30 Expository Essay Topics for an Outstanding Paper

The expository essay—it’s an unavoidable essay in your educational career. In fact, teachers and professors love assigning it so much that some freshmen writing courses are devoted entirely to writing the expository essay.

That’s a lot of expository essay writing! If you’re going to be writing this type of essay over and over again, you need to understand how to write a good one.

But that’s not my purpose here. My goal for this post is to give you a quick overview of the expository essay and provide you with 30 expository essay topics for an outstanding paper.

If you need to know more about writing an awesome expository essay, check out Expository Advice From a Kibin Editor. Need help outlining? Check out this article.

If you need a few minutes to read the links above before choosing your expository essay topic, go ahead. I’ll wait.

Cue the Muzak:


Finished reading the links? Have a better understanding of the expository essay? Then before we dive into those expository essay topics, let’s move on to a quick summary to remind you of the key points in an expository essay.

The Expository Essay: A Brief Overview

  • An expository essay explains a topic in a clear, specific, and logical manner.
  • Expository essays generally do not require outside research.
  • Your prof might ask you to write an expository essay as an exam or in-class writing assignment. So you’ll need to be able to write quickly and with little preparation.

30 Expository Essay Topics for an Outstanding Paper

expository essay topics
“Writing” by Alan Cleaver, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)

To write an outstanding paper, you need to start with an outstanding topic.

Here are 30 expository essay topics to get you started.

#1. How to eat healthy while living on a college student’s budget

Waiting for mom or dad to transfer money into your account or living off your part-time gig at the bookstore might leave your pockets and your stomach empty. What tips and tricks can you offer readers to help them survive on a budget?

#2. How can bullying in schools be prevented?

You might start this essay with a short discussion of why kids bully (or cyberbully) and how bullying in schools affects kids. Then explain what kids, parents, and teachers can do to prevent bullying.

#4. What effect does technology have on relationships?

Have you ever dated someone who spent more time on Facebook or texting than talking to you? Would you rather chat online or text people instead of actually talking to them in person? If so, you may have a good start to your expository essay.

Interested in writing about technology but not too keen on the relationship angle? Take a look at the following articles for added inspiration:

#5. How to treat severe allergic reactions

This type of essay might compare treatments and evaluate which one is best for specific allergies or groups of people.

#6. Do aliens really exist?

Have you ever seen mysterious lights in the sky? Have aliens taken you to the mothership? Maybe you can finally prove that aliens exist!


#7. Why is there an increase in depression in the United States?

Many people point to the added pressures of daily life as a leading cause of depression. In this essay, you might focus on how increased stress from school, work, and personal relationships can lead to depression.

#8. What does it mean to have a genius IQ?

Do you think you’re smarter than all your friends? Maybe you even think you’re a bonafide genius! How might such a high IQ have a positive or negative impact on one’s life or relationships?

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#9. Explain the benefits and drawbacks of teen curfews

Sure, moms and dads usually demand that their teens come home at a specific time, but should cities be allowed to do the same? Your essay might explain how curfews help or harm cities or teens.

#10. How do video games affect children?

Many people automatically think that video games harm children, but your essay might take the opposite approach and focus on how video games can help children learn or even improve social skills.

#11. What are the positive and negative aspects of materialism?

Do you love your cell phone? What about your new heels? If you absolutely cannot live without your most prized possessions, this might be a perfect topic for you.

#12. Explain how the internet has had a positive effect on communication

Face it, your life wouldn’t be the same without the internet. What would become of the world if Facebook or Instagram no longer existed? Focus your essay on how these types of communication have positively affected the way we interact with others.

#13. Explain how to be a happy camper

If sitting by a bonfire is your thing, you might write about how to set up the perfect campsite. If you feel the phrase “happy camper” simply means being happy, you might write about how readers can organize their lives and become happy campers.

expository essay topics
“Roasting Marshmallows” by Nina Hale, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)

#14. How to plan a killer party

I really don’t think this one needs any explanation, does it?

#15. Explain the causes and effects of impulse buying

For those of us who have ever made an impulse buy and immediately regretted it, writing about why we buy and how we feel afterward might actually be better than retail therapy.

