Information about Expository Writing
What is Expository Writing?
What are some Expository Organizational Patterns?
Why Teach Exposition?
What is Expository Writing?
Exposition is a type of oral or written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform. The creator of an expository text can not assume that the reader or listener has prior knowledge or prior understanding of the topic that is being discussed. One important point to keep in mind for the author is to try to use words that clearly show what they are talking about rather then blatantly telling the reader what is being discussed. Since clarity requires strong organization, one of the most important mechanisms that can be used to improve our skills in exposition is to provide directions to improve the organization of the text.
What are some Expository Organizational Patterns
In order to give you more information about oral and written exposition we have provided you with eight different examples of expository organizational patterns. You will find that most of these organizational patterns are very familiar to you. You may have never really considered them to be "kind" of organizational patterns. As you read through the different types of organizational patterns that are presented below, try to figure out how many of these organizational patterns do you already find yourself writing or speaking on a daily basis?
Depicts a pattern in which the speaker discusses a topic, then diverts to discuss a related but different topic.
A pattern or a sub-pattern imbedded in other patterns in which the speaker or writer intersperses a narrative within the expository text for specific purposes, including to clarify, or elaborate on a point or to link the subject matter to a personal experience.
When the speaker discusses a topic, then restates it using different words or symbolism. It is used to drive home a point and to give special emphasis to the text.
The author describes a topic by listing characteristics, features, and examples
for example, char- acteristics are
The author lists items or events in numerical or chronological order.
first, second, third; next; then; finally
The author explains how two or more things are alike and/or how they are different.
different; in contrast; alike; same as; on the other hand
Cause and Effect
The author lists one or more causes and the resulting effect or effects.
reasons why; if...then; as a result; therefore; because
Problem and Solution
The author states a problem and lists one or more solutions for the problem. A variation of this pattern is the question- and-answer format in which the author poses a question and then answers it.
problem is; dilemma is; puzzle is solved; question... answer
(permissions pending, Tompkins)
Why teach exposition?
Let's think about the type of writing that most of us encounter in our daily lives. When you pick up and read a non-fiction book, magazines, or newspaper article the author uses expository writing to inform you, the reader, about the topic. At school, students are required to submit school exams and research papers as a means for their teachers to grade their progress. Finally, at work, people are required to produce business reports and memorandums to inform their superiors and co-workers about the occurrences that take place at other levels of the company. In addition, oral exposition is primarily observed in oral academic presentations, business talks, and speeches that are delivered to a group of people. As each of these different cases illustrate, expository writing and speech surround us in our everyday lives. The primary intent of the Expository Writing Program contained at this web site will be to help move students closer to mastering the hows, whens, and wheres to select different oral and written expository styles for a variety of real world contexts.
Students will greatly benefit from understanding the varying types of oral and writing styles they can use for academic and workplace activities. The following information discusses the different types of writing that can be used and provides you with examples of some expository writing prompts that you may expect to encounter.
Expository essays are essays that cover or expose a topic that you’ve selected, in a straightforward away. The purpose is to provide information about the topic, rather than influence what the reader thinks. In an expository essay, you want to explain your topic in a logical, direct manner. Expository essays are informative and should not include your opinion about a subject.
The entire purpose of an expository essay is to inform the reader about your selected topic, in a completely non-biased manner. Every student in a school with common core standards will need to know how to complete this type of essay. Take a look at an expository essay outline to help you get started, or consider using a writing tool that can guide you through the creation of a high quality essay.
Before you start working on filling in your template, some research is essential. An expository essay requires evidence to prove the point you are trying to make. It's not enough to simply state what you think without evidence. Imagine a scientist is reading your paper. What information would they want to verify? Make sure you have sources for everything that needs it.
Above all, these sources or evidence should be reputable. You can’t quote a Wikipedia article and expect that to be good enough. Likewise, a personal blog is not a good place to select your facts from. If you aren’t sure if your source is reputable, ask yourself what credentials they have. A government, educational, or similar source will likely be acceptable. Likewise, scientific publications are good places to start.
