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What is Exposition Writing

12.2 Find a Topic, Read, Discuss, and Research

First you must find a specific aspect of a topic that would interest you. This means you will and must read about the topic. You will have to research the topic extensively so that you can explain it—what exposition is all about. Research your topic extensively if necessary. 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.

When you read, read critically and actively as was discussed in the previous chapter. Question the author’s points, consider conflicting viewpoints and support evidence. Analysis and exposition is built upon disagreement. Don’t avoid it; explore it with an open mind.

Like reading and writing, writing and talking work in unison. Teachers often observe classes that actively read and then discuss what they have read are often much stronger writers. Moreover, some students find that discussion is an important step in articulating their ideas and galvanizing their viewpoints on a topic.


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.


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Expression and Inquiry by Christopher Manning; Sally Pierce; and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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