Explanatory Essay: A Full Guide on Expository Writing
However, what you actually do in reality is spend tons of time on academic writing. Surveys show that students spend 9-15 hours on a single essay. Sometimes, it is because the assignment is too complicated and requires plenty of research.
But most of the time, students have no idea how to complete different academic tasks, which makes them spend days writing. Today, you will find out how to write an explanatory essay within a short time and get the highest possible grade.
What is an Explanatory Essay?
When you grasp this essay’s nature, you will understand that this task is a lot easier than other essay types. So what is an explanatory essay? It is an academic writing assignment where you need to explain and describe a particular phenomenon, event, idea, etc.
It is also named an expository essay. Writing such a task equals giving a lecture on something. Basically, you need to break down a complicated thing into parts and explain it to your readers. Check the traits of this assignment below:
- It does not reflect your opinion.
- It provides a detailed explanation of the topic.
- It includes plenty of facts on the given subject.
Types of Explanatory Essays
An explanatory essay comprises several subtypes:
Definition and Classification
If you get this type of assignment, you need to define and classify a phenomenon, event, idea, etc. For example, you need to determine what a cyclone is and what types of hurricanes exist. Thus, a hurricane is a rotating storm accompanied by powerful winds, thunderstorms, rain, and thunderbolts. These storms are classified by size, wind speed, formation location, etc.
Note that you need to stick to a specific classification or develop yours. For example, the well-known five storm categories were created by Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson. So remember that if you use a particular classification, you have to mention its authors.
Cause and Effect
The cause and effect type of writing does what you expect from its name. If you get this task, you need to define what causes something and what consequences it brings. Let us imagine you need to write about overpopulation. Your job is to determine what causes the human population to grow so fast and how it will influence our life in the future.
The overpopulation reasons might include a highly developed healthcare industry, a low child mortality rate, no world wars, underused contraception, etc.
Process or How-To-Do
Everyone knows what how-to-articles look like. Our guide also explains to you how to write an explanatory essay. In this form of writing, you need to explain how to achieve a particular result or tell your readers how something works.
In most cases, you will have to provide a step-by-step guide on doing something. For instance, your topic is to explain how to make soap. First, you need to explain what ingredients your readers need (and how to get them). After that, you need to present a step-by-step process of mixing the ingredients, melting and cooling them, etc.
Problem and Solution
The problem and solution essay aims to describe and explain the problem and provide a solution for it. Thus, its name speaks of itself. For instance, you need to write about global warming. In this case, your task will be to explain what global warming is, why it is so dangerous, and develop solutions for preventing the planet from overheating.
You should also evaluate these solutions and clarify whether they are efficient. For instance, a transition to electric vehicles to reduce CO2 exhausts will increase the energy demand, causing humans to build more power plants. More power stations will produce more greenhouse gases and thus only boost climate change. Therefore, you need to show that some of the solutions might be controversial.
Compare & Contrast
If you get the compare and contrast essay, you need to write about the similarities and distinctions between the events, objects, etc. For example, your topic is to compare online and real-life dating. Most of the time, this essay will have to determine the compared subjects’ advantages and disadvantages.
Thus, it will contain evaluation and analysis alongside a simple comparison. It is relatively easy to understand what you need to do if you are assigned this essay since the topics usually look like “X vs Y: What is better?”
Explanatory Essay Outline
Academic writing seems complicated because it requires highly developed organizational skills. You have to organize your essay according to a logical structure. Creating a proper explanatory essay outline will help you make your writing clear and logical. Depending on its type, this assignment may require some composition modifications. Nevertheless, all essay variations will follow a general plan, which includes:
In the introduction, you let your readers get familiar with the topic. It has to contain three main elements:
- A hook. This opening part of your essay aims to catch your readers’ attention and often consists of one or two sentences.
- Background information. You have to explain what your topic is and why it is worth attention. This part also serves as a transition to the thesis statement.