Choose an Essay Topic
Your topic may be assigned, but if you have a chance to select your own, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, look for a topic that interests you. It’s not necessary to know all about the topic, but if you are curious or interested in it, you’ll find it far easier to write.
Second, your topic should be fairly narrow. Big topics are better suited to books than an essay. If you have a large topic, consider the various ways you can narrow it down to make it fit into an expository essay. Once you have the topic in mind, you’re ready to start planning out your essay.
Structuring Your Essay
Whether you are writing for middle school, high school or college the correct expository essay format is important. Ideally, you want an essay that is easy to read and presents the information in a clear manner. That’s why there are specific methods of writing an expository essay.
Most expository essays are just five paragraphs long, with one paragraph each for the intro and conclusion. That leaves you with three paragraphs for the body of the essay. If you have more information, you can add more body paragraphs, but these will always be sandwiched between the introduction and conclusion. Keep in mind that while it's possible to write a longer essay, it's easiest to stick to the basics unless you have other instructions from your professor.
It’s also important to start out with an expository essay outline.An outline gives your writing project structure and keeps it focused. If you’re trying to write a high quality paper, clear, defined paragraphs that cover each section of information should be included. Writing up an outline ahead of time is a good way to ensure you write a great essay that stays on topic.
If you find yourself struggling to create an outline, you may want to start with a template. Working with a template can help you structure your essay and will allow you to create a top quality paper to turn in. Templates give you a prompt for each section, to get you thinking about what you need to cover.
Start at the Beginning
Your expository essay should start out with an introduction that uses a hook to grab the reader's attention. An interesting fact or an issue that needs a solution can be a useful way to begin. From there, introduce your main idea and provide some context. Without context, the reader is left wondering why they need to know what you have to say.
The introduction of the essay presents the topic and lets your reader know exactly what to expect from the essay. Cover the basic points that you’ll be discussing or talk about how you will answer a specific question. This section lets the reader know if they want to keep reading or not.
Next up is the thesis statement or the core of the entire essay. Remember that the thesis should not include any bias. Your opinion should not be referenced in the thesis, or anywhere else in the essay. This is what the entire essay will be based around, so give your thesis sentence some serious thought.
Flesh Out the Body of the Essay
Each of the three paragraphs in the middle of your essay will need to have its own topic sentence that supports the primary topic. These sentences should relate directly to your thesis sentence, so if you aren't sure what to write, keep this in mind. It's essential that you stay on topic and that everything throughout the essay relate back to that singular thesis statement.
After every topic sentence, fill out the paragraphs by providing more information to support the starting statement. This may include any evidence in the form of quotes, anecdotes, personal experience, etc. The best evidence will come from highly respected sources that people will believe.
Once you've stated your reasons for the thesis, don't forget to explain why the evidence is particularly important and why you chose it for inclusion. Analyze the evidence for the reader to ensure they come to the correct conclusion and understand why you found it essential to support the thesis.
Each of these body paragraphs should transition into the next to create flow. Do this through the use of sentences that create continuity. Creating a paper that is easily readable, rather than disjointed and piecemeal is important for success. Go back over it afterwards to ensure that each paragraph flows smoothly into the next.
Wrap It All Up in the Conclusion
The final paragraph should restate the thesis sentence and summarize the points made throughout the essay. Be careful not to add any new information, as this is only for reviewing what has already been said throughout the body of the essay.
Ideally, the conclusion will give the reader something to keep them thinking about the essay topic. What have they learned in the essay? Recap this, as well as adding the thesis statement. This will get them thinking, which is exactly the point of writing the essay.
The final step in writing your essay isn’t writing at all. Go back over everything and make sure it is worded correctly and for maximum impact. You should also look for any mistakes that need to be corrected. It can be helpful to have someone not associated with the project to read over it. Fresh eyes can often pick up far more than your own.
Once you've revised and edited the essay to ensure it is free from errors in both spelling and grammar, it's time to share your masterpiece with the world.