Expository essay outline

Use This Expository Essay Outline to Stop Procrastinating


What are you doing surfing the net and reading blog posts, when you should be writing? Procrastinating again, huh?

Well that’s okay. I can’t blame you—writing an expository essay can be frustrating. It doesn’t have to be that difficult, though; all you need is a gentle push in the right direction. That’s what I’m here for—hold on while I put on my Kibin superhero cape.

expository essay outline

This blog post contains a tutorial of how to write an expository essay outline. I’ve included some helpful imagery, advice, and a downloadable outline template for your convenience.

But Wait? What’s an Expository Essay?

That’s a great question. Sadly, the answer is probably a bit more vague than you want it to be. An expository essay is a catch-all category that describes any essay where you thoroughly expose the inner workings of a topic and teach the reader something new.

In fact, this blog post could be considered an informal expository essay.

Usually, your teacher will ask you to write an expository essay to prove that you have done your research on a subject. Your goal is to effectively explain what a reader needs to know about the topic and answer relevant and interesting questions.

For the purpose of this blog post, let’s say we are writing an expository essay on the evolution of Donald Trump’s hair (I grabbed this idea straight from Crystal’s blog post about expository writing – if you haven’t read it yet, you should hop over there now. I’ll wait).

expository essay outline

My goal in this expository essay is to expose interesting information about the topic through the revelation of factual evidence.

To avoid the daunting stare of the blank page, and to make sure that your information is organized, always start with an outline.

Expository Essay Outline Structure

There is more than one way to pattern an expository essay , including sequential, spatial, topical, and many other patterns. Since we’re writing about the evolution of Donald Trump’s hair, we’ll use a chronological pattern that will expose how Trump’s hair has evolved over time.

Here’s how the general structure will look:

expository essay outline

Let’s break this expository essay outline down into its parts.

Expository Essay Outline: Introductory Paragraph

1. Start with a hook sentence to get your readers’ attention. Remember, your hook should be both interesting and directly related to your topic.

My hook might be “Is billionaire Donald Trump’s spectacularly bad hair real or fake?” By posing such a salient question right off the bat, I am encouraging readers to continue reading.

Seriously, haven’t you always wondered?

2. Provide background and context for the topic. Don’t assume your readers know anything about Trump or his hair (as one of my English professors once taught me, to assume makes an ass out of u and me).

For example, “Donald Trump is an American real estate mogul and media personality. In 2012, he ran for President of the United States. Trump is currently worth 3.9 billion dollars, but aside from his business success, he is best known for his amazingly bad hair.”

3. Identify the question or thesis. Here’s where you get to the point of your essay.

My thesis might be, “This essay will reveal how Donald Trump’s hair has changed over the years, and it will answer whether his mop is the real deal or a weird wig.”

(If your expository essay takes an argumentative stance, you might want to check out these examples of argumentative thesis statements  with a more serious tone.)

Expository Essay Outline: Body Paragraphs

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Now that you’ve caught your readers’ attention, brought them up to speed on the basics, and laid out your thesis statement, your body paragraphs are set up to offer a deeper investigation into your topic.

The exact number of body paragraphs you incorporate will depend entirely on the parameters of your assignment and/or topic. My example includes four body paragraphs.

Each body paragraph should include the following elements:

  • A topic sentence that gives the main idea for your paragraph.
  • Factual evidence that answers your question or supports your thesis. In my example, I’ve incorporated two pieces of factual evidence for each topic, but your essay may use more or fewer.
  • Your analysis of said evidence. This is where you dig in with your commentary on the importance of the evidence.
  • A good transition sentence to weave your essay together. I’m not going to dig into transitions in this article, but you can read these posts on transition sentences and transition words .

Because we are dividing the text into a chronological pattern, each body paragraph in this expository essay outline will divide the evolution of Trump’s hair into a timeline, beginning with his youth and ending with his golden years.

expository essay outline
It’s a hairvolution!

I. Topic 1: Trump’s Hair – childhood to 17

a. Fact 1 – Family photos show Trump as a fair-haired blonde boy with a side part

b. Fact 2 – As a child, Trump’s hair could be considered normal, even attractive. Trump’s mom, Elizabeth, said, “My Donny was such a cute kid with the prettiest head of hair I’ve ever seen.”

c. Analysis – Trump’s hair wasn’t always so weird; he started out as a normal child with a normal head of hair growing up in Queens, New York.

