Getting Started: What is an expository essay outline?

Getting Started: What is an expository essay outline?

What is an expository essay outline? It is a roadmap showing key elements and sections of an expository essay. At this point, it is equally important to define an expository essay. This is an essay explaining a specific subject in-depth and details concise opinions of other people on the same issue. An expository essay outline may also be a report. Unlike other essay papers, the main purpose of an expository essay is to furnish the reader with facts about the subject matter. You may also describe this type of essay as a coalition of facts and opinions.

To put together a good expository essay, you need well-researched facts to convince your audience that you have a mastery of the subject. It is not easy, but with this manual, you should become an expository expert in any field.

This handout contains the following:

  • Drafting an Expository essay outline
  • How to write an expository essay
  • Elements of a good expository essay
  • Mistakes to avoid when working on your essay outline
  • Selected examples of expository essay outlines

Are you ready? Let us get started…

What is an expository essay outline and how do you draft one?

Crafting a winning expository essay can turn out to be a tasking assignment that will leave you drained and cursing your course. However, it can also be your favorite homework if you understand the basics of expositions.

Unlike in general essays, expository writing takes a format, which you have to adhere to when working on your paper. To organize your ideas logically, you need an outline for your paper. This begs the question; what is an expository essay outline? In simple words, it is a skeleton of your expository work.

Here is what should appear in your expository essay outline:


  • Start with a hook to pique your audience
  • Give the background of your subject

State your thesis

  • Body paragraphs
  • Flesh out your paper with research evidence
  • Support every issue to make it valid
  • Achieve smooth transitions between paragraphs


  • Restate your thesis
  • Reveal significance of the issue
  • Challenge your audience

We shall expound on these elements in other sections of this handout. Keep reading…

The golden rules of expository essay writing

To write a professional expository paper, here are three principles to always remember and apply whenever you are working on your assignments.

Have clear facts – as you gather details from other sources, present your work accurately such that the content of your paper does not conflict the published facts of the original articles. Do not deform the meaning of anything but focus on emphasizing the source.

Back your analysis – Use the information from different sources to affirm your position. You achieve this by reviewing literature or scanning what different writers have published before you embark on your expository assignment.

Do not give surprise conclusions. Link your analysis and the conclusions you make to enhance logical flow of ideas and prevent losing your audience on the way. Never leave the reader to imagine what you meant when you have the chance to make clarifications.

With these golden rules, what is an expository essay outline should not bother you anymore. Reflect on the rules even as you examine the following example of an outline:

Example #1: Expository Essay Outline

The following is an example of an expository essay outline. Examine it, putting emphasis on the key elements of the outline:


  1. Start with the hook
  2. Give background information
  3. State your thesis


Topic 1

  1. Fact 1+Evidence
  2. Fact 2+Evidence
  3. Analysis

Topic 2

  1. Fact 1+Evidence
  2. Fact 2+Evidence
  3. Analysis

Topic 3

  1. Fact 1+Evidence
  2. Fact 2+Evidence
  3. Analysis

Topic 4

  1. Fact 1+Evidence
  2. Fact 2+Evidence
  3. Analysis


  • Summary of thesis statement
  • State the main significance
  • Bring out pending questions

This is a good expository essay outline. From the example, the introduction, body and the conclusion form the basis of the essay. You may view the entire piece by visiting

With the above example and the introductory sections, let us focus at some of the elements of an expository in details.

The key elements that define an expository essay

As you prepare to work on your expository essay, always remember that exposition requires you to tailor your argument. Though you may begin with personal ideas, you need evidence from authentic sources to convince your readers.

In some cases, your instructor will assign you a topic to work on. Alternatively, he or she may give you the freedom to choose own topic. Whichever the case, a mastery of the following components is vital as you reflect on what is an expository essay outline.


Ideally, an expository essay follows the standard format of an ordinary essay. You will have an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. In terms of the length, stick to your instructor’s rules. However, expository essays take a five-paragraph format.

The first paragraph is your introduction where you orient the reader. Using a hook, grab their attention and proceed to give them a reason to read on. The intro also gives contextual formation about the topic and concludes with a thesis statement.

The second, third and fourth paragraph form the body of your essay. Here, prove to the reader that you did a meticulous research by fleshing your essay using support materials. Use topic sentence to introduce every new idea and maintain smooth transition between the ideas.

Your last paragraph is the conclusion. Do a summary of the issue, reveal its significance and include a call to action by challenging your audience to act. In case your paper is long, you will need more arguments to solidify body paragraphs.


Thesis statement is probably one of the elements that cut across all written assignments. It gives bearing, and direction to your paper. A good thesis statement will act a backbone of your essay. In exposition, your thesis statement carries your main idea. Build a holistic thesis that does not depend on your opinions but rhymes your evidence.


Use the body of your essay to support your thesis statement. Remember that in a 5-paragrah essay, you will need three arguments, backed with undisputable evidence.

Do you now understand what is an expository essay outline? To drive these points, take a look at the following example:

Example #2: Expository Essay Outline

A.  Attention grabber-HOOK.
B. Background
C. Thesis statement– state your position on the issue

  1. Body Paragraph 1: First Point
  2. Follow the map of your thesis statement and discuss the first point.
  3. Give evidence to support and expand your first point
  4. Briefly introduce second point for smooth transition

 Body Paragraph 2:  Second Point

  1. Follow the map of your thesis statement and discuss the second point.
  2. Give evidence to support and expand your second point and make it valid
  3. Briefly introduce the counter augment as you transit into the conclusion
  4. Conclusion
  5. recognize the opposing views plus evidence
  6. negate the counterarguments
  7. Use a call to action to drive your point and close the discussion

Do not introduce new information to the conclusion

 Revise and edit your essay.

This is another excellent example to help you understand what is an expository essay outline. You can view the en tire outline by visiting

Remember that this is not the only format. Be flexible and ready to adjust to a new format depending on the essay instructions.

Final ideas to help you understand what an expository essay outline is:

To write an excellent expository essay, employ the following nuggets:

Select a topic. Pick a good topic, which is interesting, arguable and manageable. Avoid too broad or too narrow topics.

Draft your thesis. Have a statement that controls your ideas. Ensure that you support this statement to the letter.

Select your method of develop. Flip through all the methods and choose that which serve your thesis.

Organize your essay. Ensure that your ideas flow logically and with clarity.

With these ideas, what is an expository essay outline should no longer pose a challenge when handling writing assignments.

Example #3: Expository Essay outline

Topic                                      I.  _________________________________________________

                Subtopic                                A.  ___________________________________________

                Supporting details                              1.  ______________________________________

  1. ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________

Subtopic                                B.  ___________________________________________

Supporting details                              1.  ______________________________________

  1. ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________

Subtopic                                C.  ___________________________________________

Supporting details                              1.  ______________________________________

  1. ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________

Subtopic                                D.  __________________________________________

Supporting details                              1.  ______________________________________

  1. ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________


From this example, you can see important elements that will give a fantastic expository essay. Notably, you must provide evidence on every point you give to make it valid. You can view the entire outline by visiting

Make this handout your daily companion and become a super writer… all the best.

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