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How to Create Expository Essay Outline

While essays give you an opportunity to showcase the knowledge of some subject, use vocabulary skills to make the paper more authoritative, and demonstrate your writing skills, they also have some rules you should follow. Writing a high-quality essay that will make your professor (or client) really happy doesn’t only depend on a thorough understanding of the topic, but the structure as well. There are various types of essay and they require the unique outline. I’ve already posted guidelines for other forms of an essay that you can check in previously published articles. This time, I’m going to show you how to create expository essay outline.

But, what is an expository essay?

It’s simple; if you don’t understand the purpose of the essay, you won’t be able to write it properly. For example, the expository essay is concerned with exposing, informing readers about a certain subject and backing up all your claims with accurate and reliable evidence. The primary purpose of this essay is to explain a topic in a straightforward and logical manner.

It is a fair, factual, and balanced analysis of some subject with no references to the writer’s emotions or opinions. You have to write your paper in objective and unbiased manner. Yes, this means that you can’t simply dismiss some fact just because you don’t agree with it!

In most cases, expository essays are indicated by the words such as “define” or “explain”. When writing this type of paper, your goal is to inform the reader about the topic, provide useful information, and answer the potential questions associated with it.

Expository essay outline

As I’ve mentioned above, the successful completion of the paper doesn’t depend on the understanding of the topic only, but your ability to create a functional structure. That’s why it’s always useful to learn how to construct outlines for different types of essay writing. The diagram you see below shows how to create a useful outline for an expository essay.

Introduction

To most people, body paragraphs are the only parts of the essay that matter. Wrong! In order to get to them, you have to catch the reader’s attention i.e. make him/her want to keep reading your paper. Let’s face it; when was the last time you read something from beginning to end if you didn’t like the introduction? If you assume the beginning of the paper, article, book, etc. is boring and uninteresting, the chances are high you will move on to something else.

When writing an expository essay you should, of course, open with the “hook”. It’s the first sentence of your paper, meaning it has to be extra interesting to “lure the reader in”. But, this doesn’t mean it should stray from the subject! This part of the intro should be both interesting and directly associated with the topic. There’s no “one size fits all” rule when it comes to the choice of a hook; it depends on your preferences, topic, context etc. You can use a question, statistics, facts…

After writing down the hook, you proceed to the next sentence (or more of them) which provide background information and the context. Don’t assume the reader knows a lot about the topic and move on. Instead, include general info to depict the context of your paper.

Every essay depends on the great thesis; its purpose is to provide a sort of navigation for your essay and keeps you on the right track. Without a thesis, you’d write about everything and anything, stray from the topic, and end up with too much information but nothing useful for the subject you were supposed to write about. Plus, thesis lets readers know what they’re going to read about. This is the last sentence of the introduction, it should be precise, powerful, and informative.

Generally, the introduction should be short but well-crafted. One paragraph is enough, especially if you have a limited word count for the paper.

Body paragraphs

Now that you have a strong, informative, and interesting introduction it’s time to start with the body paragraphs. Of course, the main goal of this section is to offer a deeper investigation into your topic. Imagine you’re a detective or a journalist working on a big case or story. Your job is to find out as much as possible about the case (in this case subject) and gather all the evidence you can find.

The diagram you saw above showed three topics, so what are they? To simplify, body paragraphs are comprised of separate points that develop or contribute to the essay thesis. Each topic (point) requires separate paragraph and although diagram shows three, the exact number depends on the parameters of the assignment and topic. So, if the subject demands more points, then include more paragraphs. On the other hand, if the topic requires fewer points, then decrease the number of these sections.

Each body paragraph should comprise of the following:

  • Topic sentence – refers to the main idea of the paragraph
  • Factual evidence – you can’t start throwing ideas around without any evidence. Would some investigative journalist who’s about to expose corruption in the government or a detective working on the high-profile case do their assignments without facts to back them up? No, I don’t think so! For every information you include, you should also have evidence. Each paragraph with separate topic and evidence supports the thesis. I used two facts in diagram, but you can use fewer or more
  • Analysis of said evidence – it’s not just about mentioning who proved what, statistics, other types of relevant info depending on the topic. Exposing also means analyzing. While unbiased, don’t be afraid to dig deep under the surface, discuss the importance of evidence you introduced as well as its meaning. Once again, don’t assume you shouldn’t elaborate anything just because readers can do it themselves
  • Transition sentence – although these points and facts can be different (but contribute to the overall assignment and thesis), don’t jump from one topic or paragraph to another that easily. Ideally, the paper should have undisturbed flow and transition words, phrases prevent choppiness.

Avoid wordiness and fluff and ensure that every word you write contributes to the paper. It’s paramount to organize the evidence and topics you’re going to include. You can align points/topics according to importance or chronologically. Without proper order, you risk confusing readers by scattering evidence. You don’t want a professor, client, or someone else to get to the conclusion and think “What did I just read?

Conclusion

After you explained or defined the subject with solid proof, you’re ready to conclude the work. Just like the intro, this part should be relatively short, but still strong enough not to ruin everything you’ve mentioned above. If you want to end the paper with a “BANG!” then you should do the following:

  • Summarize the thesis, facts, and evidence you included – don’t overdo it, make it brief
  • Discuss the significance of the subject – why is it important? Why should readers care about it?
  • Reveal unanswered questions – you can use the opportunity to raise more questions about the topic. Take a few minutes to think about the subject in general, is there anything you wanted to know but that particular aspect isn’t widely discussed yet? This could also raise awareness of some problem
  • Call-to-action – this depends on the topic you get, but don’t be afraid to motivate readers to do something about a certain issue. Is there anything one can do to make things better?

In essay writing, conclusions should be precise and logical. Don’t introduce new information because it would lead to a new discussion. That’s why a short summary, the importance of the topic, pointing out to some unanswered questions are always a good way to go.

What’s next?

Before you submit the essay and hit the send button, start revising, editing, and proofreading to make it the best it can be. To determine what types of modifications you should make to the essay, answer the following questions:

  • Are there any unnecessary details that don’t contribute to the thesis or essay in general?
  • Did I make a proper transition from one paragraph to another?
  • Does my work unfold logically with facts and examples?
  • Does the conclusion depict significance of the topic?
  • Is my essay choppy?
  • Is my essay precise?
  • Is the essay unbiased?
  • Is the sentence structure okay?

Answering these questions will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your paper. Then, start working on improving those flaws. For example, if there are unnecessary details, remove them. If your essay seems choppy, correct mistakes with the help of transition words and phrases.

Once you’re done with modifications, start proofreading and editing. Read from top to bottom and look for grammar, spelling, typos, etc. Read again and when you’re happy with the essay, send it to your professor or client.

Bottom line

Expository essay aims to inform readers about some subject with solid evidence. As seen throughout this post, you should write your paper in an unbiased manner and analyze proof you used. Follow the outline from this post and you’ll have a well-structured essay without struggles and frustrations.

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