II. Topic 2: Trump’s Hair – young man, ages 18-30

a. Fact 1 – Military photos show that Trump’s hair was starting to exhibit some elaborate coiffing featuring a soft side sweep.

b. Fact 2 – Trump’s classmate, Fred Dunst, at the New York Military Academy said, “Trump always had the nicest, fullest head of hair. Why he started wearing it in that swoop will always be beyond me.”

c. Analysis – Trump’s hair was beginning its migration from normal to bizarre, but the transition wasn’t complete. Evidence shows that Trump has always had a penchant for outlandish dos.

III. Topic 3: Trump’s Hair – his prime, ages 31-59

a. Fact 1 – At the height of Trump’s career, his hair evolved into a poof formation beginning to resemble the hair we know today.

b. Fact 2 – Trump’s eyebrows had also begun to grow out of control–almost at the same rate as his growing assets.

c. Analysis – It’s certainly conceivable that Trump began to wear his signature hairstyle as a way to conceal the beginnings of male pattern baldness. His out-of-control eyebrows and coiffure indicate that his mind is more focused on business and less on his appearance.

IV. Topic 4: Trump’s Hair – his golden years, age 60+

a. Fact 1 – Trump’s signature side sweep has officially swept the nation. Bruce Handy for Vanity Fair writes that Trump’s hair is most likely the result of a rare and unsightly “double comb-over.”

b. Fact 2 – Trump denies allegations that his hair is a badly styled toupee in a Tweet.

expository essay outline

c. Analysis  While many accuse Trump of fooling us all with a poorly styled wig, evidence points to the fact that his hair is the real deal. Trump recognizes that his hair is imperfect, but seems self-assured in his statement that’s it’s his–much like Trump Books, Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle, Trump Ice, Trump Mortgage, Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks are all his too.

Expository Essay Outline: Concluding Paragraph

Finally, it’s time to write your concluding paragraph. In this paragraph, you can do any of the following:

1. Summarize your question or thesis. “Trump’s hairvolution, much like the growth of his business empire, has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

2. Discuss the larger significance of the topic. For example, “Could bad hair be an indication of wealth? Maybe future research will compare the hair of billionaires, such as Liliane Bettencourt and Warren Buffet.”

3. Reveal unanswered questions. “While Trump’s hair definitely appears to be his own, there is still question about whether the strange, yellow color comes from a bottle. After all, shouldn’t the man be gray by now?”

Expository Essay Outline Download

If you’re in the position where you need to write an expository essay, but aren’t sure where to begin, feel free to get started with this expository essay outline template  (Word .doc download).

If you need more help getting started, check out these example expository essays . Once you’ve shaped your outline into a full essay, get a Kibin editor to hunt down grammar and syntax errors before you turn it in.

Good luck!

Stuck on Your Expository Essay?
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Psst… 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays .


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Tips on Writing an Expository Essay

Expository Essay Writing

Parents, does your student need assistance with writing an expository essay? Our teachers can help. Sign up for either our Elementary Essay Writing ,   Middle School Essay Writing  or  High School Essay Writing  course for 1-to-1 guidance.

What Is Expository Writing?

The purpose of the expository essay is to explain a topic in a logical and straightforward manner. Without bells and whistles, these essays present a fair and balanced analysis of a subject based on facts—with no references to the writer’s opinions or emotions.

A typical expository writing prompt will use the words “explain” or “define,” such as in, “Write an essay explaining how the computer has changed the lives of students.” Notice there is no instruction to form an opinion or argument on whether or not computers have changed students’ lives. The prompt asks the writer to “explain,” plain and simple. However, that doesn’t mean that writing to explain is easy.

The Five-Step Process for Expository Writing

Expository writing is a life skill. More than any other type of writing, expository writing is a daily requirement of most careers. Understanding and following the proven steps of the writing process helps all writers, including students, master this type of essay writing.

