How to Write an Exemplification Essay

Exemplification means to provide examples about something. Writing an exemplification essay typically involves offering many examples to support a generalization about something. In this type of essay, examples act as supporting material to explain or clarify the generalization.

Decide on a topic. Basically, what generalization do you want to exemplify? If a topic is assigned, most likely you will already have a set of generalizations about it so you can just build your essay from that. If you choose your own topic, you will have to decide on a generalization about that topic that you can support with examples.

Determine a purpose. What angle of the generalization do you want to present to the reader? Having a clear purpose will help you choose examples and write your thesis.

Think about your audience. How do you think members of the audience feel about the generalization that you are discussing?

Make a list of examples related to your generalization. Initially list all examples that you can think of--you will narrow them down later. Include anecdotes (short stories), facts, statistics and any other types of examples.

Choose examples from the list that are relevant to your purpose. Make sure that all of the ones that you choose support the generalization. Obviously, you do not want to choose ones that contradict your purpose.

Write a thesis statement. The thesis statement should state the generalization that you are exemplifying and make it clear that you are attempting to support it with examples.

Write an introduction that lets your reader know what to expect from your essay and states the thesis.

Write a well-developed body that supports the thesis. The body should fully support the generalization. Each paragraph should directly relate to the thesis.

Arrange your examples logically. It may be important to categorize examples if you have a lot of them so that you don't confuse your reader.

Use transition words and phrases to guide readers through your essay.

Write a conclusion that sums up the essay's main points and restates the thesis. Remember to make it clear in the conclusion what you want readers to take away with them.

  • For more information about exemplification essays, check out Cheryl Glenn's book Making Sense: A Real-World Rhetorical Reader (ISBN 0-312-41959-7).
About the Author

Erica Sweeney is a freelance writer and editor based in Little Rock, Ark. She has a master's in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her work has been published at, Arkansas Times, Aging Arkansas and Arkansas Business.

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