.

The Expertise of the Author

The expository essays are not completely devoid of character and subjectivity. When we look at the purpose of the author to connect the dots in his fashion, it serves the purpose well while exhibiting the hallmarks of traditional expository essays. It requires extensive research, writing, and editing to find a development and then present it in a commendable fashion. So, it would not be an overstatement to say that one of the purposes of writing an expository essay is to highlight the expertise of the author.

Types of Expository Essays Based On Their Purposes

As the heading indicates, there are no set rules for subject treatment when it comes to writing expository essays. There is more than one ideal type of expository essay and each one serves the purpose of educating the readers. But these different types are helpful for writers so that they can make a point regarding their topic.

So, this section is dedicated to explaining the different types of expository essays. Teachers in academic institutions do not specify a type. Students can pick the one that is most suitable for their discourse.

Classification Essays

Classification essays are easy to recognize. In these types of expository writing, the authors describe a thing concerning its unique and common characteristics with other subjects. For instance, if you are to write an expository essay on the different breeds of guard dogs, the thesis would be something about how the line of breeds is different from others. The main body will discuss further specific guard dog breeds with supporting evidence and examples to help readers understand it all.

Cause And Effect Essays

This is self-explaining as these types of expository essays cover the causes behind developments and their short and long-term effects on other dependent developments. These essays are written in all disciplines and fields because of their investigative nature and demand. A three-pronged approach to this can include, prior investigations before an effect, a deeper look into the causes, and the aftermath of the first cause-and-effect cycle. An essay can be about this one cycle or more.

Compare And Contrast Essays

At the core, the compare and contrast essays are about understanding a phenomenon and then finding a reference to compare and contrast it with. Since we know that the bulk of expository essays is about providing evidence and tracing sources back to their foundations, a compare-and-contrast essay kills two birds with one stone. It does so by illuminating both the main subject and the one it compares or contrasts it with. It can be complicated to research and write compared to classification essays.


There are often clear purposes behind writing an essay or any other piece. For instance, narrative and descriptive essays are written to entertain and inform readers through literary devices and figurative language. Compared to this, an expository essay has one major goal – to educate the readers through unbiased information presented in objective language.

The three primary purposes of writing expository essays are given below:

  • To give credible information to the readers
  • To explain a topic using empirical evidence and examples
  • To define a subject or a topic through scientific discourse

The main features or hallmarks of an expository essay define its existence. These are some of the main features of expository essays that writers should keep in mind:

  • Objective unadorned language
  • Unbiased tone and voice
  • Only verifiable facts and figures
  • No opinions and personal commentary

As a student, you can learn a lot from the art and science of writing expository essays. It takes a lot of research, superior writing skills, and a consistent editing regimen to produce valuable essays. That’s why teachers instruct students to pay heed to the underlying structures and practice the craft.

If you are writing a narrative or descriptive essay, it can be said that objective language can become a hindrance to getting the point across to the readers. Since both types of essays are about painting pictures of subjects under consideration. Compared to this, expository essays are supposed to provide actionable information, so objective language is not a hindrance at all.

For writers, there is no need to preoccupy their minds with word count before or at the time of writing the expository essay. Still, they need to touch a threshold in terms of length so it is acceptable to keep an eye on the word count. The ideal length for an expository essay is 1200 to 1500 words, comprising almost five to six paragraphs. 

Writing Expository Essays With Clear Purpose

Writing is a hard vocation, but writers make the process by dividing it into different parts and then defining them to provide the best value. For expository essay writing, the purpose is often clear but hard to achieve. The primary motive behind writing is about educating the readers through actionable information. In addition to this, authors can showcase their skills, trace the knowledge trail, and even cut ornaments and adornments from the writing to provide only facts.

Novice writers and students should understand the purpose of writing before setting out to write. This will save them a lot of time and effort while ensuring desirable results.

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