How to Write an explanatory essay paper

An explanatory essay, often referred to as an expository essay, is a type of academic writing that aims to provide a clear and concise explanation of a specific topic, idea, or concept. These essays are a common assignment in high school, college, and even some standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. The primary goal of an explanatory essay is to inform and educate the reader about a subject, making it easier to understand. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the process of writing an explanatory essay into manageable steps, from choosing a topic to revising your final draft.

Steps in writing an explanatory essay

Step 1: Selecting a Topic of an explanatory essay

Choosing the right topic is crucial for the success of your explanatory essay. Your topic should be interesting, relevant, and suitable for the assignment’s scope and guidelines. Here are some tips for selecting a topic:

Consider Your Audience: Think about who will be reading your essay. Choose a topic that will appeal to your audience’s interests and level of knowledge. Moreover, If your audience is a class of students, pick a topic that is relevant to your course.

Narrow Your Focus: Avoid broad or vague topics. Instead, narrow down your subject to a specific aspect or question. For example, if you want to write about climate change, you could focus on the impact of climate change on a particular region or the role of government policies in addressing it.

Choose Something You’re Passionate About: Writing about a topic you are genuinely interested in will make the process more enjoyable and result in a more engaging essay.

Check for Available Information: Make sure there is enough credible information available on your chosen topic. You don’t want to struggle to find sources later.

Step 2: Conducting Research before writing an explanatory essay

Once you have selected a topic, it’s time to gather information and research materials. Effective research is the backbone of an explanatory essay. Here’s how to approach it:

Library and Online Resources: Utilize both online sources and traditional library resources. Academic databases, books, scholarly articles, and reputable websites can provide valuable information.

Evaluate Sources: Ensure that the sources you use are credible and reliable. Check for the author’s credentials, publication date, and the source’s reputation.

Take Notes: Keep detailed notes of the information you gather. Organize your notes according to the subtopics or sections you plan to cover in your essay.

Cite Sources Properly: Be diligent about citing your sources using the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, so it’s essential to give credit to the original authors.

Step 3: Creating an Outline of an explanatory essay

Before you start writing your explanatory essay, it’s beneficial to create an outline. An outline provides a roadmap for your essay, helping you structure your ideas logically. Here’s a basic outline structure for an explanatory essay:


Hook or attention-grabber

Thesis statement (clearly state the topic and your main points)

Body Paragraphs

Each paragraph should focus on a single main point or subtopic.

Use topic sentences to introduce the main idea of each paragraph.

Provide evidence, examples, or facts to support your points.

Use transitional words and phrases to maintain coherence between paragraphs.


Restate your thesis statement.

Summarize the main points made in the body paragraphs.

Leave the reader with a thought-provoking statement or a call to action (if applicable).

Step 4: Writing the Introduction of an explanatory essay

The introduction is the first impression your essay makes on the reader, so it’s essential to make it engaging and informative:

Start with a Hook: Begin your introduction with an attention-grabbing hook to pique the reader’s interest. This could be a relevant quote, a surprising fact, a rhetorical question, or a brief anecdote related to your topic.

Provide Context: Offer some background information or context about the topic to ensure your reader understands the subject matter.

State Your Thesis: Clearly present your thesis statement in the introduction. Also, the thesis should convey the main point or purpose of your essay.

Outline the Main Points: Give a brief overview of the main points or subtopics you will cover in the body of the essay. This helps the reader anticipate what to expect.

Step 5: Developing Body Paragraphs of an explanatory essay

The body of your explanatory essay should consist of several well-organized paragraphs, each discussing a distinct point or subtopic. Follow these guidelines to develop effective body paragraphs:

Start with a Topic Sentence: Begin each paragraph with a clear and concise topic sentence that introduces the main idea of that paragraph.

Provide Evidence: Support your topic sentence with relevant evidence, examples, statistics, or facts. Ensure that your evidence is credible and supports your thesis.

Explain and Elaborate: After presenting evidence, explain how it connects to your main point. Elaborate on the significance of the evidence and its relevance to your thesis.

Use Smooth Transitions: Use transitional words and phrases (e.g., furthermore, in addition, moreover, on the other hand) to guide the reader through your essay and create cohesion between paragraphs.

Maintain a Logical Flow: Ensure that your paragraphs follow a logical sequence and build upon one another. Avoid jumping between unrelated ideas.

Step 6: Writing the Conclusion of an explanatory essay

The conclusion is your opportunity to wrap up your essay and leave a lasting impression on the reader:

Restate Your Thesis: Begin your conclusion by restating your thesis statement in slightly different words. Don’t introduce new information here.

Summarize Main Points: Summarize the key points you’ve discussed in the body of the essay. Reinforce how these points support your thesis.

Leave a Thought-Provoking Statement: End your essay with a thought-provoking statement, a call to action, or a suggestion for further exploration. Leave the reader with something to ponder.

Avoid Introducing New Ideas: Like in the introduction, do not introduce new ideas or information in the conclusion.

Step 7: Proofreading and Revising

After you’ve written your initial draft, take the time to proofread and revise your essay. Here are some tips for effective revision:

Check for Clarity: Ensure that your writing is clear and concise. Remove any unnecessary words or sentences that do not contribute to your essay’s purpose.

Check for Coherence: Verify that your essay flows smoothly from one point to the next. Use transitional words to improve coherence.

Grammar and Spelling: Eliminate grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors. Consider using grammar-checking software or seeking help from a peer or tutor.

Read Aloud: Reading your essay aloud can help you catch awkward phrasing and improve overall readability.

Get Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from peers, instructors, or writing centers. Fresh perspectives can provide valuable insights.

Step 8: Finalizing Your Essay

Once you’ve revised your essay, it’s time to finalize it for submission. Ensure the following:

Formatting: Check that your essay adheres to the formatting guidelines specified by your instructor or the assignment.

Citations: Ensure that you have properly cited all sources used in your essay, both within the text and in the bibliography or reference page.

Proofread Again: Give your essay one final proofread to catch any lingering errors.

Title and Heading: Make sure your essay have a clear and appropriate title. In addition, Include a heading with your name, course, instructor’s name, and date.

Step 9: Seek Feedback

Before submitting your essay, it’s a good idea to seek feedback from others. Ask a peer, friend, or instructor to review your essay and provide constructive criticism. They may identify areas where your essay could be improved or clarified.

Step 10: Final Check

Finally, before submitting your explanatory essay, perform a final check to ensure everything is in order. Moreover,  Verify that you have followed all the assignment guidelines, including word count, formatting, and citation style. Once you are confident in your work, you can confidently submit your essay.

In conclusion, writing an explanatory essay requires careful planning, research, and organization. By selecting a suitable topic, conducting thorough research, creating a clear outline, and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can craft an informative and compelling explanatory essay. Furthermore, remember to revise, proofread, and seek feedback to ensure the quality of your work. With practice and dedication, you can become a proficient explanatory essay writer and effectively convey complex ideas to your readers.

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