- A thesis statement. This part defines the direction of your essay. It is your assumption, point of view or the fact you will build your essay body paragraphs around.
The body part is the longest and may consist of several paragraphs (as many as you need to cover your subject to the fullest). Since most essays are around 1,500 words long, you will have 2-3 body paragraphs, depending on your topic. Each of them has to include the following elements:
- A topic sentence that briefly explains the whole section.
- Arguments and ideas, explanations, etc.
- Evidence and facts supporting your thesis statement.
- A mini conclusion. It has to summarize the evidence and explain why your arguments and facts are significant. Then, it has to lead your readers to the next paragraph.
You need to finish your essay with a proper conclusion that restates the thesis statement. So, rephrase your thesis statement in the first place. Afterward, you need to summarize the body paragraphs and develop a general logical conclusion to your essay. Point out the significance of the researched topic and your arguments and bring a call to action to strengthen your work’s importance.
How to Choose a Topic for an Explanatory Essay?
Many students struggle to write an explanatory essay because they are forced to write about the topic they consider boring and irritating. At the same time, some believe choosing an essay topic is yet another torture.
But in fact, you are lucky if your professor allows you to select a theme for your essay. After all, you have a chance to make your academic writing assignment easy-to-do or even enjoyable. Check these tips on choosing explanatory essay topics:
Choose a Theme You Like
What if you are sick of writing, and nothing on earth can make this mundane process less painful? If it is your case, you have to choose a topic you are already familiar with. If you feel you can write a lot about something, then apply this knowledge to academic writing. It will help you shorten the entire essay writing process by several hours.
Narrow Your Topic
Covering a particular subject to the fullest is your essay’s task. However, many students choose general topics that fit a dissertation rather than a regular writing assignment. Because of this, they fail to deliver a meaningful piece of writing. Thus, if you want to write about, let us say, the Great Depression, choose one of its aspects. You can investigate the recession’s reasons/socio-economic effects in the US/ Europe, etc. Narrowing your topic allows you to fit it in the required word count and do in-depth research simultaneously.
Make Sure Your Topic is Discussed and Researched
You need to research your assignment topic a bit and check whether there are enough publications, research articles, dissertations, etc. If there is not enough information on your subject, you should choose a different one. Otherwise, you will fail to provide a decent amount of research and facts and thus receive a low grade.
Explanatory Essay Topics Examples
- What Is The Meaning Of Life?
- Psychology Of Human Nature
- Psychic Ability
- Are Science And Religion One?
- The Explanation Of Criminality
- Critical Accounting Theory
- The Reality Television Controversy
- Multimedia Arts
- Advantages And Disadvantages Of Communication
- Aristotle And Descartes On Human Person
- The Audit Risk Model
Informative Explanatory Essay Topics
- Explain The Advantages And Dis Advantages Of Using Survey Method
- Communications Between Predecessor And Successor Auditors
- Securitization Of National Interests
- Probability Concepts And Regression Models
- Sound Barriers And Its Effect On The Sound Waves
- Neorealism In Modern International Relations
- International Relations
- Criminology Zones
Explanatory Political Essay Topics
- Political Socialization
- Study Of Political Philosophy
- Non-Political Revolutions
- Political Dynasty: An Oligarchy
- Compare And Contrast Political Ideologies
- Approaches To International Political Economy
- Woman Participation In Political Process
- Political Culture And Rituals
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More Topic Ideas
Explanatory Essay Examples
If you have no idea how to write your assignment, you can check the explanatory essay examples below:
How to Format an Explanatory Essay?
Writing a deeply researched explanatory essay is far from enough for receiving a good grade. After finishing your assignment, you should format it. First, your work should include the following elements:
- A title.
- An abstract. It consists of three paragraphs (100 words for each). The first one is the introduction that includes your thesis statement and the essay question and explains the significance of your work. The second paragraph describes the primary sources of your essay and the scope of research. Finally, the third abstract section should contain a brief conclusion to your work.