Expository Essay Structure
Usually, your essay is composed of five paragraphs. The introductory paragraph contains the thesis or main idea. The next three paragraphs, or body of the essay, provide details in support of the thesis. The concluding paragraph restates the main idea and ties together the major points of essay.

Here are tips for each part of the essay structure and writing process:

1. Prewriting 
In the prewriting phase, students should take time to brainstorm about the topic and main idea. Next, do research and take notes. Create an outline showing the information to be presented in each paragraph, organized in a logical sequence.

2. Drafting 
When creating the initial draft, consider the following suggestions:

  • The most important sentence in the introductory paragraph is the topic sentence , which states the thesis or main idea of the essay. The thesis should be clearly stated without giving an opinion or taking a position. A good thesis is well defined, with a manageable scope that can be adequately addressed within a five-paragraph essay.
  • Each of the three body paragraphs should cover a separate point that develops the essay’s thesis. The sentences of each paragraph should offer facts and examples in support of the paragraph’s topic .
  • The concluding paragraph should reinforce the thesis and the main supporting ideas. Do not introduce new material in the conclusion.
  • Since an expository composition discusses an event, situation, or the views of others, and not a personal experience, students should write in the third person (“he,” “she,” or “it”), and avoid “I” or “you” sentences.

3. Revising 
In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be. Keep these considerations in mind:

  • Does the essay give an unbiased analysis that unfolds logically, using relevant facts and examples?
  • Has the information been clearly and effectively communicated to the reader?
  • Watch out for “paragraph sprawl,” which occurs when the writer loses focus and veers from the topic by introducing unnecessary details.
  • Is the sentence structure varied? Is the word choice precise?
  • Do the transitions between sentences and paragraphs help the reader’s understanding?
  • Does the concluding paragraph communicate the value and meaning of the thesis and key supporting ideas?

If the essay is still missing the mark, take another look at the topic sentence. A solid thesis statement leads to a solid essay. Once the thesis works, the rest of the essay falls into place more easily.

4. Editing 
Next, proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics , and edit to improve style and clarity. While your essay should be clear and concise, it can also be lively and engaging. Having a friend read the essay helps writers edit with a fresh perspective.

5. Publishing 
Sharing an essay with a teacher, parent, or other reader can be both exciting and intimidating. Remember, there isn’t a writer on earth who isn’t sensitive about his or her own work. The important thing is to learn from the experience and use the feedback to make the next essay better.

Expository Essay Variations

Essay writing is a huge part of a education today. Most students must learn to write various kinds of essays during their academic careers, including different types of expository writing:

  • Definition essays explain the meaning of a word, term, or concept. The topic can be a concrete subject such as an animal or tree, or it can be an abstract term, such as freedom or love. This type of essay should discuss the word’s denotation (literal or dictionary definition), as well as its connotation or the associations that a word usually brings to mind.
  • Classification essays break down a broad subject or idea into categories and groups. The writer organizes the essay by starting with the most general category and then defines and gives examples of each specific classification.
  • Compare and contrast essays describe the similarities and differences between two or more people, places, or things. Comparison tells how things are alike and contrast shows how they are different.
  • Cause and effect essays explain how things affect each other and depend on each other. The writer identifies a clear relationship between two subjects, focusing on why things happen (causes) and/or what happens as a result (effects).
  • “How to” essays, sometimes called process essays, explain a procedure, step-by-step process, or how to do something with the goal of instructing the reader.


Time4Writing Teaches Expository Essay Writing

Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. A unique online writing program for elementary, middle school, and high school students, Time4Writing breaks down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher. Our middle school Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay courses teach students the fundamentals of writing essays, including the expository essay. The high school Exciting Essay Writing course focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The courses also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing courses.

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110 Expository Essay Topics

110 Expository Essay Topics

Expository Essay

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As you know, an expository essay is the one where you merely expose a topic without analyzing or reflecting upon it. Unlike in most other types of essay, you don’t need to make a point or prove that your opinion on the subject-matter is correct. One the one hand, it makes an expository essay easier to write. On the other one, one cannot help expecting a dull and tedious writing process that will produce an equally dull and tedious read. It seems like this is the only way to deal with this task, but it doesn’t have to be! The solution is quite simple – to pick only exciting expository essay topics. This way, you will be able to recreate the excitement of talking about something that interests you in writing and to project this excitement onto your reader.

