Expository writing, as its name implies, is writing that exposes facts. In other words, it’s writing that explains and educates its readers, rather than entertaining or attempting to persuade them. When you read a scholarly article, a textbook page, a news report, or an instructional guide, you’re reading expository writing.
An expository essay, or exposition, is a short written work that explains a topic or informs an audience. The primary purpose of an expository essay is to communicate information to an audience. A well-written exposition presents all relevant information without favoring any particular point of view. The expository style is often the best choice for writing in both school and work. The expository style of writing is a good choice when you want to tell readers what you know about a topic or show readers how to do something. Expository writing is probably the most common type of nonfiction. Expository essays present all relevant information without favoring any particular point of view. They focus on objective information such as facts and data. Expository essays are usually written in the third person, using pronouns such as he, she, or they.
The expository style of writing can be useful in a variety of contexts. Research papers are usually written in the expository style because they report facts and data about topics. You could also use the expository style in a book report, memorandum, presentation, poster, letter, or e-mail. Whenever you need to be objective, the expository style can help. The format in which you choose to write depends on your purpose and audience. Some important points to remember about the expository style of writing:
Expository writing is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on telling you about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. These types of essays or articles furnish you with relevant facts and figures but do not include their opinions. This is one of the most common types of writing. You always see it in textbooks and how-to articles. The author just tells you about a given subject, such as how to do something.
It usually explains something in a process, is often equipped with facts and figures, and is usually in a logical order and sequence. Expository writing is often used for textbook writing, how-to articles, recipes, news stories (not including opinion or editorial pieces), and business, technical, or scientific writing. Expository writing is factual, usually presented in a linear format, always presented in a logical format, objective, and clear about its purpose. Expository writing is not an opinion of the author, it is not an attempt to change the reader’s mind or shape their perspective, it is not subjective, and it is not nonlinear or otherwise unconventional in how it presents content.
Although expository writing is fact-based, it doesn’t need to be dry or boring. A skilled writer can present factual information in an engaging way that only increases the reader’s comprehension of the topic, often by borrowing techniques used in narrative and descriptive writing to make the facts more vivid and impactful. If one has ever seen the docuseries Cosmos, they have seen engaging expository writing in action. In both the 1980 and 2014 versions, the host captivates viewers by guiding them through our known universe, our solar system, and how life on Earth evolved over millennia. Although Cosmos is a docu-series, the narrative that speaks directly to the viewer and constantly positions them within our universe’s story is a kind of expository writing: screenwriting.
However, discerning an expository piece’s credibility can be tricky at times. An advertorial is an advertisement disguised as an editorial. In other words, it’s an article presented as either fact or the author’s personal thoughts, but really, it’s a sponsored advertisement. Advertorials aren’t the only instance where you find subjective opinions disguised as objective facts—many documentaries, journalistic pieces, books, and even scholarly articles are written according to the author’s bias or to fit a specific agenda.
This is why it’s so critical to carefully vet every source you use when one is working on an expository writing assignment. Inadvertently using a biased source in your academic writing can undermine the work by making it look like the writer either did not research the topic carefully or was pushing a specific agenda in the writing.
To write expository writing is not only typing words on a screen but rather brainstorming the topic. With other kinds of writing, like narrative or persuasive writing, one might have a clear idea of what they want to write from the moment they receive the assignment and, with it, skip ahead a few steps in the writing process. But because one is working with facts and a strategy for presenting them in a coherent, engaging way, one, therefore, needs to devote time to thoroughly brainstorm, research, outline, and then draft the work. A few tips to keep in mind when one is completing an expository writing assignment is to be creative but constrained by using literary devices like similes and juxtaposition sparingly and only when they serve to make the facts clearer to your reader, to always check the facts by researching that specific piece of information and finding what other scholarly sources have to say about it and by examining who published the two conflicting sources and share the facts in style.