Expository Essays & Help Writing Informative Term Papers

(Updated on June 1, 2017 by Michelle Williams)

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In properly learning how to write an expository essay, you must develop a strong thesis that's supported by relevant facts and statistics, examples, or other pertinent information.  An expository essay is a specific type of writing that involves providing the reader with information, explaining a topic, or defining a particular term.

Since an expository essay is meant to provide the reader with factual information, it should be written from a neutral point-of-view and without emotion.  In addition, it should be written in the third person, which means the paper shouldn't contain the word "I" or sentences such as "In my opinion...."

Before you begin writing the expository essay, you must develop your ideas.  This step of the writing process is usually referred to as "pre-writing."   During the pre-writing stage, you'll brainstorm ideas for the document and you'll begin to put them in order.

In order to start putting your ideas to order, you might utilize a number of different pre-writing strategies.  These include:

  • making a list;
  • creating a web;
  • developing a map;
  • engaging in freewriting;
  • drawing a tree diagram.

Expository Essays & Help Writing Informative Term PapersIf you haven't already developed an argument, you should be able to determine one after conducting the pre-writing activities.  Although you'll have an idea of what the report will be about before you begin pre-writing, the pre-writing stage will help you develop your ideas further and to hone in on your actual thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one sentence that summarizes what the entire expository essay will be about.  Based off of your thesis statement, you'll need to gather information that helps to support your statement.  This will involve conducting research in order to further develop the ideas you wrote about in the pre-writing stage.

In most cases, the thesis statement is included in the first paragraph of the expository paper.  This first paragraph is called the "introduction" and is intended to grab the reader's attention and to provide the reader with the main idea.

Each of the subsequent paragraphs is used to support the topic sentence from the first paragraph.  Each of these paragraphs must have a topic sentence, which is a sentence telling the main idea of that paragraph, and the topic sentence must support your thesis.  The rest of the sentences within the paragraph are used to further explain and to support the topic sentence.  These supporting paragraphs are referred to as the "body" of the report and, in most cases, it should include at least three paragraphs in the body.

The final paragraph of the expository essay is the conclusion.  The conclusion should restate the thesis and the main ideas, though the sentences should be worded differently.  The final paragraph should never introduce new material and the final sentence should summarize the report in a memorable or meaningful way.  In doing so, you'll leave a lasting impression on the reader that will help your document stand out from the rest.

Writing an Informative Essay

There are many situations in which a student might have to complete an informative essay.  It is a standard assignment that not only provides a point-of-view, but also a significant amount of information.  Students may have to write informative essays for any course that they're taking at any level of study.

There are several steps that students can take in order to ensure that they write effective and well-composed informative essays.  First, students need to understand the nature of the topic about which they must write.  Many students are required to write informative essays based on a topic discussed in class.  Other students may have to complete the assignment based on their own topic and research that they perform outside of class.

Regardless of the informative essay topic, students should always be sure that they understand what the professor is looking for prior to beginning the researching and writing process.  Once the student understands the topic and reviews the complete project requirements, he/she can begin.  

Many students will map out a research plan for their informative essays that includes interviews, research in a library, experimentation, and more.  Students should have an idea of what kind of research they will use before they get started, even though the research methods might change once the student begins the research process.  

After a student is satisfied with the amount of research that he/she has performed, he/she should develop an outline for the informative essay.  The outline will provide the basic structure and content for the work and help the student to write more effectively if he/she can follow the outline closely.  

Students can begin the first draft of their informative essays once they have completed their outlines.  They need to be aware that the first draft might not be the last draft, so they should set aside enough time to revise and edit multiple drafts before submitting the final work.  

There are many types of academic documents that students will need to write as part of their studies.  While term papers are very common assignments, informative essays aren't assigned quite as often.  Unlike standard writing assignments, informative essays are designed to share information and provide moderation commentary.  Traditional assignments aren't necessarily designed to share information, but they're suited to provide a point-of-view.

Expository Term Papers

An expository term paper is one that a student writes with the primary objective of informing the reader.  Expository term papers are different from other types that encourage the reader to present a specific argument or interpretation, as they are intended to explore and discuss a single topic in a thorough way.

Reports are long and in-depth texts; therefore, expository term papers must be on complex subjects.  Otherwise, the report will not achieve the length and breadth required.  Students should choose a topic that has many different components or facets.  Therefore, while the topic should be specific, it shouldn't be so specific that the learner will not be able to write about it for several pages.  

Though expository term papers don't posit arguments, they should nonetheless present thesis statements.  A thesis is the paper's main idea.  The thesis for an expository term paper will likely identify the topic and then explain how that topic is going to be explored.  For instance, the topic of the report may be on explaining the behavior of weather systems in mountainous areas.  The thesis for such a topic may be as follows: "Weather systems behave differently in mountainous areas than they do in non-mountainous areas.  By investigating the barometric pressure, precipitation patterns, and temperatures in adjacent mountainous and non-mountainous regions, it's possible to observe the interesting effects mountains have on weather."  This thesis clearly identifies the topic of the expository term paper—the behavior of weather systems in mountain areas—and explains how this topic will be explored—through the examination of the barometric pressure, precipitation patterns, and temperatures in adjacent mountainous and non-mountainous regions.

Determining who will be reading the expository term paper is central the success of such a report.  A student should always assume, unless instructed otherwise, that the audience for his/her assignment is his/her instructor and his/her peers.  Therefore, though an expository term paper is completed to inform, an expository term paper completed to inform one's classmates in an advanced biology class is different from an expository paper completed to inform the average college student.  When completing an expository term paper, then, the student can assume that he/she doesn't need to inform his/her reader on background information about his/her topic if that background information has been discussed or acquired through the course of the class.

Expository Essay Writing

An expository essay is a type of assignment writing in which a learner will be required to write in-depth about a particular subject.  Many expository essays are also called research essays, as a student is required to research a subject in order to write the document.  In many cases, expository essays are also papers that are intended to uncover new ideas or information based on research.

Expository essays are meant to "expose" a certain idea or piece of information.  As the student exposes information in the report, he/she should provide an analysis of multiple parts of the subject.  For example, a student may be required to complete an expository essay about the Creative Class and its impact on urban development.  In order to create such an paper, the learner will need to research and understand both the Creative Class as well as urban development basics.  The student would then need to explain how to Creative Class impacts urban development from all angles, including positive and negative angles.  

Many people regard expository essay writing as detective work.  A student takes a subject or question and writes an in-depth analysis of it in order to find out the truth (or the student's opinion of the truth).  Expository essays are particular popular in history, political science, and literature courses, as they require learners to think critically and write clearly about their thoughts.  

When completing an expository essay, students need to begin with an introductory statement.  This introductory statement should include a thesis statement, which is a one-sentence argument/assertion of purpose.  The student will prove the thesis to be true throughout the document.  Each body paragraph that comes after the introduction should have new information that proves the thesis to be true.  

After the student has completed the body of the expository essay, he/she needs to wrap the report up with a conclusion.  The conclusion can be one paragraph or several paragraphs in which the student recaps information shared.  The student also expresses his/her own opinions and ideas in the conclusion in many cases.  

An expository report is different from a research essay in many cases.  A research essay conveys basic information and facts.  Students need to research a subject in-depth in order to create a research paper.  However, they may not need to think critically about that information.  

When a student needs to complete an expository essay, he/she not only needs to think critically during his/her research, but the student should also be motivated by his/her ability to uncover new information.  An expository essay is, therefore, about exposing the truth behind an idea or fact.  A research paper is about providing basic information that can then influence future expository essays.

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