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.
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).
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:
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
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.
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.
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.