Different Kinds of Expository Writing

Different Kinds of Expository Writing

Exposition is a genre of writing people encounter every day in formats such as magazine and newspaper articles. The purpose of expository writing is to explain, describe or inform the reader about a particular topic by presenting an idea, investigating that idea, providing evidence and crafting an argument. Different types of expository writing include Cause and Effect, Problem and Solution, How-To and Compare and Contrast.

1 Creating Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays describe the relationship between one or more effects and, most often, 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.

2 Identifying Problems and Solutions

Problem and solution writings are exactly what one might expect by the title: the goal is to identify a problem, explain it to the reader and discuss possible solutions to remedy the problem. For example, someone may choose to write about a problem such as childhood obesity. After explaining the problem in detail, he or she would explore one (or more) solutions to the problem at hand. Two possible solutions to childhood obesity may be limiting time children spend on electronics and having them spend time being active outdoors. The writer would provide evidence to validate and support the main points of the essay.

3 Handling How-to Essays

How-to writings explain how to perform a particular task, in simple terms, with chronological 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, while avoiding lengthy phrasing, but be sure to include all necessary information on how to get the job done.

4 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, and 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 paragraphs addressing all attributes of the dog and then a a group of separate paragraphs describing the cat. Essentially, this format requires one to write a short essay about one topic (dogs) followed by another short essay on the other topic (cats).

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.