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What is the Expository Paper?


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Nov 10, 2006, 02:44pm   #
How do you ensure that your expository paper meets your Professor's Standards?

If you've received an assignment to complete an expository paper and are confused, concerned, or facing writers block, don't worry. Virtually every student will be required to write an expository paper at least once during their academic career and chances are you'll face this requirement many times.

The good news is, expository writing is relatively simple to master and this skill will help you as you learn other forms of writing. Expository writing is a fancy way of saying that you are going to explain something. An expository paper is one in which you offer information about a particular subject to your reader or audience. This checklist will help ensure that you create an expository paper that will meet or exceed your professor's standards.

1. Select a Topic

In some cases, this will be provided for you, making this the easiest step of all. When given a choice, consider a topic that interests you. When you are enthusiastic about a topic, it will translate into your writing, and if you don't care about the topic, it can certainly show! Consider topics that might relate to your career interests, personal background, or potential topics for future research. An expository paper is also a great way for you to explore a new interest or expand on your current knowledge.

2. Craft Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis explains the topic of your expository paper in a focused manner. You'll want to craft a very narrow topic for short papers, and expand into larger topics when your expository paper is expected to be longer.

3. Research!

While some expository papers do not require independent research, most do. Developing strong research skills is important to saving your time and frustration when you write. The research that you uncover may influence your decisions regarding paper style and format. Unless your professor specifically requires particular sources, consider using a variety of references to ascertain topic knowledge, including published books, journal articles, magazines/newspapers, and qualified internet sources. Also, remember to look for recently published references to ensure that you have the most up to date information for writing your expository paper.

4. Choose a Developmental style, which is just a fancy way of asking you how you will present your expository paper.

You may elect to present your expository writing as an extended definition of the topic, or you may instead wish to provide an example of your interest. You may also choose two topics and compare and contrast them in detail. For example, if your expository paper is to be a two page discussion of hybrid cars, you may choose to discuss the development and purpose of hybrid cars in your paper as an extended definition, or you may instead choose a particular hybrid car to discuss as an example. Remember that the purpose of your expository paper is to convey information and not to construct an argument.

5. Design Your Structure

The most common form of the short expository paper is the five paragraph essay, which consists of the introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. Your introduction should include your thesis statement and major points in a way that grabs the reader's attention. Your body paragraphs should be comprised of major points that develop the thesis. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and major points in an effective summary that helps maintain your reader's interest. While longer expository papers will require more than five paragraphs, this format is nevertheless a good foundation for any paper. Whatever the length of your paper, you will always want to include an introduction and conclusion.

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