- A table of contents.
- A paper itself (intro, body, conclusion).
- An appendix. It contains complementary information that is not vital for your research, such as lengthy charts, tables, images, etc.
Essay formats include MLA, APA, Chicago, and Harvard. Let us explain the specifics of each style below, starting with MLA:
Explanatory Essay according to MLA
The MLA style needs the following document parameters:
- One-inch margins.
- 12-pt Times New Roman.
- 0.5-inch indents.
- Double spacing.
- Left-side text alignment.
- The title has to be centered, not italicized, or underlined. All parts of speech except for prepositions, conjunctions, and particles have to be capitalized. The title’s first and the final word are also capitalized. For instance, The Long-Term Effects of Global Warming is the correct format. Also, the title font should not differ from the rest of your essay.
- No period after a title and headings.
- Page numbers have to be placed as “header” on the upper right side.
- The bibliography should be named “Works Cited.”
Fortunately, the APA style does not differ from MLA too much. Here are the APA specifics:
- An abstract is no more than 250 words long.
- APA is for social science.
- Page numbers are placed as “header” on the upper left side.
- The bibliography is named “References” instead of “Works Cited.”
The Chicago style differs from the previous ones a lot. Check its peculiarities below:
- 12-pt Times New Roman.
- One-inch margins (applicable to all sides).
- Footnotes instead of citations.
- Left-flush text.
- Page numbers on the upper right side.
- 0.5-inch indents.
- Double spacing.
- An essay title is centered and placed in the middle of the page.
- Your name, the discipline, tutor’s name, and the date have to be centered and placed at the title page’s bottom.
- The bibliography section is named “Bibliography.”
The Harvard style has the following specifications:
- You have to capitalize all letters in your essay title on the cover page. Write your name in regular letters three lines under the title. After that, go four lines down and include your course, professor’s name, institution, location, and date.
- 12-pt Times New Roman or Arial.
- Left-flush text.
- Double spacing.
- One-inch margins everywhere.
- 0.5-inch indents.
- You can use subheadings.
- Include your last name next to the page number on the upper right side of the header.
Explanatory Essay Writing Tips
If you want to write outstanding expository essays, check these tips below:
Write an Essay Outline First
Many students struggle to start an essay. Indeed, starting your work might be quite confusing if you have no outline. Once you have one, it will be much easier for you to focus on each aspect of your topic. Sure, you will elaborate on the composition while writing your essay. However, already having headings and subheadings naming specific parts of your subject will speed up the entire process.
Use Writing Tools
Every experienced writer uses tools that help them deliver original and error-free content. This approach is entirely applicable to academic writing. Thus, your must-have tools will include:
- Grammar and spelling checkers. You can use online tools and MS Word extensions (such as Grammarly). It is always better to use several checkers that will altogether spot maximum errors.
- Plagiarism checkers. Despite being written from scratch, your essay may have matching content. It happens due to cliché phrases, citations, etc. Therefore, you have to use a plagiarism checker to achieve 100% originality.
- Citation machines. You risk having an acute headache if you try to cite every source on your own. To make an error-free and accurate reference page, you have to use a citation machine that works with your explanatory essay format. These tools are entirely free, so don’t hesitate to use them while writing your next assignment.
Edit and Proofread Your Essay Several Times
Once you finish your explanatory essay, you need to reread and edit it carefully. However, it would help if you did not do it after spending the whole day writing your assignment. So let your eyes rest for at least half an hour.
Ideally, you should edit your essay the next day. Due to this, you will spot many more mistakes, reviewing your work with a fresh pair of eyes. After that, revise your assignment. It is crucial to eliminate any errors occurring during the editing process.
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The Bottom Line
Writing explanatory essays is quite challenging for most students. However, if you learn the expository essay types and follow our writing tips, you will drastically improve your performance. However, if academic writing is still your worst nightmare, feel free to contact our support team. Our writers will provide you with high-quality assignments that bring the highest grades.