How to Write an Outline for an Expository Essay

It may be quite easy to consider an essay a very simple task to complete. Most of the students think that it is not worth their attention and they can complete their essay in the last minute. However, it is not that simple, in most of the cases students fail, and are forced to rewrite their paper anew.


Such a task requires not only possession of written skills and knowledge of the subject but also accurate following of the structure and rules, required for each type of an essay. The same is applied to an outline, which is a necessary part of every assignment.


This article will tell you how to write an essay for your expository essay with ease and how to enjoy the process without any worries!


how to create expository essay outline


Definition of an expository essay


There are tens of essay types and it is quite easy to get lost in their definitions. If you don’t know what type of an essay you are required to complete, you will most likely make dozen mistakes and will waste days or even weeks in vain.


An expository essay is a classical model of an assignment, where a student should describe a matter in a clear manner, backing every argument with reliable sources. The main aim of such an essay is to give the reader data on the topic in an objective and informative way.


This means that you need to put all your feelings aside (even if you disagree with the subject) and provide all the facts in a clear manner.  It is quite simple to detect such an essay, as it usually starts with the words ‘explain’ or ‘give a definition’.


Structure of an outline


Being able to create an outline is a vital skill, when competing any sort of a written assignment. Moreover, it is very useful for an expository essay, which should consist of many elements that interlink with each other. Below is a list of the key elements of the main sections of your work.




The majority of students think it is not important how smart your introduction is, as the only thing that matters is the body paragraphs. However, the audience simply won’t read them if your introduction is boring and contains no intrigue.


Remember the saying that the book is judged by its cover? The same applies to the introductory section and you won’t simply start reading a book, a magazine or any other paper if its beginning is not catching your attention!


You should always start your introduction with a so-called hook. It is an element, which will catch interest of the reader and will make him want to go on. However, the hook sentence should have a direct relationship to the topic, so you need to select it properly.


Analyze your topic thoroughly, go through all the hook types and choose the one, which fits you better. It can be an interesting fact, an anecdote, a rhetoric question and so on.


After the hook sentence, you need to write the key features and a brief background of your subject. Use simple vocabulary and understandable phrases, considering that not every reader knows the matter you are going to discuss.


Finish your introduction with a thesis statement. It is probably the most important section of your work, as it gives the reader a direction, which you have chosen. Your thesis should be not more than two sentences long and describe the main goal of the whole work in a clear and informative way.


Main paragraphs


Once you have completed a catchy and powerful introduction, you can start writing the main part of your work – body paragraphs. They should contain a deep and full analysis of the data you have collected on the topic. Evidence is the key element of an expository essay, so you need to act like a real journalist, gathering necessary data step by step.


The number of your body paragraphs depends on the number of arguments you need to include to your essay. It can be a particular requirement of your professor or your own decision. If there are no strict rules and the size of your essay is regular, try not to add more than three arguments, as it will be difficult for the reader to process more.


The key elements of a body paragraph should include:


  • A topic sentence, which contains the key idea of your paragraph and argument;
  • The main feature of an expository essay is that every statement you provide should be backed with supporting facts. You can’t simply provide your own thoughts without an evidence. Your topic sentence should always interlink with the thesis statement and your evidence should have a direct relation to the topic sentence;
  • Analysis of data. Once you have mentioned all the facts, statistics and other supporting details, you need to analyze them. Always provide the facts as if the reader doesn’t know the topic and make a thorough analyze of the obtained facts, deciphering their meaning to the audience;
  • Smooth transition. When you have finished working on the paragraph, you need to write a sentence, which will provide a transition to the next chapter. Such sentences will make the text readable and smooth.


Make sure your text is not watery and contains only related facts and materials. It is very important to structure every fact and evidence, revealing the topic step by step. You can put everything in a chronological order or depending on the importance.


Remember, providing a clear order of evidence is crucial, as the reader may simply get lost in the facts and information you provide, closing your essay with a bad ‘aftertaste’.




When you have completed your body paragraphs, you can start working on the final section of your paper. It should be the size of your introduction and a sort of a summary of the obtained results. If you want to leave a nice impression, you need to follow a few simple rules:


  • Make a short summary of everything you have discussed in your work. However, be brief and highlight only the key elements;
  • Write about the importance of the topic and explain why the reader should pay attention to it;
  • If there are still questions to be discussed, mention them. You can think of the topic in a broader perspective and remember the things that you have not discussed in your work. This will make the reader think of the topic;
  • If the topic allows, call the audience to action. This can be a brief advice on how they can change the situation or contribute to the topic.


Remember, your conclusions should only repeat the information you have provided in your expository essay and not contain new facts. That is why this section should be very brief and informative, without watery sentences and wordiness.



Questions to be asked


Completing an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusions isn’t enough and you need to proofread and edit your essay properly before submitting it. There are a few common questions, which will be of a great use on the last stage. They include:


  • Is my topic relevant and interesting?
  • Have I excluded all the details, which are not related to the topic?
  • Did I manage to create a smooth transition between the paragraphs?
  • Is my essay clear, informative and unbiased?
  • Did my conclusion contain a summary of all the body paragraphs?
  • Did I eliminate all the lexical and grammar mistakes?


Once you answer these questions, you will manage to see what the strong and weak sides of your essay are. You can even make a list of the imperfections and improve them one by one. When all the mistakes are fixed, proceed with proofreading and editing. This includes fixing typos, grammar and spelling mistakes. If you doubt, ask someone else to check the paper once again and make all the necessary corrections.


As you see, an expository essay is not as difficult as it may seem at first. Knowing its outline and the key elements each section should contain, it is very simple to provide a strong and catchy argumentation of the topic.


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