#16. Why do couples break up?

The list of reasons that couples split is almost endless, but your essay might focus on one or two of the most popular, such as infidelity or money problems.

#17. How to choose the perfect pet

While an iguana might be the perfect pet for your roommate, it might be far from ideal for you. Your essay could examine personality types, lifestyles, and budgets to decide how to choose the perfect pet.

#18. Explain why working while attending college can be beneficial

An obvious benefit to any job is money. (We all need money to survive, right?) Working part-time while going to school can also help develop skills that will benefit you in future jobs and can help build a strong resume.

#19. How does doping in sports harm not only the athlete but also the reputation of the sport?

High school athletes, professional athletes, and even Olympians have been caught doping. How and why do athletes risk their health for sports? How does doping change the way people view a sport and its athletes?

#20. Does multitasking help or hinder students’ academic performance?

Most of us are guilty of trying to do too many things at once. But if students balance their tasks effectively, can they actually accomplish more through multitasking?

expository essay topics

#21. How to plan a vacation

Vacation planning means you’ll need to consider time, budget, location, and travel companions. You might want to try to fit all of these points into a paper, or you could focus on only one of these aspects of planning.

#22. Define friendship

Is a friend someone who will stand by you through thick and thin? What qualities do friends possess? Can Facebook friends by true friends? What makes a BFF different than other friends? Can you be friends with your parents?

#23. Compare and contrast parenting styles

Whether you address permissive, authoritarian, authoritative, or uninvolved parenting, there are positive and negative aspects to each. (If you’re writing a shorter paper, don’t try to compare all four styles. Narrow your focus to just two.)

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#24. How to break a bad habit or addiction

This topic is broad, so you can narrow your focus to something silly or something serious. Maybe you want to write about a small and harmless habit like leaving your dirty socks on the floor. Perhaps you want to focus on steps to break a harmful addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or another drug.

#25. Compare and contrast two types of employees or two types of bosses

If you’re comparing employee types, you might start by looking at the people you work with. (If you’re not employed, try observing employees at a restaurant.) Employees might be helpful, lazy, eager to please, or apathetic.

If you’re comparing bosses, you might consider management styles, how bosses treat customers, and how they treat employees.

#26. How to throw a card

Knowing a cool card trick can make you the life of the party. If you have a few tricks up your sleeve, explain how to perform one.

Need a video to help with the visuals?

#27. Compare and contrast religions

There’s a lot of possible ground to cover in any religion, so before you begin, decide your focus. You might consider examining religious holidays and celebrations, moral values, or gender roles.

#28. How to actually listen to people

Ever accused your boyfriend or girlfriend of not listening to you? Has someone accused you of not listening?

If so, you may have some insights into how to actually tell people the proper way to listen. (Or if you’re one of those people who doesn’t do such a great job at listening, you might write about how to seem like you’re listening.)

#29. Compare and contrast two historical figures

Comparing two people can be challenging, so it’s crucial to decide your basis of comparison before beginning. For instance, if you’re comparing two political figures, you might examine their ideologies or their roles in a specific conflict, war, or political movement.

Need help tackling historical topics? Check out these posts:

#30. Define happiness

The term “happiness” is pretty broad and can mean so many different things to people. Some are happy sitting on a crowded beach, while others want to be hiking on an isolated trail in a forest.

Does money make people happy? Does a career? Can someone else complete you?

After You’ve Written a Draft on Your Outstanding Expository Essay Topic

expository essay topics

Don’t forget that writing just one draft of a paper doesn’t always mean that you’ve written an outstanding essay (even if you do have a genius IQ).

Leave yourself enough time to take a look at your paper to see whether you’ve covered the basics.

For instance, is your paper formatted correctly? Do you have an effective thesis statement? Do you use sufficient evidence and examples to support your point? Are you persuasive enough?

Have you read, re-read, and revised so much that you can no longer tell whether your paper is worth submitting to your professor? Why not let a Kibin editor help with revision?

Good luck!

Stuck on Your Expository Essay?
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