Surely, you are a person with many interests, and it may pose some challenge to pick just one out of all the possible topics for expository essay. To facilitate your choice, here is our humble list of ideas for college expository essay topics which are not only exciting to write but will also aid your grade. We have organized them into several groups for your convenience.

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College-related expository essay topics

It is always cool to observe or find out some fun facts about your university and the people related to it. Here are some college-related topic ideas to expose in your essay:

  1. The most famously peculiar requirements in a major in your college
  2. At what point(s) in history has your college become as famous as it is today?
  3. Was this school ever well-known for something different than what it’s known for today? What was it? Why did your school’s “signature trend” have to change?
  4. What drives students to this college? What group of applicants is particularly interested in applying here? What are their differences and similarities?
  5. What is your favorite professor? Interview them and write about what drove them to become a professor of this particular subject at this particular school.
  6. Is there any curious story behind your college mascot?
  7. Is there any particularly peculiar building, statue, or any other sight on campus? Why does it draw attention? How did it come to be there?
  8. Have you heard about or participated on any peculiar fraternity/sorority initiation rituals?
  9. Do the canteens on campus offer healthy and nutritious meals?
  10. What was your choice of extracurricular activities to partake in when you enrolled? What are the pros and cons of each activity to choose from?
  11. Are there any specific rituals for athletes or fans to get ready for a sports game?
  12. Are there any sports that are less popular than they should be? Why do they deserve more attention than they get?
  13. How are students recommended to prepare for finals? What approaches do students tend to take? What are the pros and cons of these approaches?
  14. How are students recommended to adapt to college life during their first few weeks here?
  15. What are the most common complaints about roommates and how to avoid such unpleasant issues?
  16. What are the most popular spots for students who want to sneak away from class and why?
  17. Do you see any students that look depressed on campus? Could their depression be school-related?
  18. Is there any significant suicide rate among students in your school? Why could that be or why doesn’t it happen?
  19. Are there any elected positions on campus? Do they hold any actual power?
  20. Who won the last campus election and what was their appeal?
  21. What were the things that you had taken with you from home when you came to college and which things you chose to leave? Why?
  22. What appeal does this college have for applicants?
  23. What are the most widespread scholarships at this school? How easy is it to get those?
  24. Tips about how to pay for college (tuition, rent, sustenance, etc.) without getting yourself into too much debt
  25. Have there been any influential scandals throughout this schools history? How have they changed the school?
  26. Is there a building with a funny name on campus? How did it get its name?
  27. Does the school make it easy for students to start living without parents?
  28. Are there any groups of students with whom one shouldn’t associate? How to avoid them?

Expository essay topics about social issues

Social issues are always fun to expose. There is always plenty to write about. Choosing to write about social issues is a sure way to ensure the necessary word count.

  1. What phenomena can be considered social issues?
  2. Have you met anyone who has committed a juvenile crime? What were the consequences?
  3. How often do you see homeless people? Why people become homeless so often?
  4. Have you met anyone who works or volunteers for a charity organization? What do they do?
  5. What consequences can parents’ drug addiction have for a family? Are these consequences different depending on the kind of drug(s)?
  6. What are the pros and cons for a child to grow up with a single parent? What are the most vulnerable aspects (education, hygiene, nutrition, etc.) of growing up in such a family?
  7. Do you consider any circumstances of your growing up bad? Did you overcome them or adapt to them?
  8. Have you ever known a teenager who ran away from home? Why did s/he do that?
  9. Did you ever consider dropping out from school? What do you think would happen then? Why did you choose against it?
  10. Have you ever had a medical injury that your health insurance didn’t cover? How did you get your treatment?
  11. Have you or anyone you know ever considered themselves poor? What does being “poor” mean?
  12. Have you or anyone you know ever used welfare? How did the existing welfare system come to be? What are its pros and cons?
  13. Have you ever used food stamps? How does this system work?
  14. Have you ever known an illegal alien? What were the most urgent and severe challenges they had to face?
  15. Have you ever known anyone involved in foster care? What pros and cons of the foster care system did they point out?
  16. What is affirmative action in education? Have you ever benefited from it significantly?
  17. Have you ever know anyone who has suffered from domestic abuse? What did they do about it?
  18. Do you know any women whose men beat them up? Why do they stay with these men?
  19. Have you or anyone you know ever been discriminated? What did you (or they) do about it?
  20. Have you or anyone in your school ever been bullied? Why is it a problem and what can be done about it?
  21. How has the Internet and the increased accessibility of information changed the education process?
  22. Have you ever encountered a problem that was caused or eventually solved involving social media? Would this problem come to be or solved differently without social media?
  23. Why is the theorized peak oil a problem?
  24. What are the gun control measures in your area? Are they effective comparing to other gun control measures in neighboring areas?
  25. Why is homophobia more widespread in particular areas than in others?
  26. Is there such thing as national mentality?
  27. Do you think there should be less public libraries? Why or why not?
  28. Has ability grouping ever been practiced in your class? Did you benefit from it and how?

