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Expository Essay

The expository essay does not so much ask the writer to set out to give their views, unlike other essays. Instead, you are being asked to display, as fairly and comprehensively as possible, the views of others; as the name suggests, to ‘expose’ them. The expository essay is also used in the case of reportage e.g. in journalism.

The difference in purpose in the expository essay is reflected in the difference in the essay’s structure. The subject is presented in close, analytical detail but without any input other than the ‘facts’. No use is made of criticism or development of a thesis. It is, in many ways, similar in some ways to the way in which a case might be presented in a legal transcript. However, a good expository essay also seeks to explain, and in this way differs from mere reportage or legal transcript - although the method is frequently used in professional life and is not the province of academic study alone.

You will need to be exceptionally precise in your use of language in an expository essay and it will probably need to be revised; the essay should aid the reader’s comprehension not by personal opinion but by logical, formal, objective analysis. The use of linguistic devices such as analogies is common in the expository essay, the more familiar the better as this helps the reader to connect to the fuller comprehension of the subject of the essay.

Analysis of evidence is the fundamental method which governs the expository essay, in both research and structure. Aided by analysis, the expository essay gives full facts about the subject, clearly stated, and attempts to set the subject into a more generic context. Inference plays little or no part in the expository essay, as ‘guesswork’, on the part of the writer or reader, is considered inappropriate to this type of essay.

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