Everything You Should Know About Expository Writing

Ellie Diamond
May 6, 2024
Last updated:
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Expository writing is everywhere. It's essential for students from high school through the doctoral level. It's an indispensable tool for journalists, essayists, and, of course, content writers.

Whether you're a developing writer or a seasoned professional, mastering expository writing improves your prospects and expands the content you can offer to clients. Let's explore how.

What Is Expository Writing?

Expository is a type of writing that explains, instructs, or reports. You'll find an expository writing style in any academic textbook, peer-reviewed journal, or press release. 

Expository writing is not an opinion piece. As valid as your personal opinions are, writing an expository essay relies on factual evidence. Your job is to support the idea as objectively as possible.

Expository and technical writing are also different.

  • Technical writing: Technical writing simplifies complex ideas for a specific audience, such as device users or the sales team of a tech company. Writers develop technical writing skills by practicing conciseness, clarity, and accuracy. The goal is to convey a technical concept so the reader understands it, using as few words as possible.
  • Expository writing: Expository writing also requires clarity and conciseness, but you're explaining an idea rather than simplifying it. Instead of teaching someone how to do something or how something works, this descriptive writing clarifies a concept and why it's essential.

The Purpose of Expository Pieces

The primary goal of expository writing is to present the subject matter as accurately and comprehensively as possible. The reader should walk away with a greater understanding of the subject as you present valuable information to them. 

Some expository pieces are high-level overviews, while others go into extreme detail. Your job is to educate the reader as well as possible, using facts and supporting details.

How you present your argument will depend on the type of expository writing. The most common types in content marketing include:

  • Compare and contrast: Show the similarities and differences between two things, as you would in a buying guide: "Acme vs. WidgetMania: Which Is Better?"
  • Cause and Effect: Demonstrate how one event leads to another: "Why Your Dog Destroys Things."
  • Problem and Solution: Explain how to fix an issue important to your reader: "How Acme Dog Toys Fix Boredom."
  • Definition: Provide a complete overview of a topic: "Becoming a Writer: A Comprehensive Guide."
  • Descriptive Essay: Create an image in the reader's mind: "What to Expect in Our Dental Office."

Each type calls for a different tone, but all have the same goal: Explain an idea clearly and with enough facts to earn the reader's trust.

Benefits of Expository Articles for Content Marketing

Content marketing provides readers with helpful, relevant content. Unlike copywriting, which persuades the reader to buy, content writing educates and informs. 

Most content strategies include expository writing topics. A brand might ask a writer to explain a trend in the industry, share findings from a study, or explain an idea relevant to the business. The brand supports those ideas with reputable sources and cited data to show its expertise.

Some expository blog posts even undergo SME reviews. SME stands for "subject matter expert" — a professional who can verify an article's accuracy. An SME review strengthens an expository article's credibility, building readers' confidence in the article and the brand.

How To Master the Structure of Expository Essays and Articles

The expository essay format has three parts.

  • First, it follows a logical progression where the writer introduces the topic.
  • Next, it presents the facts and why they're relevant.
  • Lastly, it leads the reader to a conclusion. 

One of the best things about this type of essay is its predictability. Following the standard expository essay outline will set you up for success every time, whether you're writing a scientific journal article or a blog post about spring fashion trends.

Introduction: Begin With a Hook and Your Thesis Statement

Every successful expository piece begins with an introductory paragraph or section. The first sentence of that paragraph is a "hook" — a sentence that grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to learn more.

You develop that thought into a paragraph introducing your topic and why it matters. The "why" inspires people to read the rest of the article, so you'll want to spend plenty of time on it.

Your introduction also includes a concise thesis statement called a topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the main idea of the piece. In essay format, the topic sentence usually appears at the end of an introductory paragraph. However, it can occur anywhere in the opening paragraph of blog posts and articles.

Body Paragraphs: Introduce the Main Points and Provide Evidence

Body sentences are the most essential parts of your expository piece. They present the background details that demonstrate your point and help readers understand the concept.

Writing an expository paragraph is a lot like writing an introduction. Start with a topic sentence for the paragraph and introduce the point you plan to develop. Then, provide background details that explain or develop the main point. 

Always back up facts with citations and credible sources. If you're writing marketing content, those sources should be accessible to the general public and linked in your text. Good sources to cite include:

  • Academic research
  • Industry studies
  • Government publications
  • Books and newspapers

Remember that your goal is to support your main idea and resolve doubts. The more reliable your sources, the better.

Conclusion: Reiterate Your Statement and Summarize Key Points

The end of your expository piece is like a lawyer's final statement in a courtroom trial. It summarizes the entire essay in a few sentences, focusing on the main points and any particularly impactful points from the body.

It ends with a "hook" in reverse: Instead of drawing the reader in, it reminds them why they kept reading. In content marketing, your closing sentence will usually be a call to action (CTA), which gives the reader a way to move forward.

For example, say you write an expository blog post on why organic fertilizer is best for your lawn. Since your readers are just learning and not ready to buy, you offer a CTA that invites them to learn more: "Download our free ebook on organic lawn care, and learn more about how you can protect your neighborhood's ecosystem."

Kick-Start Your Writing Career With Compose.ly

Congratulations! You've learned the basics of expository writing, and you're ready to put it to work. Compose.ly is here to help with plenty of tips for creating quality content, plus opportunities to write for real clients.

Compose.ly is a supportive and lucrative place to practice your craft. We have well-paying jobs available in multiple industries, and our team takes care of the admin so you can focus on your craft. Apply to become a writer today, and put your skills to work!

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