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K12 LibreTexts

3.1: Introduction

  • Page ID
    6604
  • Learning Objectives

    • Provide evidence that supports a thesis, including relevant information on varying perspectives.
    • Articulate concepts and information from correctly and concisely.
    • Decipher between the significance and merit of different facts, concepts and data.
    • Master the organization of an expository essay.

    Introduction

    The main aim of an expository essay is to provide an effective explanation of a topic. While a descriptive essay strives to describe a subject or a narrative essay seeks to show personal growth, an expository essay tries to explain a topic or situation. Thus, expository essays are written as if the writer is explaining or clarifying a topic to the reader. Since an expository essay is trying to clarify a topic, it is important that it provides the categories or reasons that support the clarification of the paper. Moreover, these categories and reasons also provide the framework for the organization of the paper.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Components of the expository essay as the parts of a house.

    Much like the categories are essential to clarifying the topic, organization is the key to any well-developed essay. When composing your essay, think of its organization as a house, with each component of an essay representing a major part of a house. Just as the foundation provides support on which a house can be built, a thesis represents the foundation upon which to build an essay. The introductory paragraph then functions as both the door and framework for an expository essay. Like a house door, the introductory paragraph must allow the reader to enter into the essay. Additionally, just as walls are built upon the framework of a house, the body paragraphs of an essay are organized around the framework or organizational scheme, presented in the introductory paragraph. The body paragraphs, much like the walls of a house, must be firm, strong and complete. Also, there must always be as many body paragraphs as the framework of the introductory paragraph indicates otherwise your essay will resemble a house that is missing a wall. Finally, an essay must include a conclusion paragraph that tops off the essay much like a roof completes a house. As the roof cements the structure of the house and helps hold the walls in place, the conclusion paragraph must reiterate the points within your body paragraphs and complete an essay.

    Although the overall organization of an expository essay is important, you must also understand the organization of each component (the introductory, body and conclusion paragraphs) of your essay. The chart below identifies the essential parts of each component of your essay, explaining the necessary information for each type of paragraph. While the guidelines listed below may feel constrictive, they are merely meant to guide you as a writer. Ultimately, the guidelines should help you write more effectively. The more familiar you become with how to organize an essay, the more energy you can focus on your ideas and your writing. As a result, your writing will improve as your ability to organize your ideas improves. Plus, focusing your energy on your argument and ideas rather than the organization makes your job as a writer more exciting and fun.

    Introductory Paragraph:

    • Introduce the issue.
    • Present the topic and its explanation or clarification.
    • Provide the categories used to explain the topic.
    • Provide the thesis statement.

    Body Paragraphs:

    • Begin with a topic sentence that reflects an explanation of the paper and the category being discussed in the paragraph.
    • Support the argument with useful and informative quotes from sources such as books, journal articles, etc.
    • Provide 2-3 quotes that connect the category being discussed to the explanation
    • Provide 2-3 sentences explaining each quote more full, drawing stronger connections between the category and the explanation.
    • Ensure that the information in these paragraphs is important to the thesis statement.
    • End each paragraph with a transition sentence which leads into the next body paragraph.

    Concluding Paragraph:

    • Begin with a topic sentence that reflects the argument of the thesis statement.
    • Briefly summarize the main points of the paper.
    • Provide a strong and effective close for the paper.