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4.5: Exposition

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    What is Exposition Writing?

    Exposition can be either oral or written. It is used to explain, interpret, inform, or describe. An expository writer must assume that the audience has no prior knowledge regarding the topic being discussed. So the topic must be written in a clear manner explaining how things work (you can however, leave out common knowledge--you probably are not writing for first graders).

    As most academic terms, exposition can acquire various definitions depending on the context in which a writer is using the word. The HarperCollins Collins English Dictionary defines exposition in seven different disciplinary contexts.

    1. Within the Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing discipline, exposition is defined as: a systematic, usually written statement about, commentary on, or explanation of a specific subject

    2. The act of expounding of setting forth information or a viewpoint

    3. (Business / Commerce) of a large public exhibition, especially of industrial products or arts and crafts

    4. The act of exposing or the state of being exposed

    5. (Performing Arts / Theatre) the part of a play, novel, etc., in which the theme and main characters are introduced.

    6. (Music / Classical Music) Music the first statement of the subjects or themes of a movement in sonata form or a fugue

    7. (Christianity / Roman Catholic Church) RC Church the exhibiting of the consecrated Eucharistic Host or a relic for public veneration (Harper Collins Dictionary)

    Types of Exposition

    • Description - The author explains a particular topic by showing characteristics, features, and examples.
    • Comparison - The author shows how two or more topics are alike.
    • Contrast - The author shows how two or more topics are different.
    • Cause and Effect - The author demonstrates the cause while showing the effects of the cause.
    • Problem and Solution - The author explains a problem, then explores possible solutions.
    • Analytical - The author evaluates a topic or argument revealing its strengths and weaknesses.
    • Classification - The author sorts things into useful categories, makes sure all the categories follow a single organizing principle, and gives examples that fit into each category.
    • Sequence - The author lists items or events in numerical or chronological order.

    Where Do I Begin?

    Find a Topic and Research

    First you must find a specific aspect of a topic that would interest you. You will have to research the topic extensively so that you can explain it—what exposition is all about. Research your topic extensively. You will probably have to spend quite a bit of time, but remember that the researching can be exciting. The general initial researching may even provide some valuable information that you want to explain. Researching is like exercising: at first it hurts, but with time you become stronger and it's easier to flex your researching muscles. After you have decided upon a topic, you can create a thesis.


    An expositional paper is most easily written when you have a "tight" thesis. This means that the focus of your topic is extremely specific. When your thesis is concise, you can write at length because you know exactly what you should be writing about. But when you have a sloppy, vague thesis, you can become lost and your writing reflects this. This goes back to choosing a topic focus that deals with something specific, and not overly general. A thesis makes a claim regarding your focus and is supported by details and facts. It is written in one or two complete sentences. An example of a thesis would be: “Gardening can be a rewarding hobby because of the creativity involved, the variety of plants, and the many uses of plants.”

    Create a Sketchy Outline

    After you write your thesis, create a sketchy outline so that you have a game plan for your paper. Your outline should have information that you want to include for each part of your thesis. For our thesis example, we could find lots of information that could support the different parts of gardening. Notice the word could--just because we have the information doesn't mean we must use it in the paper. This is a rough outline after all.

    Start Writing

    Too often we don’t begin writing because we are stuck—don’t be, just start writing. You can begin anywhere. Start writing where you feel the most comfortable. When you have your outline, as sketchy as it may be, it reminds you of ideas that you want to include in your paper. Remember though that readers are interested in what YOU have to say—they don’t want to read regurgitated quotes and opinions of others, so make sure that your point is being heard.


    The structure of an expository piece consists of first an introduction that contains the most crucial element—the thesis—the main point you wish to convey. After the introduction is the body, in which you clarify the different aspects of the thesis in great detail. The final piece, the conclusion, restates and rephrases (using different words) the thesis and ties up any “loose ends”.


    The very first part of your introduction should have an attention-grabbing device (a hook) to engage your readers. Hooks can be statistics, facts, questions, or unusual details. Don't make general statements such as "it is clear that..." because you are trying to explain something that perhaps your reader doesn't know, so it would not be clear to them. Instead be informative. The introduction will also contain your thesis. Good topic referring to Rhetoric. One can check it at the essays writing companies and already written essays accomplished by writing service writers.


    Now that you have your specific thesis, along with your sketchy outline, you must support your thesis claim by using concrete evidence and examples. You should exfoliate your thesis. Remember that expositional writing assumes that your readers have no prior knowledge regarding your topic, so you must explain things very clearly. Parallelism can be very important in your paper. It can give the readers a feeling of structure and importance. Pick a method of organization and stick with it.

