How to Write an Explanatory Essay
As its name implies, an explanatory essay provides an explanation or presentation of a certain viewpoint, situation or event. It is essential that this explanation simplify what is otherwise difficult to understand. When writing an explanatory essay, you must always keep in mind that your goal is to educate the reader. Do not offer your own opinion and try to avoid using research material that is obviously biased. As always, when writing an essay, start your research early and plan ahead.
Research your topic. Look online and at the library for unbiased sources that help elucidate the subject. Scientific studies, academic journals and a combination of various, reputable news sources will provide an excellent foundation for your essay.
Create your thesis. This is the main idea of your paper expressed in a single sentence. It should clearly and concisely express what it is you are attempting to explain in the essay. Use your research to support the thesis.
Structure the form of your explanatory essay around your thesis by creating an outline. The outline will serve as a blueprint for your actual essay. Write down the main points that support your thesis and think about how you can order them so that they make sense for the reader.
Write your introduction. This is the first paragraph of your essay. It introduces the reader to your subject and contains your thesis statement, which is usually the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. Be creative and attempt to grab your reader’s attention.
Write the body of your essay. This will represent the majority of your essay. Each paragraph must support the idea expressed in your thesis statement. Also remember that each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. This sentence sets the tone for your paragraph. Include sources to provide evidence for your assertions.
Write the conclusion. The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay and should summarize your main points. This is especially important for an explanatory essay, as you must be certain that your topic has been completely and accurately explained to your reader.
Proofread your essay for any spelling or grammatical errors. You should also edit it, making any necessary changes. For example, if you discover a paragraph that does not correspond with your thesis, take it out and replace it with something more appropriate. Give your essay to a friend or family member and allow them to read it. Oftentimes, another set of eyes will discover errors or inconsistencies that you’ve missed.
Arthur Barnhouse has written numerous short stories, contributed content to various websites and was an invited speaker at a university symposium on creative writing. He began writing in 2002 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Barnhouse has driven across the United States numerous times and draws upon his travel experiences in his writing.