How to Write an Essay Using Definition & Exemplification

A definition essay aims to explain a topic or idea through the use of supporting examples. When you use personal anecdotes to define this topic, it is called exemplification. Writing an essay that uses these techniques requires topics that are usually abstract ideas or generalizations, as well as theses that are supported by your own experiences.


Step 1

Determine what topic you want to write about. Ask yourself what areas interest you and write them down. Try not to think too much--the purpose of a brainstorming session is to write freely. If listing topics does not work for you, try doing a “freewrite” for three minutes, writing whatever comes to mind without stopping.

Step 2

Decide what type of essay you want to write. Who is your audience and what do they expect from your essay? Three common essay types are analytical, expository and argumentative. An analytical essay investigates a concept and presents the results to the reader. Expository essays inform the reader of a certain topic. An argumentative essay supports a specific assertion with proof.

Step 3

Choose what point you want to make about your topic. Write your thesis in the form of a complete sentence because it will give you direction in the rest of the process. A good thesis must clearly state what you intend to do in your essay.

Step 4

Write a list of personal anecdotes that are related to your topic and thesis. Choose several anecdotes that support your thesis.

Step 5

Write an introduction that grabs the attention of the reader. Use one of your anecdotes to explain the topic and connect with the reader. End the introductory paragraph with your thesis statement.

Step 6

Write the essay body. Use other examples on your list to support your thesis. Make each body paragraph begin with a sentence that clearly defines the point, and then provide your example. Do not worry too much about spelling or grammar; this is just the time to get your ideas on paper.

Step 7

Write a concluding paragraph that sums up your points and how they relate to your thesis. Restate your thesis one final time.

Step 8

Review what you have written. Read your examples. Do they clearly and carefully support your thesis? Did you properly define your topic? Take this time to correct any spelling or grammatical errors you might have made in your rough draft.

Step 9

Rewrite your essay to fix any mistakes made in the first draft. Read your draft out loud to make sure it communicates your points naturally. Give your essay a title that gives the reader an idea of what he will be reading in your essay.

Cite this Article