    In our example, we would explain in detail how much creativity is involved in gardening. We could write about the style of impressive European or Oriental gardens. Next, we would show how there are a variety of plants. We could write about plants found in different climates. Finally, we would explain the many uses of plants. We could write about floral bouquets and vegetables.

    Because exposition’s purpose is to inform, you will want to establish common ground with your readers. You should write objectively, which will fulfill the purpose of explaining things.


    A conclusion wraps up your paper by recalling your main points, but do not use the identical words that you used in your introduction. Conclusions and introductions are like frames, they should tie your whole paper together. You should explain your main points briefly and freshly. Don't be sloppy--this is the last impression you are making.

    Sample Exposition Assignments

    Here are some sample assignments to prepare you for a real exposition paper or essay. Remember that your audience has very little previous knowledge of your topic!

    Sample Assignments

    • Write an informative exposition essay on the many uses of duct tape.
    • Compose a descriptive exposition essay about your room.
    • Type an analytical exposition essay that analyzes your computer keyboard and the how effective it is at its job.
    • You can also use other subjects to write about, such as your favorite food or drink or your hobbies.

    Sample Exposition Essay

    Assignment: Explain an aspect of cellular phones.

    Sample Exposition Essay

    "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind;" one of the best ways to spread this "powerful drug" is through the simple act of talking to another person. Everybody wants to talk and everybody also wants to listen and learn. How is one man or woman supposed to communicate with another from across the city, state, or even country without a very powerful tool? This powerful tool, while seemingly simple, is called a cellular phone, or cell phone for short. The cell phone has revolutionized the way that the world communicates with each other and spreads the good word. One might be asking just what a cell phone is--well, listen up and find out. The cell phone has its roots with the telegraph and telephone. These are both devices that are able to send messages through land-based wires called phone lines. That means that a coded message or a voice is sent through phone lines in order to make it to its destination. The receiving person can then translate the code or listen to the voice on the other end. On a telephone, people were capable of having a conversation from across the nation while it sounded like they were in the same room as each other. In order for them to be able to make a call to each other, though, there would have to be a web of phone lines connecting them over thousands of miles of land. Laying all of these phone lines was very cumbersome, as was only being able to send or receive calls from a stationary place, like a house or office. While the Telephone made broad communication more accessible, it still did not have entirely enough freedom for the people. This was all changed in the year 1973. A man named Martin Cooper invented the first Cellular Phone while working for Motorola. It was about the size of a brick and weighed over 30 ounces (or 1.8 pounds). While big in size, it was even larger in potential. Cooper made his first call on his cell phone while walking in the middle of a New York street. There were no wires connected to his phone. There was nothing restricting his movement and could send or receive calls from anywhere. How does a cell phone work if it is not connected to the phone lines? The short answer to that question is: satellites. The cell phone emits a signal to one of the many satellites that are orbiting Earth. The satellite catches the signal and sends it back to Earth to the person that was meant to receive it. This does not mean that cell phones cannot communicate with land-line telephones. If a cell phone calls a land-line, the signal is sent to the satellite and then back to a satellite dish on Earth where it is then re-sent through landlines to the house or office. This also works in reverse for a land-line that is calling a cell phone. The cell phone is much more than just a unwired phone in the present day. It has evolved much since Cooper's phone of '73 and they now weigh an average of 3 ounces. Cell phones can now store all of the phone numbers that a person needs. There is no more having to find the list of phone numbers on a piece of paper and to dial the number every time a call is placed to somebody. With cell phones, one simply just has to find a person's name on the phone and press send. They can even store schedules, set sleep alarms, take pictures, play music, browse the Internet, and much more. The cell phone has come a long way in 30 years to set a world free of wires. There is nothing holding anybody back from walking down the middle of the street while having a conversation with somebody 2000 miles away anymore. The cell phone is a marvel beyond what was imagined when Alexander Graham Bell first invented the telephone. It is a very powerful tool for getting our words around, and will take us places in the future that we have never dreamed of.

    • Information in this essay was provided from

    Why Is This Good?

    First the introduction, a surprising and interesting quote, immediately catches your attention since it equalizes words and drugs. The introduction has a tight thesis, “The cell phone has revolutionized the way that the world communicates with each other and spreads the good word.”

    The body explains the revolution of cell phones. Notice how the writer clearly defined what a phone line is and how it works. The writer transitions into another topic by asking a question, “How does a cell phone work if it is not connected to the phone lines?” Asking questions is an easy rhetorical device that can make your paper flow more smoothly.

    Finally, this conclusion ties together the paper since it recalls the main themes. By using different words, the conclusion is fresh and not predictable. It is future looking. “It is a very powerful tool for getting our words around, and it will take us places in the future that we have never dreamed of.”

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    4.5: Exposition is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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