An exemplification essay is a brief text that uses examples to support or defend its thesis. Typically, exemplification essays are thought of as position or argument essays in which the writer assumes a particular position regarding an issue or defends an argument by using multiple examples.
An exemplification report should not be lumped under the same category of a position or argument essay, however, because many exemplification essays are not seeking to advance a position or argument, but merely to explain. Exemplification essays are an excellent means of explanation because they offer many illustrative examples that can provide for a multi-dimensional approach to explanation or definition.
Whether they are argumentative or not, exemplification reports should have a clearly defined thesis statement. A thesis is the writer's primary point. When writing argumentatively, the thesis will present the writer's argument. If writing to explain, the thesis will summarize the issue needing explanation and the main points that will be covered in the exemplification. A thesis of an explanation essay might be something like this: "Three primary weapons used in World War I were mustard gas, the machine gun, and artillery. The use of these weapons varied depending on the type of battle." There is no argument in this thesis statement—it is simply stating a fact. The exemplification, or example part, will come in as the writer attempts to explain the weapons and how they were used in different types of battle situations.
The main body of an exemplification essay is the place for the development of thoughtful examples that contribute to the advancement of the thesis statement. Typically, good examples will require a paragraph or more of development. Therefore, it is standard format for each example to be developed in its own paragraph or set of paragraphs. The source of these examples will vary depending on the subject. For instance, in the report on World War I weaponry, the examples should be drawn from research. In other types of academic writings, however, it may be appropriate for the writer to incorporate an example from her own life or observation, or to use examples based on hypothetical situations. Regardless, every example should be clearly linked to the thesis.
The conclusion of an exemplification report should suggest how the examples as a whole contribute to the support. The conclusion should not repeat the thesis statement, but comment on the thesis in a new way.
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