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Define Expository Writing

Expository writing is used to provide information and explain and describe a topic, usually assuming no prior knowledge on the part of the reader. It is intended to display the writer’s wisdom on a particular subject and convey the same knowledge to the reader. Therefore, it differs in style to creative writing, because it is about frank and factual content designed for a general audience.  Expository writing should be carried out in a more formal tone and systematic style, with clarity and organization at the forefront, as the main goal is to inform and instruct in a clear and concise manner.

An expository essay may be presented using a particular pattern or a combination of a series of patterns. Some examples of expository patterns include:

  • Description – Focuses on the characteristics and features of a topic, often describing examples, and sensory details.
  • Sequence– Items and events are listed in an orderly fashion, usually either numerically or chronologically.
  • Compare or contrast – Two or more topics are compared or contrasted to decipher differences and similarities.
  • Cause and effect – Emphasizes the relationship between two or more occurrences or events, sometimes focusing on causes, sometimes on effects, and sometimes on both.
  • Problem and solution – Problems are presented along with their solutions, or questions along with their answers.
  • Instruction - Explains a procedure or processor in a step by step instructional fashion, teaching the reader how to do something.

Regardless of the type of pattern used, the essay should be organized into introduction, body, and conclusion. Each paragraph should contain relevant details which keep the reader’s attention and add to their knowledge.

Tips:

  • Be sure to give an unbiased account or analysis that presents relevant facts in a logical way.
  • Your opinion is unnecessary and will only serve to weaken the reliability of the piece.
  • Don’t go off on tangents or veer off course. Stay focused and organized.
  • Structure is important, as is the ability of your reader to follow and understand your points.
  • Make sure the reader knows what they have learnt and what the purpose of this knowledge is.

Expository writing is common in the world of business and education, and has endless everyday applications.

Everyday practical examples of expository writing include:

  • Business and personal letters
  • Recipes and instructional pieces
  • News articles
  • Press releases
  • Essays and papers
  • Legal documents
  • Reports
  • Textbooks

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