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Different Kinds of Expository Writing

by Alison Datko, Demand Media
    Examples of expository writing include newspaper and magazine articles, instruction manuals and baking recipes.

    Examples of expository writing include newspaper and magazine articles, instruction manuals and baking recipes.

    Exposition, one of the four widely accepted modes of discourse -- along with narration, description and argument -- is a term that refers to various styles of nonfiction writing. Encountered in everyday formats like newspaper and magazine articles, expository writing is used to explain, describe or inform. Kinds of expository writing include cause-and-effect articles, descriptive essays, how-to manuals and comparison essays.

    Creating Cause-and-Effect Essays

    Cause-and-effect essays describe the relationship between one or numerous effects and a single central cause. Topics can include the effects of a historic event, a personal decision, the election of a public official or an environmental crisis. Cause-and-effect essays can also explore hypothetical outcomes of future scenarios. For example, an essay predicting the long-term effects of global warming is both fact-based and open-ended since the ultimate effects are unknown.

    Designing Descriptive Compositions

    A descriptive essay describes a person, place, idea, culture, event or just about anything as long as it is supported with factual information. This type of exposition is a common school writing assignment. Examples of such assignments include book reports or biographies. When assigned a broad topic, focus your attention on one particular aspect of the topic. Include this specific idea in your thesis statement and maintain a clear direction throughout the piece. Include any background information necessary to the reader and cite all resources used.

    Handling How-To Essays

    How-to pieces generally explain how to perform a task in simple terms, with steps that are reasonably easy for the reader to follow. A recipe for baking chocolate chip cookies is a light version of the how-to format, while a technical instruction manual is a more detailed variation. Use directional verbs like "make," mix" or "place" when describing each step. Include a supply list, if applicable. Avoid lengthy phrasing but include all necessary information to perform the task successfully.

    Covering Compare-and-Contrast Compositions

    The compare-and-contrast format explores attributes of two or more topics. This essay style features two main elements of content. Comparison is the section that emphasizes similarities. Contrast focuses on differences. This writing style can be presented in two different organizational formats. The point-by-point format includes multiple sections devoted to subcategories that explore attributes of each topic. For example, in an essay about cats and dogs as pets, subcategories may include size, disposition, nutritional needs and cleanliness. The second format, known as block or subject-by-subject, includes one section per topic. This essay would feature a paragraph addressing all attributes of the dog and then a separate paragraph describing the cat.

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    About the Author

    Alison Datko is a professional editor with experience as a journalist, writer and blogger. She contributes to a variety of print and online publications, specializing in music, food, art, fashion and culture.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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