Expository essay topics about science and technology

These are good expository essay topics if you would like not only to produce an exciting read but also to learn something new and useful during your research.

  1. Has any of your teachers ever implemented Google Class? How has it influenced the education process?
  2. What is a nanobot and what problems can be solved with the help of nanobots?
  3. What role do black holes play in the universe?
  4. What are the primary factors that make people obese?
  5. Does global climate change throughout the history? How?
  6. What are the differences between live and electronic music in terms of both making and perception?
  7. How have the statistics on autism occurrence change throughout the last decade and why?
  8. How does allergy work?
  9. How has the number of people with allergies changed over the last decades and why?
  10. What does Alzheimer’s disease do to a human brain?
  11. How is wireless Internet connection realized?
  12. How does DNA hint at an innovative way to store data?
  13. How real is fusion power?
  14. How does electric clothing work and how soon can we expect its broad implementation?
  15. Which of the less exciting inventions made space flights possible?
  16. How soon will space travel become accessible to broad audiences?
  17. Can 3D printers create spare body parts?
  18. How does vaccination work? Why do some vaccines need to be taken repeatedly?
  19. Can one explain string theory briefly?
  20. What organizations are responsible for seeking extraterrestrial life and intelligence? What is their progress as of today?
  21. What are the main stages of brain development throughout the lifespan of a human? How do they manifest?
  22. Did the Neanderthals indeed go extinct?
  23. How real is it today to replicate a human being through robotics?
  24. How effective were the Milgram experiments? Was the controversy justified?
  25. What are the ways of implementation of electronic paper?
  26. What were the earliest instances of bioengineering in history?
  27. How soon will Hyperloop become accessible to people and where?

Expository essay topics about mental health


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Contrary to the widespread opinion, an essay about mental health doesn’t have to deal with illnesses and be grim. On the contrary, you may explore mental health tips and stay upbeat. Here are some topic ideas:

  1. What is the definition of mental health?
  2. Can one diagnose and treat mental disorders oneself?
  3. What challenges does a family with a child with special needs face?
  4. What factors contribute to depression and how to avoid it?
  5. What are the types of schizophrenia? Can all of them be classified as diseases that need to be treated?
  6. How does a psychological deviation get classified as a disorder?
  7. How can you recognize the early manifestations of OCD?
  8. In what instances is cognitive behavioral therapy effective?
  9. How did doctors come to treat mental disorders with art practices?
  10. What are the most widespread methods of psychiatric treatment today?
  11. What topics get the most attention in psychology journals today?
  12. What makes a good psychotherapist?
  13. What is the difference between psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy?
  14. Is bibliophobia a mental disorder?
  15. What causes entomophobia?
  16. What challenges do people with acrophobia have to face?
  17. What are the psychological causes of xenophobia?
  18. What does a person’s altruism have to do with the human psyche?
  19. How does the reciprocity law work?
  20. Are heroic people mentally healthy?
  21. Does experiential learning work?
  22. What are the stages of personality development and how they manifest?
  23. Why does the bystander effect occur?
  24. Why do people forget things?
  25. How does IQ score reflect the person’s mental capacity?
  26. How does memory work in a human brain?
  27. What are the differences between the left and right halves of the brain?
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