How to Write an Explanatory Essay

How to Write an Explanatory Essay at SolidEssay.comEssays are papers that high-school students or college students write in order to demonstrate their abilities to argue for a given thesis or point of view, or to show that they have enough skills to gather and process information.

What is an Explanatory Essay?

Explanatory essays, however, rather expose a topic than argue for or against a certain standpoint. An explanatory essay, you have to know, attempts at explaining and presenting important information on the topic in question. It stands very near to the so-called informative and descriptive essays. The difference consists in the fact that the latter two types are concerned with description rather than with elucidation.

Thus, writing an explanatory essay requires an ability to examine a topic and to present it to the reader as correctly and impartially as possible. If you are not sure how to write an explanatory essay, check out these six helpful tips:

Explanatory Essay Writing Tips

1. Find a popular topic for an explanatory essay

School explanatory essays turn around popular topics which are interesting for the audience. Thus, you can easily gather information and present various views on the subject. School life, social activities of the young people, internet communication, friendship - all of these explanatory essay topics can be examined in your paper. Of course, you should narrow down the explanatory topic in order to have more detailed information about it. The topic like “internet communication” is pretty abstract; you can change it to “internet communication in social media in the past five years”.

2. Gather the necessary information

Here you should find important data regarding your explanatory essay topic: facts, statistical data, personal opinions, interviews, short quotes, etc. If you are writing an explanatory paper about a person, you need more biographical data; if you writing about an event, you should refer to facts and interpretations of them. Remember: do not go into details unless the topic requires it from you.

3. Interpret the facts

You should interpret the facts, but without imposing your opinion on the reader’s mind. In the explanation essay, you should put stress on the widely known facts without rejecting them or casting doubt on them. Hold onto the commonly accepted interpretations of the facts. However, you may present some facts which are not well-known, but are proved by reliable authorities.

4. Don’t merely expose

You are not writing a report on the subject. Your explanatory essay should explain the process/event described in the essay: what was its cause, what were its effects, the circumstances, and so forth. For example, how our communication skills and activities have changed due to internet communication over the past five years? Here it’s appropriate to refer to scientific theories, or interpretations of the process.

5. Let the reader think

Your explanatory essay conclusion should be an “open one” as to allow the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions. The information given should lead to unambiguous conclusions. Even if you want to present various standpoints, you should find some agreement between them in order to elucidate the process in question.

6. You don’t need a strong thesis

At the end, we recommend to clarify, but not to argue in favor or against a given view. By presenting all important facts, circumstances, or conceptions concerning the explanatory paper topic, you will achieve impartiality and objective account of the process. A strong thesis is not required. Still, you can expose your own interpretation in a sentence or two, but without any attempt to impose your opinion on the readers. Be precise and pluralistic. 

Explanatory Essay Topics – 20 Ideas

Here are some explanatory essay topics and ideas that you may consider for your next essay.

  1. What caused World War I?
  2. How are hurricanes formed?
  3. How are hurricanes similar to tornadoes?
  4. What are the effects of nutrition education on children?
  5. What are the causes of obesity?
  6.  How can you manage diabetes?
  7. What are the effects of capital punishment?
  8. How do you conduct a paternity test?
  9. How can music affect how you learn?
  10. Why are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) considered harmful?
  11. Describe your ideal job.
  12. What are the causes of racism?
  13. What strategies can be used to combat racism?
  14. Are there ethical reasons for abortion?
  15. What is the impact of advertising fast food to children?
  16. How is dark chocolate good for you?
  17. Why is coconut oil said to be bad for you?
  18. How do you write a winning resume?
  19. How can social media marketing increase revenue for a business?
  20. What are the most common reasons for getting a divorce? 

Based on this list, it is evident that there is no shortage of explanatory essay ideas. As such, explanatory essay prompts may come in many different forms and exist to pique interest in a topic. Here is an explanatory essay sample on the topic of hurricanes. 

Explanatory Essay Example 

How are hurricanes similar to tornadoes?

Hurricanes and tornadoes are magnificent weather phenomena that inspire awe or fear in all those who see and experience them. Regardless of how you feel about them, it must be noted that they are remarkable and are very similar in structure, design and destruction. It is very evident that both are related and should command similar respect.

Both hurricanes and tornadoes are caused by instability in weather conditions such as temperature and pressure and have a rotating column of air. Their rotation varies depending whether it’s southern hemisphere or northern hemisphere. In the first case the rotation is clockwise while in the latter case it’s counterclockwise. Another feature they both share is their strong winds and rain. However, it should be noted that hurricanes can sometimes bring about tornadoes but tornadoes cannot bring about hurricanes.

A hurricane is different from a tornado in terms of the fact that it only brings rain as precipitation, whereas tornadoes can bring about rain, hail and sleet. Another defining factor is that hurricanes last for days while tornadoes have a lifespan of a few minutes. The amount of warning given for a hurricane can be between days to a week whereas a tornado warning is from a few minutes to a few hours. Another key point of difference is their size, hurricanes span hundreds of kilometers whereas a tornado spans hundreds of meters.

While a hurricane and tornado have several differences, their similarities are much more striking. Both are formed in a similar manner, have a similar makeup, rotate similarly and bring about rain, strong winds and possibly similar destruction. Based on these factors, it can be said that the similarities outweigh the differences so a hurricane and a tornado are very much alike.

The example of explanatory essay given is just one of many that are available. Explanatory samples are very easy to come by but if you are still curious about explanatory examples, here are some frequently asked questions on the topic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Explanatory Essays

How do I write a good explanatory essay introduction?

A good explanatory essay introduction begins with an attention-grabbing sentence in the form of a quote, fact, statistic or anecdote. This is then followed by a brief description of the topic and the thesis statement for the essay.

Is informative and explanatory essay the same thing?

Both informative and explanatory essays are used to examine a topic and illustrate an idea, concept and information. An informative essay is not the same as an explanation essay. In an informative essay, the writer provides facts and data whereas in an explanatory essay, the writer’s opinion is given along with whatever facts and data are presented.

Is there a difference between expository and explanatory essays?

An expository essay is similar to an explanatory essay in that they both require the writer to present and analyze the information on the topic from a neutral viewpoint. The difference between the two is that an expository essay gives information about a topic and an analysis of the important parts whereas the explanatory essay explains a process or situation.

What is a good explanatory essay thesis statement?

A good thesis statement for an explanatory paper must fulfil the following attributes: 

  • It must be specific and detailed.
  • The statement must give insight as to what will be covered in the essay.
  • It must be written in formal language and include your viewpoint on the topic.

What is an explanatory essay outline?

An explanatory essay outline is a guide to how the writer will draft the essay, allowing for a more coherent and cohesive essay. The outline guides the writer in doing all the areas of the essay, from the introduction to the conclusion. When done properly, it makes articulating your viewpoints for the essay a lot easier.

What is the best explanatory essay format?

The best format for an explanatory essay is the American Library Association (ALA) or Modern Language Association of America (MLA) format.

Do I need to follow an explanatory essay rubric?

It is ideal to follow the rubric given for the explanatory essay. The rubric is a set of guidelines that help to evaluate the student’s work. When writing an explanatory essay, it is good to follow the rubric so that you are able to capture all the information required, thus increasing the chances of the writer achieving maximum points.

Explanatory essay topics are wide and varied; the essays are usually a joy to write and make an informative read. Next time you are asked to write an explanatory essay, consider some of the pointers mentioned above. We hope the information given provides sufficient explanatory writing examples needed for your next piece. Happy writing!

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