How to Write an Informative/Explanatory Paper

A strong outline makes writing an informative essay less intimidating.
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An informative/explanatory paper is an essay that provides a thesis and supporting information on a given topic. The paper’s primary purpose is to explain to a reader the how and why of a given topic by offering a detailed description and analysis. The goal is to help the reader better understand a topic with the help of one or more sources. Writing a clear and well-ordered explanatory paper requires planning and strong attention to detail.

Conduct preliminary research on your informative/explanatory paper topic to identify sources you can use in your paper. Look in books and trade journals or at informational websites, or talk to an expert in your topic. For example, if writing the paper on the formation of the universe for a science class, read books such as "Before the Big Bang: The Origins of the Universe" by Ernest Sternglass or visit the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to find relevant information or experts to contact.

Craft an outline to assist you as you write your informative/explanatory paper. For example, list the thesis, or purpose of your paper, beside your first Roman numeral. Then break the thesis down into at least two separate points, one listed beside a second Roman numeral and the other listed beside a third Roman numeral. Make the last Roman numeral your conclusion. List details related to each section in the area beneath its Roman numeral. You can use letters to represent each item in these lists. For instance, the first item in a list could be represented by the letter "a" and the second by the letter "b."

Write the introduction to your informative/explanatory paper. Present the topic you'll be exploring and explain why this topic is important to your audience, which is your thesis. If writing about the formation of the solar system for a science class, explain that you will break the topic down into at least two separate parts, such as the big bang theory and the expanding universe theory.

Draft the first paragraph of your paper's body. Present the facts associated with the first part of your broad topic. For example, give details about the history of the big bang theory, evidence for the theory and summaries of some possible misconceptions. In addition, explain the general premise of the theory. Define the theory in detail and illustrate how it works thoroughly.

Create the second paragraph in the body of your informative/explanatory paper. For your science class paper, write about what the expanding universe theory is and what physicists and mathematicians contributed to the development of the theory based on information from Internet or library sources. Describe the properties of the theory and scientific evidence supporting it.

Compare the expanding universe theory to the big bang theory, pointing out similarities and differences. Connect your points to your thesis, introducing your most relevant information first and ending with strong supporting evidence. Also, if you are writing about an informative/explanatory topic on which you can add your own expert information, do so.

Make a conclusion paragraph to your informative/explanatory essay. Reiterate the two parts of your body and how your reader can use this information.

Read over your explanatory essay and correct errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage. Insert transitional words when needed and ensure the essay reads smoothly.

Create a bibliography listing all the expert sources you quoted, paraphrased or summarized to describe the two parts related to your informative essay’s topic. Format references based on your instructor's style requirements.

  • Follow your instructor’s requirements for double-spacing the document and choosing the correct font and font size as well to avoid losing points over technicalities.

YaShekia King, of Indianapolis, began writing professionally in 2003. Her work has appeared in several publications including the "South Bend Tribune" and "Clouds Across the Stars," an international book. She also is a licensed Realtor and clinical certified dental assistant. King holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ball State University.